1 John 1 - Fellowship with the Father and the Son

INTRODUCTION: The apostle John has a distinctive approach that sets his gospel account apart from the other three gospels. Matthew, Mark, and Luke have a number of parallel historical accounts covering the ancestry, birth, and the public ministry of Jesus. . John's gospel provides much description of Jesus as the God-man including some lengthy quotations from Jesus. There are some very compelling and detailed historical accounts not covered in the other three gospels, recording conversations that Jesus had with individuals. John does not anywhere in his gospel account, or in any of his three letters, mention himself by name. His first letter has a style that relates well to the record of the Lord Jesus in his own gospel account, and other passages of scripture can provide further clarity to the brevity of some of his statements.

Many times spiritual truth is difficult to be understood at first because our minds have been influenced by the ways of the world, affected by the entrance of sin into the heart of man in the Garden of Eden. There are some short passages in John's first letter that are commonly quoted by members of the body of Christ because of the encouragement and assurance they can provide to those who belong to Christ Jesus by grace through faith. In the characters section of the MPNHome.net website, there is a series of four biographical studies on the life of John the apostle. Use the link at the bottom of this study to access the first in that series.

NOTE: All Bible passages are taken from the World English bible.


A - THE ETERNAL GOD IN HUMAN FORM

1 John 1 "1 That which was from the beginning, that which we have heard, that which we have seen with our eyes, that which we saw, and our hands touched, concerning the Word of life 2 (and the life was revealed, and we have seen, and testify, and declare to you the life, the eternal life, which was with the Father, and was revealed to us);"

COMMENTS: John made no opening remarks to identify the intended audience of this letter, but it becomes evident through the text that they knew him and were already aware of many details about Christ Jesus. John presents a reliable record as he describes unique qualities of Jesus because he was chosen by Jesus to be one of the twelve apostles, and had the experience of over three years of personal companionship with the Lord and the other apostles. By opening with the phrase "that which was from the beginning" John declares in a very direct manner, that Jesus is the eternal God. Genesis, The first book of scripture and the book of beginnings states, Genesis "1:1 In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth." Obviously, the creator God was in existence before the beginning of all created things.

So then, as John opened his gospel account he documents the eternal existence of the Word as God, and that he is the maker of all things. John "1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 The same was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through him. Without him was not anything made that has been made." John then wrote that the "Word" which is God, is a reference to Christ Jesus who the apostles had known in the flesh. John "1:14 The Word became flesh, and lived among us. We saw his glory, such glory as of the one and only Son of the Father, full of grace and truth."

Jesus spoke of his eternal existence in the following passage, John "8:56 Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day. He saw it, and was glad." 57 The Jews therefore said to him, "You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?" 58 Jesus said to them, "Most certainly, I tell you, before Abraham came into existence, I AM.""

In verse two of John's letter he speaks of "the eternal life, which was with the Father, and was revealed to us." Again, this is a firm statement that Jesus is the eternal God. John recorded in his gospel this statement directly from Jesus about his authority to offer eternal life, John "5:24 Most certainly I tell you, he who hears my word, and believes him who sent me, has eternal life, and doesn't come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life." This is not something to be considered lightly, for it requires the acceptance that the spirit of man transcends the existence of the body of flesh.

The Lord Jesus said in John "6:63 It is the spirit who gives life. The flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and are life." The apostle Paul speaks of the gift of eternal life from God that comes solely by God's purpose and grace, "which was given to us in Christ Jesus before times eternal." 2 Timothy "1:7 For God didn't give us a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and self-control. 8 Therefore don't be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner; but endure hardship for the Good News according to the power of God, 9 who saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given to us in Christ Jesus before times eternal, 10 but has now been revealed by the appearing of our Saviour, Christ Jesus, who abolished death, and brought life and immortality to light through the Good News."

Jesus is the eternal God who appeared in the flesh to bring the gospel message of everlasting life available through faith in him. Jesus said this to Martha just before he called Lazarus out of the tomb and back to physical life. John "11:25 Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will still live, even if he dies. 26 Whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?" 27 She said to him, "Yes, Lord. I have come to believe that you are the Christ, God's Son, he who comes into the world.""

The first two verses of John's letter can be seen to be very full of meaning when we relate them to the good news presented about Christ Jesus in John's gospel account, and add some contribution from the apostle Paul.


B - JOYFULLY SHARING IN FELLOWSHIP WITH OTHER BELIEVERS

1 John 1 "3 that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us. Yes, and our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son, Jesus Christ. 4 And we write these things to you, that our joy may be fulfilled."

COMMENTS: A primary purpose for John's writing of this letter is to point out the fellowship in Christ that is unequaled by any other common bond among men. Believing Jews and converted Gentiles trusted in the LORD God, and John wanted them to be assured that they needed to also believe in Christ Jesus. Jesus said this, John "14:1 Don't let your heart be troubled. Believe in God. Believe also in me." This truth that God the Father and Christ Jesus the Son are one God and that this must be so, is borne out through many scriptures. Exodus "20:1 God spoke all these words, saying, 2 "I am Yahweh your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. 3 You shall have no other gods before me."" The LORD will tolerate no other God, and the next passage clearly states that God is one. Deuteronomy "6:4 Hear, Israel: Yahweh is our God; Yahweh is one: 5 and you shall love Yahweh your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might."

