1 John 1

Verse 22. According to the true proverb] This seems to be a

reference to Pr 26:11:

kekeleb shab al keo; as the dog returneth to his vomit, so a fool

repeateth his folly. In substance this proverb is found among

the rabbins; so Midrash Ruth, in Sohar Chadash, fol. 62: Orphah is

returned to her mire, Ruth persevered in spirit; and again, Ibid.

fol. 64: "Orphah, which is nephesh habbehemith, the

bestial soul, is returned to her mire."

The Greeks have something like it; so Arrian, Dissert. Epict.

l. iv. c. 11, says: απελθεκαιχοιρωδιαλεγουινενβορβορωμη

κυλιηται, "Go and reason with the swine, lest he be rolled in the

mire." This is called a true proverb: for it is a fact that a dog

will eat up his own vomit; and the swine, howsoever carefully

washed, will again wallow in the mire. As applied here it is very

expressive: the poor sinner, having heard the Gospel of Christ,

was led to loathe and reject his sin; and, on his application to

God for mercy, was washed from his unrighteousness. But he is

here represented as taking up again what he had before rejected,

and defiling himself in that from which he had been cleansed.

Here is a sad proof of the possibility of falling from grace,

and from very high degrees of it too. These had escaped from the

contagion that was in the world; they had had true repentance, and

cast up "their soursweet morsel of sin;" they had been washed from

all their filthiness, and this must have been through the blood of

the Lamb; yet, after all, they went back, got entangled with their

old sins, swallowed down their formerly rejected lusts, and

rewallowed in the mire of corruption. It is no wonder that God

should say, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning:

reason and nature say it must be so; and Divine justice says it

ought to be so; and the person himself must confess that it is

right that it should be so. But how dreadful is this state! How

dangerous when the person has abandoned himself to his old sins!

Yet it is not said that it is impossible for him to return to his

Maker; though his case be deplorable, it is not utterly hopeless;

the leper may yet be made clean, and the dead may be raised.

Reader, is thy backsliding a grief and burden to thee? Then thou

art not far from the kingdom of God; believe on the Lord Jesus,

and thou shalt be saved.





Chronological Notes relative to this Epistle.

-Year of the Constantinopolitan era of the world, or that used

by the Byzantine historians, and other eastern Writers, 5577.

-Year of the Alexandrian era of the world, 5571.

-Year of the Antiochian era of the world, 5561.

-Year of the world, according to Archbishop Usher, 4073.

-Year of the world, according to Eusebius, in his Chronicon,


-Year of the minor Jewish era of the world, or that in common

use, 3829.

-Year of the Greater Rabbinical era of the world, 4428.

-Year from the Flood, according to Archbishop Usher, and the

English Bible, 2417.

-Year of the Cali yuga, or Indian era of the Deluge, 3171.

-Year of the era of Iphitus, or since the first commencement of

the Olympic games, 1009.

-Year of the era of Nabonassar, king of Babylon, 818.

-Year of the CCXIIth Olympiad, 1.

-Year from the building of Rome, according to Fabius Pictor,


-Year from the building of Rome, according to Frontinus, 820.

-Year from the building of Rome, according to the Fasti

Capitolini, 821.

-Year from the building of Rome, according to Varro, which was

that most generally used, 822.

-Year of the era of the Seleucidae, 381.

-Year of the Caesarean era of Antioch, 117.

-Year of the Julian era, 114.

-Year of the Spanish era, 107.

-Year from the birth of Jesus Christ, according to Archbishop

Usher, 73.

-Year of the vulgar era of Christ's nativity, 69.

-Year of Vologesus, king of the Parthians, 20.

-Year of the Dionysian period, or Easter Cycle, 70.

-Year of the Grecian Cycle of nineteen years, or Common Golden

Number, 13; or the fifth embolismic.

-Year of the Jewish Cycle of nineteen years, 10; or the year

before the fourth embolismic.

-Year of the Solar Cycle, 22.

-Dominical Letter, it being the first year after the Bissextile,

or Leap Year, A.

-Day of the Jewish Passover, the twenty-fourth of March, which

happened in this year on the sixth day after the Jewish


-Easter Sunday, the twenty-sixth of March.

-Epact, or age of the moon on the 22d of March, (the day of the

earliest Easter Sunday possible,) 12.

-Epact, according to the present mode of computation, or the

moon's age on New Year's day, or the Calends of January, 20.

-Monthly Epacts, or age of the moon on the Calends of each

month respectively, (beginning with January,) 20, 22, 21, 22,

23, 24, 25, 27, 27, 28, 0, 0, 2, 2.

-Number of Direction, or the number of days from the

twenty-first of March to the Jewish Passover, 3.

-In this year reigned four Roman emperors, viz., Galba, from

Jan. 1 to Jan. 15, Otho ninety days, Vitellius eight months,

and Vespasian for the remainder of the year.

