1 John 1

1 John 1

The Word of Life

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life—the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us—that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.

Walking in the Light

This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.


1 John 1 Commentary

by Brad Boyles

In this first chapter, John does not identify himself as the author, nor does the writing contain the typical structure of a letter. Many have speculated that this was a written sermon. Nevertheless, it was John who wrote it and it was specific to the situations that were going on to those he was writing to.

John’s own letters read just as beautifully as his Gospel. While he focuses on the Incarnate Word in the latter, this book begins with a description of the disciples’ physical experiences with God in the flesh. In the same way that John had fellowship with Jesus during His ministry, his desire is for new believers to have fellowship with the resurrected Lord.

Essentially, John is exploring the question, what does it mean to be a Christian?

The first three verses form three broken sentences in English but would have been one long sentence in Greek. In fact, if you read it, there are phrases that seem to almost repeat themselves as you wait for the main point of the verses to land somewhere. This was not by accident. We finally get there in the middle of verse 3.

What we have seen and heard we announce to you also, so that you will join with us in the fellowship that we have with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ.

1 John 1:3 GNB

John is more focused on the “be” of a Christian than on the “do.” Yes, it may seem like I’m nitpicking but this was an important detail for the ancient Christian readers. They needed to be fully convinced of what they were preaching, and John reiterated that for them multiple times. What was most important was not what they preached for Christ, but who they were in Christ. Don’t get me wrong, the preaching was important, but John’s detailed emphasis here is a great reminder to all Christians.

It also seems like John is writing to the early church in order to combat the false teachers who were minimizing sin.

If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and there is no truth in us. 9 But if we confess our sins to God, he will keep his promise and do what is right: he will forgive us our sins and purify us from all our wrongdoing.

1 John 1:8-9 GNB

I know people today who have divorced their spouses in their hearts but continue to believe that they have not sinned because they aren’t actually divorced. They wear their “commitment” to their marriage like a badge of honor even though the relationship is dead. This is the type of attitude that John is combatting. God has already told us that we are all sinners and Jesus raised eyebrows when He declared that a lustful thought of the heart is just as much of a sin as actually committing adultery.

A huge step in the spiritual maturity of a believer takes place when we begin to address the sin struggles of the heart and mind. We, like the Pharisees, can deceive ourselves with a checklist of rules but there is no resurrection power in following rules. God’s desire is that we come into a genuine self-awareness of how we are justifying long-standing sin habits. No one is perfect, of course, but if you really believe that then you will have no trouble confessing your sins to God and to other trusted believers.

John concisely sums up the foolishness of a heart that continues to deceive itself in the final verse of this chapter.

If we say that we have not sinned, we make a liar out of God, and his word is not in us.

1 John 1:10 GNB

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