WALKING IN THE LIGHT

by Dr. Robert R. Seyda

FIRST EPISTLE OF JOHN

CHAPTER ONE (Lesson XLVIII) 02/10/21

NEW TESTAMENT CONTEXTUAL COMMENTARY

1:7b:  That’s why John continues his motivational plea to live in the Light because, If we live in the Light, we have fellowship with each other, and the blood shed by Jesus, God’s Son, as our sacrifice, washes away every sin and makes us clean.

EXPOSITION

James Montgomery Boice (1938-2000) says: Let me point out that where it says that His blood cleanses us from ALL sin, it does not mean every sin ever committed in one lump sum. The Greek adjective that John used is pas, which means “each, every, individually, any” sin. The NIV has a footnote that explains it as “every.” We find this same meaning in verse nine. Therefore, it projects the forgiveness of God through the Anointed One as “on-going.” Just as His grace never ceases, His forgiveness never runs-out.

The prophet Amos would agree with the Apostle John, with one exception. He says that two people will not walk together unless they have decided where they are going.[1] It is certainly true of those who walk with Jesus. John then goes on to say that those who live and walk together with the Anointed One in His Light will always have access to a fountain that cleanses them from every sin and keeps them clean. The prophet Zechariah came to a similar conclusion. He said: the days were coming when a fountain would open up for David’s house and the people living in Jerusalem to cleanse them from sin and impurity.[2]

When considering that the Son of God came to earth and was born to Mary as the son of man, when they crucified Him, it involved His humanity and did not affect His divinity. That’s why in our creeds, we all confess that the Only-begotten (meaning, “born of a woman.”) Son of God was crucified and buried, then raised to life again by His Father in heaven. As the Apostle Paul said, “for if they had known, they would never have crucified the LORD of glory.[3] However, even if they heard what Peter said, “You are the Anointed One, the Son of the living GOD,[4] they still no doubt would have gone ahead with the crucifixion.

COMMENTARY

But, says Leo the great (400-461), let us not dismiss what the blessed Apostle John says here in verse seven, “that the blood of Jesus the Son of GOD cleanses us from all sin.” And again: “this is the victory which overcomes the world, our faith.”[5] And “who can win this battle against the world? Only those who believe that Jesus is the Son of God.[6] And how could the Apostle John be so sure? Because he saw the Son of God, talked to Him, leaned on His shoulder, listened to His teachings, and took care of His mother after He was crucified.[7] That gave the Apostle John more than enough reason to declare: “We love [God] because He loved us first.”[8] Then he says, “But if we are living in the light, as God is in the light, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, His Son, cleanses us from all sin.[9]

And again, “And we know that the Son of God has come, and He has given us understanding so that we can know the true God. And now we live in fellowship with the true God because we live in fellowship with His Son, Jesus the Anointed One. He is the only true God, and He is eternal life.[10] Not only that but “For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world – our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world except for the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?” [11] [12] Such a positive, affirmative, sure testimony should quiet the doubters as to who we are and whom we serve.

Bede the Venerable (673-735), the Benedictine monk we mentioned before, shows some understanding of the Apostle John’s message. First, he tells us to notice the different verbs which John uses. God dwells in the Light, but we are told that we must walk in the Light. Those right with God walk in the Light when they do good for others and thereby go on to better things. John also gives us an indication of how we can know that we are on the right track, and that is we rejoice in the brotherly and sisterly fellowship we have with those who are journeying along with us toward the pure Light.

However, says Bede, even if we are observed doing the works of Light, and even if we are seen to be maintaining the bonds of mutual love, we must never think that we can be cleansed from our sins by our progress and effort, as the last part of the verse reminds us. The sacrament of our Lord’s passion both washed us in baptism from all our previous sins and forgave us by the grace of our Redeemer, whatever we did in our human weakness after baptism. For, says Bede, along with all the works of light we do, we also humbly confess our wrongdoings to Him every day. We do this before receiving the sacraments of His blood, along with forgiving those who trespassed against us. We ask Him to forgive our trespasses against Him while remembering what He did for our sake. Bede adds that we are to do this even while undergoing adversities of our own.[13] As we can see, by this time, baptism has reached the level as a sacrament of grace, part of Roman Catholic doctrines.