There are many references to the coming of Messiah, but the next passage is the word of God to let us know that the child born as Jesus, in the line of David, is all of these in one: "Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." Isaiah "9:6 For to us a child is born. To us a son is given; and the government will be on his shoulders. His name will be called Wonderful, Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 7 Of the increase of his government and of peace there shall be no end, on the throne of David, and on his kingdom, to establish it, and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from that time on, even forever. The zeal of Yahweh of Armies will perform this." After the prophet Isaiah has made that statement about the unique child, he wrote other passages that make it clear that there is only one God. Isaiah "45:18 For thus says Yahweh who created the heavens, the God who formed the earth and made it, who established it and didn't create it a waste, who formed it to be inhabited: "I am Yahweh; and there is no other." The LORD God is the only Savior for the inhabitants of all the earth. Isaiah "45:22 Look to me, and be saved, all the ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is no other."

As recorded in the gospel account of John the apostle, John the Baptist spoke of the unity that Jesus has with God the Father that was not broken even as Christ walked upon the earth. John "1:1:15 John testified about him. He cried out, saying, "This was he of whom I said, 'He who comes after me has surpassed me, for he was before me.'" 16 From his fulness we all received grace upon grace. 17 For the law was given through Moses. Grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has seen God at any time. The one and only Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he has declared him."

Jesus required that he be honored equally with God the Father, John "5:23 that all may honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He who doesn't honour the Son doesn't honour the Father who sent him." Jesus answered the Jews very plainly, John "10:24 The Jews therefore came around him and said to him, "How long will you hold us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly." 25 Jesus answered them, "I told you, and you don't believe. The works that I do in my Father's name, these testify about me. 26 But you don't believe, because you are not of my sheep, as I told you. 27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give eternal life to them. They will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all. No one is able to snatch them out of my Father's hand. 30 I and the Father are one.""

The apostle Paul provides this passage to declare that there is only one true and living God, and there is no contradiction in God the Father and Jesus the Son of God. 1 Corinthians "8:4 Therefore concerning the eating of things sacrificed to idols, we know that no idol is anything in the world, and that there is no other God but one. 5 For though there are things that are called "gods," whether in the heavens or on earth; as there are many "gods" and many "lords"; 6 yet to us there is one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we for him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things, and we live through him." There are other passages in the Bible that confirm that Jesus is God, and that there is only one true and living God; but a mountain of evidence will not convince those who will not accept the truth by faith.

Since our everlasting life is a grace gift through Christ, there is no discouraging circumstance of our physical life that should completely remove our joy: a joy that cannot be understood by the world. Even this prophet of the Old Testament made his statement poetically, Habakkuk "3:17 For though the fig tree doesn't flourish, nor fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive fails, the fields yield no food; the flocks are cut off from the fold, and there is no herd in the stalls: 18 yet I will rejoice in Yahweh. I will be joyful in the God of my salvation! 19 Yahweh, the Lord, is my strength. He makes my feet like deer's feet, and enables me to go in high places. For the music director, on my stringed instruments."

Before the cross, Jesus left his apostles with instructions to insure there joy. Sacrificial love of God and of our neighbor is the source of true joy. This is the fellowship the apostle John wants all to share joyfully in Christ. John "15:9 Even as the Father has loved me, I also have loved you. Remain in my love. 10 If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and remain in his love. 11 I have spoken these things to you, that my joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be made full. 12 "This is my commandment, that you love one another, even as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends."


C - GOD IS LIGHT AND IN HIM IS NO DARKNESS

1 John 1 "5 This is the message which we have heard from him and announce to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. 6 If we say that we have fellowship with him and walk in the darkness, we lie, and don't tell the truth. 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 Christ, his Son, cleanses us from all sin."

COMMENTS: John's used light and darkness at the beginning of his gospel to help us think about the life that is in God versus the darkness of separation from God. John "1:4 In him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness hasn't overcome it." God's light of truth has always been able to dispel the darkness, and that light can be called upon to lead the receptive person onto the right path. Psalms "43:3 Oh, send out your light and your truth. Let them lead me. Let them bring me to your holy hill, To your tents. 4 Then I will go to the altar of God, to God, my exceeding joy. I will praise you on the harp, God, my God."

There should be even greater understanding now, then at the time that psalm was written, that God is the source of exceeding joy for those who understand why he sent His Son. John "3:17 For God didn't send his Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world should be saved through him. 18 He who believes in him is not judged. He who doesn't believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the one and only Son of God. 19 This is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the light; for their works were evil. 20 For everyone who does evil hates the light, and doesn't come to the light, lest his works would be exposed. 21 But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his works may be revealed, that they have been done in God.""

