1 John 1

1 John 1:4

(4) We are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.

(1 John 1:4)

The use of “we” suggests the letter is from a group of people. Some commentaries claim this suggests the letter was written, not by John, but by a group of his followers. However most evidence suggests it was written by John.

“What was from the beginning” does not refer to a person - but a thing - hence it probably refers to the gospel rather than Jesus. However saying they touched it seems to refer to Jesus and the gospel as one thing. The way the letter is written John merges "the gospel" and Jesus into one unified whole.

The emphasis on the reality of Jesus my be a foil against the developing notion that Jesus was not really human. The denial of the reality of Jesus was a regular claim of the early Gnostics although gnostics are usually associated with a later date.

A key to understanding this passage is understanding the meaning of the greek word koinonia which is usually translated as fellowship (NIV, NASB, ESV, NRSV). However the common understanding of fellowship in the Church is that it is a thing we do but this is not really understanding the meaning. The Jerusalem bible translates koinonia as union which does point to its true meaning. Koinonia actually means a state of unity or something we have in common. Hence "we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us ( Vs 3, ESV)" actually makes sense when we understand this. John is saying that by them accepting the gospel they now have somethng in common, what they share in common is the gospel. This is also somethng we have in common with the Father and the Son, hence we have fellowship with God as well.

1 John 1:5-10

(5) This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light and in him there is no darkness at all.

(6) If we say that we have fellowship with him while we are walking in darkness, we lie and do not do what is true;

(7) but if we walk in the light as he himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.

(8) If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.

(9) If we confess our sins, he who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

(10) If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

(1 John 1:5-10)

“This is the message....John begins his thesis.

Light and darkness are completely incompatible, there is no shade of grey. The darkness is seen as an opposing force to the light in Jewish thought. The light not only dispels the darkness but it also illuminates your way.

John then goes on to discuss obstacles to fellowship ion a series of "if....then" statements.

Vs 6-7 The first obstacle to fellowship

"If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness".

"If we walk in the light", Walk (peripateó) means to live, behave or conduct yourself. It indicates a way of living that implies participation in salvation. Also it implies that while walking in light your deeds are exposed to view. Faith must show a moral outworking or its a lie.

"As he is in the light" - that is our standard to be achieved. We should walk in the light in the same way as Jesus, however we know that is not possible. The next sentence explains that we achieve that by being cleansed by the blood of Jesus, not by our won efforts - note the continuous tense, we re cleansed every day.

Vs 8-9 The second obstacle.

If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves.

The phrase “have no sin” is an odd expression, it is more usual to say commit. but here is refers to more than the occasional slip, it refers our inherent sinful state; if we deny that we fool no-one but ourselves.

"If we confess our sins" - means be specific, not just general. This is a key verse in Christian faith and is avery simple concept - be honest with God.

Vs 1:10 Third obstacle.

"If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar".

By denying we have sinned we not only decieve ourselves but, even worse, we are saying God is a liar because the bible says all have sinned.

“Is word is not in us". "The word” is often a dynamic character in the bible. If we say God is a liar we show we have no knowledge of him.