Like a lot of the New Testament books, the book of 1 John was written to combat the false teachings in churches and to bring the distraught people back to the original teachings of Jesus and the real Gospel. There is no confirmation within the text itself as to where this church was that the author was writing to. There also is no confirmation that this was written by the Apostle John, but there is a general consensus among historians that this was written by John due to the similar language and style used in these three Epistles (1 John, 2 John, and 3 John) when they are compared to the Gospel of John as well as the book of Revelation.
Before I jump in, make sure you have your Bible handy so you can read while we are going through the verses.
1 John 1:1 & 2
In the first verse, we see Jesus spoken of without ever having his name specifically mentioned. He is called the “Word of life” and his physical nature was (almost excessively) pointed out – the reason why it is “almost” excessively is because it was described A LOT, but the description was absolutely necessary. It helped tie together multiple things…
- It provides credibility for the testimony of John and other Apostles – that they actually witnessed first-hand the things they are speaking of.
- The physical nature of Christ calls back to Old Testament prophecies that foretold the coming Messiah would be a man, in human form
- (Isaiah 7:14, Deuteronomy 18:15, Isaiah 11:1, Isaiah 9:6, Daniel 7:13-14, Isaiah 50:6) – *read these* – all of these verses speak of human aspects of the coming Messiah
In verse two, the author expands on the idea that Jesus appeared and was physically seen. After expanding on this he calls back to the beginning of time – actually before time existed – when Jesus was with God the Father. This brings forth the idea that Jesus was more than a mere man or a prophet of God – He is the Son of God who was, and is, and is to come. He was with God at the beginning of time, left God to come down to Earth to become a living sacrifice, died, rose to life, and then ascended to be with God once again for all eternity.
Verses 3 & 4
These verses bring into view the purpose behind proclaiming the Gospel. It is mainly so we can have fellowship with God and Jesus – resulting in our salvation – but it is also so we can have fellowship with other believers. Without the Gospel being proclaimed, there is no way that the lost can have fellowship with God or Jesus, and it is also impossible for them to have fellowship with believers.
The word “fellowship” comes from the Greek word ‘Koinonia.’ Koinonia describes the unity of the Spirit that comes from Christians’ shared beliefs, convictions, and behaviors – something that would be unable to exist without the Gospel being shared and God transforming the listeners’ hearts.
These verses bring back similar language that Jesus used. The author describes God as light – plain and simple…”God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.”
Jesus also describes Himself as light in John 8:12 (read) and John 12:46 (read). To make things a little more interesting, Jesus also describes us as the light of the world in Matthew 5:14-16 – which brings us back to the fellowship that we have with God and Jesus; that we can be even a little taste of what God and Jesus are is a miracle – thanks to the Holy Spirit living in us as believers.
With all of this in mind, we cannot claim to have fellowship with God and Jesus while still actively living in darkness (sin, deceit, and the flesh). We can physically claim these things and have others believe us, but our heart would be lying and we would not be living out the Truth that was given to us in God’s Word. When we are saved, we are changed.
We will always sin as long as we are alive on this Earth, but that does not mean we are living in darkness. An example of living in darkness is when we sin, have no repentance in our hearts, and then use God’s grace as an excuse to continue sinning.
Speaking of sinning, we are also told that the truth is not in us if we claim to be without sin. That is a heavy sentence, because “the truth” in the Bible most often means Jesus. What the transforming power of Christ brings us is the realization that we are hopeless sinners and the only way we can have fellowship with God is through putting our faith in Jesus Christ. The transformation does not mean we have no sin; it means we are free from the penalty of sin.
We as believers need to confess the sin that we commit because that keeps us in the light. We live in darkness when we hide. There is nothing hidden when we confess.
Possibly the heaviest line in this chapter of the Bible is in verse 10 when the author says ‘we make Him out to be a liar’ if we claim to have not sinned. God does not lie and for us to insinuate that He lies is blasphemy and a slap to His face.