John Calvin (1509-1564) explains that when we say that grace was obtained for us by the merit of the Anointed One, our meaning is, that we were cleansed by His blood, that His death was His compensation for our sin, “His blood cleanses us from all sin.” “This is my blood, which is shed for the remission of sins.”[14] If the effect of His shed blood is that our sins are not ascribed to us any longer, it follows that God’s justice was satisfied. To the same effect is John the Baptizer’s words, “Behold the Lamb of God, which takes away the sin of the world.”[15] He contrasts the Anointed One with all the Law’s sacrifices, showing that in Him alone was fulfilled what these figures typified. But we know the common expression in Moses – Iniquity will be paid for; sin will be wiped away and forgiven.[16]

In short, notes Calvin, we are admirably taught by the ancient scholars what power and efficacy there is in the Anointed One’s death. And the writer of Hebrews, skillfully proceeding from this principle, explains the whole matter, showing that there is no remission without shedding of blood.[17] It infers that the Anointed One appeared once and for all to take away sin by sacrificing Himself on our behalf. Furthermore, that Jesus the Anointed One was sacrificed to bear the sins of many.[18] Not by the blood of goats or of heifers, but by His blood, once He entered the holy of holies, having obtained eternal redemption for us. Now, when the writer of Hebrews reasons, “Under the old system, the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer could cleanse people’s bodies from ceremonial impurity. Just think how much more the blood of the Anointed One will purify our consciences from sinful deeds so that we can worship the living God. For by the power of the eternal Spirit, the Anointed One offered Himself to God as a perfect sacrifice for our sins.”[19] [20]

Calvin continues by saying that since many see the despicable deception in forgiving sins yet to be committed are not aware of the real source of their irreverence. It may be proper to show what indulgences genuinely are and are thoroughly polluted. They renamed the Anointed One’s merits as the Church’s treasury, the holy Apostles, and Martyrs. As I have said, they pretend that the management of God’s storeroom now belongs to the Roman bishop, to whom the dispensation of these great blessings belongs in such a sense that he can both exercise it by himself and delegate the power of exercising it to others.

Calvin continues. Therefore, at one time, the Pope offered unlimited indulgences, later on, for specific years, from the Cardinals for a hundred days and the Bishops for forty. To describe these accurately, they blaspheme the Anointed One’s blood and is a delusion of Satan. Many Christian people were led away by this scheme from God’s grace and life in the Anointed One. In doing so, they were misguided from the way of salvation. For how could the blood of the Anointed One be more shamefully profaned than by denying its sufficiency for the remission of sins, for reconciliation and satisfaction, unless its defects, as if it were dried up and exhausted, are supplemented from some other source?


[1] Amos 3:3

[2] Zechariah 13:1

[3] 1 Corinthians 2:8

[4] Matthew 16:16

[5] 1 John 5:4

[6] Ibid. 5:5 – New Living Translation (NLT)

[7] Letters and Sermons of Leo the Great, The Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, Second Series, Vol. 12, Letter 28, To the Bishop of Aquileia, pp. 100-101

[8] 1 John 4:19

[9] 1 John 1:7 – New Living Translation (NLT)

[10] 1 John 5:20

[11] 1 John 5:4 -5 – English Standard Version (ESV)

[12] Letters of Leo the Great to the Bishop of Aquileia, op. cit., Letter 28, pp. 101-102; Also see, Sermon 12, pp. 268-269

[13] Bede: On 1 John, Bray, G. (Ed.), op. cit., p. 171

[14] 1 John 1:7; Luke 22:20

[15] John 1:29

[16] Numbers 14:19

[17] Hebrews 9:22

[18] Ibid. 9:12

[19] Ibid. 9:13-14

[20] John Calvin: Institutes of the Christian Religion, Bk. 2, Ch. 17, pp. 552-553

About drbob76

Retired missionary, pastor, seminary professor, Board Certified Chaplain and American Cancer Society Hope Lodge Director.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s