Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him,
1 John 2:4 (ESV)
John starts verse 4 referencing those who say they know Jesus, “Whoever says ‘I know him'”. Know is the Greek word ginóskó which is to know, recognize or perceive. HELPS defines know as follows:
1097 ginṓskō – properly, to know, especially through personal experience (first-hand acquaintance). 1097 /ginṓskō (“experientially know”) is used for example in Lk 1:34, “And Mary [a virgin] said to the angel, ‘How will this be since I do not know (1097 /ginṓskō = sexual intimacy) a man?'”
This is knowledge that is not head knowledge but experiential knowledge. The him which is referenced is the subject of the letter, whom John has previously identified in Chapter 1, Jesus Christ. John is talking to believers, those whose life has been changed by their relationship with Christ.
John is now telling us how to differentiate between those who know Jesus and those who claim to know Jesus with the conjunction, but. What is the but he is referencing? It is those who claim to know Jesus, but do not keep his commandments. Keep is the Greek word téreó which is defined as to watch over or to guard and is often used in the sense of to keep, guard, observe or to watch over.
The subject of this keeping is his commandments and is the Greek word entolé which is defined as injunction, order or command. Helps adds to this definition as follows:
1785 entolḗ (a feminine noun derived from 1722 /en, “in,” which intensifies 5056 /télos, “reach the end, consummation”) – properly, “in the end,” focusing on the end-result (objective) of a command.https://biblehub.com/greek/1785.htm
[1785 /entolḗ (a feminine noun) highlights the nature of a specific order (charge), i.e. its “in-context objective.”]
John now tells us that a person who makes this claim and does not keep his commandments is a liar. Liar is the Greek word pseustés and is defined simply as a liar, however there is another aspect to what it is to be a liar. Let’s take a moment to compare today’s definition of lair with the definition Webster had in 1828. In modern English a liar is a person who tells lies, but the 1828 editions states a liar as follows:
1. A person who knowingly utters falsehood; one who declares to another as a fact what he knows to be not true, and with an intention to deceive him. The uttering of falsehood by mistake, and without an intention to deceive, does not constitute one a liar.http://webstersdictionary1828.com/Dictionary/liar
2. One who denies Christ. 1 John 2:4.
A liar is more than just someone who tells lies, it is one in whom Christ does not dwell.
Truth is again, alétheia which is truth in reality. John tells us if he is a liar, that the truth is not in him.
Observation: John seems to be making a very simple statement, however there is depth to the this statement. If we go to the gospel of John in verse 14:1-14, he records a statement that Christ made:
John 14:-14 (ESV)
1 “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. 2 In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. 4 And you know the way to where I am going.” 5 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” 6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7 If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”
8 Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” 9 Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works. 11 Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works themselves.
12 “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. 13 Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14If you ask mee anything in my name, I will do it.
Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. If we claim to know Jesus and we do not keep or guard God’s commands then we are liars. Liars not only in our declaration of faith, but perhaps we need to bring it to him as we may be lying to ourselves as well. How can Christ dwell in us and our lives not be transformed? How can we profess faith in the sinless one and yet keep on sinning? Christ died for us while we were still sinners, not just so we could go to heaven, but to live a life worthy of the calling He has placed on us. John is telling us to beware of those who would lead us and there life is contrary to there profession. At the same time he is reminding us of who Jesus is, and what that should mean to us. Christ said if you know me you know the Father and he also said “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father.” Works are necessary not for salvation but they stand as an evidence of the faith we profess. The hope that we now have in Christ. If Christ is truly in us; if truth is truly in us, then He is our hope and this hope should bear witness in us or perhaps better stated our lives should reflect our hope, and the One in whom we hope.
Abba, we come before and know that in you there is absolute truth for You are the source of truth. Father we ask that you would fill us with your truth and let us know we are Yours. Show us the love demonstrated on the cross and show us the mercy shown to us on the cross. For Christ died for us while we were still sinners. That should have been us. Forsaken for eternity. God let our hearts overflow with this transforming truth, and let us stop and consider our hearts before you. Examine us and reveal to us those areas in our lives where faith is not demonstrated. Where we must stop and say, Jesus why am I not changed in this area. What is Your truth say. That Your Spirit would convict us and cause us to bow before You and ask that we would be changed, for Christ’s sake and in His name. Amen.
God bless you,