Now that the Son of God has appeared to reveal the light of life in himself and in God the Father, the Son must be accepted as the true and living God. Jesus said, John "8:12 Again, therefore, Jesus spoke to them, saying, "I am the light of the world. He who follows me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the light of life."" Not all who hear that statement from Jesus will understand. Since God is one it is not a new truth as centuries earlier the psalmist wrote these words for those who had believed, Psalms "56:11 I have put my trust in God. I will not be afraid. What can man do to me? 12 Your vows are on me, God. I will give thank offerings to you. 13 For you have delivered my soul from death, and prevented my feet from falling, that I may walk before God in the light of the living."

When the light of God's truth changes the heart, perspective about fear should be changed in such a way as to allow the believer to resist the threats of man that could otherwise prevent maintaining constant fellowship with God in the light. Psalms "27:1 {By David.} Yahweh is my light and my salvation. Whom shall I fear? Yahweh is the strength of my life. Of whom shall I be afraid?" The apostle John is calling all believers to share with one another in the fellowship with God the Father and with the Son of God.

Jesus is that perfect lamb of God, whose blood was shed for the remission of sins for all who will come to God through that fully acceptable sacrifice. The testimony of John the Baptist is recorded only in the gospel account of the apostle John. John "1:29 The next day, he saw Jesus coming to him, and said, "Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! 30 This is he of whom I said, 'After me comes a man who is preferred before me, for he was before me.' 31 I didn't know him, but for this reason I came baptizing in water: that he would be revealed to Israel." 32 John testified, saying, "I have seen the Spirit descending like a dove out of heaven, and it remained on him. 33 I didn't recognize him, but he who sent me to baptize in water, he said to me, 'On whomever you will see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he who baptizes in the Holy Spirit.' 34 I have seen, and have testified that this is the Son of God."


D - EVERY PERSON HAS SIN THAT MUST BE CLEANSED BY CHRIST

1 John 1 "8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous to forgive us the sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say that we haven't sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us."

COMMENTS: Sin began in the garden of Eden for all mankind. Genesis "2:15 Yahweh God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it. 16 Yahweh God commanded the man, saying, "Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, you shall not eat of it; for in the day that you eat of it you will surely die."" Adam did eat of the tree, and that brought the sentence of death onto all mankind.

Therefore each person must seek the LORD for life. Isaiah "55:6 Seek Yahweh while he may be found; call you on him while he is near: 7 let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; and let him return to Yahweh, and he will have mercy on him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. 8 "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," says Yahweh. 9 "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts." God is the only one who is totally good, as Jesus told a man who came to him, Mark "10:18 Jesus said to him, "Why do you call me good? No one is good except one - God."

We must place our faith in Christ Jesus to escape our condemnation of death. John "5:24 Most certainly I tell you, he who hears my word, and believes him who sent me, has eternal life, and doesn't come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life." Those who think they can become righteous before God on their own do not realize that they have a terminal illness. Matthew "9:11 When the Pharisees saw it, they said to his disciples, "Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?" 12 When Jesus heard it, he said to them, "Those who are healthy have no need for a physician, but those who are sick do. 13 But you go and learn what this means: 'I desire mercy, and not sacrifice,' for I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.""

The apostle Paul wanted his Jewish brethren to know that ancestry does not produce righteousness acceptable to the LORD. Romans "3:9 What then? Are we better than they? No, in no way. For we previously warned both Jews and Greeks, that they are all under sin. 10 As it is written, "There is no one righteous; no, not one. 11 There is no one who understands. There is no one who seeks after God. 12 They have all turned aside. They have together become unprofitable. There is no one who does good, no, not, so much as one."" We must not reject the great love of God and make Him out to be a liar by claiming we have no sin to be forgiven and cleansed. Romans "5:8 But God commends his own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we will be saved from God's wrath through him. 10 For if, while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we will be saved by his life. 11 Not only so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation. 12 Therefore, as sin entered into the world through one man, and death through sin; and so death passed to all men, because all sinned."

--- REFLECTIONS IN PRAYER ---

I thank you Lord for the way the apostle John emphatically declared his personal experience of knowing Christ Jesus as the Son of God who took upon himself flesh that we might have a fellowship with our Creator. I am encouraged that John is assuring me through his letter these many centuries later that my fellowship is with the one who provides eternal life because the Lord Jesus has drawn me to that light of life revealed by God the Father. Help me Lord to remember that the fullness of that fellowship is realized by sharing it with others who also have placed their trust in that life giving light of truth by your grace. May I continually honor the Father and the Son with my life as you guide me by the light of your Word.

I believe your Word Lord that I have sinned and you alone can remove that sin and apply the righteousness of Christ to my life. I do not want to walk in darkness, but I know that I will still fail in the weakness of the flesh and I will stray into the shadows away from your light. Thank you Lord that If I confess my sins, you are faithful and righteous to forgive my sins, and to cleanse me from all unrighteousness. I want your Word to remain in me forever as your righteousness provides to me the gift of eternal life. Amen.

1 John, Chapter 2 - Our Counselor and Atoning Sacrifice
1 John, Chapter 3 - Children of God
1 John, Chapter 4 - Perfect Love Casts Out Fear
1 John, Chapter 5 - Keep Yourselves From Idols
The Apostle John - A 4 part series

Published 30 May 2011