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Fellowship with God
Summary —The Word of Life. Eternal Life Manifested. God Is Light. Those in Fellowship with Him Must Walk in the Light.
1–4. That which was from the beginning. Compare John 1:1; see notes there. Compare also Gen. 1:1. John 1:1 shows that the Word, manifested as Christ, was from the beginning. Which we have heard, … looked upon, … handled. In its incarnate form in the person of Jesus Christ. The Word of life. Christ, the revealed Word, when it became flesh and dwelt among men; “in whom also was life” (John 1:4). 2. The life was manifested. They had seen the Life manifested in the person of Christ. And bear witness. The office of the apostle, having seen and known the Eternal Life as he lived on earth, was to bear witness of him to the world. 3. That ye also may have fellowship. To declare what they had seen and heard was simply to preach the gospel. This knowledge communicated to others brought those who accepted it into a fellowship of knowledge and hope. Those are in fellowship who are partakers of the same faith, hopes, and privileges. With us. All the saints entered into fellowship with the apostles, but the apostles were in fellowship with the Father. This grand fellowship, that of the saints with the Father and the Son, is simply a guarantee that no good thing will be withheld from us; that “all things are ours.” There is a fellowship of peace, of concord, of eternal life and glory. 4. These things write we. This assurance of the divine fellowship is given in order that they may rejoice with the fullness of joy in the glorious hope.
5–7. This then is the message. The message heard from Christ, now declared, is that God is light. The source whence all light, whether it be physical, or moral or spiritual, comes; the Enlightener of the universe. The term denotes luminous clearness, the free and benevolent source from whence flow light, intelligence, purity and blessing, absolutely free from alien intermixture, since in him there is no darkness at all. Light represents truth, knowledge and holiness. Darkness represents ignorance, error, falsehood and sin. 6. If we say … and walk in darkness. To claim a fellowship with him who is Light and to walk in the darkness of error, of ignorance, and of sinfulness are utterly inconsistent. Do not the truth. He who obeys not the truth walks in darkness. 7. But if we walk in the light. We walk in the light by following Christ, the Light of the world. We have fellowship. All who are walking in the light have the common life. The blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. Cleansed by the blood of Christ, and thus made holy, we are fitted for the heavenly communion.
8–10. If we say that we have no sin. To say that we have reached a sinless state in which we no longer need the blood of Christ to cleanse us is a deception. This language is in square opposition to the claims of the “Perfectionists” of all ages. 9. If we confess our sins. Instead of affirming that we are sinless we should confess our sins. Faithful and just. If we confess our sins the Lord will be faithful to his promise of mercy, and just in requiring us to have the atonement of Christ, to forgive us our sins. 10. If we say that we have not sinned. God says we have sinned. He declares “There is none righteous; no, not one.” Hence, if we affirm that we are sinless we make God a liar.
Note. —It must be noted that these words concerning sin, found in verses 8–10, are not addressed to Gentile sinners, but a generation which had grown up in the church. Indeed, of all the epistles, this is the only one which can truly be said to have been addressed to a Christian generation. Hence, it would naturally emphasize, not the unconverted sinner's need of pardon, but of the Christian's constant need of a pardoning Savior. It is the Christian who cannot say that he has no sin, and who must find pardon by confessing his sins to Christ. Acts 2:38 shows how the alien sinner may obtain remission; 1 John 1:9 shows how the Christian, when he sins, may obtain remission.
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