1 John


Argument Proper

iv] Love not the world


Given that the person who "does the will of God lives forever", John encourages his readers not to love the world and its transient glories.


i] Context: See 1:16-10.


ii] Background: See 1:1-5.


iii] Structure: Love not the world:

God is life-giving light, let us walk in the light of his love

Argument #4, v15-16:

God expects his children to walk in the light of love, a love not of the world:

A warning, v15;

An explanation for the warning, v16-17.


iv] Interpretation:

John has examined the issues of personal purity and brotherly love, and now he turns his attention to the love of the world. Love of the brotherhood is to be commended, but love of the world actually undermines brotherly love and so is to be avoided.


John's use of ethical absolutes: John's ethical instructions are very similar in style to those of Jesus. John employs absolutes, and does so throughout his letter. For John "there is no room for negotiation between the sphere that belongs to God .... and the sphere that belongs to the evil one", Lieu. It is not always easy to handle John's absolute contrasts between good and evil, here the contrast between loving generosity, v7-14, and worldly greed, v15-17. Jesus' use of absolute ideals prompts a reliance on divine grace while giving direction in the Christian life. John's words serve the same end. All believers are stalked by worldliness, by carnal appetites, lustful eyes, pride in our possessions, v16, and so we are prompted to look to our God in Christ, to his mercy and grace. At the same time, John's word's encourage us to be less worldly and more aware that "the world and its desires pass away."


Words and their meaning: The word κοσμος, "world", takes on different meanings in the scriptures. It can be used in a positive sense, of God's beautiful creation, or just in a neutral sense, of our natural environment. John, in his letters, tends to use the word in a negative sense, of worldliness, of lust, greed, as opposed to goodness, generosity - "of everything distant from, and opposed to, God", Wahlde.


v] Exposition: A simple exposition of this passage may be found in the linked pew-level Sermon Notes.

Text - 2:15

Arguments in support of the proposition, #4 - God expects his children to walk in the light of love, but a love not for the world, v15-17. John begins with a clear exhortation; "do not become overly devoted to the fading glories of this age and the false promises of all the stuff that belongs to it." John, like Jesus, is rather black and white when it come to ethics. So, in rather stark terms, he goes on to make the point that a person who loves the world does not love the Father in heaven. Of course, all of us are a mix of conflicted compromises; we stand with one foot in heaven and the other on earth. John's focus is on the transient corruption of this age rather than the good found in God's creation. John's point is this; "the person who pledges themselves to the secular world betrays a wonton disregard for the Father in heaven."

μη αγαπατε [αγαπαω] pres. imp. "do not love" - As Culy notes, the negated present tense is not necessarily calling for the cessation of ongoing activity. So, not necessarily "you must not be in love with the world", Barclay, but probably just "do not love the world."

τον κοσμον [ος] "the world" - "The sphere that belongs to the evil one", Lieu; See "Issues" above.

τα "[or] anything" - [neither] the things. The article serves as a nominalizer, turning the prepositional phrase "in the world" into a substantive. It is cataphoric, ie., it points forward to v16 where John defines what he means by "the things in the world." "Don't love the world's goods", Peterson.

εν + dat. "in" - in [the world]. Local, expressing space. These things which are found in the world are not things of the created order, but things which belong to the corrupted order of this present age and are not from the Father. "They are "detrimental because they lack sanctifying ties with the Father", Yarbrough.

εαν + subj. "if" - if [anyone loves the world]. Introducing a conditional clause 3rd. class where the proposed condition has the possibility of coming true; "if, as may be the case, anyone loves the world, then the love of the Father is not in him."

του πατρος [ηρ ρος] gen. "[love] of / for the Father" - [the love] of the Father. The genitive is adjectival, limiting "Father", usually taken as verbal, objective, as NIV11, possibly subjective, "if you love the world you cannot love the Father", CEV, even possibly plenary, intentionally so, Brown, or simply attributive, "the love which is found in the Father", Cassirer.

εν + dat. "in" - [is not] in [him]. Local, expressing space, metaphorical. The worldly person is a stranger to divine love.


John now identifies the corruption dominating the secular world. The "world" John is speaking of is not God's good creation, but the world corrupted by sin and now manipulated by dark powers. He uses three descriptives. The first, "primitive desire", Phillips, may well refer to sexual cravings, lust. The second, "the lustful eye", Cassirer, speaks of the cravings prompted by what we see. John seems to have covetousness in mind - the problem of envy. The third addresses the tawdry glamor of things, of possessions; "the worldly boasting that accompanies the majoring in the miners of what money can buy", Junkins - the problem of greed. A lifestyle focused on such in no way reflects a loving relationship with God in Christ. Such reflects a life that is worldly-focused, rather than heavenly-focused.

