New Living Translation
Prologue: Christ, the Eternal Word
In the beginning the Word already existed.
The Word was with God,
and the Word was God.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
In the beginning was the word of God and the word was with God taught by God and the word was God
1 John Chapter 1
1 John 1 – Fellowship with God
Most people understand that the important things in life are not things at all – they are the relationships we have. God has put a desire for relationship in every one of us, a desire He intended to be met with relationships with other people, but most of all, to be met by a relationship with Him. In this remarkable letter, John tells us the truth about relationships – and shows us how to have relationships that are real, for both now and eternity.
A. The purpose of the letter: to bring you into relationship with God.
1. (1-2) John begins with the center of relationship: Jesus Christ.
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, concerning the Word of life—the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us.
a. That which was from the beginning: The beginning John wrote of is not the beginning of this world; nor is it the beginning of creation. It is the beginning of Genesis 1:1 and John 1:1, the beginning there was before there was anything, when all there existed was God.
i. The beginning of Genesis 1:1 is simple: In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The beginning of John 1:1 is profound: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. John takes us back to this time in eternity past, to meet this One which was from the beginning.
ii. Whoever, or whatever, John wrote of, he said his subject was eternal and therefore was God because the subject existed before all else and was the source and basis of the existence of all things.
b. Which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled: This indicates that this eternal being – the One from the beginning – came to earth, and John (among others) personally experienced this eternal One.
i. “We deliver nothing by hearsay, nothing by tradition, nothing from conjecture; we have had the fullest certainty of all that we write and preach.” (Clarke) The idea is that this eternal subject of John has been audibly heard, physically seen, intently studied (have looked upon), and tangibly touched (hands have handled). This idea would have enormous implications for his readers.
ii. The implications were enormous because they said that this eternal God became accessible to man in the most basic way, a way that anyone could relate to. This eternal One can be known, and He has revealed Himself to us.
iii. The implications were enormous because they proved that John’s words have the weight of eyewitness evidence. He did not speak of a myth or of a matter of clever story-telling. He carefully studied this eternal One and he knew whom he spoke about.
iv. Enormous because it debunked dangerous teachings that were creeping into the church, known as Gnosticism. Part of the teaching of Gnosticism was that though Jesus was God, He was not actually a physical man, but instead some kind of pseudo-physical phantom. Yet John declared, “I heard Him! I saw Him! I studied Him! I touched Him!”
c. The Word of Life: John identified this eternally existent being, who was physically present with John and others (note the repetition of our, and not “my”), as the Word of Life. This is the same Logos spoken of in John 1:1.
i. The idea of the Logos – of the Word – was important for John and for the Greek and Jewish worlds of his day. For the Jew, God was often referred to as the Word because they knew God perfectly revealed Himself in His Word. For the Greek, their philosophers had spoken for centuries about the Logos – the basis for organization and intelligence in the universe, the Ultimate Reason which controls all things.
ii. It is as if John said to everyone, “This Logos you have been talking about and writing about for centuries – well, we have heard Him, seen Him, studied Him, and touched Him. Let me now tell you about Him.”
d. The life was manifested: This life was manifested, meaning that it was made actually and physically real. John solemnly testified as an eyewitness (we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you) that this was the case. This was no fairy tale, no “Once upon a time” story. This was real, and John tells us about it as an eyewitness.
e. Eternal life which was with the Father: In calling Jesus eternal life, John remembered the words of Jesus (John 5:26, 6:48, and 11:25). He also repeated the idea expressed in his first words of this letter: that Jesus Himself is eternal, and therefore God.
i. We can say that people are eternal, but we say this with the understanding that we mean they are eternal in the future sense – they will never perish, being immortal (John 5:29). Yet people are not eternal in the past sense; to say that something is eternal in the past sense is the same as saying it is equal to God or God’s Word.
ii. The eternal existence of Jesus is also declared in Micah 5:2 – But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you shall come forth to Me the One to be Ruler in Israel, Whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting. The word everlasting here literally means, “beyond the vanishing point.”
f. Which was with the Father: This refers to the eternal relationship between the Father and the Son. There was an eternal relationship of love and fellowship between the Father and the Son. Jesus referred to this in John 17:24: “For You loved Me before the foundation of the world.”
