In these verses John is laying all important biblical and theological foundation of the deity of Christ that will be the basis of the rest of his letter. John does not come out of his corner jabbing with the heretics of his day. He comes with a Christ-centered, Scripture-based, Spirit-filled knockout punch. Beloved, we engage the enemy with the truth of God in hand, the love of God in our hearts and the glory of God our aim. Doctrine is important beloved, and sound doctrine is not only to be preserved, but proclaimed.
- Vs 1,2- The Incarnation of Jesus Christ.
- Vs 3-5;2.1,2- The purpose of John writing this epistle.
- Vs 6,7- The warning of profession of faith and saving faith.
- Vs.8-10- The universal problem of sin.
- Vs. 2.1,2- The proclamation of the gospel and extent of the atonement.
John, the human author of this epistle, was the last living apostle; and the only one who wasn’t martyred for Christ. John also wrote the gospel of John, the Revelation and 1-3 John.
It is generally believed that these books were after the destruction of the temple in 70 AD, between the years of 80-95 AD.
He is writing from Ephesus, and he is writing to deal with a real problem that was presented by real people who were seducing the people of God with unbiblical doctrines that are in existence today.
In 1 John 2.18, 19, these men are referred to as antichrist. In 2.26 they are referred to as seducers. In 4.1 they are called false teachers. None of these men would say that they were any of these things. Far from being against Jesus, these men would consider themselves to be “teachers of the deep things of God.”
It is commonly held that the heresy that John is speaking about and speaking against is Gnosticism. Basically, Gnosticism taught that spirit is good and matter is evil. The Gnostics didn’t believe that God created the “evil” material world, but that a distant emanation of Him did. They believed that Jesus was a phantom when He lived on the Earth and didn’t have a body of flesh. Therefore, they could not accept the Incarnation. That Jesus Christ was fully God and fully man. The fullness of the Godhead in bodily form.
The heresy of Gnosticism with its intellectual and philosophical content was gaining a foothold in the Church when John wrote this letter. A man named Arias in the early 300’s further developed Gnosticism. by denying the deity of Christ and claiming that The Father existed before Him, and that Jesus, though divine, was only a created being. The Arian heresy is the basis of the Watchtower Society’s (Jehovah’s Witnesses) belief system. This is the same root of modern Latter Day Saints (Mormon) doctrine, which holds that Jesus is the spirit brother of Lucifer, a created being. John sought to correct the heresy by emphasizing the deity of Jesus Christ in his writings.
In 1.1-4 John is laying all important biblical and theological foundation of the deity of Christ that will be the basis of the rest of his letter. John does not come out of his corner jabbing with these heretics. He comes with a Christ-centered, Scripture-based, Spirit-filled knockout punch. Beloved, we engage the enemy with the truth of God in hand, the love of God in our hearts and the glory of God our aim. Doctrine is important beloved, and sound doctrine is not only to be preserved, but proclaimed.
The Incarnation of Jesus Christ (Vs. 1,2)
- v. 1
“That Which Was From the Beginning” – Referring to the Deity and preexistence of the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus is not a created being. He is not an emanation from God or one of many avatars. Jesus Christ is The Creator of all things. This opening verse mirrors the opening line in the Gospel of John 1:1, again pointing to Jesus Christ.
The focus of these 2 verses is the Incarnation and deity of Jesus Christ. Jesus was already present from the beginning. He always was (John 1:1-2). He is the eternal I AM (John 8:58). Jesus is called in scripture the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end (Rev. 1:8, 17-18).
“We Have Heard…Seen…Handled” – John is refuting the Gnostic heresy of his day that taught that Jesus did not have a physical body. The Gnostics believed that all physical matter was evil. Therefore, Jesus could not have had a physical body. But John emphasizes his experience of Jesus with three of the five senses.
Jesus was not a phantom or a ghost. He was the Word made flesh and dwelt among us (John 1:14). And there is a plurality of witnesses who have experienced the historical Christ with their senses.
