WALKING IN THE LIGHT

NEW TESTAMENT CONTEXTUAL COMMENTARY

by Dr. Robert R. Seyda

FIRST EPISTLE OF JOHN

CHAPTER ONE (Lesson L) 02/12/21

John Bunyan (1628-1688) makes the following observations: (1) If Jesus the Anointed One allowed you to think that He will throw you away, He’d have to permit you to believe that He will change His Word, for He said that under no circumstances will He get rid of us.[1]

(2) Suppose Jesus the Anointed One allowed a sinner coming to Him even think He would dismiss them. In that case, He must permit the appearance of unbelief – which He counts His greatest enemy, to be responsible for twisting His holy Gospel.

(3) If Jesus the Anointed One allowed a repentant sinner to think that He will not be accepted, then He must consent to answer this question: Whether he is willing to receive His Father’s gift; for the coming sinner is His Father’s gift; as it says in the text, “All that the Father gives me will come to me; and those who come to me I will in no wise refuse.[2]

(4) If Jesus the Anointed One allowed those coming to Him, fear that He will refuse forgiveness, He must grant them the right to think that He will be unfaithful to the trust and charge that His Father has in Him. It was to save and not lose anything given to Him to redeem.[3]

(5) If Jesus the Anointed One allowed those coming to Him to feel He has no time for them, then He must permit them to think that He will be unfaithful to His office of the high priest. First of all, He paid the price to ransomed souls, and secondly, He continually makes intercession to God for them that come.[4] How could He allow us to question the faithful execution of His priesthood?

(6) If Jesus the Anointed One allowed us once to think that repentant sinners will receive no pardon, then He must allow us to question His will, or power, or merit to save. He cannot allow them to challenge the effectiveness of His goodness, for the blood of the Anointed One cleanses the comer from all sin. Therefore, He cannot tolerate the one coming to Him to think that He will send them away.[5]

John Bunyan then testifies: I began to conceive peace in my soul, and I thought I saw as if the tempter did glare and creep away from me, ashamed of what he had done. At the same time, I also realized that my sin was no more than a little stone in this vast and wide field before me compared to the Anointed One’s blood.[6]

John Gill (1697-1771) is straight to the point when commenting on what John says here in verse seven. Suppose we were all to appear to be like God and adopt His nature. If we together seem to be like God and embrace His nature to commune with Him and His Son Jesus the Anointed One, after having shared in the cleansing effect of His blood, we can all testify to being free from the stains of sin. It takes more than ceremonial washing and sacrifices, moral duties and evangelical performances, or submission to Gospel sacraments such as baptism to remove those sins. It takes the blood of the Anointed One.  

For this cleansing, says Gill, is not to be understood as sanctification, for that more appropriately belongs to the Spirit of God. Besides, it does not cleanse from all unrighteousness; lawbreaking tendencies remain in the saints. It takes the atonement for sin brought by the Anointed One’s sacrifice. It brings complete justification, which inspires the believer’s active obedience to God’s Word and will. The pardon of sin, procured by the Anointed One’s blood, and the application of that blood to the conscience purges it from depending on works to save. The Anointed One’s blood, being applied by the Spirit of God, has always been cleansing from sin; it had this virtue and purpose in it, even before it was shed. To the First and Final Covenant saints, of whom the Anointed One is the Lamb of God slain from the foundation of the world; it has the same effectiveness now as when first shed, and will have to the end of the world.

Then, adds Gill, when the Anointed One’s blood is sprinkled on the conscience by God’s Spirit, it removes sin’s guilt from the believer’s mind. It continues to cleanse sins from them as fast as their lawbreaking tendencies act. It speaks peace to the soul, which they owe to the Anointed One’s dignity. His person and His sacrifice’s value allow for His continual intercession, advocacy, and mediation. 

