Thirdmill Study Bible

Notes on 1 John 1:5-2:2

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God is Light - 1 John 1:5

God is light. This phrase summarizes the main theological "message" of First John. With this, John defines both the character of God and of those who have an authentic knowledge of God. But, this introduces a question: "How is the reality of sin in every human life remedied?" no darkness at all. See WCF 3.1. In this phrase, literally translated, "not one bit of darkness," John is unequivocally stating evil is not associated with God.

Those Purified by Christ Walk in God's Light. - 1 John 1:6-2:2

This section of the letter addresses three claims (1:6, 8, 10) which may originate from those who left the church. Each claim is countered strongly on the basis of the message in 1:5, that God is light.

Walk in darkness . . . walk in the light - 1 John 1:6-7

walk in darkness… in the light. The OT told God’s people not to mix up right and wrong, or light and darkness (see notes on Isa. 2:5; 5:20). The metaphor of walking has to do with a person’s behavior or pattern of life. This is the clear sense of the word “walk” in 2:9-11, where a person knows they are walking in the light if they love other Christians. This not to say “walking in the light” means a life of sinless perfection. John clearly disallows that meaning in 2:1. Rather, it describes a pattern of life that imitates God’s character (1:5-7), depend on God’s mercy for cleansing from sin (1:7, 9; 2:1-2), obeys God’s commands (2:3-11), and resists the ways of the world (2:15-17), including false teaching (2:18-27). blood… cleanses. See WCF 18.3. This phrase is connected to fellowship, showing how a right relationship with God is connected to right relationships with God’s people. People who have been forgiven will be in fellowship with other forgiven people. In the OT, the blood of a sacrificial animal set people apart as sacred for God by making atonement (see note on Lev. 16:30). The word cleanses here and in v. 9 is about removing the sin which separates a person from God’s presence and purposes.

See WCF 1 John 1:7-10

See WCF 6.5; 11.5; WLC 77, 149; WSC 82; BC 34; HC 1, 5, 30, 56, 72, 114

Without sin - 1 John 1:8

without sin. This phrase only shows up here in First John, but is used four times in the Fourth Gospel (see notes on Jn. 9:41; 15:22, 24; 19:11). This is the first false claim from those who have left the church. They seem to be claiming a heightened spiritual state in which they have ceased from sinning. deceive… truth. The Greek form of the word deceive is emphatic, talking about an active rejection of the truth. To say "I have no sin" or "I am sinless" denies the reality of sin. The Bible consistently teaches that everyone is guilty of sin (see notes on 1 Kgs. 8:46; Pss. 14; 143:2; Eccl. 7:20; Mk. 10:18; Rom. 3:9-26). Truth can describe God himself, or Jesus (see note on Jn. 14:6). So, this is saying that the people who claim to have stopped sinning are not Christians, that God is not in them (see notes on 2:4; 5:6).

Confess - 1 John 1:9

confess. See WCF 11.5; HC 115. When Christians confess their sins, a just God forgives them on the basis of Christ's faithfulness to the point of death for the sake of sinners. Here, John uses the plural "sins" (rather than "sin", like in v. 8). This could refer to the confession of specific sinful acts, instead of the general idea of "sin". The confession of sins is a characteristic practice of true disciples of Jesus

We have not sinned; liar - 1 John 1:10

1:10 we have not sinned… liar. John's opponents may not have claimed that they had never sinned in their lives, but, that they had not sinned since coming to know God. It is also likely that they viewed their bodies and use of material goods as morally inconsequential. In either case, verse 8 says people who deny their sinfulness do not possess the truth. This text ties the truth of Scripture, God's Word, to God's character. To deny the truth of Scripture by claiming to be sinless is equivalent to saying, 'God is a liar.'

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