Introduction. He lived in Ephesus. He was now an old man in his late eighties or early nineties. He was the last of the surviving apostles that Jesus had hand picked. He was also Jesus’ cousin. Over sixty years before he and his brother James had been standing by the fishing boat their father owned. Jesus had walked by and said come follow me and I will make you fishers of men. John left the boat and began a journey that was now over sixty years later.
The years had been incredible. For three years he had followed Jesus while the messiah taught and ministered to thousands. John had been selected by Jesus to hold a special place along with his brother James and Simon Peter. These three men were the inner circle to the ministry of Jesus of Nazareth. On several occasions Jesus had taken these three men into confidential moments the other disciples did not share.
John had been there for the entire journey of Jesus earthly ministry. He was at the foot of the cross when Jesus died. John had been there through all the years of the New Testament church. John was right there on the first day of the church in Acts two. He was there when the lame man was healed. John was with Peter when they were cast into prison. He had been there when his brother was martyred by Pilate. John possibly accompanied Peter to the house of Cornelius in Acts chapter ten. John had lived through the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. John had been at the Jerusalem council when the decision was made for the Gentiles entrance into the church. The years were filled with memories of triumphs and tragedies.
Now he was the last original surviving apostle. He was feeble and aged. Troubling news was being brought to him about false teachers who were teaching false doctrine. This was a growing epidemic in the church. Gnosticism had gained a foothold, and taught that Jesus never really had a human body. This false doctrine said the flesh was intrinsically evil, therefore Jesus would never have inhabited such a sinful abode.
No one on earth was better qualified to rise up and refute this false doctrine that threatened his beloved church. The old apostle picked up his quill and with shaking hand began, “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled”. John was refuting Gnosticism directly. He was letting the churches of Asia and Europe know, I was there. I saw him. I touched him. I was his companion for three and a half years. John was proclaiming I saw it, and I bear witness, and show you eternal life.
Jesus was manifested to mankind. John was declaring that all men can have fellowship with Jesus Christ.
Thus begins the first general epistle of John the beloved.
Date: approximately 90ad
1.1 eyewitness. John begins by assuring the churches of Asia and Europe he was an eyewitness of the ministry of Jesus Christ. John was offering his personal witness of the word of life, which is the proclamation of Jesus Christ, in whom is life. This parallels his statements in chapter 1 of his gospel, and gives weight to his authenticity. John is the most qualified witness on earth as he is the last remaining original apostle. All other original apostles are deceased, thus unable to raise their apostolic voice in dissension to false doctrines circulating in the church.
1.2 manifested. Manifested here means to render apparent, declare. The life of God was rendered apparent in the life of Jesus Christ. Jn 1.1 mirrors this, in the beginning was the word (logos), and the logos was with God and the logos was God. Jesus is the manifestation of God to mankind. 1 Tim 3.16 without controversy (by the consent of all), great is the mystery of godliness (gospel scheme). God (theos, the supreme deity, spoken of the only and true God), was rendered apparent. God lived in the human body of Jesus Christ and made Himself apparent to mankind.
1.3 fellowship. One important purpose of John’s personal witness is to provide fellowship for true believers. The most insidious way false doctrine invades the church is through men posing as sheep but are actually ravening wolves, Mt 7.15. Fellowship here means partnership, social intercourse, and communication. This is the root of what John is defending. Men posing as true believers were interacting with the church and bringing damnable doctrines with them. John is rooting out fellowshipping these false believers. John is firm: you are not to have close association or relationship with people who do not believe Jesus was God manifested in the flesh. The Apostle Paul also declared this in his writings. One important platform of fellowship is mutual acceptance, and submission, to the truths of the Christian Faith.
1.4 joy. The major purpose of this epistle is to defend the church against the false doctrines trying to invade the fellowship of believers. There is a secondary benefit in the joy (cheerfulness, calm delight), that comes with close fellowship with Christ and other believers. There is a deep satisfaction in knowing Christ and walking with him.
1.5 light and darkness. John relays the message he heard from Jesus personally as an eyewitness. This message he passes on to the fellowship of believers. John introduces the first of his comparative opposites, light verses darkness. This is a writing style of John. He uses simple words that have great meaning. John’s vocabulary is the vocabulary of a seven year old child. He uses roughly 600 words. A child learns 100 words a year on the average. The words John uses are few in number but pregnant with great meaning and impact. The clarity of his style is effective. For instance, where there is light there can be no darkness. This simple style is his signature trademark in the Holy Scriptures. God is light. There are only two things in the scriptures that say what God is. God is light and God is love. All other statements are about God’s attributes. In the beginning God said let there be light. God introduced himself into the darkness and creation began. It is the same pattern in a life. When God is introduced through the baptism of the Holy Ghost, light and illumination begins. The Holy Ghost will teach things, illuminate things, and bring things to a person’s remembrance. God is light and light illuminates and drives darkness away by it’s very presence and existence.
1.6 fellowship. Walking in darkness means walking in sin. People who claim to be a part of the fellowship of light but continue to walk in darkness (shadiness or obscurity), utter an untruth (lie). This type of lifestyle is simply impossible, for light will drive out darkness.
1.7 blood. John introduces another of his simple yet profound words, blood. If we walk in the light we have fellowship with one another, but more importantly we have the continual flow of the cleansing blood of Christ. The blood of our body flows without stop or rest. Our blood is the blueprint for the redeeming, cleansing blood of Christ. His blood flows continuously in our lives to keep us free from sin and death. To truly understand this revelation is to live above guilt and condemnation. While we live daily lives, Jesus blood continually flows in our life to keep us spiritually healthy. John now introduces the reason why this is important.
1.8 sin. We must acknowledge sin in our lives. If we deny we have sin, we live in deception, and truth is not in us. There were possibly some who were claiming to have no sin because of the life of Jesus now inside them by the Holy Ghost. John clearly instructs, all people sin. Jesus taught if you acknowledge your sin you can find forgiveness. He further instructed if you are blind to your sin you will remain there (Jn 9.41).
1.9 confess. To confess (assent, acknowledge) our sins, is to seek help from God to remove this death virus from our spiritual man. In God’s providence, when we acknowledge our sin, his continuously flowing blood removes our sins. He is faithful (trustworthy). As our blood continually removes metabolic waste and impurities from our body, so His blood does for the body of Christ. His blood goes even further by cleansing all unrighteousness (injustice, wrongfulness of character or life) of the body of Christ. This is one of the reasons the Apostle Paul stressed the importance of the church to not forsake the assembling together (Heb 10.25). There is cleansing for the spiritual body both individually and collectively when the church gathers together.
1.10 God. To deny one’s sinfulness or sins does not just deceive oneself, it makes God a liar by denying God’s word. Sin is universal. It was brought into the world by Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden. It was finally conquered at Calvary by Jesus Christ. To be sin free is impossible. The answer is for the blood of Jesus Christ to continually flow in our lives daily, much as our natural blood does, to remove sin when it occurs. John will now introduce the amazing concepts of advocacy and propitiation.
Thanks for reading today…
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