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

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WALKING IN THE LIGHT

NEW TESTAMENT CONTEXTUAL COMMENTARY

by Dr. Robert R. Seyda

FIRST EPISTLE OF JOHN

CHAPTER ONE (Lesson XLIX) 02/11/21

Calvin goes on: The Apostle Peter’s words are: “All the early preachers spoke of this. Everyone who puts their trust in the Anointed One will have their sins forgiven through His name.”[1] However, indulgences bestow the remission of sins through Peter, Paul, and the Martyrs. “The blood of Jesus the Anointed One His Son cleanses us from all sin,” says John.[2] Indulgences make the blood of the martyrs an absolution for sins. “The Anointed One had no sin, but God made Him become sin so that in the Anointed One we could be right with God,” says Paul.[3] Indulgences make the satisfaction for sin dependent on the blood of the martyrs.

Calvin’s conclusion. Paul exclaimed and testified to the Corinthians that the Anointed One alone was crucified and died for them.[4] Indulgences declare that Paul and others died for us. Paul elsewhere says that the Anointed One purchased the Church with His blood.[5] Indulgences assign another purchase to the blood of martyrs. But the writer of Hebrews says, “By one offering He has perfected forever them that are sanctified.” On the other hand, indulgences insist that sanctification, which would otherwise be insufficient, is perfected by martyrs. John says that all the saints “have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.”[6] Indulgences tell us to wash our robes in the blood of saints.[7] So which one is right? The Word of God is always right!

James Arminius (1560-1609) points to a Church trend that affords the preaching and practice of an unjust conception of the meaning of extreme of devout adherence to Church doctrines. It is a method by which certain theological subjects were interpreted with ecclesiastical phrases that do not fit the Scriptures. For instance, when we do our good deeds for others with gratitude toward God, it is a well-known fact that people are falsely told that they become heirs and owners of eternal life by doing these works.

This delusion makes them think, says Arminius, it is reasonable to follow the hypothesis that good works performance is not necessary. In this case, the Scriptures deny that a true conversion and good works’ performance form a prerequisite condition for justification. They base this on a passage from John, “But if we walk in the Light, as He is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus the Anointed One, His Son cleanses us from all sin.”[8] [9] It is so easy even today for congregations who promote church ministries’ involvement to give the impression that this enhances our salvation. That’s ridiculous! The work needed for salvation is already done by Jesus the Anointed One on the cross and in the grave.

John Owen (1616-1683) speaks about removing our transgressions’ contamination. It applies to every sin. For instance, just as our clothes are considered unwearable because of stains,[10] in the same way, spots, smears, rust, wrinkles, filth, or bloodstains represents sin. Besides the defilement of our nature, which God purges,[11] He also takes away the discoloring caused by our thoughtless wrongdoings. The Scriptures tell us that “By one offering He perfected forever those He sanctified,”[12] and by Himself, He “purged our sins”[13] before He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.[14] [15]

Owen also comments on “Peace,” by it, we enjoy communion with God. “The wicked are like the troubled sea, that cannot rest;” and, “There is no peace” to them, “says my God, for the wicked.”[16] There is no peace, rest, or quietness in a distance, separation, or alienation from God. He brings rest to our souls. In the light of His countenance are life and peace. Now, “if we walk in the Light, as He is in the Light, we have fellowship one with another,”[17]and truly, our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus the Anointed One.” The person who walks in the Light of new obedience to God’s Word has communion with God. And being in His presence, there is fullness of joy forever.[18] There is nothing but darkness and aimless wandering and confusion when no such fellowship exists.[19]

John Owen proceeds: The third part of our wisdom is to walk with God: and to that requires agreement, acquaintance, procedure, strength, boldness, and aiming at the same goal; and all these are hidden in Jesus the Anointed One. The sum of which, in short, is this: — that the Anointed One paid the ransom for our sins, and fulfilled all righteousness for us, though we have no personal righteousness of our own, but are as contrary to God as darkness is to light, and death is to living, and universal pollution and defilement is to complete and glorious holiness, and hatred is to love; yet the righteousness of the Anointed One is not just sufficient but the only foundation of our agreement, and, upon that, of our walk with God. The Apostle John tells us, “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 God 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.”[20]

And our only acquaintance with God, says Owen, and our knowledge of Him remain hidden in the Anointed One, which no one can discover outside His Word and miracles. And He is the only way we can walk with God and receive all our strength from Him. He makes us bold and confident, too, having removed the guilt of sin. Now we can look justice in the face since all our debts have been paid-in-full by the Anointed One. And in the Anointed One, we become what God wants us to be, which is the advancement of His glory. I suppose, says Owen, it comes by trusting in how the Anointed One settled the debt with God and achieved righteousness for our salvation. Without doing anything ourselves, we make sure that God is not cheated out of the glory of His free grace, by competition of any merits and virtues of our own.”[21]

John Flavel (1627-1691) addresses whether or not believers are entirely freed from their sins’ guilt and will never again come under condemnation. O the unspeakable efficiency of the Anointed One’s sacrifice, which extends to all sins! Does not the Apostle John say here that the blood of the Anointed One cleanses from all sins, sins past and present, without exception? And some theologians affirm, original sin, in which all future sins are, like branches from the root, are pardoned; and if these are not forgiven, they will make void and invalidate former pardons. And lastly, it would deviate from the Anointed One’s complete satisfaction.

