1 My little children [i.e., dear ones], I am writing this to you so that you will not sin anymore. But if anyone does sin, we have Someone to go to the Father on our behalf; it is Jesus Christ, the [only] righteous One. 2 And He is the One who provides a "covering over" [or atonement] for our sins [See Heb. 2:17; Dan. 9:24; II Chron. 29:24], and not for ours [who are already Christians] only, but also for the sins of the people of the whole world.
3 And here is how we can be assured that we know Jesus [i.e., that we are saved]: [It is] by obeying what He commands us. 4 The person who says, "I have come to know Him," but does not obey what He commands, is lying [by such a profession], and the truth [about the matter] is not in his heart. 5 But the person who obeys what His teaching requires, truly in this person love for God has been made complete. This is [another way] to be sure that we are in [fellowship with] Him: 6 The person who claims he is continuing to live in [fellowship with] Jesus should also live the way He did.
7 My dearly loved ones, I am not writing to you about a new commandment, but about an old one. [It is the one] you had learned about from the beginning. [Note: This is the commandment to love one another (3:1: II John 5) which Jesus had taught his disciples during His earthly ministry. See Mark 12:31]. This old commandment is the word [of God] which you heard [previously]. 8 Yet, I am [also] writing to you about a new commandment [Note: This commandment was to love one another as Jesus loved them. See John 13:34]; its truth is [being demonstrated] by Christ [perfectly] and [also] by you people [in a lesser measure], because the darkness [of sin] is passing away, and the real light [of righteousness] is already shining [in people's lives].
9 The person who claims to be living in [harmony with] the light [i.e., by obeying God's truth], and [yet] hates his brother is still [living] in the darkness [of sin]. 10 [However], the person who loves his brother continues to live in [harmony with] the light [of God's truth], and such a person is not the cause of others stumbling [over his example]. 11 But the person who hates his brother is in the darkness [of sin] and he lives in [harmony with] that darkness, and he does not know where he is heading, because the darkness [of sin] has blinded his eyes [to his spiritual condition].
12 I am writing to you, little children [i.e., dear ones], because you have been forgiven of your sins for [the sake of] Christ's name. 13 I am writing to you fathers, because you have known Him [i.e., Christ], [who has existed] from the beginning [See John 1:1]. I am writing to you young men, because you have overcome the [power of the] evil one [i.e., through faith they had gained victory over Satan, See 5:4]. 14 I have written to you little children [i.e., dear ones], because you have known the Father [as your God]. I have written to you fathers, because you have known Him [i.e., Christ], [who has existed] from the beginning. [See verse 13]. I have written to you young men, because you are [spiritually] strong and the word of God continues to live in your hearts, and you have overcome the [power of the] evil one [See verse 13].
15 You should not love the [godless] world, nor the things [i.e., the materialistic values] that are part of this [present] age. If any person loves the world, a [genuine] love for the Father is not in his heart. 16 For all that makes up the world, namely, the improper desires of the physical body, the improper desires for what is seen, and the [boastful] pride over life's possessions; these are not from the Father, but from the [godless] world. 17 And the world, with its [physical and material] desires, is passing away, but the person who does what God wants will continue to live forever.
18 Dear children, it is [now] the last hour [i.e., the final period of God's dealing with people on earth], and since you have heard that an antichrist [i.e., a person who is against Christ] is coming, even now [you should be aware that] many antichrists have [already] come. This is [one way] we know that this is the last hour. 19 These antichrists left our group [i.e., withdrew their fellowship from us], but they were not [really a part] of us, for if they had been, they would have continued [to participate] with us. But, by their leaving us, it proved that none of them were [really] a part of our group [after all].
20 But, you people have a "special gift" from the Holy One [Note: The Greek word for "special gift" is "charisma" and probably refers to the Holy Spirit (See Acts 2:38); "Holy One" probably refers to Jesus, (See Acts 2:27; 3:14)], and all of you know [the truth]. 21 I did not write to you people because you are ignorant of the truth [about these matters], but because you do know it, and because nothing false belongs to the true teaching. 22 Who is the liar? It is the person who denies that Jesus [truly] is the Christ [i.e., God's specially chosen One]. This person is the antichrist [See verse 18]; he is the one who denies [the truth about] the Father and the Son. 23 Every person who denies [the truth about] the Son [See 4:2-3], does not have the Father [living in his heart]; but, the person who confesses [the truth about] the Son has the Father [living in his heart] also.
24 You people should continue [to practice] what you heard from the beginning [i.e., to love one another, See verses 7-11]. If you do, then you also will continue in [fellowship with] the Son, and with the Father. 25 And this is the promise which Christ [or, "God"] has given to us: [It is] never ending life. [Note: This passage may mean that God promised us "the Eternal Life," that is, Christ, See John 3:16]. 26 I have written these things to you people concerning those who are trying to lead you astray [from the truth].
27 And this is important to you: The "special gift," which you received from God [See verse 20], continues to live in your hearts, [so that] you do not need anyone to teach you [anything different]. But, since this same "special gift" teaches you concerning everything that is true, and [what it teaches] is not false, you should continue to live in [fellowship with] Christ.
28 And now, little children [i.e., dear ones], continue to live in [fellowship with] Christ, so that when He appears, we may have boldness and not have [any reason] to be ashamed in front of Him at His [second] coming. 29 If you know that Christ is [truly] righteous [verse 1], then you should also know that everyone who does what is right has been [spiritually] conceived [and eventually born] by God [See 5:18].