-Roman Consuls, Servius Sulpicius Galba Augustus, the second

time, and Titus Vinius Rufinus, from Jan. 1 to the death of

Galba, Jan. 15; Salvius Otho Augustus, and L. Salvius Otho

Titianus, from Jan. 15 to March 1; L. Virginius Rufus, and

Vopiscus Pompeius Silvanus, from March 1 to May 1; Titus

Arrius Antoninus and P. Marius Celsus, the second time, from

May 1 to Sept. 1; C. Fabius Valens and Aulus Alienus Coecina,

from Sept. 1, the former holding the Consulship to Nov. 1, the

latter being succeeded by Roscius Regulus, on Oct. 31; Cn.

Caecilius Simplex and C. Quintius Atticus, from Nov. 1, to

the end of the year.


The testimony of the apostle concerning the reality of the

person and doctrine of Christ; and the end for which he bears

this testimony, 1-4.

God is light, and none can have fellowship with him who do not

walk in the light; those who walk in the light are cleansed

from all unrighteousness by the blood of Christ, 5-7.

No man can say that he has not sinned; but God is faithful and

just to cleanse from all unrighteousness them who confess their

sins, 8-10.


Verse 1. That which was from the beginning] That glorious

personage, JESUS CHRIST the LORD, who was from eternity; him,

being manifested in the flesh, we have heard proclaim the doctrine

of eternal life; with our own eyes have we seen him, not

transiently, for we have looked upon him frequently; and our hands

have handled-frequently touched, his person; and we have had every

proof of the identity and reality of this glorious being that our

senses of hearing, οακηκοαμεν, seeing, οεωρακαμεντοις

αφθαλμοιςημων, and feeling, καιαιχειρεςημωνεψηλαφησαν

could possibly require.

Verse 2. For the Life was manifested] The Lord Jesus, who is

the creator of all things, and the fountain of life to all

sentient and intellectual beings, and from whom eternal life and

happiness come, was manifested in the flesh, and we have seen him,

and in consequence bear witness to him as the fountain and author

of eternal life; for he who was from eternity with the Father was

manifested unto us his apostles, and to the whole of the Jewish

nation, and preached that doctrine of eternal life which I have

before delivered to the world in my gospel, and which I now

farther confirm by this epistle.

Verse 3. That which we have seen and heard] We deliver

nothing by hearsay, nothing by tradition, nothing from conjecture;

we have had the fullest certainty of all that we write and preach.

That ye also may have fellowship with us] That ye may be

preserved from all false doctrine, and have a real participation

with us apostles of the grace, peace, love, and life of God, which

communion we have with God the Father, who hath loved us, and

given his Son Jesus Christ to redeem us; and with his Son Jesus

Christ, who laid down his life for the life of the world and

through whom, being God manifested in the flesh, we have union

with God, are made partakers of the Divine nature and dwell in

God, and God in us.

Verse 4. That your joy may be full.] Ye have already tasted

that the Lord is good; but I am now going to show you the height

of your Christian calling, that your happiness may be complete,

being thoroughly cleansed from all sin, and filled with the

fulness of God.

Verse 5. This then is the message] This is the grand

principle on which all depends, which we have heard of απαυτου,

FROM him; for neither Moses nor the prophets ever gave that full

instruction concerning God and communion with him which Jesus

Christ has given, for the only-begotten Son, who was in the bosom

of the Father, has alone declared the fulness of the truth, and

the extent of the blessings, which believers on him are to

receive. See Joh 1:18.

God is light] The source of wisdom, knowledge, holiness, and

happiness; and in him is no darkness at all-no ignorance, no

imperfection, no sinfulness, no misery. And from him wisdom,

knowledge, holiness, and happiness are received by every believing

soul. This is the grand message of the Gospel, the great

principle on which the happiness of man depends. LIGHT implies

every essential excellence, especially wisdom, holiness, and

happiness. DARKNESS implies all imperfection, and principally

ignorance, sinfulness, and misery. LIGHT is the purest, the most

subtile, 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. God is to human

soul, what the light is to the world; without the latter all would

be dismal and uncomfortable, and terror and death would

universally prevail: and without an indwelling God what is

religion? Without his all-penetrating and diffusive light, what

is the soul of man? Religion would be an empty science, a dead

letter, a system unauthoritated and uninfluencing, and the soul a

trackless wilderness, a howling waste, full of evil, of terror and

dismay, and ever racked with realizing anticipations of future,

successive, permanent, substantial, and endless misery. No wonder

the apostle lays this down as a first and grand principle, stating

it to be the essential message which he had received from Christ

to deliver to the world.

Verse 6. If we say that we have fellowship] Having

fellowship, κοινωνια, communion, with God, necessarily implies a

partaking of the Divine nature. Now if a man profess to have such

communion, and walk in darkness-live an irreligious and sinful

life, he lies, in the profession which he makes, and does not the

truth-does not walk according to the directions of the Gospel, on

the grace of which he holds his relation to God, and his communion

with him.