i. This eternal relationship is clearly described in the Scriptures, but we could also understand it from simple logic. If God is love (1 John 4:8) and God is eternal (Micah 5:2), we understand that love in isolation is meaningless. Love needs an object, and since there was a time before anything was created, there was a time when the only love in the universe was between the members of the Godhead: the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
g. Was with the Father: The word with indicates that this being, who is eternal, and is eternal life Himself, is distinct from the Father. John builds the New Testament understanding of the Trinity – that one God exists as three Persons, equal and one, yet distinct in their person.
i. The Bible links together the names of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in a way that is unimaginable for other persons. We read, Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19). Yet we would never say, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of Michael the Archangel.”
ii. We read, The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all (2 Corinthians 13:14). Yet we would never say, “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of the Apostle Paul, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all.”
iii. We read, Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ (1 Peter 1:2). Yet we would never say, “Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience and sprinkling of the blood of the Apostle Peter.”
2. (3) An invitation to relationship.
That which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ.
a. That you may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ: The purpose of John’s declaration about this eternally existent, physically present, Word of life who is God, yet is a person distinct from the Father, is to bring his readers into fellowship with both God’s people and God Himself.
i. You can enjoy this fellowship even though you do not understand all the intricacies of the trinity. You can use your eyes even though you don’t know every detail of how your vision works. You can know God and believe in Him as He has revealed Himself, even though you can’t understand everything about His person or nature.
b. Fellowship: The idea of fellowship is one of the most important ideas in this letter of John’s. It is the ancient Greek word koinonia, which speaks of a sharing, a communion, a common bond and common life. It speaks of a living, breathing, sharing, loving relationship with another person.
i. “This is one of the greatest statements of the New Testament, and it may safely be said that its greatness is created by the richness of the word which is the emphatic word, viz., fellowship.” (Morgan)
ii. “The Greek word koinonia is derived from the word koinos, which very literally means common, in the sense of being shared by all.” (Morgan) The use of the word in Acts 2:44 is very helpful: Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common. The word common is the ancient Greek word koinonia.
iii. “Those who have a fellowship one with another, are those who share the same resources, and are bound by the same responsibilities. The idea becomes almost overwhelming when it is thus applied to the relationship which believing souls bear to the Father, and to His Son Jesus Christ… The Father, His Son Jesus Christ, and all believers have all things in common. All the resources of each in the wondrous relationship are at the disposal of the others. Such is the grace of our God, and of His Son.” (Morgan)
c. Fellowship… with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ: This simple and bold statement means that one can have a relationship with God. This idea would surprise many of John’s readers, and it should be astounding to us. The Greek mind-set highly prized the idea of fellowship, but restricted to men among men – the idea of such an intimate relationship with God was revolutionary.
i. Jesus started the same kind of revolution among the Jews when He invited men to address God as Father (Matthew 6:9). We really can have a living, breathing relationship with God the Father, and with Jesus Christ. He can be not only our Savior, but also our friend and our closest relationship.
ii. Actually, for many people this is totally unappealing. Sometimes it is because they don’t know who God is, and an invitation to a “personal relationship with God” is about as attractive to them as telling an eighth-grader they can have a “personal relationship with the assistant principal.” But when we know the greatness, the goodness, and the glory of God, we want to have a relationship with Him.
iii. Other people turn from this relationship with God because they feel so distant from Him. They want a relationship with God, but feel so disqualified, so distant. They need to know what God has done to make this kind of relationship possible.
d. Fellowship… with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ: The kind of relationship John described is only possible because Jesus is who John says He is in 1 John 1:1-2. If someone invited you to have a “personal relationship” with Napoleon, or Alexander the Great, or Abraham Lincoln – or even Moses or the Apostle Paul – you would think them foolish. One cannot even have a genuine “spiritual” relationship with a dead man. But with the eternal God who became man, we can have a relationship.
i. The word fellowship has in it not only the idea of relationship, but also of sharing a common life. When we have fellowship with Jesus, we will become more like Him.
ii. The disciples did not have this close fellowship with Jesus when He walked this earth with them. As Jesus said to Philip at the very end of His earthly ministry, “Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip?” (John 14:9) Their true fellowship was not created by material closeness to the material Jesus, but by a work of the Holy Spirit after the finished work of Jesus on the cross. Therefore we can enter into the same fellowship with God that the Apostles could enter.
e. Our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ: We have the potential of a relationship of a shared life with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. It is as if the Father and the Son agree together to let us into their relationship of love and fellowship.
