The Agora
Bible Commentary
1 John

1 2 3 4 5

1 John 1

1Jo 1:1

See Lesson, Fellowship in 1Jo.

FROM THE BEGINNING: See use of "archee" (beginning) in 1Jo 2:7,14,24; 3:11; 2Jo 1:5,6.

WE: The message is being proclaimed by those who had heard the gospel with their own ears and who had touched him with their own hands (perhaps a reference to the Resurrection appearances: Luk 24:39, Joh 20:24-29).

SEEN... LOOKED AT: The first wordd ("horao") ref to natural, ordinary sight; the second ("theomai") sig to gaze closely and fixedly, with a serious concentration.

THE WORD OF LIFE: The "Word of life", in this case, is something tangible: it can be heard, seen, and touched.

I would say that -- for the apostles -- the real "beginning" was not so much (or 'just') the birth of Jesus; nor was it 'just' the beginning of his ministry -- although some of them might have witnessed all that. It was -- especially -- when he appeared to them, resurrected from the dead and glorified, and invited them to touch and handle him. NOW they KNEW they were truly at a new "beginning" of God's spiritual creation, and what the implications of that were, for them! NOW they could see and touch "eternal life" in the tangible person of the "Word made flesh". NOW they knew he was the "Word of life", and that that life was "eternal life".

1Jo 1:3

OUR FELLOWSHIP IS WITH THE FATHER: "There is no joy like service. There is no pleasure like perfect peace. There is no happiness like holiness. There is no satisfaction like victorious godliness. There is no glory like total fellowship with God. There is no success like self-overcoming. 'Our fellowship is with the Father.' Is it? What does fellow-ship mean to us? What is our conception of it? Have we brought ourselves -- or rather, are we bringing ourselves -- into true, active, fellow-ship with Him, in all His holiness and beauty and glory and perfection? We are invited to. We are promised the power to. We are promised the necessary understanding to, and even the irresistible, overwhelming desire to -- if we seek it with total dedication, as a deep-hidden treasure of incalculable value and beauty. At first the concept of pure, endless, irreversible spirituality and holiness frightens us, bores us, depresses us. Always to be self-consciously holy, and serious, and intensely straining upward, while others play in total, animal relaxation and effortless self-indulgence in the sunny green fields below us. But we are promised -- if we persevere -- the peace, and joy, and desire that will make the struggle its own all-satisfying reward, and reveal the shallow vanishing emptiness of the mindless play in the soon-darkening valley of the flesh that we have left behind to seek the eternal fulness of the fellowship of God" (GVG).

1Jo 1:7

What saves us? Grace (Eph 2:8,9). Hope (Rom 8:24). Belief (Mar 16:15). Baptism (1Pe 3:21). Gospel, and its memory (1Co 15:1,2). Blood of Christ (1Jo 1:7). Faith (Rom 5:1). Works (Jam 2:24). Ourselves (Act 2:40). Endurance (Mat 10:22). What saved the "drowning man"? The rock, the rope, another man, himself... or all of them?

IF WE WALK IN THE LIGHT, AS HE IS IN THE LIGHT: "What is meant by the expression that the Christian is to walk in light as God is in the light? We conceive it to import likeness, but not degree. We are as truly in the light, we are as heartily in the light, we are as sincerely in the light, as honestly in the light, though we cannot be there in the same measure. I cannot dwell in the sun, it is too bright a place for my residence, but I can walk in the light of the sun; and so, though I cannot attain to that perfection of purity and truth which belongs to the Lord of hosts by nature as the infinitely good, yet I can set the Lord always before me, and strive... after conformity to His image. That old commentator, John Trapp, says, 'We may be in the light as God is in the light for quality, but not for equality.' We are to have the same light, and are as truly to have it and walk in it as God does, though, as for equality with God in His holiness and purity, that must be left until we cross the Jordan and enter into the perfection of the Most High. Mark that the blessings of sacred fellowship and perfect cleansing are bound up with walking in the light" (CHS).

PURIFIES US FROM ALL SIN: "From all [or every] sin".

"The blood of Christ never cleansed an excuse." A woman said to her brother, "I'm deeply troubled about a problem I have: I exaggerate. I always seem to enlarge a story until it's all distorted. People know they can't trust me. Can you help me?"

The brother said, "Let's pray about it." So she began to pray, "Dear Heavenly Father, Thou knowest I have a tendency to exaggerate." At this point the brother interrupted, "Call it lying, sister, and you may get over it!" The woman began to weep, because she knew he was right. She had been trying to make "lying" acceptable, and her excuse-making had made praying about it nearly impossible.

All of us are prone to cover up our sins by giving them polite names. Bad temper is said to be "nerves" or "righteous indignation", meanness to be "zeal for the Truth", lying is labeled "harmless exaggeration", and dishonesty is dignified by calling it "good business practice". To grow in grace, we must put aside all rationalizing and get to the heart of the problem. The blood of Christ does not apply to excuses, but it has the power to cleanse any sin.


"Pray to God that He will make you a part of Himself; that He will look upon you with love and compassion and mercy; that He will strengthen you in all your weaknesses, and cleanse you from all your uncleannesses. This is the only hope. This is the only peace. Of course we must do our part. God plays no favorites. He has told us exactly whom He will favor, and whom He will not. For us, our part is very big. It is everything: total submission, total dedication of the life, total service; nothing less will do. But, though big for us, it is such a small part of the whole. God's part in the process is so great in comparison that our part, though vital, is really nothing at all. But our little part is the essential key that activates God's mighty and glorious part. So He wills. First He calls, and waits. Then we answer, with all our heart and love. Then He puts into motion His tremendous transforming power, and totally absorbs us into Him. 'It is God that worketh in you, to will and to do' " (GVG).


"From where I stand, it seems that we have our priorities slightly wrong -- no, wildly wrong, but the emphasis has been placed rather too much on the academic and not enough on the practical. This could all change so easily if we just stepped down off our pedestal, as it were, as a community and concentrated on the needs and lives of others more. We are a very academic, studious community, and while that is laudable and I would not want it any other way, for many that seems to be where it stops; and the outworking of the knowledge so gained seems stunted.

"If we could stop condemning others and concentrate instead on our own salvation, and that of our brethren and sisters and all those in the world who are seeking Truth, whether they have yet found it and whatever they choose to call themselves, then I think we would do better as this would alter our perspective, and make it less inward-looking and selfish.

"The crux of this, as I see it, is our misuse of the scripture word 'fellowship.' We speak as if fellowship were something that we have the authority to dish out -- as if it is a word that can only be applied to members of our community, and as if it was humanly determinable, etc. We confuse fellowship with 'membership' and in doing so, lose the whole scriptural concept, and give ourselves an authority that is not ours to have. Fellowship is something which each individual has with God through Jesus by love -- God's love that is, and this brings us to a position of responsibility and humility. It is only those who find this who are to be saved, but we do not know who they are. The fellowship we have with each other is a spin-off of this situation, and should be kept in perspective. We have no rights here on this earth, and certainly no right to assume authority over whether a fellow human being has fellowship with God or not!

"I believe that if we recognised these things in their correct light and perspective, the whole face of our community would change overnight! We would stop condemning others (in and out of the Truth), and start seeking the Kingdom, praying and reading together with true desire" (PC).

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