What about 1 John 1:9? Part nine.

Posted: Sat. Mar, 17 2018

 

The neighborhood

1 John 1:5-10
5  This is the message we have heard from Him and announce 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 and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; 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 are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9  If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to 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 is the paragraph that includes 1 John 1:9 - its neighborhood.

Last time, we saw that 1 John 1:6-10 is made up of five conditional sentences (If A, B).

They consist of two completely different sets of statements.

One set includes verses 6, 8, and 10.  These statements speak of  John’s opponents, the unbelieving false apostles.

The other set consists of verses 7 and 9. These statements apply to John and his fellow apostles and disciples, who are true teachers of the gospel.

 

The nine

We next identified nine specific things in this paragraph that we need to study in order to gain a  complete understanding of the passage.

They include:

  • Having fellowship with God
  • Walking in the darkness
     
  • Walking in the Light
  • Having fellowship with one another
     
  • The blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin
     
  • Saying we have no sin
  • Confessing our sins
     
  • God forgiving us our sins
  • God cleansing us from all unrighteousness

 

Darkness and Light in John’s gospel

Last time, we examined darkness and Light in the Gospel of John.  The Gospel of John is a vital resource for properly interpreting the letter of 1 John.

We concluded that Light in the gospel of John refers to Christ Himself, and to eternal life in Christ.

“Walking in the Light” therefore describes the believer in Christ, who is in Christ and who has eternal life.

Walking in the Light means receiving God’s revelation of Himself through His Son by believing in Christ.   The believer has eternal life, and walks in the light of this revelation of Christ.

Darkness in the Gospel of John refers to ignorance of Christ, unbelief, and the absence of eternal life.

“Walking in the darkness” describes the unbeliever, who lives in the realm of death by rejecting God’s message of eternal life through faith in Christ.

The unbeliever does not have eternal life, and is walking in death, having rejected the light of Christ.

The unbeliever remains in the darkness.  The believer does not walk in darkness.

This is where we pick things up now.

 

Bringing them back

We begin by bringing these definitions of darkness and Light from the gospel back to 1 John 1:5-7.

1 John 1:5-7
5  This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light
[eternal life] , and in Him there is no darkness [death] at all. 6  If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness [do not believe in Christ, abide in death], we lie and do not practice the truth; 7 but if we walk in the Light [walk in life as believers in Christ]  as He Himself is in the Light [eternal life], we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.

Let’s step through this one verse at a time, beginning with verse 5:

1 John 1:5
5  This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light
[eternal life], and in Him there is no darkness [death] at all.

 

God is eternal life.

John writes 1 John so that believers may know that they have eternal life (1JO 5:13).

And half of the references to eternal life in the 27 books of the New Testament are found in just two books: the gospel of John and the letter of 1 John.

God is life.  John highlights this in his writings.

For instance, note what Jesus says when He is speaking about the resurrection:

John 5:26
26 "For just as the Father has life in Himself, even so He gave to the Son also to have life in Himself

John 11:25-26
Jesus said to her, " I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies,  26 and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?" 

Jesus, God in the flesh,  IS THE LIFE.

Also, we have Jesus speaking to His Father in chapter 17 of the gospel of John:

John 17:1-3
1 Jesus spoke these things; and lifting up His eyes to heaven, He said, "Father, the hour has come; glorify Your Son, that the Son may glorify You,  2 even as You gave Him authority over all flesh, that to all whom You have given Him, He may give eternal life3 "This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. 

In the beginning of 1 John, the Word who is God (JOH 1:1) is identified as the Word of Life:

1 John 1:1-2
What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the Word of Life —  2 and the life was manifested, and we have seen and testify and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested to us

Finally, at the end of the letter, John associates God and eternal life once more:

1 John 5:20
20 And we know that the Son of God has come, and has given us understanding so that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life.

 

Where are we walking?

We continue now with verse 6.

1 John 1:6  If we say that we have fellowship with Him [God] and yet walk in the darkness [do not believe in Christ, abide in death], we lie and do not practice the truth;

We will be studying what John means by fellowship after we wrap up the subject of darkness and Light.  For now, it is sufficient to note that an unbeliever cannot have fellowship with God.

The one who has not believed in God’s Son does not practice the truth (John 3:18-21).

1 John 1:7 but if we walk in the Light [walk in life as believers in Christ]  as He Himself is in the Light [eternal life], we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.

Again, we started with darkness and light because this will help us learn what John means by fellowship.  For now we simply note that it is God’s Son who dwells in inapproachable Light.

1 Tim 6:14-16
14 that you keep the commandment without stain or reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 which He will bring about at the proper time — He who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, 16  who alone possesses immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see. To Him be honor and eternal dominion! Amen.

Christ, God’s Son, is in the Light, and He possesses immortality (eternal life).
 

Validated

Next, we are going to examine how the rest of 1 John further validates these definitions of darkness and Light.

There is one additional passage in 1 John that discusses darkness and Light, and it is in chapter 2.