“Word of life “- John chose to use a word here that would mean a great deal to both the Jew and the Greek of his day. Word here is Logos (Gk.) and had very deep meaning to the philosophers of John’s time. Logos in philosophical thinking was the concept of the supreme thought and reason revealing divine mind. To the Jew it would refer to the divine Word of God, which was held in highest esteem to every devout Jew.
“Life” – There are several Greek words for life. The Greek word John chose to use for life here is also significant. Zoe (Gk.) means the absolute fullness of life. Because Jesus is God’s Word to us made flesh, He is the Word that imparts Life to us (John 5:26).
“The life was Manifested” – phaneroo (Gk.), meaning to make visible or known what has been hidden or unknown, whether by words, or deeds, or in any other way. Another error of Gnostic thought is that they were a select group to whom was given secret knowledge that was only revealed to a select few. John refutes this false doctrine of secrecy by declaring that with the Incarnation of Jesus Christ, God is not keeping any secrets from us.
That Jesus was manifested in the flesh is John’s testimony, not hearsay. (publicly seen and known) stresses the revelatory nature of Christ’s coming: he was sent from and revealed by God.
“That eternal life which was with The Father and was manifested unto us” – John is stating and 1 John 5.20 that Jesus the true God and eternal life. Jesus is The personal manifestation of eternal life to all that believe on His Name (John 17:3, 1 John 5:11-12).
The purpose for John writing this letter (Vs. 3-5;2.1,2)
- v. 3
“That you may have fellowship with us” – koinonia (Gk.), meaning association, community, communion, joint participation.
John reveals that his reason for making this declaration to us was in order that we, by grace through faith may have fellowship with The Father and His Son Jesus as well as with other saints.
A vital part of the gospel message is that through faith in The Lord Jesus Christ, you and I step into the very same kind of relationship with The Father and Jesus that John and the first saints had had 2,000 years ago!
“With the Father and His Son Jesus Christ” – In the Trinity, God the Father is distinct from God the Son. Yet we cannot have fellowship with one without the other. You can’t have fellowship with the Father apart from fellowship with the Son (1 John 2:23, 5:12, 20; 1 Cor. 1:9).
Our fellowship. The gospel message not only reconciles the sinner with The Father and Son, but it also binds together those who receive it.
- v. 4
“That Your Joy May be Full” – joy-chara (Gk.), gladness and rejoicing and full-pleroo (Gk.) to fill to the top so that nothing shall be lacking, to liberally fill to the brim. Glorious! The Bible was not written to put us under a burden of obligation and fear. The message of the gospel is a source of joy and life to those who embrace its teachings (Ps. 144:15; John 15:11, 16:24; 2 Cor. 1:24).
Precious family, once again I feel compelled to point out to you the difference between happiness and joy. Happiness is a variable, which is subject to the unpredictable chances and changes of life. Jesus died in order that we might have His joy in the depth of our souls independent of the chances and changes of life. Joy in the Lord is a constant, because it is not based on our feelings or circumstances; it is based on the relationship we have with Him as His children.
- v. 5
“Message” – epaggelia (Gk.) which We Have Heard from Him and Declare – anaggello (Gk.) to announce, make known, to report, bring back tidings.
John wants us to understand that the message he is declaring did not originate from his own imagination. It critical that when we read the scriptures we realize that the message conveyed is from God. John’s message is in harmony with all the other New Testament writers who have also heard from God and have conveyed that message to us (1 Thess. 2:13).
“God is Light” – phos (Gk.) brightness, anything-emitting light. This word is allegorically used here to represent truth, knowledge, and spiritual purity (Ps. 27:1, 18:28, 36:9, 119:105). Spiritually speaking, God is light. According to Holy Scripture, Jesus is also described as Light (John 1:4-9, 8:12). This again supports the doctrine of the deity of Christ.
“Darkness” – skotia (Gk.) the absence of light. Used metaphorically here to refer to sin or evil of any kind. This word in context is describing that God is perfectly pure with no mixture, compromise, or pollution of any kind. God is sinless and perfect in every way. He is not responsible for my sin or your sin. He is not the cause of sin in any way shape or form.
The warning of profession of faith and genuine saving faith (vs. 6,7)
- v. 6
Fellowship – Fellowship is intimate communication and communion. This chapter will clarify what it means to truly fellowship with God.
