1 John 5:13 (ESV Strong’s)
13 I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life.
Word Study: Eternal life according to John 17 is:
John 17:3 (ESV Strong’s)
3 And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.
Comment: John’s main reason for writing this epistle is so that those who believe in the name of the Son of God, may know that they have eternal life. This is a letter of assurance to Christians, who can use this letter to assure themselves of their place in heaven. When I ask most people whether they know if they would be in heaven when they die, they answer I always get is that only God knows, but I tell you today, after we have gone through this epistle, you will know 100% whether you will be in heaven or hell. This as John says in 1 John 1:4, will complete your joy. John has a series of tests in this epistle or letter that are intended to allow you to test yourself. I hope by the end of our journey through 1 John, you would have a clear picture of where you stand with God.
The Credibility of John’s direct eye witness account of the words and deeds of Jesus Christ our Lord
1 John 1 (ESV Strong’s)
1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life—
Comment: From the beginning can refer to the beginning of Jesus’s ministry or as in John 1:1, from the beginning of the world that is, Genesis. Now, since in John 1:1, John is referring to the Genesis beginning, I take it that John here is also referring to the Genesis beginning here. John tells us that, that, “that was from the beginning” and at the end of the verse he says “concerning the word of life”. Therefore, John refers to this word of life that was from the beginning. We know from John 1 that this word that became flesh was Jesus Christ. John says that this word of life was indeed in existence and was there from the beginning of the world. This word of life, this Jesus Christ existed before the beginning of the world and was present at the beginning of the world and therefore was not created as part of the world.
John says they have heard Jesus speak and they have seen Him with their own eyes. Notice that John does not only say they have seen Him but, he says we have seen Him and we have seen Him with our own eyes. First of all John indicates that he was not alone but, it was two or more of them that have seen Him. This makes John, the other apostles and those early Christians that were with him, eye witnesses to the testimony and acts of our Lord Jesus Christ. This means that what John is writing to us in this epistle, is not hearsay but direct evidence of what he has personally heard and seen with his own eyes. What he has written in this epistle is what he has personally heard directly from Jesus Christ.
It does not stop there, not only did they see Jesus with their own eyes but the kind of seeing John is talking about is the kind that was prolonged and not once off. They looked upon Him, meaning they spend their days listening and paying attention to Jesus.
As if that was not enough, they even went as far as to touch Jesus with their own hands. This means that they were not imagining Jesus but, He was really there.
I don’t know about you but, in my view, John and those that were there, are in a better position to give us an eye witness account of what Jesus said and did, and their testimony is credible.
Message: When one is reading the epistle of John, one must have at the back of his mind that, what John has written is an eye witness account of the things that was said and done by our Lord Jesus Christ and that John’s eye witness account is credible and could have been falsified by those that were with him and alive when he wrote this epistle. Those who were with him when he wrote this epistle, could have rejected what he wrote if he included lies but they did not. This alone give this epistle the highest credibility.
2 the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us—
Comment: This very word of life, this very same Jesus Christ who was from the beginning, whom they have heard and have seen with their own eyes, was manifest or was revealed to them, and they have seen Him. Now they testify, they give direct eye witness account that this word of life, is the eternal life that was with God and was revealed to them. John does not say revealed to me but he says revealed to us. John says their testimony which is based on directly hearing what Jesus said and directly seeing with their own eyes what Jesus did and being able to even touch Him, their testimony is that this Jesus Christ is the eternal life. Again if Jesus was not the eternal life and John was lying, then those that were with him, had an opportunity and the means to dispute and falsify what John said but, again, they did not. Therefore, John’s testimony is highly credible.
Message: Again, when one is reading the epistle of John, one must have at the back of his mind that, what John has written is an eye witness account of the things that was said and done by our Lord Jesus Christ and that John’s eye witness account is credible and could have been falsified by those that were with him and alive when he wrote this epistle. Those who were with him when he wrote this epistle, could have rejected what he wrote if he included lies but they did not. This alone give this epistle the highest credibility.