But most say, notes Flavel, and I think, honestly, that all the past sins of believers are pardoned, without revocation, all their present sins without exception. Still, not their sins to come. And yet for them, there is a pardon, which is applied on their repentance, and application, of the Anointed One’s blood so that none of them will make void former pardons. O, let these things slide sweetly to your melting heart, pleads Flavel. Even if your heart is so filled with despair because of sin’s guilt that it makes you cry out: How can such a sinner as I be pardoned? Is my sin too great to be forgiven? “Behold the Lamb of God, that takes away the sin of the world.”[22] Remember that no evil can survive the power of His blood. Do not forget John’s words, “The blood of Jesus the Anointed One cleanses from all sin.” This sacrifice brings God great satisfaction.[23] A little explanation here on the point Flavel is trying to make. When the Holy Spirit convicts you of being a sinner, born with inherent sinful and lawbreaking tendencies, and you ask God to have mercy on you, that involves original sin. Later, when you confess to the evil deeds that their lawbreaking tendencies drove you to do, you are addressing your current sins. Unless you repent as a sinner, there is no open-door to forgiveness of sin as a child of God.[24] However, once you are born again, if you break God’s laws, you go to Him as one of His children and ask forgiveness. You don’t start all over again as an unregenerate sinner.


[1] Acts of the Apostles 10:43

[2] 1 John 1:7

[3] 2 Corinthians 5:21

[4] 1 Corinthians 1:13

[5] Acts 20:28

[6] Revelation 7:14

[7] John Calvin: Institutes, op cit., Bk. 3, Ch. 5, pp. 693-694

[8] 1 John 1:7

[9] The Works of James Arminius: op. cit., Vol. 2, A Dissertation of St. Paul’s Epistle to the Romans, p. 211

[10] Job 9:31

[11] Titus 3:5

[12] Hebrews 10:14

[13] Ibid. 1:3

[14] Ibid. 10:12; See Acts of the Apostles 7:55-56; Romans 8:34; Ephesians 1:20; Colossians 3:1

[15] John Owen: Of Communion with God, op. cit., Part 2, Ch. 7, p. 217

[16] Isaiah 57:20-21

[17] 1 John 1:7

[18] Psalm 16:11

[19] John Owen: Of Communion with God, op. cit., Ch. 8, pp. 236-237

[20] 1 John 1:6, 7

[21] John Owen: A Vindication of Some Passages in a Discourse Concerning on Communion with God, p. 33-34

[22] John 1:29

[23] John Flavel: op. cit., The Fountain of Life, Of the Excellency of our High-Priest’s Oblation, being the first Act or Part of His Priestly Office, Sermon 12, pp. 150, 152

[24] See Luke 13:3

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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

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WALKING IN THE LIGHT

NEW TESTAMENT CONTEXTUAL COMMENTARY

by Dr. Robert R. Seyda

FIRST EPISTLE OF JOHN

CHAPTER ONE (Lesson XVI) 02/08/21

Charles Gore (1850-1932) says that a person is much better off when they reverence God’s awesomeness. Thus the Apostle John tells us that if any person does not confess to personal sinfulness, they are self-deceived and liars. Confession of sin inevitably follows any sincere attempt to bring ourselves and our deeds into the light of truth. But the admission must be real. No vague confession is enough. It must be an acknowledgment of our sins in detail and particular, without any alibis or self-excusing. Being open and honest is so valuable because it is willingly coming into the light. Then God shows His truth to His promises and His real righteousness in no way more than this, that He meets our mere confession with forgiveness—waiting for nothing else—and cleanses us from all unrighteousness.

We stand free to serve Him without the past guilt or disability. But he has declared us to be sinners, and confession—that is, practical assent to this divine charge against us—is necessary. To deny that we have sinned—to attribute our shortcomings to any other cause, such as our nature or our circumstances—is, in effect, to make God a liar and show that His word has no place in us. It may sound like a simple illustration about God is light, and there is no darkness in Him, but it has a strong message. Light can enter darkness, but darkness cannot enter the light. As long as the light is on, darkness disappears.[1]

Mrs. Jessie Penn-Lewis (1861–1927) was a Welsh evangelical speaker and Christian writer. Her ministry took her to Russia, Scandinavia, Canada, the United States, and India. In speaking about the outward profession of godliness, the Lord’s message to the church at Smyrna was this: “Those who say they are Jews and are not, are of the synagogue of Satan.”[2] It appears by this that the adversary has not only a religion that gives him worship through material images but that his “synagogue” or congregation consists of professors of religion who are without the inward truth.

