INTRODUCTORY NOTE TO THIS LESSON: This lesson took me 2 1/2 weeks to complete. There is so much here in this short book about Christianity. Please take the time to read my End Notes to each day which I have tried to make as condensed as possible to what all this means. Your time put in this lesson will echo volumes in your understanding of the Bible and of John.
Summary of passage: The author makes clear Jesus was a human, one he has heard, seen, and touched. God is light without darkness. If we have fellowship with him and walk in the darkness we lie to ourselves and do not live by the truth. We are all sinners and if we confess our sins, we will be purified and forgiven. Jesus is the atoning sacrifice for our sins. We will know Jesus if we obey his commands.
3) Jesus (who is God as His Son, Jesus) because John has heard, seen, and touched him.
4) God is light and if we walk in the light, we’ll have fellowship with one another and Jesus’ blood will purify us of all sin. He writes this to believers so that we may know we have eternal life, have fellowship with others, and with the Father and the Son. He writes this so we won’t sin.
5) Personal Question. My answer: False claims: 1) If you claim to have fellowship yet walk in the darkness. 2) If you claim to be without sin. 3) If you claim you have never sinned. Fellowship: 1) If we walk in the light. 2) If we confess our sins. 3) If we obey his commands. Well, I do sin but I don’t deny it. I do obey and walk in His ways. Do I stumble? Absolutely. But He picks me up. That’s all that matters.
Conclusions: Unsure why we’re reading 1 John at this point in our study right after the Last Supper. I hope the notes will shed some light on this. Great passage of how we are to walk in the light always and not tell ourselves we are when we still dally in the darkness.
End Notes: Much like the Book of Revelation, John does not expressly state that he is writing this letter. However, certain hints and distinctive writing patterns of style make it very likely that John the Apostle wrote this letter at an advanced age. This letter is eerily similar to the beginning of the Book of John and says how he was a close eyewitness of Jesus’ life.
John wrote the Book of John in order to bring readers to a belief in Christ. Here, this letter is directed to those who are already Christians, outlining how that faith should affect a person’s life. John starts with a few simple themes–light, truth, life, love–then builds variations on them. He defines a word, discusses its opposite, and then describes what a life should look like with God as the source of power in the Christian life.
Presumably, the Christian faith has been around for 50-60 years by the time of this letter. John repeatedly begins with the phrase “If we claim” and then proceeds to show what actions must result if we claim to live in the true light and know God.
Most people understand that the important things in life are not things at all – they are the relationships we have. God has put a desire for relationship in every one of us, a desire He intended to be met with relationships with other people, but most of all, to be met by a relationship with Him. In this remarkable letter, John tells us the truth about relationships – and shows us how to have relationships that are real, for both now and eternity. The whole purpose of the letter is to bring us to a relationship with God and His son, Jesus Christ.
The beginning John is referencing here is the beginning when there was only God. He came to earth to know him (hence the seen, looked, and touched). At the time John was writing, Gnosticism (from the Greek word for knowledge or gnosis) was gaining in popularity. The gnostics believe Jesus was God’s Son but he never came to earth in a physical body. They believed a physical body was intrinsically evil. They believed Jesus was a phantom, a temporary apparition who only looked human. Some said God descended on Jesus at his baptism but left him before death.
John debated these beliefs in person and he had them in mind when he said he touched, seen, and heard Jesus. Throughout this letter he lambastes those who deny Jesus was flesh.
Gnostics believed all matter was evil. Only the spirit was pure and they sought to rise to this spiritual level. However, this led to horrible ethics as they believed they could act how they wanted since their spirit was pure and could not be tainted by earthly sins.
This is the same Logos (Word) spoken of in John 1:1. For the Jews, God was often referred to as the Word because they knew God perfectly revealed Himself in His Word. For the Greeks, their philosophers had spoken for centuries about the Logos – the basis for organization and intelligence in the universe, the Ultimate Reason which controls all things.
