WALKING IN THE LIGHT

NEW TESTAMENT CONTEXTUAL COMMENTARY

by Dr. Robert R. Seyda

FIRST EPISTLE OF JOHN

CHAPTER ONE (Lesson XXII 11/03/20

Flavel then quotes Calvinist theologian André Rivet (1572-1631), who said that the saints’ intercommunication with the Anointed One is entirely dependent on their union with Him. A tree branch absorbs sap and juice because of its merger and partnership with the trunk and roots. If you take away such harmony and there can be no communion in communication. Paul made this clear to the Corinthians: “All are yours, and you are the Anointed One’s, and the Anointed One is God’s.”[1] It implies that all our participation in the Anointed One’s benefits depends on our close spiritual fellowship with Him.[2]

In another place, Flavel says what delight and singular advantage must there be in the togetherness of the saints, who have a personal closeness with Jesus the Anointed One in all His graces and benefits. O, how sweet it is to have fellowship with those that have intimacy with God through Jesus the Anointed One. He has transferred graces to the saints in different measures and degrees, which they all receive from the same fountain[3] – the Anointed One.

It is satisfying and most delightful to improve spiritual communications with one another, says Flavel. Yes, the Spirit may furnish one grace or gift more eminent than another so that the weak may be assisted by the strong. As Puritan theologian Samuel Torshell (1604-1650) well observes: Athanasius of Alexandria (296-373) was prudent and active, Basil of Caesarea (329-370) was a heavenly sweet temper, preacher. Ambrose (337-397 proved resolved and serious. Chrysostom (349-407) was arduous without affection. Also, Martín Luther (1483-1546) was courageous, and Jean Calvin (1509-1564) critical and cautious.

Thus, says Flavel, everyone has their proper endowment from the Anointed One, the fountain of gifts and graces.[4] One believer has the skill of discernment; another firmness of judgment; another zeal; another competently decisive; another caution and forethought; another open-hearted and candid; another careful and thoughtful; another cheerful and joyous. One imparts a light and another warmth. The eye cannot say to the hand; I don’t need you.[5] And oh, how sweet would it be, says Flavel, if gifts, graces, and experiences were frequent and humbly communicated. But idle notions, earthly-mindedness, self-interest, and lack of more contact with the Anointed One have almost destroyed Christian fellowship’s well-being in the world.[6]

John Bunyan (1628-1688), an English writer and a Puritan preacher, says, another thing by which the soul’s greatness manifests and puts humanity all other creatures is God’s empathy with those He set apart as a faithful servant for Himself.[7] That is intimacy with a person’s soul. Just like the spouse says concerning her beloved, “His desire is toward me,”[8] and, therefore, He says again, “I will dwell in them, and walk in them.”[9] Therefore, to “dwell in” and “walk-in” are terms that suggest an innermost closeness and bonding; as John said, “Our fellowship, truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus the Anointed One.”[10]

And Daniel Whitby (1638-1726) mentions that a Dutch Lutheran scholar named Lubertus Esthius (1532-1571) imagined that no one could have companionship with God, who has no involvement with the Church because of location, illness, or incapacity. That may be true of participation of the visible Church, but not the invisible Church – the Anointed One’s spiritual Body. It becomes a dwelling place of God through His Spirit, participating in doctrine and ordinances with the Church founded by the Anointed One.[11]

Jonathan Edwards (1703-1768) made some doctrinal observations that “our fellowship is with the Father and His Son Jesus the Anointed One.” We have every reason to conclude that no degree of close camaraderie is too much for the human side of the Anointed One. The divine Logos is pleased to be in union with multitudes. Therefore, we may conclude that no degree of brotherhood and sisterhood will be too much for the Anointed One’s spiritual body – the Church.

The Anointed One is the only head of the Church, no matter how large, says Edwards. It is an example of God’s love for growing and maturing. Jesus was born into a family, but now He is the head of the family. It shows what honor and happiness God designs for those who grow-up in the Anointed One. The purpose of this particular maturity is the honor and pleasure it brings to the rest of the Body. The Anointed One’s example is planned by the Father to exemplify the benefit of advancing. We may argue, says Edwards, on how we should accomplish it because one may seem more excellent than the other.[12] [13]

James McKnight (1721-1800) points out how God designed humankind to understand what everlasting life was all about. Since such a timeless continuation is with the Father, it must mean the Father’s presence. Now, since the eternal Father’s reality could not be manifested to the Apostles just by revelation – which would presuppose the existence of God, this eternal life must be that which the Word, or Son, possessed with the Father before the world came into being. It must be demonstrated before the eyes and within hearing by the Apostles. It was illustrated by His Son being born of a woman. Later, His anointing in baptism. And again, during His transfiguration on the mountain.[14] Therefore, it is incredible that this same Apostle John, who saw, heard, and touched Him in the flesh, would see Him later immortalized in a revelation.