That’s why John says here in verse six, “If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and live in darkness [i.e., in sin], we lie, and do not the truth,” and the harshest words that ever passed the lips of the Anointed One were His scathing exposures of the Pharisees. “They do not practice what they preach,” He said, and “on the outside, you appear to people as righteous, but on the inside, you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.” He told them they were of their “father the devil” and called them “serpents” and the “offspring of vipers.[3] And yet, the Pharisees, the strictest sect in Israel in the outward fulfilling of the law, nevertheless claimed God as their Father. The Lord’s strong words make it appear that Satan’s invisible “church” is filled with those who make religion a cloak to hide their relationship to the devil.[4]

Alan E. Brooke (1863-1939) says that complete knowledge of God is impossible; He can be indeed “known” here and now, under human living conditions and limitations. His nature is “Light,” which communicates to those made in His image until transformed into His likeness. From the ethical side, the words also emphasize the conditions of fellowship. Walking in darkness excludes a person from any connection with Him in whom is no darkness at all. Conduct is not a matter of indifference, as some in John’s day was teaching. With the order of ideas here, is “life, light, and darkness.” (verses 2, 5). Compare the same sequence in the Prologue to John’s Gospel (1:1, 2, 4, 5).[5]

Albert Barnes (1874-1951) explains a somewhat confusing phrase, “do not the truth” (KJV), here in verse six. To do the truth is to act according to the truth. The expression here means that such a person could not be a Christian. And yet, how many there are who are living in sin who profess to be Christians! How many whose minds are dark on the whole subject of religion, who have never known anything of the real peace and joy that it imparts, who nevertheless entertain the belief that they are the friends of God, are going to heaven! They trust in a name, in forms, in conformity to external rites, and have never known anything of the internal peace and purity which religion imparts, have never had any real fellowship with that God who is Light, and in whom there is no darkness at all.

Faith in God brings light; belief in God secures peace, purity, joy.  Sometimes, there are cases when a Christian wanders back into darkness, lose their spiritual joy, and begin to doubt their salvation. Yet, it doesn’t change the great truth of who God is. Unless we know by personal experience what it is to walk habitually in the Light, to do not have the Spirit’s comfort to experience in our souls. His influence makes the heart pure and brings us into conformity to the God who is Light. Until then, our religion is not genuine. It becomes merely a name, which will not profit us on the final day of judgment.[6]

Paul W. Hoon (1910-2000) says we find the moral test for religious experience outlined in the correlated statements that God is light and that Christians must walk in the light. God as Light signifies that just as light by nature cannot be self-contained but must communicate itself to be seen, so also God’s divine nature must be self-revealing.[7] That is what happened in the beginning on the first day of creation,[8] and it happened again on the first day of Jesus’ human creation. The same is true when Jesus takes up residence in a person’s life. John says that if God’s Light is within you, it must shine forth by its very nature.

Raymond E. Brown (1928-1998) gives an exhaustive examination of the phrase “to do the truth,” but his conclusion is short and sweet. For Brown, “to live the truth” means God’s revelation of the truth is accepted and followed by the believer. Therefore, it becomes the basis on which that person lives; if one acts in truth (does truth), one is not merely following an exterior pattern of what is right but working from an interior principle.[9] This principle is continuously active even when no one looks or observes it. It does not hesitate for a moment when it may cost something that a person could otherwise keep if they followed the crowd.

Zane Clark Hodges (1932-2008) declares that there can be only one sphere of real communion with God – Light itself. That’s why John insisted that this is where a Christian will find harmony: But if we walk in the Light, as He is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another. Strangely, many commentators have understood the expression “with one another” as a reference to fellowship with other Christians. But this is not what the author is discussing here. The Greek pronoun for “one another” allēlōn may refer to the two parties (God and the Christian) named in the first part of the statement.

John’s point is that if Christians live in the Light which God is, then there is mutual fellowship between Himself and them. That is, they are in union with Him, and He has fellowship with them. The Light itself is the fundamental reality which they share. Accordingly, true communion with God is living in the sphere where one’s experience is illuminated by the truth of what God is. It is to live open to His revelation of Himself in Jesus the Anointed One. As John soon states in verse nine, this involves believers’ acknowledging whatever the light reveals as right or wrong in their lives.

Significantly, John talked of walking in the Light, says Hodges, rather than according to the Light. To walk according to the light would require sinless perfection and would make fellowship with God impossible for sinful humans. However, to walk in it suggests openness and responsiveness to the Light. John makes it clear in the last part of this verse that he did not think of Christians as sinless, even though they are walking in the Light. John added that “the blood of Jesus, His Son, purifies us from every sin.” This statement grammatically synchronizes with the preceding one, “We have fellowship with one another.” The message of verse seven, in its entirety, affirms that two things are real of believers who walk in the Light: (a) they are in fellowship with God and (b) they are being cleansed from every sin. So long as there is genuine openness to the Light of divine truth, Christians’ failures are under the cleansing power of the shed blood of the Anointed One. Indeed, only in virtue of the Savior’s work on the cross can there be any fellowship between imperfect creatures and the infinitely perfect God.[10]

Ian Howard Marshall (1934-2015) now follows a series of criticisms of positions that are incompatible with acceptance of it. John takes up three claims which people make but must be assessed in the light of their real character concerning this thesis. It is probable that these claims were real statements made by people in the church to which John was writing and that they reflect the outlook of the people who were causing trouble in the church. The claims were: (1) We have fellowship with Him. (2) We are without sin. (3) We have not sinned. In each case, the writer’s reply is to compare the statement with the actual way of life of the persons who made it and show that the claims were false. Then he goes on to indicate in each case how people who wished to have fellowship with God could have it.[11]


