1 John 2:19
“They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us.”
Explanation and Commentary of 1 John 2:19
Those of us who love and believe the doctrine of eternal security, that once we are truly saved, we are always saved, also known as perseverance of the saints, will hang their belief on this verse. There are many who seem to be Christian who are not. In every generation, there will be those who find reasons to participate in church, who have no true fear of God. As long as there are other benefits to participation, there will be the unregenerate in the pews.
When enough of those reasons to participate fall away, through persecution, or cultural shifts, or peer pressure, the faker will walk away. John, having already noticed the tendency of the Church to attract unbelievers to itself, explains that they were not truly born again. If they had been, they would not have been able to “go out from us.” Many enjoy the ideas of Christianity but do not want to submit to God. Some people love the relationships they build in the church but ignore the one relationship that matters most. Others are fearful and guilty and try to use the church to alleviate their fears when they should be running to Jesus. When things get hard for any of them, they fall away.
The warning for the Christian would be to make our “calling and election sure” (2 Pt 1:10), and to “work out your salvation with fear and trembling” (Phil 2:12). And above all to be humble about our own faith. We should have assurance of salvation, but at the same time heed the clear warnings in the New Testament not to fall away (Heb 3:13). These warnings are part of the grace of God to ensure our salvation. Pray regularly that you are the real deal and will not walk away because you cannot. In a certain sense, we only know for sure when we are dying, and we still love God. That proves that we truly always “belonged to” the body of Christ, and never could have left.
Breaking Down the Key Parts of 1 John 2:19
#1 “They went out from us,”
John is speaking of people who they had once shared fellowship with, but who have not just gone away, but even gone to a sect that opposes the true gospel. He goes so far as to call them antichrists (1 Jn 2:18).
#2 “but they did not really belong to us.”
John is saying they never had true faith. They either pretended to belong to the fellowship and believe the Gospel, or they were drawn in by some aspect of the Christian life that they at first found attractive without being born-again.
#3 “For if they had belonged to us; they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us.”
This is a very simple statement of both the doctrine of eternal security, and the sad fact that there will always be imposters in the church who will one day walk out, or worse, oppose the Gospel.
Bible Study on 1 John 2:19
Expert Overview of 1-3 John
Biblical Translations of 1 John 2:19
They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us.
These people left our churches, but they never really belonged with us; otherwise they would have stayed with us. When they left, it proved that they did not belong with us.
They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us.
They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.
They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us.
Natalie Regoli is a child of God, devoted wife, and mother of two boys. She has a Masters Degree in Law from The University of Texas. Natalie has been published in several national journals and has been practicing law for 18 years. If you would like to reach out to contact Natalie, then go here to send her a message.