Baugh: Living In The “Last Hour”

Given the abundant parallels to the construction in 1 John 2:8—with just a few of the ones I found given above—we can make two preliminary conclusions on its syntax that then impact the overall interpretation of the verse. First, the conjunction ὅτι [that] opening the last statement in the verse makes it an “explanatory clause” (BDAG, 732; BDF §394) and should be rendered “that” rather than causal “because” as is usually done as the same versions above illustrate. Secondly, this object clause in 1 John identifies that what is “genuine in him and in you” is not the “new commandment itself but the passing away of darkness and the “already” shining of the eschatological light.

Our final conclusion must now be to remember that the commandment itself is not new but ancient (1 John 2:7); it does not become new (as some commentator), nor do we make it new by Christian obedience.25 We have become new through him who is the Pioneer of the new creation. And we are now part of the new creation, “created in Christ Jesus for good works…that we might walk in them” (Eph. 2:10). “The old has passed away; behind the new has come” (2 Cor. 5:17; ESV).

Hence, 1 John 2:8 fits into the NT teaching on the inauguration of the new creation in context in which we live. Christians today live in the era of the “last hour” (1 John 2:18), of the eschatological harvest period already begun (John 4:35–37), and in the period of time when the spirit of Antichrist of the last day “is already in the world” (1 John 4:3). The inauguration of consummation light shining conveyed by ἤδη (“already”) in 1 John 2:8 is what is true in him—that is, the incarnate Savior who has come in the flesh (1 John 4:2; John 1:14); he is himself “in the light” (1 John 1:7) through resurrection and ascension into the heavenly kingdom. Because of this, the genuine light which “is already shining” has impacted Christ’s followers in such a way that the old love commandment has become new. The change is not in the commandment but in the eschatological context in which we live—a context of light and life. “Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live” (John 5:21; ESV; emphasis added; cf. John 4:23; 16:32).


25. For example, Raymond Brown, who renders 1 John 2:8a as “On second thought, the commandment I write to you is new and is made true both in Christ and in you, since the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining” (Epistles of John, 247)

S. M. Baugh | “On The Syntax of 1 John 2:8” | Westminster Theological Journal 84.1 (Spring, 2022), 49‐50.


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