1 John 2

Living Hope in a Dying World


If anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous (1 John 2:1).

The word “advocate” (Gk. paraklētos) refers to someone who is called to the aid of another. The general meaning refers to someone who helps or intercedes, but it can also be used of a lawyer who functions as a legal advocate. It is another word that is used in the New Testament only by John (cf. John 14:16, 26; 15:26; 16:7). This bust portrays Cicero (106–43 BC), who was a famous lawyer and orator. It was photographed at the Capitoline Museums in Rome.


He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for those of the whole world (1 John 2:2).

The term “propitiation” (Gk. hilasmos) refers to something offered as an appeasement for sin. It is used in the LXX to refer to a sin offering or a sacrifice made to atone for sin (cf. LXX Ezek 44:27). Sacrifice was a regular part of the rites that took place at pagan temples in the 1st century. The altar was typically a central focal point in front of any temple. At least five temples (including this one) have been discovered at Pompeii, giving some indication of how common they were in the 1st century AD.

Young Men

I have written to you, young men, because you are strong (1 John 2:14).

This bronze statue portrays a strong, well-muscled man in the prime of life. Portrayed as a boxer, he is stripped for competition, but wears boxing gloves on his hands. This statue comes from the Via IV Novembre on the Quirinal slopes in Rome and is dated ca. 100 BC. It was photographed at the National Museum of Rome.

A Perishing World

The world is passing away, as are its lusts (1 John 2:17).

If John wrote this letter late in his life, Domitian (r. AD 81–96) may have been the sitting emperor. A temple to Domitian stood proudly in John’s adopted hometown of Ephesus. Today, it lies in ruins.

The Hope of Resurrection

And this is the promise which He Himself made to us: eternal life (1 John 2:25).

The promise of eternal life is a promise of life even after death; it is a promise of resurrection. This Christian sarcophagus, called the sarcophagus of two brothers, dates to the 4th century. It seems to anticipate the resurrection through the depiction of the faith of numerous characters from both the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament.

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