[1] Gore, Charles (1920). The Epistles of St. John, op. cit., pp. 71–72, 78

[2] Revelation 2:9

[3] Matthew 23:3-33

[4] Penn-Lewis, Mrs. Jessie: Fundamentals Torrey Satan & His Kingdom, Ch. 16, p. 160

[5] Brooke, Alan E. International Critical Commentary, op. cit., p. 12

[6] Barnes, Albert: op. cit., p. 4799

[7] Noon, Paul W., The Interpreter’s Bible, op. cit., pp. 221-222

[8] Genesis 1:3

[9] Brown, Raymond E. Anchor Bible, op. cit., pp. 199-200

[10] Hodges, Zane Clark: Epistles of John, Dallas Theological Seminary, The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, Walvoord, J. F., & Zuck, R. B., (Eds), Vol. 2, Victor Books, Wheaton, IL, 1985, p. 885

[11] Marshall, I. Howard. The Epistles of John, op. cit., pp. 109-110

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WALKING IN THE LIGHT

NEW TESTAMENT CONTEXTUAL COMMENTARY

by Dr. Robert R. Seyda

FIRST EPISTLE OF JOHN

CHAPTER ONE (Lesson XLVII) 02/09/21

John Painter (1935) points out that verse six reveals a fabrication of the heretics’ claim of union with God. It is not that such claims are necessarily false. Instead, the author shows what would falsify the claim. The use of “walk” is a metaphor for the Christian lifestyle and is typical of John’s teaching. The Greek verb peripatei (“to walk”)is used seventeen times in John, five times in 1 John, three times in 2 John, and twice in 3 John.[1] These provide ample evidence of the symbolic meaning beyond walking’s physical activity.[2] This walking goes from faith to faith.[3]

Karen H. Jobes (1968-Present) points out that truth is closely associated with facts in our times. But John’s writings show a reality that goes far beyond the facts to interpret the significance and entailments of the facts. The purpose of the signs in John’s Gospel is to narrate Jesus’ miracles and present them so that the astute reader perceives the identity of Jesus as both the long-awaited Messiah and the Savior sent by God to atone for sin.[4] It isn’t that faith replaces facts, but faith engenders confidence in the evidence.

David Guzik (1984-Present) implies that the issue here is fellowship, not salvation. Although a believer may claim to walk enlightened with God, they walk ignorantly in darkness. They may be His child, but they have no fellowship with Him. If they continue to insist on maintaining such a relationship, they do not live the truth. John says they live a lie (see verses eight to ten). It is important then to remember the promise of eternal life is given only to those who continue to stay in union with Him.[5] Since He is the Light, we cannot claim that union if we walk in darkness.[6] What fellowship or comradeship does darkness have with light?

I like what Ben Witherington says about belief being a matter of behavior. The term “walking,” or doing what one is supposed to do, is typically Jewish.[7] It reflects that John does not draw a line between creed and conduct between theology and tenets. Ethics is putting your preaching theology into practical theology, in other words, doing the truth.[8] John is about to tell us that sometimes believers fail to do the right thing. That indeed is sin. John is not trying to be an idealist nor a realist. He’s only making it clear that to do or not to do the truth is not an option. Behavior matters just as much as belief does, and any deviation from the truth in either one’s belief or behavior can sever one from fellowship with God and His community.[9]

1:7a That’s more than enough reason for John to now encourage everyone: We should live in the light where God is… 

EXPOSITION

Here the Apostle John echoes the words of the Psalmist David who thanked the LORD that He saved Him from death at the hands of King Saul; that He kept him from being defeated at the hands of his enemies; and that’s why he will serve Him in the light that only the living can see.[10] And the Psalmist Ethan joins him by telling the Lord that His loyal followers are happy. They live in the light of His kindness.[11] So, the people of God are encouraged to sing a new song because light and happiness shine on those who do what is right. That’s why the prophet Isaiah said with a loud voice: “O house of Jacob, come and let us walk in the light of the LORD.[12]

And why should we seek to have fellowship with the Lord in the light? Because John says, He is in the Light. Listen to how the Psalmist describes Him: “You wear Light like a robe. You spread out the starry skies like a curtain.”[13] The Apostle James offers his thoughts: Everything good comes from God. Every perfect gift is from Him. These good gifts come down from the Father, who made all the lights in the sky. But God never changes like the shadows from those lights. He is always the same.[14] The Apostle Paul chimes in: “God is the only one who never dies. He lives in Light so bright that people cannot go near it. No one has ever seen Him; no one is able to see Him. All honor and power belong to Him forever. Amen.”[15]

As a small boy, I remember picking up several wooden boards laid down outside the back door of my grandmother’s house so she could walk over to the washhouse without stepping in the mud after it rained. I was amazed that there was bright green grass all around these planks, but nothing underneath. I couldn’t understand it until someone explained it to me. Grass couldn’t grow under these planks because they received no light, although they got plenty of water. The same is true of some Christians. There is plenty of spiritual rain and showers of blessings, but they are not growing in the Anointed One and the things of God because there is no light in their lives. For some reason, they are hiding from the Word of God that gives light. This idea may sound risky to some, but I feel that anyone who calls themselves a faithful, committed Christian and child of God would undoubtedly endeavor to read the Bible through at least one time during their lifetime.