ὁτι "for" - because. Introducing a causal clause explaining why we should not love τα, "the things / anything", in the world.

το "everything" - the things [in the world]. The article serves as an adjectivizer turning the prepositional phrase "in the world" into an attributive modifier of pan, "all" = "everything"; "all that is in the world", Moffatt.

της σαρκος [ξ κος] gen. "of the flesh" - [the lust] of the flesh. The word can be used positively or negatively, and is so used by John; the with a negative connotation. The genitive may be treated as adjectival, attributive / idiomatic, limiting επιθυμια, "lusts, cravings, desire" ("frivolity of misapplied craving", E. Charry), "desires which derive from our carnal nature" = "primitive desires", Phillips, or verbal, subjective, or even ablative, source / origin. In this, and the two genitive constructions that follow, John defines what he means by "everything in the world." Wahlde opts for a general sense, but suggests sexual desire may be in mind; "What the body hankers for", Yarbrough.

των οφθαλμων [ος] gen. "of the eyes" - [and the lust] of the eyes. The genitive is adjectival, usually treated as verbal, subjective, but better adjectival, attributed; "the lustful eye", Cassirer. "Those sinful cravings which are activated by what people see, and lead to covetousness", Kruse.

του βιου [ος] gen. "of life" - [and the pride] of life, livelihood, living, property, possessions. The sense here is probably "property, possessions", although the three phrases are more stylistic than specific, serving as a threefold formula warning of the seductive possibilities of a fallen creation. Again the genitive is usually treated as verbal, objective, "pride in riches"; "the worldly boasting that accompanies majoring in the minors of what money can buy", Junkins. Possibly adjectival, possessive, "the tawdry glamor of (that belongs to) this world's life (things, possessions)", Barclay.

εκ + gen. "[not] from [the Father]" - [is not] from [the father]. Expressing source / origin; although probably here "belongs not to the Father but to the world", Lieu.

αλλ "but" - but [is from the world]. Strong adversative standing in a counterpoint construction; "not ...., but ...." "Wanting your own way, wanting everything for yourself, wanting to appear important - has nothing to do with the Father", Peterson.


One good reason for not putting our weight on the things of this age is that they are transitory; "the world is passing away with all its desires", Brown. Actually, the word "desires" may mean "deceptions", but either way, John's point is that it is impermanent, non-substantial. Yet, what might be so for this age is not necessarily so for believers. If we act according to God's will, we become "part of the permanent and cannot die", Phillips. John explains elsewhere what he means by doing God's will. God requires that we believe in Jesus, put our faith in all that Jesus has promised us, and go on to nurture the fruit of that faith, namely, the love of the brotherhood. To do God's will is to live forever.

και "-" - and. Here indicating thematic continuity with what proceeds and therefore not translated, so Culy.

και "[the world] and" - [the world] and [the lust / deception of it]. "The world is passing away with all its desires", Brown / all its "deception", Vincent Cernuda.

παραγεται [παραγω] pres. mid./pas. "pass away" - is passing away, passing by. The present tense may be futuristic, "will pass away", or durative, "is in the process of passing away", or aoristic, stating a fact apart from time or aspect; "the world is destined for destruction", Culy. A futuristic sense is unlikely since the point being made is that the world is transitory, as against heaven (heaven = God's domain, not heaven = the sky, firmament) which is eternal.

δε "but" - but/and. Transitional, indicating a step in the argument, here to a counterpoint.

ὁ ποιων [ποιεω] pres. part. "whoever does" - the one doing. The participle serves as a substantive. The use of "do" is Semitic in idiom meaning "to act according to", Brown.

το θελημα [α ατος] "the will" - John summarises God's will as believing in his Son, Jesus Christ, and nurturing the fruit of that faith, namely, the love of the brotherhood.

του θεου [ος] gen. "of the Father" - The genitive is usually treated as verbal, subjective, but it can also be taken as adjectival, possessive, "the Father's will / desire."

εις τον αιωνα "forever" - [abides, continues, remains] into the age. Idiomatic."The person who is following God's will is part of the permanent and cannot die", Phillips.


1 John Introduction



[Pumpkin Cottage]