Translations: Chinese GB Big5

How to Identify those Born of God

1John 1:1-2:2 (LIT)

Evidence from Walking in the Light

Revealing the Biblical Christ

1:1 That which was from the beginning which we have heard,
which we have seen with our eyes,
which we had looked upon, and
our hands had handled,
concerning the Word of Life,

1:2 and at that point in time the life was revealed and we have seen
and are bearing witness and declaring to you
that eternal life which was with the Father and had been revealed to us.s

1:3 that which we have seen and heard we are in the process of declaring to you,
that you also may have fellowship with us;
and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ.
1:4 And these things we are writing to you that your joy may be filled.

Walking in the Light

1:5 This is the message which we have heard from Him and are declaring to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all.

1:6 If we were to say at some point in time that we characteristically have fellowship with Him,
but in fact are characteristically walking in darkness,
we are characteristically lying to ourselves and are not characteristically practicing the truth.

1:7 But if we are characteristically walking in the light as He exists in the light, we characteristically have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son is continuously cleansing us from all sin.

Acknowledging Sin

1:8 If we were to say that the complete absence of sin is characteristic of our life,
we are actively deceiving ourselves,
and the truth does not exist in us. (Compare with Jesus 1John 3:5; Heb 4:15)

1:9 If confessing our sins is characteristic of our life,
He is faithful and just (with regards to the New Covenant He established with us)
to forgive our sins at some point
and cleanse us from all unrighteousness at some
point. (Eph 4:32) [same structure as 1John 3:5]

1:10 If we say that we never sinned,
we are making Him out to be a liar, and His word does not exist in us.

2:1 My little children, these things I am writing to you so that you may not sin at some point in time.
But if anyone sins uncharacteristically at some point in time,
we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.

2:2 And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.
{"atoning sacrifice" is from the Greek "hilasmos," an appeasing, propitiating, or the means of appeasement or propitiation - the sacrifice that turns away God's wrath because of our sin.}

Discussion Questions

Notice the similarities between this chapter and John chapter 1
What are the possible meanings of "fellowship" in this chapter?
What does it mean to walk in darkness or walk in the light?
What examples of walking in darkness does John provide in this chapter?
What of those who claim to have achieved sinless perfection?
How is confessing one's sins related to one's salvation status?
What does it mean that Jesus is the atoning sacrifice for our sins?
And to what extent does his atonement apply to non-Christians?


Commentary

The Theme of 1John

The book of 1John is all about how to identify those born of God. Though there are those who propose IJohn is about the relative degrees of fellowship which Christians have with God, the letter generally doesn't speak in relative terms but in absolute terms. For example he says,

"This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God; nor is anyone who does not love his brother." 1John 3:10

"We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love our brothers. Anyone who does not love remains in death. Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life in him."1John 3:14,15

These kind of verses show the basic message of 1John, namely:
1. Its about identifying children of God and distinguishing them from the children of the devil.

2. As evidence of such, it's about the correlation between a person's behavior and their salvation status.



Interpreting the Present Tense

1John was originally written in ancient Greek, and as anyone who speaks more than one language knows, it's often difficult to translate the nuances of one language into another. One of the nuances of Koine Greek has to do with one of the possible usages of the present tense.

The present tense in Greek can have a strong sense of continuity of which I believe John makes use of in his letter. For there there is another tense which we don't have in English, known as the aorist which tends to be used when continuity is not stressed or when one wishes to express punctilinear events (events that occur at discrete points in time).

When John uses the present tense here, he is using it in the sense of the "lifestyle" of the person. For example, "walking" is referring to the overall lifestyle of the person, not what the person is doing at any particular point in time.

Thus much of what we will be reading of in 1John will be speaking of a person's overall lifestyle in contrast to that of particular events which may be uncharacteristic of the person's lifestyle. This will aid us in interpreting and applying 1John.



The Word made Flesh

1Jn 1:1-2 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched— this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us.

John's main purpose in writing is to provide ways to identify real Christians and distinguishing them from cults. One of the cults he addresses in this letter is "Docetism". The following is taken from Zondervan's Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible:

Thus throughout the letter, John emphasizes the physical nature of Christ's incarnation.S Also compare how he starts this letter with what he says in the first chapter of his gospel:

John 1:1,14 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. ... The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.



Making Joy Complete

1Jn 1:2-4  We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. We write this to make our joy complete.

Elsewhere John says, "I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth." 3John 1:4 In other words he's writing to them so that they would walk in the truth, and consequently that would complete his joy. What is implied is that he sees some deficiency among them on this point.

