1 John 1

1 John 1:1

Ὃ ἦν ἀπ’ ἀρχῆς, ὃ ἀκηκόαμεν, ὃ ἑωράκαμεν τοῖς ὀφθαλμοῖς ἡμῶν, ὃ ἐθεασάμεθα καὶ αἱ χεῖρες ἡμῶν ἐψηλάφησαν, περὶ τοῦ λόγου τῆς ζωῆς—


1 John 1:2

καὶ ἡ ζωὴ ἐφανερώθη, καὶ ἑωράκαμεν καὶ μαρτυροῦμεν καὶ ἀπαγγέλλομεν ὑμῖν τὴν ζωὴν τὴν αἰώνιον ἥτις ἦν πρὸς τὸν πατέρα καὶ ἐφανερώθη ἡμῖν—


1 John 1:3

ὃ ἑωράκαμεν καὶ ἀκηκόαμεν ἀπαγγέλλομεν καὶ ὑμῖν, ἵνα καὶ ὑμεῖς κοινωνίαν ἔχητε μεθ’ ἡμῶν· καὶ ἡ κοινωνία δὲ ἡ ἡμετέρα μετὰ τοῦ πατρὸς καὶ μετὰ τοῦ υἱοῦ αὐτοῦ Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ·


1 John 1:4

καὶ ταῦτα γράφομεν ἡμεῖς ἵνα ἡ χαρὰ ἡμῶν ᾖ πεπληρωμένη.


1 John 1:5

Καὶ ἔστιν αὕτη ἡ ἀγγελία ἣν ἀκηκόαμεν ἀπ’ αὐτοῦ καὶ ἀναγγέλλομεν ὑμῖν, ὅτι ὁ θεὸς φῶς ἐστιν καὶ σκοτία ἐν αὐτῷ οὐκ ἔστιν οὐδεμία.

And this is the report which we heard from Him and we announce to you that God is light and no darkness is not in Him, not one time.

Paraphrase:  Now Jesus brought us a revelation from God and about God.  God is willing that His creatures should know something of who He is and what He is doing.  Now this is what Jesus taught us about His Father.  “My Father is pure light,” Jesus announced, “and there is no darkness in Him, not even in the smallest degree.”


Note the double negative here.  See Smyth (§2736) for οὐδεμία.

Berkhof:  “The position must be maintained, however, that theology would be utterly impossible without a self-revelation of God.”  cf Pohle (p16), Orr (p75).


1 John 1:6

ἐὰν εἴπωμεν ὅτι κοινωνίαν ἔχομεν μετ’ αὐτοῦ καὶ ἐν τῷ σκότει περιπατῶμεν, ψευδόμεθα καὶ οὐ ποιοῦμεν τὴν ἀλήθειαν·

If we say that we have fellowship with Him and in darkness we walk, we lie and we do not the truth.

Paraphrase:  Now if God is pure light (1 Timothy 6:16), then we should learn this important lesson.  If we claim to be in union with Christ and yet we walk in darkness, by which I mean we live a sinful lifestyle, then our claim to be in union with Christ is false.  We are deceiving ourselves and living in a delusion that will eventually land us in eternal darkness.


Third class condition.


1 John 1:7

ἐὰν δὲ ἐν τῷ φωτὶ περιπατῶμεν ὡς αὐτός ἐστιν ἐν τῷ φωτί, κοινωνίαν ἔχομεν μετ’ ἀλλήλων καὶ τὸ αἷμα Ἰησοῦ τοῦ υἱοῦ αὐτοῦ καθαρίζει ἡμᾶς ἀπὸ πάσης ἁμαρτίας.

But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, fellowship we have with one another and the blood of His Son cleanses us from all sin.

Paraphrase:  On the other hand, if we walk in the light, by which I mean that we live a godly lifestyle, then our assurance of being in Christ is well-grounded.  We know that our guilt has been cancelled because Jesus took our punishment and died as an atonement for us.  Such a lifestyle shows that our hearts are really and sincerely trusting in Jesus, and we are not deceiving ourselves on this point.  Then something of God’s perfect light is given to us. (1 Peter 1:15-16)  Then we also have such a rich and satisfying fellowship with God’s people.  Whenever we come together, we worship our Great God who saved us from darkness (Colossians 1:13), and we lift up holy hands in prayer and praise to our God and King. (Ephesians 5:19; 1 Timothy 2:8)  



1 John 1:8

ἐὰν εἴπωμεν ὅτι ἁμαρτίαν οὐκ ἔχομεν, ἑαυτοὺς πλανῶμεν καὶ ἡ ἀλήθεια οὐκ ἔστιν ἐν ἡμῖν.

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

Paraphrase:  But you might respond to this and ask what you are to think of those sins which still distress and haunt you even after you have experienced the joy of the forgiveness of all your sins.  First, let me say very clearly that anyone who thinks he is sinless is deceiving himself.  That is just as serious a delusion as someone who thinks he is in union with Christ even though he walks in darkness.


Note the third person reflexive pronoun but a first person meaning; see the last paragraph on this page.


1 John 1:9

ἐὰν ὁμολογῶμεν τὰς ἁμαρτίας ἡμῶν, πιστός ἐστιν καὶ δίκαιος ἵνα ἀφῇ ἡμῖν τὰς ἁμαρτίας καὶ καθαρίσῃ ἡμᾶς ἀπὸ πάσης ἀδικίας.

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just in order that He might forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Paraphrase:  Now this is what you should do with the sins which still remain in you.  You should confess them to God.  This means you should own these sins as your own; do not try to dismiss them or to make less of them.  Just lay them all out before God.  When once you have done this, know that God is both faithful and just.  First, He is faithful to the promise He made (Leviticus 26:40-42; Proverbs 28:13) that when we confess our sins (Daniel 9:4-6), He will forgive us and not hold them against us any longer. (Psalm 32:5)  But not only is God faithful and true to the promises He’s made, but He is also just.  I know you might be thinking that God’s justice is the problem.  Surely if God is just than we must be condemned forever, but this is not correct.  God’s justice also demands that He cancel our guilt because a full atonement has been made for our sin. (1 John 1:7)  This is why God is both faithful and just to forgive us and then to begin the process of purifying us from all the pollution of sin which still cleaves to us even after our guilt has been canceled.


I understand the article τας to be functioning here as a possessive pronoun.

The distinction between guilt and pollution is a helpful one for understanding this verse; cf Hodge (p188), Thornwell (p400), Berkhof (see §B3 here).


1 John 1:10

ἐὰν εἴπωμεν ὅτι οὐχ ἡμαρτήκαμεν, ψεύστην ποιοῦμεν αὐτὸν καὶ ὁ λόγος αὐτοῦ οὐκ ἔστιν ἐν ἡμῖν.

If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.

Paraphrase:  Now if anyone says that he has no sin to confess, then he is calling God a liar because God clearly teaches that everyone, even His children, sin. (Ecclesiastes 7:20)  If you persist in saying that you have no sin to confess, then whatever else may be true about you, this is surely true.  You have not believed the truth about God, you are not walking in God’s light; you do not believe God to be true. 



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