i. This idea of a shared life is essential. This doesn’t mean that when Jesus comes into our life He helps us to do the same things, but simply to do them better than before. We don’t add Jesus to our life. We enter into a relationship of a shared life with Jesus. We share our life with Him, and He shares His life with us.
f. That you also may have fellowship with us: We may think it curious that John first considers fellowship with God’s people; but this is often how people come to experience a relationship with God: they first encounter God through relationships with God’s people.
i. “When fellowship is the sweetest, your desire is the strongest that others may have fellowship with you; and when, truly, your fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ, you earnestly wish that the whole Christian brotherhood may share the blessing with you.” (Spurgeon)
g. With the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ: Here John finally names this being – eternally existent, physically present, the Word of Life, truly God (yet distinct from the Father) – it is God the Son, whose name is Jesus, who is the Christ (Messiah).
3. (4) The result of relationship.
And these things we write to you that your joy may be full.
a. That your joy may be full: The result of fellowship is fullness of joy. This joy is an abiding sense of optimism and cheerfulness based on God, as opposed to happiness, which is a sense of optimism and cheerfulness based on circumstances.
i. John clearly echoed an idea Jesus brought before His disciples the night before His crucifixion. He wanted fullness of joy for them – even knowing that the cross was directly in front of them.
· These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full (John 15:11).
· Until now you have asked nothing in My name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full (John 16:24).
· But now I come to You, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have My joy fulfilled in themselves (John 17:13).
b. That your joy may be full: Fullness of joy is certainly possible for the Christian, but it is by no means certain. John wrote with the desire that believers would have fullness of joy – and if it were inevitable or very easy to have, he would not have written this.
i. The Christian’s joy is important, and assaulted on many fronts. External circumstances, moods and emotions, or sin can all take away our joy. Yet the Christian’s joy is not found in the things of this world, as good as they might be. When John wrote about these things, he wrote about this relationship of fellowship and love we can share in with God the Father and the Son Jesus Christ.
ii. Too many Christians are passive in their loss of joy. They need to realize it is a great loss and do everything they can to draw close to God and reclaim that fullness of joy. “If any of you have lost the joy of the Lord. I pray you do not think it a small loss.” (Spurgeon)
4. Observations on this first portion of the book, which is one long sentence in the original manuscript.
a. John began with the beginning – the eternal God, who was before all things.
b. He told us that this God was physically manifested, and that he and others could testify to this as eyewitnesses.
c. He told us that this God is the Word of life, the Logos.
d. He told us that this God is distinct from the person of God the Father.
e. He told us that we may have fellowship with this God, and that we are often introduced into this fellowship with God by the fellowship of God’s people.
f. He told us that this eternally existent God, the Word of Life, who was physically present with the disciples and others (and present for fellowship), is God the Son, named Jesus Christ.
g. He told us that fellowship with Jesus leads to a life lived in fullness of joy.
h. We could say that in these four verses, John gave us enough to live our whole Christian life on. No wonder one commentator wrote, “Observe the note of wonder in the Apostle’s language. Speech fails him. He labours for expression, adding definition to definition.” (Expositor’s)
B. John’s message from God: dealing with sin and maintaining relationship.
1. (5) Sin and the nature of God.
This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all.
a. This is the message: This is a claim to authority. John isn’t making this up; these are not his own personal opinions or ideas about God. This is God’s message about Himself (which we have heard from Him), which John now reveals to us (and declare to you).
i. What John will tell us about God is what God has told us about Himself. We can’t be confident in our own opinions or ideas about God unless they are genuinely founded on what God has said about Himself.
b. God is light and in Him is no darkness at all: We must begin our understanding of God here. John declares this on the simple understanding that God Himself is light; and light by definition has no darkness at all in it; for there to be darkness, there must be an absence of light.
i. A good definition of God is, “God is the only infinite, eternal, and unchangeable spirit, the perfect being in whom all things begin, and continue, and end.” Another way of saying that God is perfect is to say that God is light.
ii. “LIGHT is the purest, the most subtle, the most useful, and the most diffusive of all God’s creatures; it is, therefore, a very proper emblem of the purity, perfection, and goodness of the Divine nature.” (Clarke)
iii. “There are spots in the sun, great tracts of blackness on its radiant disc; but in God is unmingled, perfect purity.” (Maclaren)
c. God is light and in Him is no darkness at all: Therefore, if there is a problem with our fellowship with God, it is our fault. It is not the fault of God because there is no sin or darkness in Him at all.
i. Any approach to relationship with God that assumes, or even implies, that God might be wrong, and perhaps must be forgiven by us, is at its root blasphemous and directly contradicts what John clearly states here.
