This is a short but powerful chapter. John jumps right into an apologetic (a defense of the faith) by noting how they heard, saw and touched Jesus. He was fully human and fully divine. Some false teachers held that Jesus wasn’t really human, because they thought material things were essentially evil and needed to be abandoned. Others taught that Jesus was not God.
John heard the message “from him,” that is, Jesus (v. 5).
Why did John write this? To “make our joy complete,” not to pile burdens on us. Sometimes we share the “Good News” (the Gospel) as if it were bad news that needs to be apologized for. Not at all! The bad news is that we are sinners before a Holy God and rightly deserve punishment. The Good News is that Jesus died for our sins and we can have salvation by trusting in what He did for us.
John expands on the “light” imagery he used in his Gospel (John 1:4-5 In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.)
Those who claim to be without sin lie to themselves and about God. Praise God that He is faithful and just and will not only forgive us but purify us. But John wasn’t saying that we can’t be obedient to God. He also says that we should walk “in the light.” One way to look at it, which I concede could be an oversimplification, would be to say that as authentic believers we won’t be sinless but that we will sin_less. And if we have trusted in Christ then all our sins – past, present and future, are forgiven.
We are forgiven not because of righteous things we have done, but because God is faithful to his promises.
The Word of Life
1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. 2 The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. 3 We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. 4 We write this to make our joy complete.
Walking in the Light
5 This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. 6 If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by 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, his Son, purifies us from all sin.
8 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives.
The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.