John had the most intimate hands-on contact and acquaintance with Jesus
Christ, who is THE LIFE. We must walk in the light and confess sins to have fellowship
with God and fellow believers and to have cleansing from all sin. We should engage in a pro-active pursuit of God.
We need to be diligent in Bible reading and study, in honest prayer to God, in quality fellowship with sincere believers,
and in our witnessing for Jesus Christ to non believers.
Fausset, & Brown, Commentary 1871: http://www.ccel.org/ccel/jamieson/jfb.xi.xxiii.ii.html 1Jo 1:1-10. The Writer's Authority
as an Eyewitness to the Gospel Facts, Having Seen, Heard, and Handled Him Who Was from the Beginning: His Object in Writing:
His Message. If We Would Have Fellowship with Him, We Must Walk in Light, as He Is Light.
1. Instead of a formal, John adopts a virtual
address (compare 1Jo 1:4). To wish joy to the reader was the ancient customary address. The sentence begun in 1Jo 1:1 is broken
off by the parenthetic 1Jo 1:2, and is resumed at 1Jo 1:3 with the repetition of some words from 1Jo 1:1.
That which was—not "began to be," but was essentially (Greek, "een,"
not "egeneto") before He was manifested (1Jo 1:2) ; answering to "Him that is from the beginning" (1Jo
2:13); so John's Gospel, Joh 1:1, "In the beginning was the Word." Pr 8:23, "I was set up from everlasting,
from the beginning, or ever the earth was." we—apostles. heard … seen … looked upon …
handled—a series rising in gradation. Seeing is a more convincing proof than hearing of; handling, than even seeing.
"Have heard … have seen" (perfect tenses), as a possession still abiding with us; but in Greek (not as English
Version "have," but simply) "looked upon" (not perfect tense, as of a continuing thing, but aorist, past
time) while Christ the incarnate Word was still with us.
His glory, as revealed in the Transfiguration and in His miracles; and His passion and death in a real body of flesh and blood.
"Looked upon" as a wondrous spectacle steadfastly, deeply, contemplatively; so the Greek. Appropriate to John's
contemplative character. hands … handled—Thomas and the other disciples on distinct occasions after the
himself had leaned on Jesus' breast at the last supper. Contrast the wisest of the heathen feeling after (the same Greek as
here; groping after WITH THE HANDS") if haply they might find God (see Ac 17:27).
This proves against Socinians he is here speaking of the personal incarnate Word, not of Christ's teaching from the
beginning of His official life. of—"concerning"; following "heard." "Heard" is the
verb most applying to the purpose of the Epistle, namely the truth which John had heard concerning the Word of life, that
is, (Christ) the Word who is the life. "Heard," namely, from Christ Himself, including all Christ's teachings about
Himself. Therefore he puts "of," or "concerning," before "the word of life," which is inapplicable
to any of the verbs except "heard"; also "heard" is the only one of the verbs which he resumes at 1Jo
2. the life—Jesus, "the
Word of life."
was manifested—who had previously
been "with the Father." show—Translate as in 1Jo 1:3, "declare"
(compare 1Jo 1:5). Declare is the general term; write is the particular (1Jo 1:4). that eternal life—Greek, "the life which is eternal." As the Epistle
begins, so it ends with "eternal life," which we shall ever enjoy with, and in, Him who is "the life eternal."
which—Greek, "the which." the before-mentioned (1Jo 1:1) life
which was with the Father "from the beginning" (compare Joh 1:1). This proves the
distinctness of the First and Second Persons in the one Godhead.
That which we have seen and heard—resumed from 1Jo 1:1, wherein the sentence, being interrupted by 1Jo 1:2, parenthesis, was left incomplete. declare
we unto you—Oldest manuscripts add also; unto you also who have not seen or heard
Him. that ye also may have fellowship with us—that ye also who have not seen, may
have the fellowship with us which we who have seen enjoy; what that fellowship consists in he proceeds to state,
"Our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son." Faith realizes what we have not seen as spiritually visible;
not till by faith we too have seen, do we know all the excellency of the true Solomon. He Himself is ours; He in us and we
We are "partakers of the divine nature." We know
God only by having fellowship with Him; He may thus be known, but not comprehended. The repetition of "with"
before the "Son," distinguishes the persons, while the fellowship or communion with both
Father and Son, implies their unity. It is not added "and with the Holy Ghost"; for it is by
the Holy Ghost or Spirit of the Father and Son in us, that we are enabled to have fellowship with the Father and Son
(compare 1Jo 3:24). Believers enjoy the fellowship OF, but not WITH, the Holy Ghost. "Through Christ
God closes up the chasm that separated Him from the human race, and imparts Himself to them in the communion of the divine
4. these things—and none other, namely, this whole Epistle. write we unto you—Some
oldest manuscripts omit "unto you," and emphasize "we." Thus the antithesis is between "we"
(apostles and eye-witnesses) and "your." We write thus that your joy may be full. Other oldest
manuscripts and versions read "OUR joy," namely, that our joy may be filled full by bringing you also into
fellowship with the Father and Son. (Compare Joh
4:36, end; Php 2:2, "Fulfil ye
my joy," Php 2:16; 4:1; 2Jo
is possible that "your" may be a correction of transcribers to make this verse harmonize with Joh 15:11; 16:24; however, as John often repeats favorite phrases, he may do so here, so "your" may be from himself. So 2Jo 12, "your"
in oldest manuscripts. The authority of manuscripts and versions on both sides here is almost evenly balanced. Christ Himself
is the source, object, and center of His people's joy (compare 1Jo 1:3, end); it is in fellowship with
Him that we have joy, the fruit of faith.