Gill concludes: it reaches all sin, original and actual, secret and open. Sins of the heart, thoughts, lip, and behavior; sins of omission and commission, major or minor sins, committed against light and knowledge, grace and mercy, Law and Gospel. But the sin against the Holy Spirit is never forgiven. In this, the Anointed One was the antitype of the scape goat which, the Jews say, “Atoned for all the transgressions of the law, whether small or great, sins of presumption, or ignorance, known, or not known, which were against an affirmative or negative command, which deserved cutting off (by the hand of God), or death by the Sanhedrim.”[7] [8]

John Wesley (1703-1791) asks, what is the doctrine I teach concerning what the Apostle Peter declares, “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts from every nation the ones who reverence Him and do what is right.’”[9] It is true, but no one can worship God or live a holy life until they believe according to grace. As the Apostle John says: “He that does what is right is living right.’”[10] That makes common sense but does not establish a doctrine. However, the Apostle John says, “If we walk in the Light, as God is in the Light, then have we communion with Him, and the blood of Jesus the Anointed One His Son cleanses us from all sin.’”[11] The phrase “cleansing us from all sin” means justification.[12]

Let me add, Wesley is pointing out that our “justification” is dependent totally on the work of Jesus the Anointed One. Justification involves being able to stand upright before God. It comes after we have repented and believe in Jesus as our Lord and Savior. Wesley sees it as God’s stamp of approval on our faith and trust in Jesus as having died on our behalf. To put it another way, when you receive your diploma, it signifies that you completed all of your studies with passing grades. Likewise, when you stand justified before God through Jesus, the Anointed One, it signals that His blood has covered all your sins.

James McKnight (1721-1800) comments on Paul’s statement that “We have fellowship with one another,” is not of the fellowship that Christians have with each other, but with the Father and His Son Jesus the Anointed One. The word “fellowship” must mean “interaction between the head and the community members.” This fellowship contains the Father’s blessings on us through the Anointed One’s mediation and in our receiving these blessings from the Father and the Son with thankfulness. In some Greek manuscripts. the rendering here is, “with Him.” But it does not alter the sense. And because of this fellowship with the Triune God, John can say that the blood of Jesus the Anointed One keeps us clean from all sin. However, in the next verse, anyone who thinks they do not need this fellowship is deceiving themselves.[13]

Samuel E. Pierce (1746-1829 points out that verses five and six connected with verse seven contains one entire subject. It is most easily perceived and may be fully confirmed, by the first word in the text, “but,” which knits it with the former verses. Therefore, it will be necessary to examine this concept to see the proper connection of these, including recognizing the harmony, dependence, and influence the one has with the other. The subject begins this way: “Here is the message we heard of Him, and declare to you that God is Light, and in Him is no darkness. If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus the Anointed One His Son cleanses us from all sin.”[14] The subject begins this way: The whole narrative contains an essential text and context. Nowhere can we find anything written on the subject of the holy, blessed, and free communion the Apostles had with the sacred and forever blessed Trinity expressed with excitement here in verse twenty-five to all saints.

Charles Simeon (1760-1851) speaks of the importance of being conformed to God’s image that he sees in verses five through seven. In fulfilling the ministerial office, says Simeon, it is not enough that we set before our people the doctrines of Christianity or instruct on some moral duties’ performance. We are messengers from God to the world, and we must “declare to them the gospel we received from Him.”[15] We must not alter or conceal any part of that He commanded us to deliver but make known God’s whole guidance and declare it with all the energy we possess. Paul tells the Corinthians that we have a message from God for you: He commanded me to open to you His Divine character and call you by the most impressive arguments to become conformed to His image. In discharging this duty, we will proceed to set before you.[16] [17]


[1] John 6:37

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid. 6:39

[4] Hebrews 7:25

[5] John Bunyan’s Practical Works, Vol. 2, Good News for the Vilest of Men, Come and Welcome to Jesus Christ, pp. 221-222

[6] John Bunyan’s Practical Works, op. cit., Vol. 8, Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners, p. 46

[7] Jewish Mishnah, Shavuot, Ch. 1. Sect 6

[8] John Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible (Kindle Location 339966)

[9] Acts 10:34-35

[10] 1 John 1:5

[11] 1 John 1:7

[12] The Works of John Wesley, Vol. 9, A Letter to the Reverend Dr. [George] Horne, pp. 122-123

[13] James McKnight: On 1 John, op. cit., pp. 32-33

[14] Pierce, Samuel E., An Exposition of the First Epistle of John, op. cit., Vol. 1, James Nisbet and Co., London, 1835, Sermon VII, p. 58

[15] 1 John 1:5

[16] Cf. 1 Corinthians 1:15

[17] Charles Simeon: Horae Homileticæ, op. cit., Vol. XX, op. cit., pp. 261-262

About drbob76

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