2. (6) God’s sinlessness and our relationship with Him.
If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.
a. If we say that we have fellowship with Him: John first deals with a false claim to fellowship. Based upon this, we understand that it is possible for some to claim a relationship with God that they do not have. We can also say that it is possible for someone to think they have a relationship with God that they do not have.
i. Many Christians are not aware of their true condition. They know they are saved, and have experienced conversion and have repented at some time in their life. Yet they do not live in true fellowship with God.
b. And walk in darkness: John speaks of a walk in darkness, indicating a pattern of living. This does not speak of an occasional lapse, but of a lifestyle of darkness.
c. We lie and do not practice the truth: God has no darkness at all (1 John 1:5). Therefore, if one claims to be in fellowship with God (a relationship of common relation, interest, and sharing), yet does walk in darkness, it is not a truthful claim.
i. The issue here is fellowship, not salvation. The Christian who temporarily walks in darkness is still saved, but not in fellowship with God.
ii. If John said “That is a lie,” it means he thinks in terms of things being true or being lies. John sees things much more clearly than our sophisticated age does, which doesn’t want to see anything in black or white, but everything in a pale shade of gray.
iii. In 2004, the governor of the state of New Jersey was caught in a scandal. Though he was a married man with children, he was also having a sexual relationship with a man. At the press conference he held to admit this, he began by saying: “My truth is that I am a gay American.” Those were very carefully chosen words: My truth. In the thinking of the world today, I have my truth and you have your truth. But Jesus said, “I am the truth” and the Bible clearly tells us of a truth that is greater than any individual’s feeling about it.
3. (7) The blessing of walking in the light.
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.
a. But if we walk in the light: This means to walk in a generally obedient life, without harboring known sin or resisting the conviction of the Holy Spirit on a particular point.
i. John’s message here means that a walk in the light is possible. We know that on this side of eternity, sinless perfection is not possible. Yet we can still walk in the light, so John does mean perfect obedience.
ii. The Christian life is described as walking, which implies activity. Christian life feeds upon contemplation, but it displays itself in action. “Walking” implies action, continuity, and progress. Since God is active and walking, if you have fellowship with Him, you will also be active and walking.
b. As He is in the light: Since God is light (1 John 1:5), when we walk in the light we walk where He is. We are naturally together with Him in fellowship.
c. We have fellowship with one another: We would have expected John to say, “We have fellowship with God.” That is true, but already in the idea of walking together with God in the light. John wants to make it clear that fellow Christians who walk in the light enjoy fellowship with each other.
i. This leads to an important idea: if we do not have fellowship with one another, then one party or both parties are not walking in the light. Two Christians who are in right relationship with God will also naturally be in right relationship with each other.
d. The blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin: As we walk in the light we also enjoy the continual cleansing of Jesus. This is another indication that John does not mean sinless perfection by the phrase walk in the light; otherwise, there would be no sin to cleanse in this ongoing sense.
i. We need a continual cleansing because the Bible says we continually sin and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). Even though Christians have been cleansed in an important general sense, our “feet” need cleaning (John 13:10).
ii. The verb form John used in cleanses us from all sin is in the present tense, not in the future tense. We can do more than merely hope we will one day be cleansed. Because of what Jesus did on the cross for me, I can be cleansed today.
iii. “Observe, yet again, that in the verse there is no hint given of any emotions, feelings, or attainments, as co-operating with the blood to take away sin. Christ took the sins of his people and was punished for those sins as if he had been himself a sinner, and so sin is taken away from us; but in no sense, degree, shape or form, is sin removed by attainments, emotions, feelings or experiences.” (Spurgeon)
e. The blood of Jesus Christ: This continual cleansing is ours by the blood of Jesus. This does not mean the actual drops or molecules of His literal blood, but His literal death in our place and the literal wrath of the Father He endured on our behalf. The blood of Jesus Christ paid the penalty for all our sins – past, present, and future.
i. The work of Jesus on the cross doesn’t only deal with the guilt of sin that might send us to hell. It also deals with the stain of sin which hinders our continual relationship with God. We need to come to God often with the simple plea, “cleanse me with the blood of Jesus.” Not because we haven’t been cleansed before, but because we need to be continually cleansed to enjoy continual relationship.
