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God Is Light

5 This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light and in him there is no darkness at all. 6If we say that we have fellowship with him while we are walking in darkness, we lie and do not do what is true; 7but 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. 8If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9If we confess our sins, he who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.


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5. First division of the body of the Epistle (compare Introduction).

declareGreek, "announce"; report in turn; a different Greek word from 1Jo 1:3. As the Son announced the message heard from the Father as His apostle, so the Son's apostles announce what they have heard from the Son. John nowhere uses the term "Gospel"; but the witness or testimony, the word, the truth, and here the message.

God is light—What light is in the natural world, that God, the source of even material light, is in the spiritual, the fountain of wisdom, purity, beauty, joy, and glory. As all material life and growth depends on light, so all spiritual life and growth depends on God. As God here, so Christ, in 1Jo 2:8, is called "the true light."

no darkness at all—strong negation; Greek, "No, not even one speck of darkness"; no ignorance, error, untruthfulness, sin, or death. John heard this from Christ, not only in express words, but in His acted words, namely, His is whole manifestation in the flesh as "the brightness of the Father's glory." Christ Himself was the embodiment of "the message," representing fully in all His sayings, doings, and sufferings, Him who is LIGHT.

6. say—profess.

have fellowship with him—(1Jo 1:3). The essence of the Christian life.

walk—in inward and outward action, whithersoever we turn ourselves [Bengel].

in darknessGreek, "in the darkness"; opposed to "the light" (compare 1Jo 2:8, 11).

lie—(1Jo 2:4).

do not—in practice, whatever we say.

the truth—(Eph 4:21; Joh 3:21).

7. Compare Eph 5:8, 11-14. "We walk"; "God is (essentially in His very nature as 'the light,' 1Jo 1:5) in the light." Walking in the light, the element in which God Himself is, constitutes the test of fellowship with Him. Christ, like us, walked in the light (1Jo 2:6). Alford notices, Walking in the light as He is in the light, is no mere imitation of God, but an identity in the essential element of our daily walk with the essential element of God's eternal being.

we have fellowship one with another—and of course with God (to be understood from 1Jo 1:6). Without having fellowship with God there can be no true and Christian fellowship one with another (compare 1Jo 1:3).

and—as the result of "walking in the light, as He is in the light."

the blood of Jesus … cleanseth us from all sin—daily contracted through the sinful weakness of the flesh, and the power of Satan and the world. He is speaking not of justification through His blood once for all, but of the present sanctification ("cleanseth" is present tense) which the believer, walking in the light and having fellowship with God and the saints, enjoys as His privilege. Compare Joh 13:10, Greek, "He that has been bathed, needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit." Compare 1Jo 1:9, "cleanse us from all unrighteousness," a further step besides "forgiving us our sins." Christ's blood is the cleansing mean, whereby gradually, being already justified and in fellowship with God, we become clean from all sin which would mar our fellowship with God. Faith applies the cleansing, purifying blood. Some oldest manuscripts omit "Christ"; others retain it.

8. The confession of sins is a necessary consequence of "walking in the light" (1Jo 1:7). "If thou shalt confess thyself a sinner, the truth is in thee; for the truth is itself light. Not yet has thy life become perfectly light, as sins are still in thee, but yet thou hast already begun to be illuminated, because there is in thee confession of sins" [Augustine].

that we have no sin—"Have," not "have had," must refer not to the past sinful life while unconverted, but to the present state wherein believers have sin even still. Observe, "sin" is in the singular; "(confess our) sins" (1Jo 1:9) in the plural. Sin refers to the corruption of the old man still present in us, and the stain created by the actual sins flowing from that old nature in us. To confess our need of cleansing from present sin is essential to "walking in the light"; so far is the presence of some sin incompatible with our in the main "walking in light." But the believer hates, confesses, and longs to be delivered from all sin, which is darkness. "They who defend their sins, will see in the great day whether their sins can defend them."

deceive ourselves—We cannot deceive God; we only make ourselves to err from the right path.

the truth—(1Jo 2:4). True faith. "The truth respecting God's holiness and our sinfulness, which is the very first spark of light in us, has no place in us" [Alford].

9. confess—with the lips, speaking from a contrite heart; involving also confession to our fellow men of offenses committed against them.

he—God.

faithful—to His own promises; "true" to His word.

just—Not merely the mercy, but the justice or righteousness of God is set forth in the redemption of the penitent believer in Christ. God's promises of mercy, to which He is faithful, are in accordance with His justice.

toGreek, "in order that." His forgiving us our sins and cleansing us, &c., is in furtherance of the ends of His eternal faithfulness and justice.

forgive—remitting the guilt.

cleanse—purify from all filthiness, so that henceforth we more and more become free from the presence of sin through the Spirit of sanctification (compare Heb 9:14; and above, see on 1Jo 1:7).

unrighteousness—offensive to Him who "is just" or righteous; called "sin," 1Jo 1:7, because "sin is the transgression of the law," and the law is the expression of God's righteousness, so that sin is unrighteousness.

10. Parallel to 1Jo 1:8.

we have not sinned—referring to the commission of actual sins, even after regeneration and conversion; whereas in 1Jo 1:8, "we have no sin," refers to the present GUILT remaining (until cleansed) from the actual sins committed, and to the SIN of our corrupt old nature still adhering to us. The perfect "have … sinned" brings down the commission of sins to the present time, not merely sins committed before, but since, conversion.

we make him a liar—a gradation; 1Jo 1:6, "we lie"; 1Jo 1:8, "we deceive ourselves"; worst of all, "we make Him a liar," by denying His word that all men are sinners (compare 1Jo 5:10).

his word is not in us—"His word," which is "the truth" (1Jo 1:8), accuses us truly; by denying it we drive it from our hearts (compare Joh 5:38). Our rejection of "His word" in respect to our being sinners, implies as the consequence our rejection of His word and will revealed in the law and Gospel as a whole; for these throughout rest on the fact that we have sinned, and have sin.




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