1 John 3:22-24

Whatever we ask. Another gospel?

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22And whatever we ask we receive from him, because we keep his commandments and do the things that are pleasing to him. (1 John 3:22)
At first glance, we almost immediately accept that in order to receive "whatever we ask," we must satisfy at least one condition: "keep his commandments." "Doing what is pleasing to him" is simply an extension of the requirement to keep the commandments.

Let’s start with “keep his commandments.” We know that the commandments are essential components of the law, which is a prerequisite for the Old Covenant. New Covenant Christians, on the other hand, have been exempt from the law:

But now we have been released from the law, because we have died to what controlled us, so that we may serve in the new life of the Spirit and not under the old written code. (Romans 7:6)

Because believers have been exempted from the law, John’s promise of receiving “whatever we ask” is rendered null and void. 1 John 3:22 now contains two disjointed thoughts, the second of which is rendered invalid by the New Covenant.

The goal of a Christian is to walk in accordance with the Holy Spirit’s leading, not to get what they want or to obey the commandments. However, in order to walk in the Spirit, you must first get out from under the law.

But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. (Galatians 5:18)


23And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us. (1 John 3:23)

There is only one law under the New Covenant, which is known as the “law of the Spirit of Life.” (Romans 8:2) Its counterpart is the Old Covenant law, also known as the “law of sin and death.” As stated previously, New Covenant believers have been freed from the law of sin and death.

This new law of the Spirit of Life has only one prerequisite: faith in the name of God’s Son (John 1:12; 6:29; 20:31). Nonetheless, John adds “and to love one another” to it. But why should we only love one another when Jesus told us to love our enemies as well?

Love, as wonderful as it is, is a fruit of the Spirit. It occurs as a result of the Holy Spirit’s work after someone is saved. Under the Old Covenant, love was a commandment, but under the New, it is a fruit.

The danger of adding an Old Covenant commandment to the gospel of Jesus Christ is that it makes salvation impossible for anyone. John should not have added “to love one another” to verse 24, but should have trusted that the Holy Spirit would bear the fruit of love in those who truly believe in God’s Son.

Nghi Nguyen

- Scripture quoted by permission. All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the NET Bible® copyright ©1996-2006 by Biblical Studies Press, L.L.C. All rights reserved.

Disclaimer: This is my own opinion on the topic, which does not necessarily reflect the church's theology, or beliefs of the individuals in it — Nghi Nguyen

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