ii. “‘The blood’ is more specific than ‘the death’ would be, for ‘the blood’ denotes sacrifice. It is always the blood that is shed.” (Lenski)
iii. “Observe, here is nothing said about rites and ceremonies. It does not begin by saying, ‘and the waters of baptism, together with the blood of Jesus Christ, his Son, cleanseth us,’ – not a word, whether it shall be the sprinkling in infancy, or immersion of believers, nothing is said about it – it is the blood, the blood only, without a drop of baptismal water. Nothing is here said about sacraments – what some call ‘the blessed Eucharist’ is not dragged in here – nothing about eating bread and drinking wine – it is the blood, nothing but the blood.” (Spurgeon)
iv. “Does my walking in the light take away my sins? Not at all. I am as much a sinner in the light as in the darkness, if it were possible for me to be in the light without being washed in the blood. Well, but we have fellowship with God, and does not having fellowship with God take away sin? Beloved, do not misunderstand me – no man can have fellowship with God unless sin be taken away; but his fellowship with God, and his walking in light, does not take away his sin – not at all. The whole process of the removal of sin is here, ‘And the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.’” (Spurgeon)
f. From all sin: We can be cleansed, by the blood of Jesus, from all sin. The sin we inherited from Adam, the sin we committed as kids, the sins of our growing up; sins against our father, against our mother, against our brother and sister; sins against our husbands or wives, against our children; sins against our employers or our employees, sins against our friends and our enemies; lying, stealing, cheating, adultery, swearing, drugs, booze, promiscuity, murder; sins that haunt us every day, sins we didn’t even know we did – all sin can be cleansed by the blood of Jesus.
i. Sin is the hindrance to fellowship and the blood of Jesus, received by faith as the payment for our sin, solves the problem of sin and opens the way to fellowship with God.
· You can’t come to fellowship with God through philosophical speculation. You can’t come to fellowship with God through intellectual education.
· You can’t come to fellowship with God through drugs or entertainment.
· You can’t come to fellowship with God through scientific investigation.
· You can only come to fellowship with God by dealing with your sin problem through the blood of Jesus.
ii. We might say that the only sin that cannot be cleansed by the blood of Jesus is the sin of continuing to reject that blood as payment for sin.
4. (8-10) The presence of sin, the confession of sin, and the cleansing from sin.
If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.
a. If we say we have no sin: John has introduced the ideas of walking in the light and being cleansed from sin. But he did not for a moment believe that a Christian can become sinlessly perfect.
i. To think this of ourselves is to deceive ourselves, and to say this of ourselves is to lie – the truth is not in us.
ii. “Our deceitful heart reveals an almost Satanic shrewdness in self-deception… If you say you have no sin you have achieved a fearful success, you have put out your own eyes, and perverted your own reason!” (Spurgeon)
iii. There are few people today who think they are sinlessly perfect, yet not many really think of themselves as sinners. Many will say “I make mistakes” or “I’m not perfect” or “I’m only human,” but usually they say such things to excuse or defend. This is different from knowing and admitting “I am a sinner.”
iv. To say that we have no sin puts us in a dangerous place because God’s grace and mercy is extended to sinners, not to “those who make mistakes” or “I’m only human” or “no one is perfect” people, but sinners. We need to realize the victory and forgiveness that comes from saying, “I am a sinner – even a great sinner – but I have a Savior who cleanses me from all sin.”
b. If we confess our sins: Though sin is present, it need not remain a hindrance to our relationship with God – we may find complete cleansing (from all unrighteousness) as we confess our sins.
i. To confess means, “to say the same as.” When we confess our sin, we are willing to say (and believe) the same thing about our sin that God says about it. Jesus’ story about the religious man and the sinner who prayed before God illustrated this; the Pharisee bragged about how righteous he was, while the sinner just said God be merciful to me a sinner (Luke 18:10-14). The one who confessed his sin was the one who agreed with God about how bad he was.
ii. Confess translates a verb in the present tense. The meaning is that we should keep on confessing our sin – instead of referring to a “once-for-all” confession of sin at our conversion.
iii. You don’t have to go to a confessional to confess your sin. When you are baptized, you are confessing your sin by saying you needed to be cleansed and reborn. When you receive communion, you confess your sin by saying you need the work of Jesus on the cross to take your sin away. But of course, we need to confess our sin in the most straightforward way: by admitting to God that what we have done is sin, and by asking for His divine forgiveness, based on what Jesus has done on the cross for us.
