1 John 1

That which ( ο ). Strictly speaking, the neuter relative here is not personal, but the message "concerning the Word of life" ( περ του λογου της ζωης ), a phrase that reminds one at once of the Word ( Λογος ) in Joh 1:1,14; Re 19:14 (an incidental argument for identity of authorship for all these books). For discussion of the  Λογος see on Joh 1:1-18. Here the  Λογος is described by  της ζωης (of life), while in Joh 1:4 he is called  η ζωη (the Life) as here in verse 2 and as Jesus calls himself (Joh 11:25; 14:6), an advance on the phrase here, and in Re 19:14 he is termed  ο λογος του θεου (the Word of God), though in Joh 1:1 the  Λογος is flatly named  ο θεος (God). John does use  ο in a collective personal sense in Joh 6:37,39. See also  παν ο in 1Jo 5:4.

From the beginning ( απ' αρχης ). Anarthrous as in Joh 1:1; 6:64; 16:4. See same phrase in 2:7. The reference goes beyond the Christian dispensation, beyond the Incarnation, to the eternal purpose of God in Christ (Joh 3:16), "coeval in some sense with creation" (Westcott).

That which we have heard ( ο ακηκοαμεν ). Note fourfold repetition of  ο (that which) without connectives (asyndeton). The perfect tense (active indicative of  ακουω ) stresses John's equipment to speak on this subject so slowly revealed. It is the literary plural unless John associates the elders of Ephesus with himself (Lightfoot) the men who certified the authenticity of the Gospel (Joh 21:24).

That which we have seen ( ο εωρακαμεν ). Perfect active, again, of  οραω, with the same emphasis on the possession of knowledge by John.

With our eyes ( τοις οφθαλμοις ημων ). Instrumental case and showing it was not imagination on John's part, not an optical illusion as the Docetists claimed, for Jesus had an actual human body. He could be heard and seen.

That which we beheld ( ο εθεασαμεθα ). Repetition with the aorist middle indicative of  θεαομα (the very form in Joh 1:14), "a spectacle which broke on our astonished vision" (D. Smith).

Handled ( εψηλαφησαν ). First aorist active indicative of  ψηλαφαω, old and graphic verb (from  ψαω, to touch), the very verb used by Jesus to prove that he was not a mere spirit (Lu 24:39). Three senses are here appealed to (hearing, sight, touch) as combining to show the reality of Christ's humanity against the Docetic Gnostics and the qualification of John by experience to speak. But he is also "the Word of life" and so God Incarnate.

Was manifested ( εφανερωθη ). First aorist passive indicative of  φανεροω, to make known what already exists, whether invisible (B. Weiss) or visible, "intellectual or sensible" (Brooke). In Col 3:4 Paul employs it of the second coming of Christ. Verse 2 here is an important parenthesis, a mark of John's style as in Joh 1:15. By the parenthesis John heaps reassurance upon his previous statement of the reality of the Incarnation by the use of  εωρακαμεν (as in verse 1) with the assertion of the validity of his "witness" ( μαρτυρουμεν ) and "message" ( απαγγελλομεν ), both present active indicatives (literary plurals),  απαγγελλω being the public proclamation of the great news (Joh 16:25).

The life, the eternal life ( την ζωην την αιωνιον ). Taking up  ζωη of verse 1, John defines the term by the adjective  αιωνιος, used 71 times in the N.T., 44 times with  ζωη and 23 in John's Gospel and Epistles (only so used in these books by John). Here lt means the divine life which the Logos was and is (Joh 1:4; 1Jo 1:1).

Which ( ητις ). Qualitative relative, "which very life."

Was with the Father ( ην προς τον πατερα ). Not  εγενετο, but  ην, and  προς with the accusative of intimate fellowship, precisely as in Joh 1:1  ην προς τον θεον (was with God). Then John closes the parenthesis by repeating  εφανερωθη.

That which we have seen ( ο εωρακαμεν ). Third use of this form (verses 1,2,3), this time resumption after the parenthesis in verse 2.

And heard ( κα ακηκοαμεν ). Second (verse 1 for first) use of this form, a third in verse 5. Emphasis by repetition is a thoroughly Johannine trait.

Declare we ( απαγγελλομεν ). Second use of this word (verse 2 for first), but  αγγελια (message) and  αναγγελλομεν (announce) in verse 5.

That ye also may have ( ινα κα υμεις εχητε ). Purpose clause with  ινα and present active subjunctive of  εχω (may keep on having). "Ye also" who have not seen Jesus in the flesh as well as those like John who have seen him. Like  κα υμιν (to you also) just before.

Fellowship with us ( κοινωνιαν μεθ' ημων ). Common word in this Epistle, from  κοινωνος, partner (Lu 5:10), and  κοινωνεω, to share, in (1Pe 4:13), with  μετα emphasising mutual relationship (Ac 2:42). This Epistle often uses  εχω with a substantive rather than a verb.

