Reading the Word
1 John 2:7–11 (ESV)
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. 9 Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness. 10 Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him there is no cause for stumbling. 11 But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.
Understanding the Word
John begins by telling his readers that he is writing a commandment that is not new, it is one that they have had since the beginning. It is part of their Old Testament Scriptures. It is the command to love one another. This teaching traces all the way back to the writings of Moses (Leviticus 19:18).
John then says that in another sense the commandment is new because Jesus has shown exactly what this love should look like. His life was spent as a model of sacrificial love and then he called his followers to live in the same way (cf. John 13:34).
Applying the Word
Love for our “brothers” (fellow believers) is a mark of the true follower of Jesus Christ. Just as John has already told us that authentic believers do not continue to live in sin nor disobedience to the word of God. So it is also true that we cannot hate our Christian brothers and sisters and claim to walk in the light. Take a few minutes to look up the following verses and notice how the Apostle John emphasizes loving fellow believers: John 13:34; 15:17; 1 John 3:11, 23; 1 John 4:7, 11; 2 John 5.