iv. Our sins are not forgiven because we confess. If this were the case – if forgiveness for a sin could only come where there was confession – then we would all be damned because it would be impossible for us to confess every sin we ever commit. We are forgiven because our punishment was put upon Jesus, we are cleansed by His blood.
v. However, confession is still vital to maintain relationship with God, and this is the context John speaks from. As God convicts us of sin that is hindering our fellowship with Him, we must confess it and receive forgiveness and cleansing for our relationship with God to continue without hindrance.
vi. Confession must be personal. To say, “God, if we have made any mistakes, forgive us” isn’t confession, because it isn’t convinced (saying “if we made”), it isn’t personal (saying “if we made”), it isn’t specific (saying “if we made any”), and it isn’t honest (saying “mistakes”).
c. He is faithful and just to forgive us: Because of Jesus’ work, the righteousness of God is our friend – insuring that we will be forgiven because Jesus paid the penalty of our sin. God is being faithful and just to forgive us in light of Jesus.
i. “The text means just this – Treat God truthfully, and he will treat you truthfully. Make no pretensions before God, but lay bare your soul, let him see it as it is, and then he will be faithful and just to forgive you your sins and to cleanse you from all unrighteousness.” (Spurgeon)
ii. The promise of 1 John 1:9 shouldn’t lead us into sin, saying “Hey, I’ll go ahead and sin because God will forgive me.” It should lead us out of sin, knowing that God could only be faithful and just to forgive us our sins because the wrath we deserved was poured out on the sin. Since each sin carries with it its own measure of wrath, so there is a sense in which each sin we commit added to the agony of Jesus on the cross.
iii. There is no more sure evidence that a person is out of fellowship with God than for someone to contemplate or commit sin with the idea, “I can just ask for forgiveness later.” Since God is light and in Him is no darkness at all, we can be assured that the person who commits sin with this idea is not in fellowship with God.
d. If we say that we have not sinned: If we deny the presence of sin, we are self-deceived and are denying God’s Word. Yet, though sin is always present, so is its remedy – so sin need never be a hindrance to our relationship with God.
i. The idea that His word is not in us is related to the idea that Jesus is the Word of life (1 John 1:1); if we refuse to see sin in us, we show that Jesus is not in us.
ii. “No man was ever kept out of God’s kingdom for his confessed badness; many are for their supposed goodness.” (Trapp)
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What Does John 1:1 Mean? ►
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
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“In the beginning…” is Deity’s statement of fact. “In the beginning…” are words pregnant with meaning that subordinate logic, philosophy, psychology, and science. “In the beginning…” is a concept that astounds both the religious thinker and confounds the pagan theorist. It impacts both the believer’s mind and the atheist’s imaginings but, “In the beginning, was the WORD, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”
Before time and space were created and before angelic voices chorused their harmonic, “holy, holy, holy”, in heavenly places, was ‘The Word’. The Word is forever present throughout the span of eternity past, and ‘The Word’ is deep within the conscious, personal existence of the justified man. Yet ‘The Word’ is wholly distinct from the Father and the Holy Spirit, “for in the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.” And the Word both received and reciprocated the love of the Father in the Triunity of the Spirit.
A unique relationship and unbreakable unity existed within the eternal Godhead before the uncreated God spoke the created universe into being, and formed man from the dust of the earth in His own image and likeness. The eternal Word was with God in the beginning and through this second Person of the Trinity, all things were created that were made.
By Him all things were made, in heaven and on earth, things seen and things unseen, authorities, lords, rulers, and powers. All things were made by Him and all things were made for Him. He was sent by the Father to accomplish salvation in the power of the Spirit. Only God the Son was dressed in human flesh and became the Son of Man – and for this reason, all power has been given to Him to judge the living and the dead.
Each Person of the triune Godhead have their own unique roles to play and their own indigenous responsibilities to fulfil, and yet together they work in perfect harmony, being equal and perfect in every aspect of their Being. The Godhead is a Triunity, that one in essence, yet in three Persons – with one divine nature that is the same is substance – yet co-equal, co-eternal, co-infinite, and consubstantial.
The Lord our God is One, working together in perfect harmony and united in every attribute and function of consummate Deity. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit work together in perfect union and thrilling harmony, with each other as Members of this eternal, uncreated Tri-Unity. Each stunning attribute is eternal in character – and HOLY is His name.
