The Word of Life
1 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 Hank Workman
He had walked with Him. He was known as the ‘one Jesus loved’. A part of the inner circle of 3, John was one of the closest to his friend Jesus. It was written from Ephesus about 85 AD before he was sentenced to Patmos. John’s letter was sent out to no church in particular but all Believers.
The hub of Jerusalem had been destroyed in 70 AD. Believers found themselves scattered all over the Middle East and into Europe. A generation had now been Christians and was facing severe persecution from all sides – not only without by Roman hands but within through false teachers who had infiltrated the ranks. Compelled by the Holy Spirit, John wrote these words to confront these who were compromising. He was challenging those who called themselves Believers to not conform to the world they lived and take the stand for Jesus who they claimed to be their Lord.
His letter first gave his credentials as he had walked with Jesus and knew Him. Showing the difference then between light and darkness, truth and error, he encouraged the readers to have a genuine love for God and Jesus.
Jesus entered human history as God in flesh. John had personally witnessed this remarkable aspect as he had seen, walked and talked with Him. He witnessed Him heal, heard Him teach and confront; he watched Him die on the cross and met Him after Jesus had risen. John was there when Jesus ascended and gave the final parting words of making disciples. As he had firsthand experienced fellowship with the Father through Jesus, this was the basis of his opening. We too are called toward such a deep relationship. But this also is a fellowship with other Believers that is so desperately needed.
Relationships with other Followers today at times get sidelined in thought. People feel as though they can go it alone, not be connected with others who serve and love Jesus. We shortchange ourselves from the tremendous encouragement and hope found in such fellowship. We need one another who are grounded in their faith and cling tightly to the words and Person of Jesus. Strength is found in such deep intimacy with others. The Holy Spirit strengthens God’s people when they are united as one. It is a spiritual and social interaction.
I love the images found within the beginnings of the church in Acts. The relationships were deep, the church was strong, the people found their needs being met by God through others. As we have become a self-sustaining society today, these pictures are often put in the back room. The questions to consider: Are we connected deeply to other Believers? Do we hold intimacy with those who follow Jesus? Are there aches of our hearts that could have the salve of Jesus applied if we were more deeply connected to Him through His people? We need one another. We need Believers in our lives who Jesus can even be the hands and feet to our own needs.
Are you connected to other Followers of Jesus? Do you allow them to speak into your life and bring encouragement and hope? Do you yourself live as a lone cowboy on this path of life or are you meeting the needs of others even through such fellowship?
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