1 John was written by John sometime between 90-95 AD as a personal letter to believers. He is writing concerning the assurance of eternal life as it seems though perhaps some had some doubts as to whether or not they were really saved because of sin. They key word throughout the entirety of the book is fellowship. He discusses some of the hindrances to fellowship, conditions for fellowship, and the benefits of fellowship. He was really trying to encourage the believers to live a Christian life that will lead to assurance. His secondary purpose was to refute Gnosticism and the false teachings related to it that denied some of the aspects of Christ. 1 John 1:5-2:2 is a discussion of the basis for fellowship to emphasize the main objective of this letter which is concerning fellowship with the Father and with one another. He detailed the principles that are really the basis and the foundation for all true and genuine fellowship with God.
Verse 5 begins with a declaration of a message that they have heard from Christ that proclaims that “God is light and that in Him there is no darkness at all.” These verse begins with the same emphasis on “this message” as being what he had heard just as he did in the prologue of the letter when he discussed the things in which they had “heard, seen with their eyes, which they had looked at and their hands had touched.” It would seem as though he is referring to Jesus when he states that this message is that which they have heard from a seemingly ambiguous “him”. John is purposely emphasizing that this message is “apostolic in authority and also divine” which would make it from Jesus (Elwell 1179). He shows the importance of this letter because it came from God as well as the timelessness of it as it did not originate with John or with any other apostle or writer (Kistemaker 241). This fact seems as though it is emphasized to show the authority behind this message unlike that of the message of these false teachers. This message seems to be something that they already are familiar with and know rather than a brand new concept that is being preached to them. The Expositor’s Bible Commentary points out that this allusion is more than likely not referring to a specific word of Jesus but rather to “Jesus himself as the Son in whose life and death the Father manifested himself.” John had learned this message from Christ.
This statement declaring that God is light and there is no darkness in Him is referring to God’s holiness. The Bible Knowledge Commentary rightly points out that John is notorious for describing God as light in the Book of John and in Revelation so to emphasize the Lord as the Revealer of holiness (884). This is just not an idea from John as one sees that James 1:17 makes a reference to God as the Father of Light. It is a key point in this description of God and our basis for fellowship with Him. He is light. He is holy. This is a standard that He alone has set and is a part of His nature. This means that there is no taint of sin or impurity in Him. The statement that God is light is the basis of one’s fellowship with God. We are only able to have fellowship with God because He is Light. God as Light also describes His glory as well as light being Truth although His Holiness is the primary reference in this passage (Vines 27). God as Light is contrasted with Darkness. God has absolutely no darkness in Him at all. This part of the statement is a negative corollary that really just emphasizes the point that God is light. It would seem, in the context of fellowship, that because darkness has no place in God that darkness of any kind is excluded from having fellowship with God.
Verse six begins with John’s first of three possible false affirmations that he then combats with a correction based from genuine truth. The false claim in verse six is concerning those who “say they have fellowship with Him and yet continue to walk in the darkness.” He says that if we claim this that...
Bibliography: Elwell, Walter A. The Baker Commentary on the Bible. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 2000.
Johnson, Thomas F. New International Biblical Commentary: 1, 2, 3 John. Peabody: Hendrickson, 1993.
Kistemaker, Simon J
Longman, Tremper. The Expositor 's Bible Commentary. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2005.
The New Interpreter 's Bible Commentary
Sailhamer, John. NIV Compact Bible Commentary. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1994.
Vines, Jerry. Exploring 1, 2, 3 John. Neptune: Loizeaux Brothers, 1989.
Von Wahlde, Urban C
Walvoord, John F., and Roy B. Zuck. The Bible Knowledge Commentary. Wheaton: Victor Books, 1985.
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