1 John 2:7-11
7  Beloved, I am not writing a new commandment to you, but an old commandment which you have had from the beginning; the old commandment is the word which you have heard. 8  On the other hand, I am writing a new commandment to you, which is true in Him and in you, because the darkness
[the world  = unbelieving mankind abiding in death]  is passing away and the true Light [Christ!]  is already shining. 9 The one who says he is in the Light [has eternal life] and yet  hates his brother is in the darkness [abides in death as an unbeliever] until now. 10  The one who loves his brother abides in the Light [has eternal life]  and there is no cause for stumbling in him. 11 But the one who hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness [unbelief, rejection of Christ], and does not know where he is going because the darkness [unbelief, ignorance of Christ]  has blinded his eyes.

Love  is closely associated with eternal life. Hatred of the saints is characteristic of the unbeliever, the one who has always walked in the darkness of rejecting Christ.

A few verses after this, John will identify what is passing away.

1 John 2:17
The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever.

The world ( the realm of unbelieving mankind)  and its lusts are passing away.  But the believer lives forever.

The true Light is Christ (JOH 1:9).

The true Light is already shining. The Light shines in the darkness and enlightens every man.

So the definitions of darkness and Light that come from the gospel of John also make the meaning of 1 John 2:7-11 quite clear.

 

Fellowship

With that, we are now ready to tackle the subject of fellowship in 1 John 1.

To do that, we must start in 1 John 1:1.

1 John 1:1-7
1 What was from the beginning, what we
[John and his fellow apostles]  have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the Word of Life —  2 and the life was manifested, and we have seen and testify and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested to us —  3 what we have seen [Christ, the manifestation of eternal life]  and heard [the message of eternal life, the gospel] we [the apostles]  proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us [John and his fellow apostles]  ; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ. 4  These things we [John and his fellow apostles] write, so that our joy may be made complete.

5  This is the message we [the apostles]  have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light [eternal life] , and in Him there is no darkness at all. 6  If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness [abide in death, rejecting God’s revelation of eternal life in Christ], we lie and do not practice the truth; 7 but if we walk in the Light [accept God’s revelation concerning eternal life in Christ] as He Himself is in the Light [eternal life] , we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.

 

Two kinds, one source

It is vital to see that John discusses two kinds of fellowship in 1 John 1:3, 6, and 7.

The first kind is fellowship with God: God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ (verses 3 & 6).

This is the primary kind of fellowship, and is the source of the second kind.

The second kind of fellowship is fellowship with one another (verses 3 & 7). This is fellowship between fellow believers.

In verse 3, John is saying that he and his fellow apostles are proclaiming the message of eternal life in Christ to the congregations so that these people may have fellowship with the apostles.

The preaching of the gospel is the means of bringing about fellowship with God and with one another.

In other words, the basis for fellowship between saints is the message of eternal life in Christ.

The apostles’ have fellowship with the Father and His Son Jesus Christ. And verse 3 states that to  have fellowship with the apostles is to have fellowship with God.

 

Koinonia

The Greek word for “fellowship” in 1 John 1:3,6, and 7 is koinonia.  This word appears only four times in in John’s writings, and all occur here in 1 John 1:3,6, and 7.

What does this word koinonia mean?  

Here are the definitions from several Greek lexicons:

Koinonia means a partnership, a community; an association involving close mutual relationships and involvement, fellowship.

A close association involving mutual interests and sharing.

A brotherhood.

 A favorite expression for the marital relationship as the most intimate between human beings.

 

We are family

What close intimate relationship does John talk about in 1 John?

Family!

1 John 3:1
1 See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are. For this reason the world does not know us, because it did not know Him.

Love for the family is the indication that we have eternal life.

1 John 3:14
14 We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love abides in death.

We have passed out of the darkness of death into the Light of life. We know we have because we love the brethren.

1 John 5:1  Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and whoever loves the Father loves the child  born of Him.

 

Fellowship defined

So fellowship in 1 John is the intimate family relationship based on shared life - eternal life -  and expressed in love.

Fellowship is the family relationship we have with God (our Father and His Son) and His children (fellow believers), beginning with salvation.

Fellowship means you are members of the same family and share the same life - eternal life, God’s life.

So fellowship with the Father and the Son is fundamentally the same thing as having eternal life.

 

You can’t lose it

This primary kind of fellowship - fellowship with God - is absolute. You either have it (the apostles) or you don’t  (the false teachers).

This fellowship with God is also permanent and unchanging.   You will always be a child of God, and you cannot have eternal life taken away.

John 10:27-30
27 "My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me;  28 and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand.  29 " My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand.  30 " I and the Father are one."

Thus, 1 John 1:3 offers no support for the idea of “losing fellowship” with God.

Next time, we will finish up our study of fellowship in 1 John.  In particular, we will see why it is that John proclaimed the message of eternal life in Christ to his audience so that they might have fellowship with John and his apostolic circle.

(Hint: it has something to do with his opponents.)

 

Until the next time, we’re all ….

In His grip,

Pastor John

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