What does 1 John 2:21 mean?
ESV: I write to you, not because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and because no lie is of the truth.
NIV: I do not write to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it and because no lie comes from the truth.
NASB: I have not written to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it, and because no lie is of the truth.
CSB: I have not written to you because you don't know the truth, but because you do know it, and because no lie comes from the truth.
NLT: So I am writing to you not because you don’t know the truth but because you know the difference between truth and lies.
KJV: I have not written unto you because ye know not the truth, but because ye know it, and that no lie is of the truth.
NKJV: I have not written to you because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and that no lie is of the truth.
Verse Commentary:
John again uses the phrase, "I write to you" (1 John 2:13–14), likely to emphasize the following words. His emphasis seems to be that those reading his letter are not antichrists. Truth is something a believer knows, not simply factual information, but knowledge that is accepted and applied. This, in fact, is faith: more than mere agreement, it is trust.

This verse also emphasizes the biblical view of truth. Namely, that truth exists and its opposite is false. Some approaches to truth deny this, claiming that opposites can both be true, or that there is no "real" truth. According to the Scriptures, this is not the case. There is one, and only one, "real" truth.

John follows with the clarification that truth and lies are in opposition to one another. This verse repeats the theme of 1 John 1:6 that living sinfully while claiming fellowship with God is a heinous lie. Truth is major theme in 1 John (1 John 1:6, 8; 2:4, 21; 3:18, 19; 4:6; 5:6), as well as 2 John (2 John 1:1, 2, 3, 4) and 3 John (3 John 1:1, 3, 4, 8, 12). John further mentions "truth" more than 20 times in his Gospel, emphasizing Jesus as truth (John 14:6) and that the truth will set you free (John 8:32).
Verse Context:
First John 2:18–27 warns against those who oppose Christ in their teachings. These ''anti-Christs'' deny that Jesus is God. They reject Him as part of the Trinity, or claim He did not appear in the flesh. John again makes reference to truth ''abiding'' in someone, encouraging his readers to hold to the gospel that saved them.
Chapter Summary:
Chapter 2 explains the fellowship Christians have with God. Christ is our advocate, even when we sin. Christians are not to love things of the world, or to love the world. Instead, we are to live, love, and act like Christ. False teachers, and those who deny Jesus are called ''liars.'' Those who demonstrate a Christ-like behavior are ''born of'' God.
Chapter Context:
Chapter 1 introduced the primary themes of John’s letter. Chapters 2 and 3 lay out a detailed description of how Christian conduct is meant to be marked by obedience to the truth. Christians are called to live like Christ. Therefore, those who do not (live that way) do not have ''the truth'' in them. Later chapters of this letter will fill in how Christian love and conduct give us confidence in our daily lives.
Book Summary:
First John seems to assume that the reader is familiar with the gospel. Rather than re-state these facts, John is concerned with building confidence in Christian believers. At the same time, his words encourage believers to examine their own lives for signs of their relationship with Christ. This letter also challenges false teachers and their incorrect claims about Jesus. Many themes are shared with the Gospel of John.
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