The Gnostics, against whose errors it is supposed this epistle

was written, were great pretenders to knowledge, to the highest

degrees of the Divine illumination, and the nearest communion with

the fountain of holiness, while their manners were excessively


Verse 7. But if we walk in the light] If, having received the

principle of holiness from him, we live a holy and righteous life,

deriving continual light, power, and life from him, then we have

fellowship one with another; that is, we have communion with God,

and God condescends to hold communion with us. This appears to be

the intention of the apostle; and so he was understood by some

versions and MSS., which, instead of μεταλληλων, with each

other, have μεταυτον, with him. Those who are deeply

experienced in Divine things converse with God, and God with them.

What John says is no figure; God and a holy heart are in

continual correspondence.

The blood of Jesus Christ] The meritorious efficacy of his

passion and death has purged our consciences from dead works, and

cleanseth us, καθαριζειημας, continues to cleanse us, i.e., to

keep clean what it has made clean, (for it requires the same merit

and energy to preserve holiness in the soul of man, as to produce

it,) or, as several MSS. and some versions read, καθαριει and

καθαρισει, will cleanse; speaking of those who are already

justified, and are expecting full redemption in his blood.

And being cleansed from all sin is what every believer should

look for, what he has a right to expect, and what he must have in

this life, in order to be prepared to meet his God. Christ is not

a partial Saviour, he saves to the uttermost, and he cleanses from

ALL sin.

Verse 8. If we say that we have no sin] This is tantamount to

1Jo 1:10:

If we say that we have not sinned. All have sinned, and come

short of the glory of God; and therefore every man needs a

Saviour, such as Christ is. It is very likely that the heretics,

against whose evil doctrines the apostle writes, denied that they

had any sin, or needed any Saviour. In deed, the Gnostics even

denied that Christ suffered: the AEon, or Divine Being that dwelt

in the man Christ Jesus, according to them, left him when he was

taken by the Jews; and he, being but a common man, his sufferings

and death had neither merit nor efficacy.

We deceive ourselves] By supposing that we have no guilt, no

sinfulness, and consequently have no need of the blood of Christ

as an atoning sacrifice: this is the most dreadful of all

deceptions, as it leaves the soul under all the guilt and pollution

of sin, exposed to hell, and utterly unfit for heaven.

The truth is not in us.] We have no knowledge of the Gospel of

Jesus, the whole of which is founded on this most awful truth-all

have sinned, all are guilty, all are unholy; and none can redeem

himself. Hence it is as necessary that Jesus Christ should become

incarnated, and suffer and die to bring men to God.

Verse 9. If we confess our sins] If, from a deep sense of our

guilt, impurity, and helplessness, we humble ourselves before God,

acknowledging our iniquity, his holiness, and our own utter

helplessness, and implore mercy for his sake who has died for us;

he is faithful, because to such he has promised mercy, Ps 32:5;

Pr 28:13;

and just, for Christ has died for us, and thus made an atonement

to the Divine justice; so that God can now be just, and yet the

justifier of him who believeth in Jesus.

And to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.] Not only to

forgive the sin, but to purify the heart.

OBSERVE here, 1. Sin exists in the soul after two modes or

forms: (1.) In guilt, which requires forgiveness or pardon. (2.)

In pollution, which requires cleansing.

2. Guilt, to be forgiven, must be confessed; and pollution, to

be cleansed, must be also confessed. In order to find mercy, a

man must know and feel himself to be a sinner, that he may

fervently apply to God for pardon; in order to get a clean heart,

a man must know and feel its depravity, acknowledge and deplore it

before God, in order to be fully sanctified.

3. Few are pardoned, because they do not feel and confess their

sins; and few are sanctified or cleansed from all sin, because

they do not feel and confess their own sore, and the plague of

their hearts.

4. As the blood of Jesus Christ, the merit of his passion and

death, applied by faith, purges the conscience from all dead

works, so the same cleanses the heart from all unrighteousness.

5. As all unrighteousness is sin, so he that is cleansed from

all unrighteousness is cleansed from all sin. To attempt to evade

this, and plead for the continuance of sin in the heart through

life, is ungrateful, wicked, and even blasphemous; for as he who

says he has not sinned, 1Jo 1:10,

makes God a liar, who has declared the contrary through every part

of his revelation; so he that says the blood of Christ either

cannot or will not cleanse us from all sin in this life, gives

also the lie to his Maker, who has declared the contrary, and thus

shows that the word-the doctrine of God is not in him.

Reader, it is the birthright of every child of God to be

cleansed from all sin, to keep himself unspotted from the world,

and so to live as never more to offend his Maker. All things are

possible to him that believeth; because all things are possible to

the infinitely meritorious blood and energetic Spirit of the Lord

Jesus. See the notes on the parallel passages in the margin; and

particularly in St. John's gospel, John 1.

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