Yea, and our fellowship ( κα η κοινωνια δε η ημετερα ). Careful explanation of his meaning in the word "fellowship" (partnership), involving fellowship with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ and only possible in Christ.

We write ( γραφομεν ημεις ). Literary plural present active indicative of  γραφω, which see in the singular in 2:12-14.

May be fulfilled ( η πεπληρωμενη ). Periphrastic perfect passive subjunctive of  πληροω, stressing the state of completion in the purpose ( ινα ), remain full, precisely as in Joh 16:24. See aorist subjunctive in Joh 15:11 and perfect indicative in Joh 17:13. The MSS. differ as often between  ημων (our) and  υμων (your).

And ( κα ). Mutual fellowship depends on mutual knowledge (Westcott).

Message ( αγγελια ). Old word (from  αγγελος, messenger), in N.T. only here and 3:11, and note  απ' αυτου (from God like  απαγγελλω in verse 3) and  αναγγελλομεν, to announce, to disclose, here as in Joh 4:25.

God is light ( ο θεος φως εστιν ). Precisely so the  Λογος is light (Joh 1:4-9) and what Jesus claimed to be (Joh 8:12). John repeats it in negative form as he often does (Joh 1:3).

If we say ( εαν ειπωμεν ). Condition of third class with  εαν and second aorist (ingressive, up and say) active subjunctive. Claiming fellowship with God (see verse 3) involves walking in the light with God (verse 5) and not in the darkness ( σκοτος here, but  σκοτια in Joh 1:5). See 2:11 also for  εν τη σκοτια περιπατεω.

We lie ( ψευδομεθα ). Present middle indicative, plain Greek and plain English like that about the devil in Joh 8:44.

Do not the truth ( ου ποιουμεν την αληθειαν ). Negative statement of the positive  ψευδομεθα as in Joh 8:44. See Joh 3:21 for "doing the truth," like Ne 9:33.

If we walk ( εαν περιπατωμεν ). Condition of third class also with  εαν and present active subjunctive (keep on walking in the light with God).

As he ( ως αυτος ). As God is light (verse 5) and dwells in light unapproachable (1Ti 6:16).

One with another ( μετ' αλληλων ). As he has already said in verse 3. But we cannot have fellowship with one another unless we have it with God in Christ, and to do that we must walk in the light with God.

And the blood of Jesus his Son cleanseth us from all sin ( κα το αιμα Ιησου του υιου αυτου καθαριζε ημας απο πασης αμαρτιας ). This clause with  κα in true Johannine style is coordinate with the preceding one. Walking in the light with God makes possible fellowship with one another and is made possible also by the blood of Jesus (real blood and no mere phantom, atoning blood of the sinless Son of God for our sins). John is not ashamed to use this word. It is not the mere "example" of Jesus that "cleanses" us from sin. It does cleanse the conscience and life and nothing else does (Heb 9:13f.; Tit 2:14). See in verse 9 both forgiveness and cleansing. Cf. 1Jo 3:3.

If we say ( εαν ειπωμεν ). See verse 6.

We have no sin ( αμαρτιαν ουκ εχομεν ). For this phrase see Joh 9:41; 15:22,24. That is, we have no personal guilt, no principle of sin. This some of the Gnostics held, since matter was evil and the soul was not contaminated by the sinful flesh, a thin delusion with which so-called Christian scientists delude themselves today.

We deceive ourselves ( εαυτους πλανωμεν ). Present active indicative of  πλαναω, to lead astray. We do not deceive others who know us. Negative statement again of the same idea, "the truth is not in us."

If we confess ( εαν ομολογωμεν ). Third-class condition again with  εαν and present active subjunctive of  ομολογεω, "if we keep on confessing." Confession of sin to God and to one another (Jas 5:16) is urged throughout the N.T. from John the Baptist (Mr 1:5) on.

Faithful ( πιστος ). Jesus made confession of sin necessary to forgiveness. It is God's promise and he is "righteous" ( δικαιος ).

To forgive ( ινα αφη ). Sub-final clause with  ινα and second aorist active subjunctive of  αφιημ.

And to cleanse ( κα αγιαση ). So again with  ινα and the first aorist active subjunctive of  καθαριζω (verse 7).

If we say ( εαν ειπωμεν ). As in verses 6,8.

We have not sinned ( ουχ αμαρτηκαμεν ). Perfect active indicative of  αμαρτανω. This is a denial of any specific acts of sin, while in verse 8 we have the denial of the principle of sin. David Smith observes that the claim to personal perfectionism has two causes, one the stifling of conscience in making God a liar ( ψευστην, the word used of the devil by Jesus in Joh 8:44), and the other ignorance of God's word, which is not in us, else we should not make such a claim.

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