What about you? What would make your joy complete? And do you share this in common with John?



God is light

1Jn 1:5 This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.
 

What does it mean that God is light?
1. The Revelation of Truth
2. Holiness

This metaphor "light" is very commonly used throughout the New Testament and most commonly associated with these two concepts. For example it says,

"the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth" Eph 5:9
"Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?" 2Cor 6:14

And Jesus said, "This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed." John 3:19,20



Walking in Self-Deception

1Jn 1:6 If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth.

Why do people chose to walk in darkness?  Jesus said, "This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil." John 3:19

A person's "walk" is their lifestyle. If a person claims to be in fellowship with the LORD, but has a lifestyle inconsistent with that which is revealed in the Bible, such a person is not in fellowship with the LORD. And such is not atypical of what you'll find in the Christian community, which is why John is pointing this out. For many claim to have fellowship with the LORD, but their claims are in vain if their claims are inconsistent with their lifestyle.

Consider yourself. How do you know whether your own claim of being in fellowship with God is true?



Walking in the Light

1Jn 1:7  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, purifies us from all sin.

John is not talking about a relative degree of fellowship we have with God, but rather is speaking of mere posers in the Christian community, essentially unbelievers, who by their nature walk in darkness versus those who are genuine born of God who by their nature walk in the light. Notice the correlation between 1John 1:6,7 with the following:

"Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever?" 1Cor 6:14,15

Jesus said, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." John 8:12 Alleged "Christians" who are walking in darkness are not followers of Jesus. 

One of the effects of walking in the light is the experience of fellowship with other genuine believers. But what is also implied here is that only those walking in the light will have their sins purified by the blood of Jesus. Not that salvation is contingent upon living a certain lifestyle. But rather that living a lifestyle consistent with the Christian faith reveals genuine faith; a faith upon which purification from sin is contingent. If you are not walking in the light, you will not be purified from all sin. This is one of the ideas in 1John.



Claiming to be Without Sin

1Jn 1:8 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.

There are those in the Christian community who claim to be without sin. Such people are also self-deceived, turning a blind eye to their own sins.

This is not simply a denial of one's sinful nature. For in clarifying what is meant by the claim to be "without sin", John contrasts it with the idea of confessing our sins. Thus to claim to be without sin is the claim that a person no longer commits sins.

True that perhaps every Christian has certain blind spots in their lives, areas in which they are not aware of committing sin. For God tends to progressively reveal sin so that the person may mature gradually and not be overwhelmed and discouraged in the light of the depth of their sinfulness. But for a person to be completely bind to their own sin, such is indicative of one who is unsaved, walking in complete darkness.



Confessing our Sins

1Jn 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

A issue arises here in that if forgiveness is contingent upon our confession of particular sins then that would mean that each time a person sins they lose their salvation until they confess their sins, which seems a bit of a works-based salvation among other things.

But there are two things about what is actually been said in the Greek manuscript here. First with John's usage of the Greek Present (lifestyle) Tense for "confess" as opposed to an Aorist punctilinear confession, what I believe he's referring to is the idea that if we are the kind of people who characteristically acknowledge our sins, then we are those whom, in accordance with his promise, God forgives, and forgives not only with respect to sins of which we are aware of but also all other unrighteousness which infects our lives, of which He is in the process of purifying us.

Secondly "forgive" and "purify" are actually in the aorist, not the future tense implied in the translation. More accurately this says, "If confessing our sins is characteristic of our life, He being faith and just forgave our sins and cleansed us from all unrighteousness." Or to paraphrase, "If confessing our sins is characteristic of our life, this indicates that God, who is faithful to his New Covenant and just to have provided a sacrifice of atonement for us, forgave our sins when we were saved and at that time purified us from all unrighteousness."



The Word finds no Place

1Jn 1:10  If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives.

The Bible says, "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." Rom 3:23 For a person to claim they are not among those who have sinned means they are calling God a liar. "There is not a righteous man on earth who does what is right and never sins." Ecc 7:20

This is one reason why people exhibit hatred for the message of the gospel and for its messengers, because it deals with their sinning. Jesus said, "(the world) hates me because I testify that what it does is evil." John 7:7 Not only do such people not find any place for the Word, nor find any time for the Word, but they run away from it. (What I call "The Vampire Syndrome") "Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed." John 3:20 The World hates and fears the Word of God.

Thankfully the Word has found a place in your life.