The Word was not only with God in the beginning but from eternity past the Word was God. The Word not only dwelt with God from before time began, or space and matter existed, but the Word was true God – for the Lord, our God is One Lord and yet presents Himself in Three perfect Persons of the same substance, of identical essence, consubstantial, co-eternal, co-equal, co-infinite – Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty. Heaven and earth are full of His glory – Hosanna in the highest.
The Word can never be identified as a god, as certain apostate religions and unbiblical denominations declare, for to consider Him so, would be to deny His claim to eternal divinity and render Him as inferior to the Father. Similarly, God can never be classed as one unity, as unitarianists teach, where the Father is the Son, Who in turn is the Spirit, nor is God one ‘Person’ with three different roles, or faces. Every such aberrant teaching that denies the deity of Christ, denigrates His Humanity and opposes the truth and inerrancy of God’s Word.
NO, as the Bible records: in the beginning WAS the Word and the Word was WITH God and the Word WAS God.
In the absolute and unique unity of the Godhead, before the foundation of the world and all that was created – is the WORD, Who is identified from all eternity as the only One Who is qualified to become incarnate flesh – Immanuel – God with us – perfect God made fully Man – fully God and perfect Man – the eternal Son Who became the living Word – God the Son, Who was born as the Son of Man. For, “in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory – as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.”
“In the Beginning Was the Word” – What does this Verse Tell Us about God?
The Bible is the story of God’s plan to redeem His people. It reveals who He is and who we truly are in Him.
The whole of Scripture tells the story of Jesus Christ, the ultimate expression of God’s love for us. When John refers to Jesus as “the Word,” he speaks of the Word that was made flesh, and came to live among us (John 1:14). This Word, manifested in the person of Jesus Christ, is the fulfillment of the covenant God made with His people, giving them and all who believe the promise of life with Him.
God is not a God of coincidence or chaos, and Jesus was no coincidence. John’s words show us that Jesus was with God in the beginning. He is God, one with God, and the life He came to live on this earth was a part of a glorious plan from the beginning.
What Was The “The Beginning”?
The Greek word John used here means “the first to do something, to begin.” This teaches us that God is the great initiator of all we know. As the Creator of the World, God was there in the beginning, making a way for us.
“Then He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around Him.” (John 13:5)
Another understanding of the Greek origin of the word ‘beginning’ is “to be chief, to lead, or to rule.” Jesus flipped preconceived notions of leadership when He, the teacher, knelt to wash His followers’ feet. The daily accumulation of dust on the soles of our feet is rinsed and removed by the tender care of Christ. From the beginning, God planned to renew and restore us through His Word, Jesus. The most important cleansing, the war for our souls, required a spotless sacrifice.
Jesus Christ alone lived a spotless, sinless life. To be lifted high by the Father, He bent low. John the Baptist humbly baptized the one he had been preparing the way for! Jesus led with an assertive humility, confident in who He was.
From the beginning, God went before us. He aims to gather each precious sheep, shepherding us home to heaven—a path we could never pave for ourselves.
What was “The Word”? (and how was it “with God”?)
“For the LORD God is a sun and shield…” (Psalm 84:11a)
“Philosophers employed logos, or ‘word,’ for the divine reason that orders the universe” (NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible).Jesus is the light of the world (John 8:12), forever removed from the shadows.
The Greek translation of ‘word’ is logos, meaning word, message, or report. “According to John, this logos was in the beginning, was with God, and was God himself” (Mounce’s Complete Expository Dictionary).
The Spirit of God hovered over the waters (Genesis 1:2), and “the Word was with God”(John 1:1). The triune God, from the very beginning, was present at Creation. The NIV Study Bible Notes say this of Genesis 1:1-6: “God’s ‘separating’ and ‘gathering’ on days 1-3 gave form, and his ‘making’ and ‘filling’ on days 4-6 removed the emptiness.”
He who made us fills us, removing our emptiness through salvation in Christ. Every note of creation reflects God’s love for us.
Jesus, the ultimate expression of that love, is evident from the very beginning. Matthew Henry’s Commentary states that “The plainest reason why the Son of God is called the Word, seems to be, that as our words explain our minds to others, so was the Son of God sent in order to reveal his Father’s mind to the world.”
“Light is necessary for making God’s creative works visible and life possible.”(NIV Study Bible Notes, Genesis 1:3)
“Light has come into the world.” (John 3:19)
Jesus, the Word, illuminates the Truth of Scripture, by which we learn the character of God. Jesus, Himself, said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12). The Holy Spirit, available to us through Jesus’ death on the cross, allows a brightened perspective, enlightened by the Word of God—Jesus.
