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Bible Commentaries

E.M. Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament

1 John 1



Other Authors

Questions For First John Chapter One

1.What was from the beginning?

2.Beginning of what?

3.Where did John speak of this before?

4.Who are the "we" that have heard?

5.State how they could see and handle this.

6.Was this handling literal?

7.What was manifested?

9. Who were required to see it?

9.For what benefit was this all done?

10.With whom was eternal life vested?

11.What was to be shown?

12.With what were they to have fellowship?

13.With whom did the apostles have fellowship?

14.For what purpose does John write these things?

15.What declaration was to be made?

16. State the central subject of the writing.

17.What kind of light is meant?

18.Does this principle dwell unmixed with God?

19.Who is the liar first described by the apostle?

20.This liar will not do what?

21.Of what does this darkness consist?

22.What is necessary for light to benefit us?

23.Give meaning of fellowship.

24.Why must we be in light to fellowship Him?

25.From how much sin will the blood cleanse us?

26.Is the blood literally applied?

27.On what condition will it be applied?

28.Where may we find this light?

29.What constitutes walking in it?

30.When are we self-deceived?

31.What is not in us then?

32.On what condition will God forgive us?

33.Why will he do so?

34.How completely will he cleanse us?

35.Through what ransom will he do this

36. What would make God out a liar?

37. State what confession of sin would also require.

38.Who are meant by "we" in this passage?

39.Does this imply that disciples might sin?

40.To deny existence of sin makes us what?

41.Does this apply only when we are aliens?

42.Distinguish "have no sin" and "have not sinned."

43.Would saying either make one a liar?

44.If we make God a liar what is not in us?

45.Without that word what is our fate?

46.If God is true then what are those who differ?

47.What saying of Paul teaches this same thing?

48.Can two people be true if they contradict?

49.What being is always right?

50.Those who differ from him are always what?

Verse 1

This verse is equivalent to the first verse of John"s account of the Gospel. When the words the beginning are used as an abstract term, that is one without any qualifying context, they always have the same meaning. The popular notion is that they mean "the beginning of time." That is wrong because time (which merely means duration) had no beginning and of course will have no end. The means by which we measure time, such as the movements of the earth and other planets, will come to an end, but that does not mean that time will end then. It would be like saying that if the clocks all stopped that time would stop also. Not so; the means we were using to measure it only have stopped. The term the beginning means the beginning of the material creation. The reader should see the comments on this subject at John 1:1 in the first volume of the New Testament Commentary. In our present verse John comes to a later period and refers to the circumstance when the word took upon himself that form which could be seen and handled by fleshly man.

Verse 2

This verse gives some more details of the general truths that are stated in the preceding one. The life is the same as "Word of life" above which was with the Father before the inhabitants of the earth ever heard about it. It was manifested to the extent that it could be seen with human eyes as well-as be "handled" as stated in the first verse. The manner in which this was done is expressed somewhat more directly by this same writer in John 1:14 which says that "the Word was made flesh." Everyone will understand this refers to the fact of the life of Christ in a fieshly body on the earth. Show unto you that eternal life. Such a life is spiritual and thus cannot literally be shown, but John means that when a man sees Christ he is seeing eternal life in that He is the one who gives us the hope of eternal life.

Verse 3

John was especially concerned with the divinity of Christ, that although He dwelt among men in the flesh (in order that they might see and hear Him), yet he was (and is) the divine Son of God. Have fclloufship with us denotes having a share in or being partakers with the apostles in the relationship between God and Christ and their faithful disciples.

Verse 4

That your joy may be full. The last word is where the emphasis of thought should be placed. Small or partial joy may be possible from many different sources, but the joy that can come from a faith in the only divine Son of God is full both in the sense of being complete in its extent, and perfect in its quality. It will leave nothing that can reasonably be desired further by a firm believer.

Verse 5

The message which we (the apostles and others through them) have heard of him (the Son of God). The subject of the message is light, brought into the world by Christ which he received from his Father. God not only has light (spiritual truth) but He has nothing else; no darkness at all. Good men and angels have some light but it is limited, while with God it is light unmodified.

Verse 6

The Lord is all light and truth which is the opposite of darkness. For this reason no man can possibly be a partaker (have fellowship with Him whose life is one of darkness which is a figurative name for that which is not the truth. Hence it is a logical conclusion that if a man claims to be on both sides of this proposition at the same time he is lying.

Verse 7

Walk in the light. No man lives who does not make some mistake and commit sin incidentally. But this phrase means a man whose general life is one of godliness and whose me tive principle is the light of the New Testament. This man can truly be said to be walking with the Lord because he is in the pathway that Jesus laid out for him. the fellowship with God the source of all light, is like being constantly in the stream of the blood of His son. That blood is con stantly flowing (figuratively) through the body or church of the Lord Jesus Christ. In the natural body of a man whose blood stream is healthy, if germs slip into the person that blood, being always present, will be like-a disinfectant that will destroy the germ. Likewise the blood of Christ is ever present to cleanse away the mistake and incidental sins that a true Chris tian does. Hence if a man is a worker in the Lord"s vineyard and his life as a whole is one of obedience to the law of Christ, he does not need to worry about the mistakes he might make which he does not realize, for the blood of Christ will take care of it and wash them away. They will be cleansed by the "fountain opened to the house of David . . . for sin and for uncleanness ( Zechariah 13:1). "There is a fountain filled with blood, drawn from In manuel's veins; And sinners plunge beneath that flood, lose all their guilt stains."

Verse 8

This verse does not contradict the preceding one or the comments made on it. To say we have no sin would be like saying we do not have any need for the blood of Christ Hence even a faithful disciple should admit his weaknesses and understand his dependence upon the blood of Christ for his cleansing.

Verse 9

Confess our sins. This does not say that we are to confess that we have sins for that would be so general that it would be virtually no confession at all; the sins themselves is what we are to confess. Sometimes persons will come forward in a meeting saying they wish to make a confession, and when given the opportunity will say, "I have not been living as I should." That does not confess any sin as our verse requires. It may be replied that David made that sort of confession to the prophet because all he said was, "I have sinned." That is true but it was after his sin had been pointed out so that his statement was an acknowledgment of the specific sin. It was like the action of a jury that says, "We find the defendant guilty as charged" without naming any particular misdeed. If a disciple does not know of anything wrong he has done then he has none to confess. Should he have some faults of which he is not aware, verse7 of this chapter will take care of them. If he has committed sins which only he and the Lord know about, then he needs only to make his confession to Him. Faithful and just. The first word means He will keep his promise to forgive the sins of the penitent, and it is just for Him to do so since the sacrifice of Christ makes it possible for God to be merciful and just at the same time ( Romans 3:26).

Verse 10

Have not sinned differs from have no sin in verse8 because it goes back over the past of our lives. When the two are considered together they mean that there never has been a time since we were old encugh to be responsible. that we were "as free from sin as the angels" as it is sometimes expressed; hence man has needed a Saviour all the years of his life. Make him a liar. If a person makes an assertion that contradicts what another has said. it is quivalent to calling him a liar even though no direct reference is made-to him. God has said in his word that all men are sinners ( Ecclesiastes 7:20), therefore if a man says he has not sinned he contradicts the Lord and that is why John says such a man will make him a liar. His word is not in us because that word declares that all men have sinned.


Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Zerr, E.M. "Commentary on 1 John 1:4". E.M. Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament. 1952.

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