3 that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. 4 And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.
Word Study: Fellowship means relationship, communion
Comment: Now, John after indicating to us how credible his testimony is, he then gives us the reason why he is proclaiming what they have heard Jesus say and what they have seen Jesus do. John says that it is because he wants us to also have fellowship with them, as they have fellowship with God and Jesus. So, in having fellowship with them, we also will have fellowship with God and Jesus. The second reason is that John wants us to share in their joy so that our joy, together with theirs might be complete. This is to promote joy amongst those that have fellowship with God and Jesus.
Message: Having established his credibility, John’s intention in proclaiming and writing this epistle is for us to continue to have or begin to have fellowship with God, Jesus and with each other. This is in addition to us knowing whether we truly have fellowship with God and Jesus and this epistle is a series of tests that will determine if indeed we do have fellowship with God and Jesus.
A test of fellowship with God
5 This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.
6 If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.
Word Study: Το proclaim means to openly declare. The word in verse 5 means to continually and openly declare.
Comment: John has already indicated in verses 1 and 3 that they are proclaiming what they have heard from Jesus. He starts verse 5 by indicating even more clearly that they proclaim or openly declare what they have heard from Jesus. This is what Jesus told them, that God is light and in Him there is no darkness at all. Not even a little bit. Nothing.
Having stated the above fact. John gives us the first test to see if we are truly in the faith:
John says if we say we have fellowship with God, while we continually walk in darkness, we are lying and don’t practice the truth. What is to have fellowship with God?, it is to have communion with Him, it is to associate with Him, it is to share in common and it is to be in partnership with Him. So, John is saying no communion, no association, no sharing of anything in common and no partnership can be had with God who is pure light if we continue to walk in darkness. What does it mean to walk in darkness? Acts 26:18 equates darkness with the power of satan and describes those who are in darkness as those whose sins needs to be forgiven. Eph 5:8-9 describes the fruits of the light as all that is good, right and true. One can then conclude that walking in darkness is living continuously in sin under the power of satan. If you continue to live in sin under the power of the devil, how then can you have fellowship with God?
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 cleanses us from all sin.
Comment: John then turns to walking in the light as opposed to walking in darkness. John says if we continue to walk in the light as God is in the light, then this results in fellowship with others who are also continuing to walk in the light. Fellowship among those who continue to walk in the light is proof that they indeed are walking in the light. Therefore, if you are a Christian, and you don’t have fellowship with other Christians, then you are not walking in the light. Those who continue to walk in the light also have their sins continually cleansed or washed by the blood of Jesus. Note this is not a once off process, this is continuous. This means that those who say they walk in the light and have fellowship with God, their lives must show a pattern of a continuous decrease of sin in their lives as they are washed by the blood of Jesus.
8 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
10 If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.
Comment: John the turns to those who might want to argue that they have no sin and/or have not sinned. John says those who say that they currently have no sin, they are deceiving themselves and they have no truth in themselves. Therefore, the fourth test of those who have fellowship with God, it is those who accept that they are currently not sinless.
John then says if we first accept that we are not sinless and then confess our sins, God is faithful or trustworthy and just to forgive us our sins and to continually cleanse or wash us of all those sins. Therefore the fifth test of those who have fellowship with God, are those that confess their sins and ask for forgiveness.
Then John turns to those that say they have never sinned. John says if we say that we have never sinned, then we make God a liar and God’s word is not in us. Therefore the sixth test of those who have fellowship with God are those that admit that they are sinners.
The first test that John gives us is a test of fellowship with God. John gives us seven things that must be visible in our lives if we are to be sure that we have fellowship with God:
- We should not continually live in sin
- We should have continued fellowship with other Christians
- There should be a continuous pattern of sin reduction in our lives.
- We should accept that we are not without sin
- We confess our sins
- We trust in a just God to forgive us
- We accept that we have always been sinners