The Journal of Biblical Accuracy

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1 John 2:24-25 – "if what you heard from the beginning abides in you"

Leaving Hebrews, let’s now go to 1 John 2:24-25. There we read:

"Let what you heard from the beginning abide in you. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, then you too will abide in the Son and in the Father. And this is the promise that he made to us—eternal life."

Whom is John addressing here? This is clear from verse 21 where he said to his audience: "I write to you, not because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and because no lie is of the truth". So his audience is believers, people who know the truth. Now to these believers John said that if what they had heard from the beginning i.e. the Word of God, abided in them, they too would abide in the Son and in the Father. By this it is obvious that it is possible that somebody who has heard and knows the truth – as these ones here knew the truth (verse 21) - ceases to abide (to stay) in the truth. This is what this "if" in the passage means ("If what you heard from the beginning abides in you"). As John makes clear only those in whose heart the Word of God continues to abide, to live, abide in the Son and in the Father. In other words and reading it differently: if the Word of God has ceased to abide in the heart of someone then he too has ceased to abide, to be in the Son and in the Father. And what happens in a case like this? John clarifies it a few verses later, in verse 28:

1 John 2:28
"And now, little children, abide in him, so that when he appears we may have confidence and not shrink from him in shame at his coming."

See this "so that". When we see a "so that" we know that what follows it is completely dependent on what precedes it. There is only one way we will not be ashamed and shrink from Him in shame at His coming: this is by abiding in Him. And to abide in Him, we read it in 1 John 1:24-25, we have to have His Word abiding, living in us. Only then we abide in Him. To avoid confusion, let us summarize:

i) we will not be ashamed at his coming, if we abide in Him (1 John 2:28).

ii) And abiding in Him means that His Word abides, lives, in us (1 John 2:24-25)

Therefore, abiding in the Lord is not something we did once and then we abide in Him forever and ever, regardless of how we live, regardless of whether the Word of God lives really in us. If it was like this there would be no reason for John, speaking to believers to encourage them to have the Word abiding in them and to abide in Christ. On the contrary, abiding in Him is a decision which although we took once it also has to be our decision today.

The phrase "abide in Him" is John’s way of telling us "fight the good fight of faith", "continue in the faith", "continue in His kindness", "run the race that is set before you", and the other phrases we saw Paul and the author of the Hebrews using. It is his way of telling us the same thing. And reading 1 John 2:28 in a different way: since we need to abide in Him so that we will not be ashamed at His coming, then it is clear that those that will not abide in Him will be ashamed at His coming. This then gives us a hint of how we are to understand passages like Romans 9:33:

"As it is written, Behold, I lay in Zion a stumbling stone and rock of offence: and whosoever believes on him shall not be ashamed."

Note that in this passage the present tense is used ("whosoever believes"), declaring that the faith it speaks about is a present reality. Unfortunately some overlook this and read it as if it was speaking for something that happened once in the past, i.e. as follows: "whoever, once upon a time, believed in Him regardless of what he later did concerning his faith shall not be ashamed". But the truth is different, as according to John, we will not be ashamed at His coming if we not only start in Him but also ABIDE (i.e. stay) in Him. The "whosoever believes in Him shall not be ashamed" of Romans 9:33 refers then to people who "believe" ( now in the present) and will be found abiding in Him at his coming, or the end of their life found them abiding in Him. These will not be ashamed. However, those who His coming will find them not abiding in Him will be ashamed. In fact the Lord made this even clearer when He gave the parable of the vine:

John 15:5-6
"I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned."

Again, some who have been taught that the grace of God means that it is enough for salvation that somebody just starts in the faith may feel uncomfortable with the above. As it is clear from the above passages it is not enough that somebody only starts in the faith but he also needs to finish in what he started. He needs to abide in the Lord and His Word to abide in Him. Else, if he does not abide, "he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned". Some may think that it is without compassion, impolite and unloving to speak about such possibilities. Unfortunately many times in our age we consider it loving to consistently hide the truth so that we do not make some feel uncomfortable. But the hiding of the truth is a lie and in no way constitutes love. Let us not succumb to what is nothing more than the spirit of this age. If the Word of God, if the God who never lies and Who is the Love itself, tells us such things, then the best I think we need to do it to take them seriously into consideration.

Next section: 2 John 8-9 : to "everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ


Author: Anastasios Kioulachoglou