“For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of the darkness,’ has shone in our hearts to give the light of knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” (2 Corinthians 4:6) Through us, the light of life shines to others! We stand out, shine bright, and illuminate. Each life is purposed for work in the furthering of the gospel. The gifts written on our hearts by the Word bring God’s love and light to the world. All we are and all we do is to honor Him.
“The Word was God”
“He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.” (Colossians 1:17)
God is omnipotent and sovereign, two characteristics addressed in the cross-reference in John 1:1. The Word, Logos, Jesus Christ, is before all things and holds all things together. The Son of God is the fulfillment of God’s covenant with His people:
“For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be by people. And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and his brother, saying ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.” (Jeremiah 31:33-34)
The law within us, written on our hearts, is the Word of God—Jesus Christ. By Him, through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us from salvation, we interpret God’s law. Through our Christ-centered lives, the Great Commission to spread the gospel truth (Matthew 28:16-20) illuminates the world. The Word is before all things, holding all things together.
John 1:1 powerfully inaugurates John’s eyewitness and Holy Spirit-inspired account of Christ’s life. “In the beginning” is “a deliberate echo of Genesis 1:1 to link God’s action on behalf of the world through Jesus Christ with his first work, the creation of the world” (NIV Study Bible Notes).John’s testimony is especially tender, because of his friendship with Christ. He was the only one left at the foot of the cross with Mary and Christ’s best friend on this earth. John’s kinship with the one, triune God seeped into his bones and leapt out of his heart. Though omnipotent and sovereign, our God is a personal God.
In the words of John Piper, “Christ was not made. That is what it means to be God. And the Word was God.”
“Megs” writes about everyday life within the love of Christ. She stepped out of her comfort zone, and her Marketing career, to obey God’s call to stay home and be “Mom” in 2011. From that step of obedience her blog, Sunny&80, was born, a way to retain the funny everyday moments of motherhood. Meg is also a freelance writer and author of Friends with Everyone. She loves teaching God’s Word and leading her Monday morning Bible study, being a mom, distance running, and photography. Meg resides in Northern Ohio with her husband, two daughters, and Golden-Doodle—all avid Cleveland Browns fans.
This article is part of our larger resource library of popular Bible verse phrases and quotes. We want to provide easy to read articles that answer your questions about the meaning, origin and history of specific verses within Scripture context. It is our hope that these will help you better understand the meaning and purpose of God’s Word in relation to your life today.
“Be Still and Know that I Am God”
“Pray Without Ceasing”
“Fearfully and Wonderfully Made”
“Faith Without Works is Dead”
“Trust in the Lord with All Your Heart”
“All Things Work Together for Good”
“Be Strong and Courageous”
Photo Credit: Unsplash/Denis Degioanni
What does John 1:1 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]
The first verse of John establishes several important facts, and introduces an important term. Jesus is referred to as “The Word,” from the Greek word logos. Christ is the Logos, the definition, the meaning, the “Word” of God. This is the first of John’s seven names for Jesus: “The Word.” The rest of the gospel is John’s attempt to prove this through various forms of evidence, in particular Jesus’ miracles. The first eighteen verses of John counter many false beliefs about God. Verse 1 establishes that the universe had a beginning, contrary to the idea that it is eternal. It also states that God has existed (at least) from that beginning. Later verses will show that God, in fact, created all that exists. This verse also makes it very clear that this Logos, Jesus, is identical to the Creator: the Word was God. This begins to establish the concept of the Trinity, where God is one being in three distinct persons.
John 1:1–18 is a poetic introduction of Jesus Christ. Jesus is referred to using the Greek word Logos, meaning “The Word.” This passage clearly describes Jesus as identical to God, and co-creator with God. These verses summarize Jesus’ ministry and mission on Earth. The passage also explains how John the Baptist (a different John from the author of this gospel) was sent ahead of Christ to prepare for His arrival.
The first chapter of John introduces Jesus as “the Word,” from the Greek Logos. This chapter clearly describes Jesus as identical to God. After this prologue, the chapter describes Jesus recruiting the first of His disciples, as well as a conversation between John the Baptist and the Pharisees. There are seven names for Christ in this chapter, including “The Son of God,” “The Word,” and “The King of Israel.