“Brethren, I write no new commandment to you, but an old commandment which you have had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word which you heard from the beginning.”
Verses 3-11 are the second segment of the second chapter of 1 John. These verses deal with the criteria for fellowship with God in Christ and being in communion with him. We come to a new test for determining whether we are in fellowship.
“Brethren” is Beloved in some manuscripts. John continues to address genuine believers (2:1). Any person who believes in the finished work of Christ belongs to the family of God no matter which denomination he belongs to. They are “beloved” to God and other Christians.
I write no new commandment to you,
John’s enemies devalued intimate fellowship with God and its implication of loving the family of God.
The word “new” means new in kind, not new in time. John’s old commandment was not new in kind or novel. Jesus’ “new commandment” to love each other was known to them from the beginning of their Christian experience. This is how others knew that they were Christians (2:9-11).
Jn 13:34-35, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35 By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”
Jn 14:15, “If you love Me, keep My commandments.”
Jn 15:14, “You are My friends if you do whatever I command you.”
The phrase “as I have loved you” is the key to the love that God expects of believers. It was mighty difficult for Jesus to love the disciples, yet He loved them. Jesus loved them with unadulterated, undiminished love.
Fellowship with God demands loving the family of God.
The mark of identity among Christians is that they love one another. Walking in the light is more than overt activity. Love is the evidence of walking in the light. Hate is the sign of walking in darkness. We test whether we genuinely walk in fellowship with God by our love.