We have an Advocate

1Jn 2:1  My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense— Jesus Christ, the Righteous One

Jesus is our defense attorney such that we need not be concerned of speaking in our own defense on the judgement day as others must. Jesus speaks on our behalf. So in answer to the question as to how you should respond if God were to ask you on the judgement day, "Why should I let you into my kingdom?", you only need answer, "You'll have to talk to my attorney. He's sitting at your right hand side."

Another thing from this verse is the fact that though our sins are forgiven, this does not imply we have a license to sin. Much to the contrary, for Jesus "gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good." Titus 2;14 But at the same time, realize that those born of God might sin from time to time. The verse "does sin" is in the Aorist tense. It is not referring to one's lifestyle, but to events which occur from time to time uncharacteristic of one's lifestyle.



Appeasing God's wrath

1Jn 2:2  He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.

Nothing else appeases God's wrath on sin but Jesus' death on the cross. For "it was the LORD’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the LORD makes his life a guilt offering,  he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the LORD will prosper in his hand." Is 53:10 And Jesus said, "But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself."He said this to show the kind of death he was going to die. John 12:32,33

God our Savior "wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth." 1Tim 2:4 Jesus died for the sins of the whole world. In preaching to non-Christians we should not say, "May be Jesus died for your sins and maybe he didn't. I don't know." We should not say, "Maybe God loves you or maybe he doesn't. Maybe he hates you so much he predestined you for eternal damnation and there's nothing you can do about it!" Rather we should say, "God loves you and wants you to be saved. Jesus died for your sins and he declares that if you come to faith in him, your sins will be forgiven."  "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." John 3:16 Of course we'd want to elaborate upon what constitutes "faith in him.", but the point is that Jesus died for the sins of everyone around us - regardless of whether they ultimately end up in heaven or hell.


Literalized Translation

1John 1:

vs 1 That which was from the beginning which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we had looked upon, and our hands had handled, concerning the Word of Life,
vs 2 and at that point in time the life was revealed and we have seen and are bearing witness and declaring to you that eternal life which was with the Father and had been revealed to us.
vs 3 That which we have seen and have heard we are declaring to you that eternal life which was with the Father and had been revealed to us.
vs 4 And these things we are writing to you that your joy may be filled.
vs 5 This is the message which we have heard from Him and are declaring to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all.
vs 6 If we were to say at some point in time that we characteristically have fellowship with Him, but in fact are characteristically walking in darkness, we are characteristically lying to ourselves and are not characteristically practicing the truth.
vs 7 But if we are characteristically walking in the light as He exists in the light, we characteristically have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son is continuously cleansing us from all sin.
vs 8 If we were to say that the complete absence of sin is characteristic of our life, we are actively deceiving ourselves, and the truth does not exist in us. (Compare with Jesus 1John 3:5; Heb 4:15)
vs 9  If confessing our sins is characteristic of our life, He is faithful and just (with regards to the New Covenant He established with us) to forgive our sins at some point and cleanse us from all unrighteousness at some point. (Eph 4:32)
vs 10  If we say that we never sinned, we are making Him out to be a liar, and His word does not exist in us.

1John 2:

vs 1 My little children, these things I am writing to you, so that you may not sin at some point in time. But if anyone sins uncharacteristically at some point in time, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.
vs 2  And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.


Rap

1:1 That which was from the start, which we have surely heard
We saw and touched, and now proclaim, to you that very Word
2 The life appeared we've seen it, and testify to you
He once was with the Father, but then became a Jew
3 We tell you what we saw and heard, have fellowship with us.
As also with the Father, and with his Son, Jesus.
With the Father and his Son, our fellowship is sweet.
4 We write this message to you, to make our joy complete
5 And now this is the message, which we've heard from him
God is light, not dark at all, not even slightly dim.
6 If we claim to know him, yet in the darkness walk
We do not live, by the truth, but are lying in our talk
7 If we walk in light, as he is in the light
We'll walk with one another, in fellowship delight
And the blood of Jesus, his one and only Son,
Will also purify our sins, yes each and every one.
8 If we claim to be, without any sinfulness
We do ourselves deceive, and truth is not in us.
9 If we do confess our sins, he's faithful and just too
And will forgive our sins, and make us all brand-new
10 If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out a liar
His word is not in us, we're headed for the fire.
2:1 I write to you my children, so that you will not sin
We have a lawyer on our side, with just the right sheepskin.
Jesus is the Righteous One, who speaks in our defense
He covers all our sin, regardless the offense
2:2 He's the sacrifice atoning, not only just for us
But also for the whole world, when they believe Jesus. 


The Berean Christian Bible Study Resources


Jul 29,2015