Very much unlike the condescending arrogance of the Roman popes, but entirely in line with the behavior of Christ’s apostles, John deals very meekly with his fellow believers.  Who ever heard of a pope or a cult leader who humbly besought his brethren in any fashion?  But the apostles, though they possessed authority derived from Christ Himself, thought it fit to beseech their brethren by spiritual arguments to walk in the way of life.

That way here is the way of love.  John says that he is not writing a new commandment to the elect lady, but the commandment to love one another, which they had from the beginning.  It is possible that he is pointing her to the commandment in the law of Moses, that we love our neighbors as ourselves.  However, I rather think, since John’s mind was so filled up with the command of Christ that we love one another as He loved us, that he is pointing to that heavenly maxim.  The argument against this interpretation would be that he insists it is not a new commandment, but one which we had from the beginning.  While I grant that this was called by Christ “a new commandment,” and is sometimes referred to as such by John, that we may safely understand the apostle here not to refer to antiquity, but rather to something that was preached from the beginning of the apostolic age.  The beginning of the Christian era was when Christ began to go forth and preach that men should repent and believe the gospel.  It was at the very dawn of the apostolic age when Christ uttered this command to love one another as He loved us.  There can be little doubt that it was a theme of the teaching of the apostolic church.  Therefore, wherever John and his fellow apostles went, they would have related this command to the new believers in Christ.  By the time the aged apostle penned this letter to the elect lady and her children, he could rightly refer to that commandment as one “which we had from the beginning”; meaning, thereby, from the very beginning of our introduction to the Gospel, we had this commandment of love from Christ our Saviour.

Love with John is not some airy, ethereal thing, felt in the emotions and revealed only by a star-struck look in the eyes.  Genuine love is not even necessarily accompanied by deep movement of the affections.  In fact, those sort of emotions may accompany base and lewd actions.  There can be no doubt that those who fall into fornication are often possessed by powerful emotions which they call “love.”  Hollywood has made its fortune trading upon this concept of love.  But it has nothing to do with the vibrant spiritual affection to which John is pointing us.  And here, by the direction of the Holy Spirit, John would instruct us in what true love really is.  It is not that porneo love which was so admired by the Greeks, but was entirely restricted to sensual affections.  Rather, John points us higher, to the phileo brotherly love which characterizes the feelings of Christians for one another; yea, even to the spiritual agape love, the very essence of which is contained in Christ’s new commandment.