COMMENTARY

Richard Rothe (1799-1867) says that we cannot speak of walking in connection with God, but only of a changeless existence. However, our whole being has yet to become light; and to this, it is of supreme importance that we walk in God’s light, which has come to us in its whole truth in the only-begotten Son of God. According to verse five, it is the Light of truth, holiness, and love.[16]

Richard Tuck (1817-1868) makes an excellent point about the believer and sin. It states that there is much confusion caused by accepting that the word “sin” identifies all sins. In other words, whether it be theft, murder, adultery, they are all sins but of a different color, like the M&M candies. But in fact, the word “sin” represents a “violation of the Law.” But there is something else that goes with it, says Tuck, “sin” is also an “expression of our will.” Furthermore, it is evidence of our human frailty. So, to put this in reverse order, because we are spiritually weak, we often carry out the will of our lawbreaking tendencies and thereby violate the Law of God. That makes it impossible to be a sinner unless you give into sin.[17]

John Stock (1817-1884) points out that ravens, contrary to their nature, were sent to feed Elijah[18] because God commanded them to do so. It must have been very humiliating to Elijah. But in like manner, sometimes our lawbreaking tendencies and outward temptations are often controlled by God as a way of feeding His children to keep them humble. It is also another way to keep them from being proud. Suppose a person is guilty of even the smallest sinful thought or desire. In that case, it will prevent them from falling victim to the curse of meaningless vanity and keep them from bragging about their significant spiritual accomplishments.[19] Since no one is permanently free from lawbreaking tendencies, God is working in them to do His will brings Him great pleasure.[20] It’s because all praise is due to God by the happy recipients of His unfailing blessings and provisions and grace.[21]

Stephen S. Smalley (1931-2018) points out that John’s idea of “walking” in the light or darkness is to be loyal to God, as He is faithful to Himself.[22] For God is “light,” and “He Himself” is, therefore, the Light. John’s imagery is sufficiently flexible for the symbol of “light’ to be applied to God in these two directions without confusion.[23] In other words, God is not only Light; He is the Light. That’s why if we walk in the Light, we walk with God. Light is not just something that shines on our pathway but is in us and with us on that pathway. Furthermore, says Smalley, by “living in the Light,” we share fellowship with God and God’s people who also have the Light.[24]


[1] John 6:66; 7:1; 8:12; 11:9, 10, 54; 12:35; 21:18; 1 John 1:6, 7; 2: 6, 11; 2 John 1:4, 6; 3 John 1:3, 4

[2] Painter, John. Sacra Pagina: op. cit., Kindle Locations 3635-3639

[3] Romans 1:17

[4] Jobes, Karen H., 1, 2, and 3 John, op. cit., p. 69

[5] John 15:1-2

[6] Guzik, David – Enduring Word, op. cit., pp. 16-17

[7] Cf. Genesis 17:1; 1 Kings 2:4; 2 Kings 20:3

[8] Cf. John 3:21 with 2 Chronicles 31:20; Nehemiah 9:33

[9] Witherington III, Ben, Letters and Homilies for Hellenized Christians: op. cit., Kindle Location 6011

[10] Psalm 56:13

[11] Ibid. 89:15

[12] Isaiah 2:5 – NIV

[13] Psalm 104:2

[14] James 1:17

[15] 1 Timothy 6:16

[16] Rothe, Richard: The Expository Times, op. cit., March 1890, p. 137

[17] Tuck, Richard H., The Preachers Complete Homiletical Commentary, op. cit., p. 243

[18] 1 Kings 17:4

[19] Proverbs 20:6

[20] Philippians 2:12

[21] John Stock: On First Epistle of John, op. cit., p. 36

[22] 2 Timothy 2:13

[23] Stephen S. Smalley: Word Biblical Commentary, op. cit., p. 22

[24] Ibid. p. 33

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WALKING IN THE LIGHT

NEW TESTAMENT CONTEXTUAL COMMENTARY

by Dr. Robert R. Seyda

FIRST EPISTLE OF JOHN

CHAPTER ONE (Lesson XLV) 12/04/20

As a result, says Stock, we can join our Lord in calling Satan a liar and a murderer from the beginning.[1] False prophets, despite all their pretensions to holiness, and presumptuous confidence, are called liars.[2] So, the Apostle does not hesitate to say of those who walk in darkness willingly, continuously, and progressively, and yet affirm that they have fellowship with God – that both they and we if we do the same, lie, and do not the truth. English churchman Dr. Edward Goulburn says that any person who pretends to love God in the absence of loving their neighbor is a delusion. Goulburn concludes, for some, loving their neighbor is not as hard as loving God since it is easier to walk by sight than by faith.[3]

Dr. Stock then reminds us that a mixed multitude accompanied Israel out of Egypt,[4] and out of this intermixed band, arose the murmurings which disgraced and troubled the chosen of God. Tares grow with the wheat[5] and in the East resemble it so closely that they are somewhat difficult to distinguish one from the other. Among the ten virgins, five were foolish.[6] All possessed the same thing; all went forth to meet the bridegroom, and all took lamps with them; a kind of kindred brilliancy adorned them all, and to external casual observation, one bridesmaid looked the same as the others.

