I hit 1 John 2:1-2 briefly in my last 1 John Friday post. The “if” clause there continues as a fitting conclusion to the 5 “if”s carried over from chapter 1. But it also opens a few things that are worth exploring on their own.
1) One of the titles Jesus gives to the Holy Spirit in the Gospel of John is “the comforter.” In fact, that forms a major part of his concluding words to his disciples on the night before he was betrayed, letting them know that His return to the Father was better for them, because the “Comforter” would come. We may remember that the Holy Spirit is referred to as “another comforter”, in essence implying that the disciples currently had a comforter with them already. Here, John lets us know that Jesus is still our comforter, or advocate. Here, specifically, Jesus comes alongside us in the times of our sin. This is Jesus, the word of Life, from the Father. We would expect him to be as far away from our sin as possible, but he is not. “If someone sins, we have an advocate with the Father.” And John reminds us of the condescension involved, it is “Jesus Christ the righteous one” who is our advocate in our lowest moments. (In chapter 1, John also describes God the Father as the “righteous”…again in the area of forgiving and cleansing our sins.)
2) “Not for our sins only, but also the sins of the whole world.” I think John is doing a couple things here by adding this:
-First, he is highlighting the magnitude of Jesus’ propitiation. It is more than enough. Lest we think our sin abounds too great for us to confess, too great for even the faithful and just God who promises forgiveness to follow through on, John reminds us His grace is more than enough because Christ’s sacrifice on our behalf was more than enough.
-He is also reminding the huddle of its external obligations. John will later emphasize acts of love. He also will warn against the dangers of loving the “world” (same word for world here). But remember this is a church that has experience abandonment from their so-called brothers and sisters following the false teachers. Their tendency will be to huddle up, to go into their shells for self-protection. And John, while giving them a great amount of encouragement, gently reminds them that there is more at stake than just their group. There is a world outside that Christ also died for that they should keep in mind. (and yes, this verse would make the stricter, unqualified forms of “limited atonement” Biblically untenable).