1 John 2:3-6 NIV

And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.

What are the precise "commandments" / "his word" given by Jesus which John is speaking of?

2 Answers 2


John answers this question in v.7-8:

7 Beloved, I am writing you no new commandment, but an old commandment that you had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word that you have heard. 8 At the same time, it is a new commandment that I am writing to you, which is true in him and in you, because the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining.

Taken literally, this is somewhat confusing since he seems to be saying that he is both giving new command and not giving a new command. However, this parallels Jesus's words in John 13:

34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.

Here Jesus is interpreting Lev 19:

18 You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD. (my emphasis)

In giving a new commandment Jesus is restating and old commandment but in a new way. While the Jews were arguing over who "your neighbor" is, Jesus is clearly stating to his disciples who their neighbor is.

In 1 John 2, John is doing the same thing by prefacing the commandments he gives with the old-new commandment paradox and then giving the commandments:

15 Do not love the world or the things in the world.

24 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.

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.

and finally

11 For this is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.

Thus, the commandments John is talking about are the commands that Jesus gave which are the commandments God the Father gave.

**Scripture quoted from ESV

  • Nice research. In summary, "Love one another. Don't love worldly things. Trust in the one living and true God". We're sure these are his only commandments as described in John? Commented Dec 10, 2015 at 16:08

In order to fully appreciate Christ's commandments we should consider what they're not.

  1. They are not simply restatements or clarifications of Mosaic Law.
  2. Or an expounding of the law given to Moses

The commandments of Christ comprise every teaching Christ gave to his disciples. In Mat 28:18 Jesus came to them and spoke to them, saying,

18. All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth. Mat 19. Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20. teaching them to observe all things that I commanded you. Behold, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen. Matthew 28:18-20

In Matthew chapters 5-7 we view Christ as the new law giver better than Moses. And His commandments serve as the law of the new covenant. Not a covenant etched in stone tablets, but a law written on human hearts Ezk 36:26, Jer 33:31.

This understanding of scripture falls under the category of New Covenant Theology (NCT). NCT proposes that the kingdom that John the Baptist and Christ announced (Matt 3:2) was actually realized with the death of Christ and His subsequent exaltation (Act 1:9 compare to Dan 7:13). It also proposes that the new covenant is actually defined by it title. That is, the law of Moses given at Sinai was abrogated by a new and better covenant, the Law of Christ (Gal 6:2, 1 Cor 9:21).

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.