John is telling everyone, “I have seen and heard and touched and studied the Word!”.
John is calling Jesus the “eternal life”(John 5:26, 6:48; 11:25; Micah 5:2) equal to God. He references the eternal relationship as well. This eternal relationship is clearly described in the Scriptures, but we could also understand it from simple logic. If God is love (1 John 4:8) and God is eternal (Micah 5:2), we understand that love in isolation is meaningless. Love needs an object, and since there was a time before anything was created, there was a time when the only love in the universe was between the members of the Godhead: the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Christ is life because he is the living one who has life in himself (John 1:4; 11:25; 14:6). He is also the source of life and sovereign over life. This letter begins and ends with the theme of eternal life.
The word “with” indicates that this being, who is eternal, and is eternal life Himself, is distinct from the Father. John builds the New Testament understanding of the Trinity – that one God exists as three Persons, equal and one, yet distinct in their person.
The purpose of John’s declaration of the Word of life who is God yet distinct from the Father is to bring people into relationship with both God’s people and with God himself.
The idea of fellowship is one of the most important ideas in this letter of John’s. It is the ancient Greek word koinonia, which speaks of a sharing, a communion, a common bond and common life. It speaks of a living, breathing, sharing, loving relationship with another person. It literally means common as in being shared by all. We see this idea in common areas for animals to graze in. We all share in the same resources and responsibilities of God and others. Amazing grace at work!
This was a revolutionary idea in ancient times that man could have fellowship with God! It’s the same idea as when Jesus told everyone to address God as Father (Matthew 6:9). This relationship is only possible because Jesus was human. We can become more like Jesus through the power of the Holy Spirit because of this fellowship of a shared, common life–fellowship. We share our life with Jesus and he shares his with us and we are better able to do life with Jesus.
Fellowships with others often leads to encounters with God.
Joy is optimism and cheerfulness and contentment. John echoes Jesus (John 15:11; 16:24; 17:13). Circumstances sap us of joy and we must fight to stay close to God to maintain it.
Verses 1-4 are one long sentence in the original manuscripts. John sums up perfectly how to live our whole Christian life. God was. He physically manifested. He’s Jesus. Fellowship with Jesus will bring you joy.
Verse 5 begins with John telling us this is what God says, not him. God is light. Darkness is an absence of light. This is similar to saying God is perfect.
Some falsely claim to have fellowship. “Walking” in the darkness is a pattern of life of wickedness and evil, not the occasional lapse we all experience. This is active as we grow with Him. “Walking” in the light is an obedient life–full of holiness and truth. Since God is light, when we walk in the light we walk with God and experience the continual cleansing of the blood of Jesus.
Sin is the hindrance to fellowship and the blood of Jesus, received by faith as the payment for our sin, solves the problem of sin and opens the way to fellowship with God.
Note there is nothing said here about rites, ceremonies, baptisms, sacraments, the Eucharist, communion, etc. It is only the blood of Jesus we need.
We are all sinners. “Making mistakes” or being “only human” or “not perfect” will not get you to heaven. Admitting you are a sinner will because Jesus came to rescue sinners.
We must keep on confessing our sins. By admitting to God that what we have done is sin, and by asking for His divine forgiveness, we will be cleansed based on what Jesus has done for us on the cross. Be truthful and God will be truthful.
This text doesn’t mean go and sin cause God will forgive you. This is not fellowship with God and a right heart. This is an evil heart and God will not forgive that.
If we don’t admit our sin, Jesus (the word) is not in us. We will sin. There is forgiveness in confessed sin. Gnostics denied that their immoral actions were sinful.
God’s desire for us is not to sin, which is possible through Jesus Christ. He is our defender if/when we sin and is our atoner and remover of our sins. God’s wrath against man is satisfied and turned on to Jesus instead. We must receive Christ’s sacrifice through faith (John 3:16). This verse does not teach universalism (that all people ultimately will be saved), but that God is an impartial God and Christ’s sacrifice is open to all.