Unfortunately, laments Stock, this same exists among Churches where false and true believers co-exist. It allows false claims to boast based on pretension. In doing so, they brag about their being equal with Diotrephes.[7] They claim to be part of the Body of the Anointed One but belong to the church of Satan.[8] They are offensive to God and contrary to all Christians, hindering truth by their unrighteousness.[9] [10]

The Apostle Jude vehemently denounces such; saying, “When these people join you at the love feasts of the church, they are flies on a piece of meat, laughing and carrying on, gorging and stuffing themselves with anything they can get their hands on. They are like big puffs of smoke blowing over dry land without giving rain, promising much, but producing nothing. They are like trees without stripped clean of fruit. They are not only dead, but doubly dead, for they have been pulled out, roots and all, to be burned. All they leave behind them is shame and disgrace like the dirty foam left along the beach by the wild waves. They wander around like lost stars in outer space on their way to a crunching black hole!”[11]

Richard H. Tuck (1817-1868) sees the Apostle John as telling his readers to be true to themselves. That means a person should take care to keep their profession and conduct in complete harmony. If they say that they are in union with the Anointed One, they must walk in cooperation with the Anointed One. No Christian should live their lives for their sake, but the Savior’s sake. Since our Lord honored us by saving our souls, we should praise and glorify our Lord by not losing our souls. If we conduct our lives in righteous living for other people’s sake, they may not understand the saving and sanctifying power behind our motives. In so doing, we risk misrepresenting our Lord and Master. That is why there must be consistency between our profession and our possession of being a new creation in the Anointed One. If we fail to do so, we cannot be true to ourselves but are traitors to ourselves. That can only lead to becoming slaves to our sinful nature instead of being servants to our spiritual nature.[12]

Daniel Steele (1824-1914) mentions that if a person makes a genuine case of confession followed by walking in the light, then that person walking in the Light should declare this fact to benefit those still stumbling around in the dark. They need to know that their so-called “victorious soul” is deceived and the truth is not in them. They must also verify that while the Apostle John penned these words, he could not truthfully say that he always walked in the light and never did anything about which to feel guilty. What John is talking about does not apply to sinners, but to Christians trying to live our spiritual lives in an immoral world. Otherwise, it would make John the most self-contradictory writer found in the whole range of secular and sacred literature. For he declares the purpose of his writing to be “that you sin not,” “that those born of God should not sin.” Then he is inspired to write that all who obey God’s prohibition and, by grace, never sin should be branded as deluded or lying.

But Steele is not finished. He focuses on the erroneous interpretation of “Walk in darkness.” When we allow ourselves to be encompassed in darkness or sin by our own choice, it is an effort to hide those acts which our conscience, fellow believers, and God condemn.[13] Religious fanatics of all eras have endeavored to combine loose morals with the possession of genuine Christian faith. It seems that John found such persons among the Gnostics in the church at Ephesus. He says that they lie and live not the truth. They affirm what they know to be positively false when they profess communion with the holy God and are willfully choosing darkness and sin.[14] Such a choice is fatal to fellowship with God.[15]

John J. Lias (1834-1923) looks at the necessity of holiness and warns that we may deceive ourselves concerning our relationship with the Anointed One because He warned us of this danger.[16] Also, His Apostles warned us.[17] Many deceive themselves still, resting in outward observances, in membership of a particular society, belief in certain doctrines, or certain feelings or experiences in the present or past. Such grounds of acceptance, in the absence of the one necessary characteristic, are simple deceptions.

The only test of present acceptance is the “walking in the Light.” Nothing can be more evident than the Apostle John’s statement of this truth. Not only does he say “we lie,” if we claim fellowship with the Anointed One and walk in darkness, but we “live not the truth,” that is, we do not merely make a misstatement, but we act out the lie we speak. We deny the Eternal Principles and behave as though they were not in existence. Our lives are perpetual defiance of God and His Son Jesus the Anointed One.

Lias goes on to say that all this about not living the truth is Gospel. It rests on the Anointed One’s indwelling in the believer, which John talks about here, and we find elsewhere in the Final Covenant. So, our Lord teaches[18] the expression, continually used throughout the Final Covenant, signifying the presence of inner life.[19]  Paul limits freedom from condemnation to those walking in union with the Spirit,[20] thus fulfilling the righteousness of the law. What it is to walk in darkness and light.

