WALKING IN THE LIGHT

NEW TESTAMENT CONTEXTUAL COMMENTARY

by Dr. Robert R. Seyda

FIRST EPISTLE OF JOHN

CHAPTER ONE (Lesson XXIV) 11/05/20

On whatever point there is any belief at all in mind, Jelf says, there it must be in harmony with what the Anointed One revealed to us. Those who are without truth because they never heard it or are unable to comprehend it is not distressing the Holy Spirit of Truth. But they who cling to false doctrines or purposely reject any part of God’s revelation are without excuse. It keeps them from making up their mind and standing by the truth. In so doing, they are rejecting the Gospel. For a Church, since it is to guide people into the Light, must explain it. When the preaching of the truth declines, and errors are allowed to exist,  the Church loses its character and function to an equal degree.[1]

John Stock (1817-1884) states that Christianity is the opponent of selfishness and unwarranted self-love. As Paul said, love does not seek its own to the exclusion of the welfare of others.[2] To arrive at the union level with Jesus, the Anointed One, our Lord, who laid down His life for our salvation, is spectacular. Paul mourned when he wrote, “All seek their own, not the things which are Jesus the Anointed One.[3] The Holy Spirit gifted the Apostles for the general benefit of others. They were candles set on candleholders to give light to the whole house, and they did not hide their light under a bushel.[4] Faithfulness brings its reward, and generosity increases.

There is that which scatters, and yet increases, says Stock, and there is that which withholds more than is necessary, leading to spiritual poverty.[5]The Churches were responsible for reflecting the light coming from the Anointed One. But when that borrowed light was not bright, it prevented the Lord from revealing many things to His flock. Therefore, He was unable to do so for their lack of comprehension.[6] He was subsequently able to do so through the Holy Spirit after His ascension. By then, they had grown in grace and into the Anointed One’s stature by being empowered from on high both to receive and communicate divine wisdom.[7]

Methodist theologian William Pope (1822-1903), born in Nova Scotia and educated in England, reminds us that cooperation, or communion, is the union of possession or enjoyment of something shared in common by all participants. Here, John makes sure we know that the communion element in our connection is with Almighty God Himself, imparted through the knowledge and eternal life and hopes given in the Gospel. We see these in the outward evidence of the Body of the Anointed One’s communion – the Church. Also, in the gifts of the Holy Spirit operating in agape love.

Pope continues, John begins this definition of communion by associating the Apostles’ with the manifestation of the Son of God, and their enjoyment of the supernatural, true, eternal life which unites them in union with God through His Son.[8] So, we do not need to wait until they become heirs and joint-heirs with the Anointed One when His kingdom comes to earth, but we enjoy all that God has given His Son here and now.[9]

William Kelly (1822-1888) says that the great thing that hinders teamwork is self, the sinful egotism, which is part of the nature of every man, woman, and child in the world since all these are sinners. Do not people instinctively grasp what they hope will meet desires for themselves? It is not fellowship but selfish, sinful nature. Yet into this guilty world, this unhappy dying world of sin awaiting judgment comes He that created it. His love was before creation and manifested when sinful humankind rose against Him and cast Him out. His passion, God’s love, allowed us to share all that He has, except what is divine, and, therefore, incommunicable.

But in unjealous love, says Kelly, God shares with the Christian everything that He can communicate; and as He has all things with the Father which they share. If we have a closeness with them, we have brotherly and sisterly love for one with another. The Anointed One manifested eternal Life and also gave us the same life to be our life. It was the supreme blessing that tailored us for companionship, guarded, and maintained as it is by His death that eradicates every sin. Christian responsibility must be maintained here on earth in those who are blessed accordingly. For this, there is a need for continual dependence on living and being guided by the Spirit. God sent the Spirit to glorify the Anointed One in all things. Jesus tells us about our new responsibility: “If you know these things, be happy when you do them.”[10] [11]

German Evangelical theologian Willibald Beyschlag (1823-1900) offers what he calls a “Fundamental View” of God’s Only Begotten Son in Scriptures. He says that the Christological thought of the Final Covenant unquestionably reaches its highest point in John’s writings, but it is not essentially different from the other doctrinal systems. Although some, blinded by the Gospel’s introduction, which seems to favor established tradition, have sought in John a lofty speculative picture of the Anointed One, which is a grievous error. John’s concept of the Anointed One did not originate in theological speculation, but in the living impression of the historical personality, as that very opening in John’s Gospel proclaims.[12] [13] The same is true today of those who know of God, some who know about God, but few who know God.