“Walk in Darkness” – Walk refers to the manner in which we are living. To walk in darkness means to live apart from the light of God’s truth. This would naturally include the practice of sin.
In this day of easy just “accept” Christ and easy believism, there are many people who profess to be Christian and walk in fellowship with God because they go to church on Sunday, but in reality, they have never experienced a real change of heart and change of lifestyle through faith in Jesus Christ. Their faith is nothing more than a profession.
A person who is a false professor of faith is a person who does not the truth. The Greek here means that they do not make it their aim to walk according to God’s truth. They follow their own fleshly lusts and pleasures while maintaining a form of godliness.
- v. 7
“Walk in the Light as He is in the light” – Genuine repentance and saving faith is an ongoing change of heart, a change of mind, a change of desires and change of direction in life….it is really being born from above!
To walk in the light means to purpose to live in accordance and harmony with God’s truths revealed in God’s word. This means that we align our lives with God’s Word. Walking on the light means that what God calls sin, I will now call sin. Walking in the light means that What God hates, I will choose to hate. Walking in the light means that what God loves, I will choose to love.
And what is the outcome of that intentional decision to follow hard after God like the deer pants after the water brooks? We will have Fellowship With One Another – The overflow of walking in the light is fellowship on 2 levels, the vertical and horizontal levels. For a person to say that they have great fellowship with God but have no desire for fellowship with other Christians is contrary to Scripture. All those who walk with Jesus will intentionally and deliberately seek to walk in fellowship with other believers.
Beloved if you are serious about following Jesus Christ, and if you claim to love God, it is vital that you seek to cultivate friendship and fellowship with people who will challenge you to live holy and be holy.
But Christians are not perfect; we still sin and fall short of the glory of God. What is it that washes away our sin? Blood of Jesus Christ…Cleanses – Notice that this cleansing is a continual process present tense: cleanses. As long as we are in this body of flesh we will always need the blood of Jesus for continual cleansing of sin. We are in continual need of the cleansing that comes from the blood of Jesus Christ. It is only through the blood of Jesus Christ shed on the cross that we find forgiveness and cleansing of sin (Lev. 17:11, Heb. 10:19).
How much sin does the blood of Jesus wash away? All Sin – There is no sin that the blood of Jesus cannot wash away when we are walking in the light.
The universal problem of sin (vs. 8-10)
- v. 8
“If We Say that We Have No Sin, We Deceive Ourselves” – To say that we have no sin is a denial of having a sin nature. To live in denial our sin nature reveals that the truth of God (and thus God one remedy for sin) is not in us. Each and every one of us was born with a sin nature. We are born sinners by nature and by choice.
The consequence of having this sin nature is that we are by nature and choice, enemies of God. Rebels against His authority and rule. Liable for punishment and deserving of His wrath, with no hope of changing that just punishment with our own efforts.
- v. 9
“If we Confess” – Confess in the Greek simply means to say the same as or to agree with God and acknowledge that He is right and we are wrong. And what is the promise from God when we confess our sin?
“God is Faithful” – pistos (Gk.) trustworthy, reliable and true and Just – dikaios (Gk.) righteous, faultless, innocent and guiltless. To do what?
“Forgive” – aphiemi (Gk.) to let go, give up a debt, to remit our Sins – hamartia (Gk.) an offense committed against God. To miss or wander from the path of uprightness and honor, to do or go wrong.
“Cleanse” – katharizo (Gk.) In a moral sense, to free from defilement of sin and from faults. To free from guilt of sin, to purify.
“Unrighteousness” – adikia (Gk.) Injustice of heart and life. A description of all moral wrong.
Another important fact to consider beloved is this. If we refuse to confess when we have sinned, we are proudly resisting God’s truth. If we refuse to confess a sin, we are likewise refusing to forsake that sin. Our hearts will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin, and our fellowship with Jesus and others will suffer.
Beloved, we cannot be friends of God and friends with the world (2.15-17; James 4.4). We cannot walk after the flesh and after the Spirit simultaneously (Gal 5.16-26). We cannot walk in sensuality and be working out our own salvation with fear and trembling at the same time. Thus Peter’s exhortation to make your calling and election sure.