Lias then makes these important points: To walk in the Light is to (a) acknowledge the truth revealed in Jesus the Anointed One; (b) this revelation makes known to us God’s will, and primarily – the point we are at present considering – in what true holiness consists; (c) true holiness consists, as we have just seen, in fulfilling the righteousness of the law, by virtue of the illumination we have received, which enables us to distinguish right from wrong, to set up before us a higher standard of purity and perfection. To “walk” in the light is to press daily forward towards the realization of this ideal. The enlightened soul perceives this, as well as all the steps which lead to it. To walk in darkness is, of course, the exact opposite of all this.[21]

Erich Haupt (1841-1910) writes that only when a person who opens themselves to the Light and has entered into the domain of Light can experience in themselves the effects of the Light. Only when the memory of his father’s house swayed all the thoughts of the prodigal son, and he came back to this sphere of his home, does the father reach out to meet him with the announcement of forgiveness. The kingdom of God, and its interests, its views, and its measure of all things are to the natural man altogether sealed up and strange.

When a person obtains an eye and a heart for reconciliation, says Haupt, they enter the sphere of Light. In that Light begins at once its ethical influence upon and in them. Therefore, a person’s ethical conduct is a consequence of their walk in the sphere of Light. The same goes for those who walk in darkness. By shining, the light reveals what the night is hiding. There is also the immediate result of walking in the Light. The person perceives why and where the darkness occurred and recognizes it as the absence of light.[22]


[1] John 8:44

[2] Revelation 2:2

[3] Goulburn, Edward Meyrick: The Pursuit of Holiness, D. Appleton Company, New York, 1870, Ch XX, p. 209

[4] Exodus 12:38; Numbers 11:4

[5] Matthew 13:25

[6] Ibid. 25:1

[7] Diotrephes is mentioned in 3 John 1:9-10. Diotrephes was a self-seeking troublemaker in an unnamed local church in the first century. We know nothing of his background, other than he was probably a Gentile (his name means “nurtured by Jupiter”).

[8] Revelation 3:9

[9] 1 Thessalonians 2:15

[10] Stock, John: On First Epistle of John, op. cit., pp. 29-31

[11] Jude 1:12-13 – Paraphrase by RRS.

[12] Richard H. Tuck: Preacher’s Complete Homiletical Commentary, op. cit., p. 238

[13] See John 3:19, 20

[14] See James 3:14

[15] Steele, Daniel: op. cit., p. 10–11

[16] Matthew 7:22, 23; 25:44

[17] Revelation 3:17; 1 Corinthians 3:18; Galatians 6:7, 8; Philippians 3:18, 19

[18] Matthew 7:16

[19] John 15:1-8

[20] Romans 8:1

[21] Lias, John J., The First Epistle of St. John with Homiletical Treatment, James Nisbet & Co., London: 1887, pp. 38–43

[22] Haupt, E., The First Epistle of St. John, op. cit., pp. 36–37

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WALKING IN THE LIGHT

NEW TESTAMENT CONTEXTUAL COMMENTARY

by Dr. Robert R. Seyda

FIRST EPISTLE OF JOHN

CHAPTER ONE (Lesson XLIV) 12/03/20

Another current Bible Scholar, James Rosscup, feels that the Church needed to hear John’s message on fellowship because some interpreted the Gospel in unacceptable ways. They went so far that their sermons could no longer be called the Word of Life. Those who do not adhere to the Word of Life cannot have true fellowship with those who do. Ultimately, the communion that believers share is not merely that of an accidental accumulation of people with some things in common. Instead, what believers in the Anointed One have in common is unity with God. Those who know and love God are joined to each other as well.[1]

H. P. Mansfield makes the point that the Bible uses Light as a symbol for several divine things. The character of the Church is like the moon, which has no light of itself but reflects the light of the sun. The symbol of the Anointed One, God manifested, is that of the Son of Righteousness with healing in His beams.[2] The coming age of glory appears as “Light of the morning when the sun rises, even a morning without clouds.”[3] That Son of Righteousness, whose illuminating, penetrating, purifying rays will flood the political, religious, and social world with light to the glory of Yahweh and the wellbeing of humanity. Then on all sides, they will acknowledge the truth that God is Light.[4]

1:6b:  John finishes the sentence by stipulating that he refers to such people as liars because their living shows they are the type …who don’t do what the truth says. 

EXPOSITION

How can you claim Jesus is Lord of your life when you do not treat Him and obey Him as your Master?  How can you say you love Jesus when there is nothing you can show that exemplifies such love?  Remember, just saying it doesn’t make it so.  Love only exists when put into action.  How can you say that you love God’s Word when you rarely, if ever, read it?  Jesus did not mince words, nor does John.  If you claim to be a follower of the Anointed One and living in the light of God’s Word, but your life does not show it, and your actions do not confirm it, then you cannot claim God who sent His Son into the world to turn on the light as your heavenly Father.  Here is what Jesus tells such people, “Your father is the devil. You belong to him. You want to do what he wants. He was a murderer from the beginning. He was always against the truth. There is no truth in him. He is like the lies he tells. Yes, the devil is a liar. He is the father of lies.  I am telling you the truth, and that’s why you don’t believe me.[5]