In a sermon by Charles Talbot (1769-1823), he believes that a personal and experimental knowledge of the Anointed One eminently outfits us to declare Him to the world. It is our work, and for this practical qualification, there can be no substitute; neither training, learning, nor natural talent can take its place. Spiritual knowledge and experience are a mighty power; without it, all is feeble. You do not go to school and earn a degree in spiritual gifts, the fruit of the spirit, or how to become an apostle. Talbot gives us the following factors involved in our growing knowledge about God and His Son, Jesus the Anointed One:

One: It implies a revelation from the Anointed One. The age for physical manifestation is in the past; the Bible takes its place. It is the Anointed One we declare – a Divine Anointed One, in whom dwells all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. Two: It implies real and experimental knowledge of the Anointed One. We have seen Him, not with mortal eyes, but by spiritual sight, seen Him through an adapted medium, as outlined in revelation, as apprehended by faith, seen Him so we can love and trust in Him. Three: It implies appreciation. “We have handled Him with our hands,” heard with our ears, seen with our own eyes, and tested Him with our senses, and now we appreciate Him as Savior. He has saved us – we feel it, we know it. It is how we present Him to the world. We value His ability to do all things for us. He guarantees our ability to do all that is needed. Being justified by His death, He saves us by His resurrected life.

Talbot then says that a sacred and divine feeling of benevolence moves us in declaring the Anointed One to all. First, it is love. The love of the Anointed One constrains us. That love is without parallel or comparison; it was love to enemies and manifested in intense suffering. I enjoy the benefit of it; I want you to do the same. Secondly, to this, we are moved by sympathy. We see everyone, strangers, and aliens, from God’s point of view; we learn of their afflictions, disappointments, and dissatisfaction; yes, and we get to know the danger they face – we were once in the same state. We have found a great treasure; we want them to come so we can share it; we have found great joy, we want them to come along and be glad for us; we have met the Anointed One, we want them to meet Him too. And thirdly, in this, we are moved by a sense of duty. Thus, it becomes our motivation. Every servant has work to do. The Anointed One bids us preach and teach; we cannot remain silent; the Church requires the Gospel, and we must preach it; the world is perishing for lack of knowledge, and we must teach it. A wasted and desolate field lies at our feet – we must cultivate it; souls are in danger, and we must not hesitate or do nothing.

Talbot’s plea gives us a picture of the evangelistic zeal that infected the Body of the Anointed One two hundred and fifty years ago. Is it still in the Church today? Talbot then says that in our spiritual participation with the Father and the Son, they meet the believer’s needs as follows: 1) We have the Anointed One as our daily companion by faith; this meets our necessity as sinners. 2) We have a working relationship with Him in labor and honor; this meets our wants as His disciples. 3) We have familiarity with His blessings, and this satisfies our necessities in suffering. 4) We have inseparability in the things of eternity, and this meets our struggles as immortal beings.[15]

German theologian and Church historian Augustus Neander (1789-1850) sees John resuming what he began with and now proceeds in the same form: “That which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us.” Therefore, John was an eye and ear-witness of the self-revelation of that Eternal Life, which seeks to impart itself from divinity to humanity. So, hearing and accepting John’s message will lead to a divine partnership with the Light and Life by becoming one in union with God. Thus John declares what he saw, heard, and touched.


[1] 1 Corinthians 3:22-23

[2] John Flavel: The Method of Grace, The Believer’s Union with Christ, Ch. 2, p. 32

[3] John 14:4

[4] 1 Corinthians 7:7

[5] Ibid. 12:21

[6] Flavel, John: op. cit., The Method of Grace, The Believer’s Fellowship with Christ, Ch. 8, 153

[7] Psalm 4:3

[8] Song of Solomon 7:10

[9] 2 Corinthians 6:16

[10] Bunyan, John: Bunyan’s Practical Works, Vol. 1, The Greatness of the Soul, and Unspeakableness of the Loss thereof, Doctrine First, p. 28

[11] Whitby, Daniel: On First Epistle of John, op. cit., p. 456

[12] James 4:10

[13] Edwards, Jonathan, The Works of: Miscellaneous Observations on Important Theological Subjects, vol 6, p. 565

[14] Macknight, James: On First Epistle of John, op. cit., p. 27

[15] Talbot, C., Biblical Illustrator, op. cit., Epistles of John, loc. cit.

About drbob76

Retired missionary, pastor, seminary professor, Board Certified Chaplain and American Cancer Society Hope Lodge Director.
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