- v. 10
“If We Say that We Have Not Sinned…His Word is Not in Us” – If we say we have not sinned or no longer sin now that we are in Christ, we are disagreeing with God and calling Him a liar. His word tells us that we are sinners, and to deny our sinful rot and the fact that we are sinners by choice is to call God a liar.
So where do we turn? How do we atone for the debt and penalty of sin? How are we set free from the bondage and defilement of sin?
The proclamation of the gospel and the extent of the atonement
“Little Children” – teknion (Gk.) In the NT, used as a term of kindly address by teachers to their disciples. John, now very aged as he writes this book, addresses his readers as his dear children. This accurately reflects the heart of Jesus.
“Sin” – hamartano (Gk.) to miss the mark, do wrong, offend or trespass. “That You May Not Sin” – John continues to accurately represent the heart of God to us here. It is God’s desire that we do not practice sin (1 John 3:4-5). Too often people use the fact that God can forgive sins as an excuse to continue in sin. This attitude is contrary to God’s plan for those in Christ (Rom 6.1). The scriptures have been written to set us free from both the consequences of sin and the practice of sin. God’s patience with us when we sin should never be interpreted as permission from God to sin.
“If Anyone Sins” – God’s perfect plan for us is that we don’t sin. Yet, we are imperfect beings. So here, John is admitting that there is the likelihood of a Christian sinning. The writers of scripture never excuse our sin. But God makes provision for the cleansing of our sins in Christ. If we sin, God has a solution in the next phrase.
“An Advocate With the Father “- Advocate is a legal term referring to someone who comes alongside to support us and plead our case before the judge. When we sin, we stand guilty before God the Father. Jesus is, in fact, the One who argues the case in our defense before God the Father. It is important here to understand the power behind Jesus’ argument. He does not argue for our innocence, for we are surely guilty. But the power of Jesus’ argument before the Father is that the penalty of our sin has already been paid for with His blood, at the cross (Is. 53:4-6, 10; Gal. 3:13; Eph. 5:2; 1 Peter 3:18).
Jesus Christ intercedes with God for us when we sin. Jesus acts as our attorney and defends us (Hebrews 7:25) when Satan brings accusations against us (Revelation 12: 10). When Satan accuses us, we tend to draw away from God because of a sense of shame and unworthiness. When the Holy Spirit convicts us, we’re drawn to God to make things right with Him.
Also notice that John doesn’t give us a number of advocates to chose from. Jesus is the only one who can mediate for us before God (1 Tim. 2:5).
“Righteous” – This is the reason that Jesus can stand before God as our advocate. He is the righteous dikaios (Gk.), meaning innocent, faultless, guiltless, pleasing before God.
- v. 2
“Propitiation” – hilasmos (Gk.) the appeasing and appropriate payment, atonement. Jesus is the one who appeased and satisfied the anger and wrath of God toward our sins when He took the punishment for our sins upon Himself. His death on the cross was satisfactory payment (propitiation) for our sins in God’s eyes (4:10).
“Also for the Whole World” – Jesus is the propitiation for all the sins of all the people in the entire world. This doesn’t mean that everyone is automatically saved. What is does mean is that there is provision for the forgiveness of sin for anyone and everyone who will come to God on the basis of Jesus Christ’s atoning sacrifice.
As the elements are being passed out, let me state that all that Christ has done for us means absolutely nothing unless I am in Him by faith. Receive Him this morning as Lord. All the work of atonement is done. Jesus said, This is the work of God, that you believe in Him Whom He has sent (John 6.29).
If you asked Christ to be Lord of your life, it is important that you confess Him before men. Call us at (585) 385-0450. We would love to pray with you.
Beware of the subtle seductions and additions to the faith that was once delivered to the saints.
Stand solid against the spirit of antichrist that is the spirit of the age.
Like John in verses 1.1-4, be bold in your affirmation of Who Jesus is. Do not confuse dialogue with the enemy as being the same as the declaration of God’s truth. Courage does not require us to be militant or mean spirited.
Time is short beloved, time is not on your side. Make your life count for Jesus.