In my last post on 1 John 2, I took time to show the distinction between the antichrists, those who deny Jesus is Lord, and the rest of the congregation. It is true of the antichrists that “they were never really of us,” never part of the invisible body of Christ (to use a statement of old). Their actions proved that they never knew Christ. On the other hand, John was certain that the rest of the congregation knew Christ and had a genuine salvation (1 John 2:20). Nevertheless, he still wrote the congregation and warned them about “those trying to deceive” them (1 John 2:26); we can infer from this warning that he had a genuine concern that, despite the genuineness of their salvation, they could still turn from it and be led astray by the antichrists. In other words, they were not so close to Jesus that they couldn’t be pulled back into the world.
In this post, I am going to tackle “the reason to remain” given in 1 John 2:28. Let’s read the text:
“And now, little children, ABIDE IN HIM, that when He appears, WE MAY HAVE CONFIDENCE AND NOT BE ASHAMED BEFORE HIM AT HIS COMING” (1 Jn. 2:28, NKJV).
Just so we see the importance of this verse, I will provide a little of the verse in Greek:
“kai nun, teknia, MENETE en auto, HINA ean phanerothe sxomen parresian…”
The first capitalized word, “menete,” comes from the Greek “meno,” meaning “to remain.” It is used here as an imperative (a command). The next word capitalized, “hina,” is what goes before a “purpose” clause. And a purpose clause is that which provides the reason for doing something. Here in 1 John 2:28, then, to “have confidence and not be ashamed before Him at His coming” is the reason we should “abide in Him.”
There are three key words in 1 John 2:28 that we should pay attention to: “abide,” “confidence,” and “ashamed.” In my last post, I already showed the importance of “abiding” as Jesus speaks of it in John 15. Here, however, I will focus on the words “confidence” and “ashamed.”
The words “confidence” and “ashamed” are rather opposites of each other: those who are confident of themselves are usually not ashamed of themselves. But these words serve an even greater purpose to John’s message than just being exact opposites of each other! These two words reappear in other places of Scripture, notably Revelation 3 with the church of Laodicea:
“And to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write,
‘These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the BEGINNING OF THE CREATION OF GOD: “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth.
“Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked—I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, THAT YOU MAY BE CLOTHED, that the SHAME OF YOUR NAKEDNESS may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see” (Revelation 3:14-18, NKJV).
In 1 John 2:28, we are told that we should abide in Christ so as to not be “ashamed before Him” when He returns; in Revelation 3, the church at Laodicea is told to buy white garments “that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed” (Rev. 3:18).
We see here a theme of “shame.” But notice that the “shame” here is also connected with “nakedness” (“the shame of your nakedness”).
So the question is, “What do shame and nakedness have to do with each other?” A hint of this is found in the fact that God describes Himself to the Laodiceans as “the beginning of the creation of God” (Rev. 3:14). Now God is not saying here that he is “created.” What He is saying here is that He is the one who brought creation into existence (John 1:1-3). What this reference to God does, though, is bring to mine the story of our first parents, Adam and Eve, found in Genesis. There is one reference to this connection of shame and nakedness, found in Genesis 2:
“And they [Adam and Eve] were both NAKED, the man and his wife, AND WERE NOT ASHAMED” (Gen. 2:25, NKJV).
In Genesis 2, the man and woman were confident of their relationship with the Lord God. They were naked, but this did not unnerve them or make them feel uneasy about themselves or their mate. But notice what happens after they eat the forbidden fruit:
“Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and THEY KNEW THAT THEY WERE NAKED; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings” (Gen. 3:7).
They covered themselves because they realized they were “uncovered.” This came about as a result of sin, for this condition after eating the fruit was the exact opposite of life in the Garden before eating the fruit (see Gen. 2:25).
Now, we see the theme of nakedness in Genesis after they eat the fruit. But this nakedness is also connected with shame. Listen in on Adam’s response to God’s call:
“ ‘I heard Your voice in the garden, and I WAS AFRAID BECAUSE I WAS NAKED; and I HID MYSELF” (Gen. 3:10).
Here Adam admits that his nakedness is made apparent because he “was afraid”; and his fear, in turn, made him “hide” from God.
Adam’s confession here tells us that sin brings shame, leading to fear, which, in turn, causes us to hide from the Lord. And this is what John was telling the congregation back in 1 John 2:28—“if you do not remain, when the Lord returns, you will hide from Him because sin will cause you to fear His judgment.
But John also shows them the blessing of “remaining” or “abiding” in Christ: when He comes, they can have CONFIDENCE, which is the opposite of shame. Scripture also has something to say about confidence as well:
“Therefore do not cast away your CONFIDENCE, which has great REWARD. For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise:
‘For yet a little while, And He who is coming will come and will not tarry.
Now the JUST shall live by faith:
But if ANYONE draws back, My soul has no pleasure in him” (Hebrews 10:35-38, NKJV).
Why does John tell his readers to “abide”? so they can have “confidence.” And what is the importance of “confidence”? Confidence brings “great reward” (Heb. 10:35). And what is the reward? “the promise” (Heb. 10:36). And what is the promise?
“And THIS IS THE PROMISE that He has promised us—ETERNAL LIFE” (1 John 2:25, NKJV).
Thus, John tells his readers to abide so that they can have confidence when the Lord returns, confidence that results in eternal life (which is the great reward and promise).
I have some remarks to make regarding the Hebrews 10 passage quoted above. However, I will save that for some other time...