1:1 That which was from the beginning [emphasize the eternal nature of Christ], which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched [Jesus had a physical body; some false teachers claimed that He did not have a physical body but only appeared to have one] — this we proclaim concerning the Word of life.
1:2 The life [from the Greek word “zoe”] appeared [was revealed or manifested]; we have seen [Jesus was seen by thousands of people] it [Jesus] and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father [Jesus was face-to-face with God; they enjoyed an intimate relationship] and has appeared to us [the incarnation].
1:3 We [John and the other apostles] proclaim to you what we have seen and heard [John and the others actually walked with Jesus], so that you also may have fellowship [from the Greek word “koinonia”; the twelve enjoyed intimate fellowship with Jesus] with us [through a personal relationship with Jesus others could also enjoy this fellowship]. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ.
1:4 We write this to make our [there is a mutual joy among believers] joy complete [wandering away from Christ or embracing false teaching cancels this joy].
1:5 This is the message [essentially the gospel] we have heard from him and declare to you [we are trustees of the gospel and must pass it along to others]: God [see also John 8:12] is light [light enables us to see what we otherwise could not see]; in him there is no darkness [a metaphor for what is sinful and evil] at all.
1:6 If we claim to have fellowship with him [God’s people live in the kingdom of His beloved Son, a kingdom of light (Col. 1:13-14)] and yet walk in the darkness [it is hypocritical to to claim to belong to the kingdom of His beloved Son while walking in darkness (Col. 1:13-14); we cannot claim to belong to the light while displaying the behavior of the dark], we lie and do not live out the truth.
1:7 But if we walk in the light [means that we must have constant fellowship with God and not tolerate the things that can distance us from Him], as he is in the light, we have fellowship [the result of walking in the light] with one another [this phrase used 35 times in the NT; living out the 35 “one another” passages is evidence that we are in right relationship with God and others], and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies [cleanses] us from all sin.
Note: There is a legend told about Martin Luther that, during a serious illness, the Devil entered his room, and, looking at Luther with a triumphant smile, unrolled a vast roll which when unwound filled the room. On that roll was a detailed and complete record of all of Luther’s sins.
The story says that Luther trembled when he saw it when he suddenly remembered that there was one thing that was not written there.
And so, looking at the Devil, Luther said, “One thing you have forgotten: the rest is all true; but one thing you have forgotten…The blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth from all sin.” (I John 1:7)
As he said this, the Accuser of the brethren and his heavy roll disappeared.
1:8 If we claim to be without sin [this lie was propagated by false teachers], we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.
1:9 [The Condition of Cleansing…] If [introduces the condition] we [who must meet the condition] confess [the condition that must be met; translates the Greek work “homologeo” from “homos” = same and “lego” = to speak; the word means “to say the same thing as another” hence “to agree with or to assent to a thing”] our sins, [The Certainty of Cleansing] he is faithful [the grounds of our assurance is the character of God; He never changes and is utterly reliable] and just [God is straightforward in His dealings with us and will do exactly what He says He will do] and will forgive [deals with the judicial side of cleansing; healing for the past] us our sins and purify [deals with the personal side of cleansing; hope for the future] us from all [You can call sin what you like… bondage, guilt, uncleanness, crime, iniquity, vice, evil, misdemeanor, wickedness, failure, stain, wrong, filth, or transgression. These are just some of the many names and aspects of sin, but they are all covered by the word “all”] unrighteousness.
Note: The word “confess” also carries with it the idea of a contract, an agreement, a coming to terms (as used in both Classical and Koine Greek). According to its usage in 1 John 1:9, confession is more than just a mere admission of sin to God. The act of confession includes the act of the Christian:
A. coming to terms with God in regard to his sin
B. then of agreeing with God as to what He says about that sin and what the Christian ought to do about it.
C. then entering into a contract or agreement with God that if He will cleanse us from the filth and defilement of that sin, we will not repeat it.
In other words, we must first own and then disown our sins. We must first acknowledge them and then abandon them—or in the words of Proverbs 28:13, we must confess and forsake them.
1:10 If we claim we have not sinned [an audacious claim of some of the false teachers; if we have not sinned then there was no need for God to send His Son], we make him out to be a liar [because God says we have all sinned; Romans 3:23; 6:23] and his word [the message of the gospel] is not in us.