I John 1:1 – 2:5
John, the son of Zebedee — the beloved disciple, is the author of both this epistle and the gospel bearing his name. In John 20:31, he wrote: “But these things are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.” This epistle serves as a follow up to his gospel in that John states the purpose of his writing to be: “. . . that ye may know that ye have eternal life” (I Jn. 5:13). John wrote his gospel so that we might believe; he wrote this epistle so that we might know with certainty that we have life eternal.
John uses the pronoun “we” to declare that which he has heard, seen, and handled (v. 1-3). All men experience reality by hearing, seeing and feeling. John experienced reality which was made known to him and to the other apostles by the “Word of life” — by God in the flesh.
John declares that which he has received such that all believers might share in the fellowship which he enjoys with the Father and the Son. John would have all experience the fullness of joy which can be had in knowing Christ.
Fellowship is found in individuals who share like things. The fellowship that John would have all believers enjoy is fellowship with God the Father and God the Son. All who truly know the Son, know the Father. John wrote of the words which the Son declared: “I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life” (Jn. 8:12). Light and darkness both exist but where there is light, there is no darkness and where there is darkness, there is no light. That which applies to the physical realm, applies to the spiritual. One is either in the light or in the darkness. In verse 5, the Holy Spirit moved John to state that God is light and there is no darkness in Him. With God, there are no shades of gray. To enjoy fellowship with the Father and the Son, one must be without darkness. Any who experience gray are far from the light and the joy of fellowship with Him.
An individual can say that he has fellowship with the Father and the Son — that he experiences the fullness of joy of the fellowship of knowing Jesus — but that does not make it so. Darkness has no fellowship with light. In verse 6, John describes all who falsely claim to walk in the light as liars. The fellowship that one enjoys with the Son is a fellowship of light.
The gospels reveal that John enjoyed a close relationship with Jesus, perhaps closer than any other apostle. Yet, in verse 8, John says, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” John, in employing “we,” includes himself among those who have failed to reflect the light of the Father and the Son. When we sin, our fellowship with the Son and with one another is destroyed because darkness cannot reflect light.
In verse 9, John declares that Jesus Christ the Son of God is faithful and just to forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. When we repent and ask Jesus to forgive us our sins, He cleanses us. The sin which prevented us from reflecting the light of our Savior is washed away and our fellowship with Him and with one another is restored.
John addresses “My little children” in the opening verse of chapter 2. Little children are different from young men and from fathers (see v. 13). Little children have not overcome the wicked one. Little children have not known Christ from the beginning. Little children are subject to the fiery darts of the wicked and need help in spiritual warfare. John describes little children as individuals who have known the Father.
All believers know the Father through the Son. We know the Son through the scriptures. John reveals that we (little children, young men and fathers) have an advocate, Jesus Christ the righteous, who satisfied the sin debt of the whole world (v. 2). How did this happen? What are the dynamics? God made it happen. Christ was foreordained before the foundation of the world to be slain as a lamb without blemish or spot (I Pet. 19-20). God the Father, through God the Son, gave Himself to suffer death for them who believe as Abraham believed (see Gen. 15:6). The same God who gave Himself to die for us has appointed Christ the righteous to be our advocate.
Who is Christ the righteous? Christ is He who prayed to the Father asking, “. . . keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are” (Jn. 17:11). The desire of the Father is made known to us through the Son. The Father raised the Son from the grave to be our Advocate. He who counted Abraham’s faith for righteousness, has provided an advocate for all who believe as Abraham believed.
Little children know the Father as the God who so loved them that He gave His only begotten Son to die such that they should have eternal life (Jn. 3:16). John (who knew the Son from the beginning) desires that all should know that the Father has provided an advocate who is faithful and just to forgive us when we confess our sins. The Lord desires that we enjoy perfect fellowship with Him and each other.
His love is perfected in all who believe and do as He has instructed. May we love one another as He loves us.