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Questions and Answers | Old and New

In 1 John 2:7–8, John says the commandment is old and new. How can the commandment be old and new at the same time?

The words “old” and “new” used to describe the same commandment highlight two vital aspects of the commandment and the Word of God in general. “I am writing you no new commandment but an old commandment that you had from the beginning,” John writes. “At the same time, it is a new commandment that I am writing to you” (1 John 2:7–8).

The commandment John refers to is old because it was from the beginning of our Lord’s earthly ministry and its origin is from the Lord Himself (1 John 1:5; 3:11). Beginnings still matter. Even though John is writing about 60 years after the bodily resurrection of Jesus, the commandment has not changed, and its origin is still divine. In this sense it is old.

At the same time, the commandment is new in that it is fresh, and its power can and should be experienced in fresh ways. While Christianity is an “old” belief, each believer experiences Christianity in a “new” and fresh way. The oldness and newness of the commandment teaches us a vital lesson: We do not alter Christianity. It must be experienced anew and in fresh ways by every generation of Christ followers.

BY Dr. Winfred O. Neely

Dr. Winfred Neely is Vice President and Dean of Moody Theological Seminary and Graduate School. An ordained minister, Winfred has served churches across the city of Chicago, the near west suburbs, and Senegal, West Africa. He is the author of How to Overcome Worry (Moody Publishers) and a contributor to the Moody Bible Commentary and Moody Handbook of Preaching. Winfred and his wife Stephne have been married for forty years and have four adult children and nine grandchildren.

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