William Lincoln (1825-1888) explains how God wanted sinners to meet with Him and have communion with Himself. The English word “fellowship” is an old Saxon word, and “communion,” an ancient Latin one, meaning the same thing. Therefore, when some good people say, “The fellowship and communion of the Holy Spirit,” etc., it is merely repeating the same idea twice. To bring this subject nearer to comprehension, says Lincoln, let us use a word with which we are all familiar. “Fellowship” means “partnership.” Then we are told the sons of Zebedee were partners, co-owners of the ship. It is the same word. They were all partners together. The Son of God wanted partners, wanted companions. Oh, what a marvelous view one gets of the Anointed One. He did not want to enjoy His God and Father all to Himself. He wanted companions. It seems to leap forward to the end. Can you not now see why the preposition “from” is used in the first verse? Why already it appears to link one eternity with another – to link one to the time when we will share with the Lord Jesus all His glory, as the heirs of God, and joint-heirs with the Anointed One.

Truly our fellowship, our partnership, our companionship, says Lincoln, “is with the Father,” etc. Here observes another difference between the gospel and the epistle. In the Gospel, God seeks our worship.[14] In the epistle, He is seeking our companionship. We need to know the difference between “worship” and “companionship.” The difference is as follows: Companionship is in advance of worship. We feel more at ease in the thought of companionship. Worship sparks the idea of God’s condescension towards us sinners. But in Christian sociability, we are so impressed with the love with which God has loved us; we sometimes lose sight of the greatness of the Being who exalted us.[15]

Augustus H. Strong (1836-1921), Reformed Baptist minister and theologian, speaks about all believers as being part of one another just as the Father and Son are one,[16] and as Paul told the Corinthians that they might all be one.[17] To the Ephesians, he expressed it as we are one bread, one body because we have partaken of one bread.[18] Here in verse three, John says that the Anointed One created in Himself one out of two – Jews and Gentiles. They are a new creation and thereby making peace so that they may worship in unity with each other just as the Son of God has fellowship with His Father God, for them to become one flock having one Shepherd.

Here we see unity, says Strong, not of an external organization, but a mutual spiritual life. Of this, the visible church is the consequence and expression. But this communion is not limited to earth; it continues beyond the grave.[19] The Romans could not understand why “this new sect” must be holding meetings all the time – even daily sessions. Why could they not go singly, or in families, to their temple and make offerings to their God, and then leave and go on their way like all the pagans did? It was this meeting together which exposed them to persecution and martyrdom. It was the natural and inevitable expression of their union with the Anointed One that provided their partnership with one another.[20]

In a sermon on this text, Ernst Drylander (1843-1922) wants us to know more about the Word being made flesh, thereby manifesting Life! So, the Apostle John begins by saying: “Beloved Christians, the Life was manifested that ‘we might have life.’” John does not write about that marvelous Life in the flesh for him to rejoice alone in its light, leaving the condemned world to its fate. That is why the Apostle exclaimed, “that which we saw and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us.”


[1] Jelf, William E., A Commentary on the First Epistle of St. John, London: Longmans, Green, and Co., 1877, p. 1

[2] 1 Corinthians 13:5

[3] Philippians 2:21

[4] Matthew 5:15

[5] Proverbs 11:24

[6] Proverbs 12:24

[7] Stock, John, An Exposition of the First Epistle General of St. John, Published by Rivingtons, London, 1865, p. 11

[8] Pope, William B., I. II, and III John, The International Illustrated Commentary on the New Testament, Philip Schaff (Ed.), Vol IV, The Catholic Epistles and Revelation, Published by Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1890, p. 13

[9] John 14:11-13

[10] John 13:17

[11] Kelly, William: On Epistles of John, op. cit., pp. 32–33

[12] John 1:14

[13] Beyschlag, Willibald: New Testament Theology, Vol. II, T. & T Clarke, Edinburgh, 1895, pp. 414-415

[14] John 4:24

[15] Lincoln, William., Lectures on the Epistles of St. John, J. F. Shaw & Co., London, 1871, pp. 12-14

[16] John 17:21

[17] 1 Corinthians 10:17

[18] Ephesians 2:15

[19] 1 Thessalonians 4:17; Hebrews 2:23

[20] Strong, Augustus H.: Systematic Theology (Complete – Volume 1, 2 & 3), Kindle Edition, p. 478

About drbob76

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