5. First division of the body of the Epistle (compare Introduction).
declare—Greek, "announce"; report in turn; a different Greek word from
1Jo 1:3. As the Son announced the message heard from the Father as His apostle, so the Son's apostles announce
what they have heard from the Son. John nowhere uses the term "Gospel"; but the witness or testimony,
the word, the truth, and here the message. God is light—What light is in the natural
world, that God, the source of even material light, is in the spiritual, the fountain of wisdom, purity, beauty, joy, and
As all material life and growth depends on light,
so all spiritual life and growth depends on God. As God here, so Christ, in 1Jo 2:8, is called "the
true light." no darkness at all—strong negation; Greek, "No, not even one speck
of darkness"; no ignorance, error, untruthfulness, sin, or death. John heard this from Christ, not only in express words,
but in His acted words, namely, His is whole manifestation in the flesh as "the brightness of the Father's glory."
Christ Himself was the embodiment of "the message," representing fully in all His sayings, doings, and sufferings,
Him who is LIGHT.
6. say—profess. have fellowship with him—(1Jo 1:3). The essence of the Christian life. walk—in inward and outward action, whithersoever
we turn ourselves[Bengel]. in darkness—Greek, "in the darkness";
opposed to "the light" (compare 1Jo
2:8, 11). lie—(1Jo 2:4). do not—in practice, whatever we say.the truth--(Eph 4:21; Joh3:21).
7. Compare Eph
5:8, 11-14. "We walk"; "God is (essentially
in His very nature as 'the light,' 1Jo 1:5) in the light." Walking in the light, the element in which God Himself
is, constitutes the test of fellowship with Him. Christ, like us, walked in the light (1Jo 2:6). Alford
notices, Walking in the light as He is in the light, is no mere imitation of God, but an identity in the essential element
of our daily walk with the essential element of God's eternal being. we have fellowship one with another—and
of course with God (to be understood from 1Jo
1:6). Without having fellowship with God there can be no
true and Christian fellowship one with another (compare 1Jo 1:3). and—as the
result of "walking in the light, as He is in the light." the blood of Jesus … cleanseth us from all
sin—daily contracted through the sinful weakness of the flesh, and the power of Satan and the world.
He is speaking not of justification through His blood once for all, but of the present
sanctification("cleanseth" is present tense) which the believer, walking in the light and
having fellowship with God and the saints, enjoys as His privilege. Compare Joh 13:10, Greek,"He
that has been bathed,needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit." Compare 1Jo 1:9, "cleanse us from all unrighteousness," a further step besides "forgiving us our
sins." Christ's blood is the cleansing mean, whereby gradually, being already justified and in fellowship with God, we
become clean from all sin which would mar our fellowship with God. Faith applies the cleansing, purifying blood.
Some oldest manuscripts omit "Christ"; others retain it.
onfession of sins is a necessary consequence of "walking in the light" (1Jo 1:7). "If thou shalt confess thyself a sinner, the truth is in thee; for the truth is itself
light. Not yet has thy life become perfectly light, as sins are still in thee, but yet thou hast already begun to
be illuminated, because there is in thee confession of sins" [Augustine]. that we have no sin—"Have,"
not "have had," must refer not to the past sinful life while unconverted, but to the present state
wherein believers have sin even still. Observe, "sin" is in the singular; "(confess our) sins"
(1Jo 1:9) in the plural. Sin refers to the corruption of the old man still present in
us, and the stain created by the actual sins flowing from that old nature in us.
To confess our need of cleansing from present sin is essential to "walking in the
light"; so far is the presence of some sin incompatible with our in the main "walking in light." But
the believer hates, confesses, and longs to be delivered from all sin, which is darkness. "They who defend their
sins, will see in the great day whether their sins can defend them." deceive ourselves—We cannot
deceive God; we only make ourselves to err from the right path. the truth—(1Jo 2:4). True
faith. "The truth respecting God's holiness and our sinfulness, which is the very first spark of light in us, has no
place in us" [Alford].
9. confess—with the lips, speaking from a contrite heart; involving also confession to our
fellow men of offenses committed against them. he—God. faithful—to
His own promises; "true" to His word. just—Not merely the mercy, but the justice
or righteousness of God is set forth in the redemption of the penitent believer in Christ. God's promises of mercy,
to which He is faithful, are in accordance with His justice. to—Greek,
"in order that."
His forgiving us our sins and cleansing
us, &c., is in furtherance of the ends of His eternal faithfulness and justice. forgive—remitting
the guilt. cleanse—purify from all filthiness, so that henceforth we more and more become
free from the presence of sin through the Spirit of sanctification (compare Heb 9:14; and above, see
on 1Jo 1:7). unrighteousness—offensive to Him who "is just" or righteous;
called "sin," 1Jo 1:7, because "sin is the transgression of the law," and the law is the
expression of God's righteousness, so that sin is unrighteousness.
10. Parallel to 1Jo 1:8. we have not sinned—referring to the commission of actual sins, even after regeneration
and conversion; whereas in 1Jo 1:8, "we have no sin," refers to the present GUILT remaining (until cleansed)
from the actual sins committed, and to the SIN of our corrupt old nature still adhering to us. The perfect "have
… sinned" brings down the commission of sins to the present time, not merely sins committed before, but
since, conversion. we make him a liar—a gradation; 1Jo 1:6, "we lie";
1Jo 1:8, "we deceive ourselves"; worst of all, "we make Him a liar," by denying His
word that all men are sinners (compare 1Jo
5:10). his word is not in us—
"His word," which is "the truth" (1Jo 1:8), accuses us truly; by denying it we drive it from
our hearts (compare Joh 5:38). Our rejection of "His word" in respect to our being sinners, implies
as the consequence our rejection of His word and will revealed in the law and Gospel as a whole; for these throughout
rest on the fact that we have sinned, and have sin. Jesus saith unto him, I am the way,
the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me (John14:6).