COMMENTARY

John Bunyan (1628-1688) says those that devoutly speak the name of the Anointed One should depart from immorality; otherwise, their profession of Him is a mockery. It is the message we hear from the Apostle John here in verse six. Furthermore, to “walk in darkness;” is to live in wickedness. In other words, they still behave in accordance with the morals of this world. “Anyone who does not keep His commandments but still say, I know Him, are liars, and the truth is not in them.”[6] 

Bunyan goes on to say that the truth that they profess to know and the experience they claim to have is not evident in their way of living. Every person who names the Anointed One’s name is not, therefore, a child of God, nor is everything a person says the truth, although they profess of that worthy name, Christian.[7] The truth is in those whose mouth and life agree.[8] People may say they are apostles and be lying: they may say they are Jews, and be liars, or be Christians, and lie when they do so. Therefore, it is the highest form of deception and will bring about the saddest sort of effects. Thus, the best these people can do is tell lies. They may say, “I know Him,” and “I have fellowship with Him,” but their lifestyle proves them wrong, and everyone they know calls them liars.[9] It is tough-talk by Bunyan, but we must remember when and the age in which he lived. There were no politically correct police. We might not express it the same way today, but we cannot deny the truth principle.

Samuel E. Pierce (1746-1829) says that our being in the Anointed God-man is the fruit of God the Father’s everlasting love to us. We being in Him is our solid foundation. On this, we stand firmly fixed. From the Anointed One, God-Man, as our Head, all the Holy Trinity’s shareable blessings flow forth in the way of communication to us. Nothing can put a stop to this. When we mentally absorb this by faith and fully believe this, we have the real enjoyment of such blessed assurance. When we live to ourselves in any instance, we drop our holy fellowship with the Lord. With Him being Light, there can be no fellowship with Him by those in darkness. When we at any time think, speak or act on things done only in the darkness of sin, we betray ourselves. When we, in any instance, be it in thought, word, or deed, act, or walk in the darkness of sin, or receive, entertain, and maintain anything contrary to sound doctrine, of the glorious Gospel of the blessed God we make fools of ourselves.

It does not apply, says Pierce, to those who have not received the Lord Jesus the Anointed One, into their minds, hearts, consciences, and affections. For such individuals to profess or preach otherwise is to declare a lie. They are trying to prove by demonstration something contrary to the truth. That’s why John says they “do not the truth.” Today we would say they are “not living the truth.” How can they claim to agree with the truth when they say, “We have fellowship with Him,” but they still live in the darkness of sin? They are lying, says Pierce, and “do not the truth.”

May the Lord seal and settle this as truth in our hearts, prays Pierce, so as that at all times we may act under the influence thereof: to be kept from everything which may mar and interrupt our communion with the Lord, and from acting, or saying that which is contradictory to His Truth, and so be chargeable with a lie, and not acting according to the truth. [10]

Frederick D. Maurice (1805-1872) sums up verses six to ten as explicit yet straightforward. Its truth is that a person who throws off the burden of their sins by confessing them that they may admit to God because they know that God cares for them, that he is right, hates falsehood, and can understand the difference between them. It is simple on the surface. It is oh so infinitely deep, as we will discover once we try it! When we confess, “Against You O Lord have I sinned,” we dare to lay our sin bare; this is asking to be made real in the inward parts – what power, what victory, what peace lies in that!

And thus, says Maurice, we begin to understand the Apostle’s last words, which at first may sound very like a commonplace intensely expressed: “If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.” If we do not confess the evil in us, we attribute that evil to Him. We make Him answerable for that against which He is testifying in our consciences. We thrust away that Word, which is shedding abroad His light in us; we bury ourselves in our darkness. It is the effect of trying to make out a good case for ourselves, when it is our interest, our privilege, our blessedness, to justify God and to condemn ourselves, to say to God, “You have been true, and we have been liars. Deliver us from our lies! Help us to walk in Your truth.”[11]

In his commentary, Karl Gottlob Braune (1810-1877) states that everything depends on the reply you give to the question of whether sin rules you or only remains in you. If sin reigns over you, you belong to the darkness, but if its tendencies remain in you, you belong to the children of Light. It is not with pride but with gratitude to God that a Christian contemplates their being in the Light. Love of God and the brethren is the power of sanctification, which is the life of love. It is just the sanctified who see even the smallest sins with painfulness and perceive that they require cleansing through the blood of Jesus the Anointed One. If sin’s tendencies trouble a person into their deepest emotions, just remember that there is the cross, a fountain filled with blood drawn from Emmanuel’s veins for cleansing and consolation. It is not sufficient that a person is a Christian upon whom God’s Light is shone, but must become an enlightened Christian who becomes a light to a world in darkness.[12]

John Stock (1817-1884) says that when the sun shines with brilliancy, the shades are marked distinctly; when clouds obscure the sky, we do not see shades. So, when the truth comes out like the sun, errors are revealed. When doubtful disagreements arise and spread false gospels, then sin is concealed and diminished as harmful. People then begin to call evil good and good evil; exchange darkness for light, light for darkness; replace sweet for bitter, and bitter for sweet,[13] and there are confusion and chaos.[14] The blessed Apostle John was full of light, and so, in his writings, as in all those of his fellow inspired Apostles, an error is pointed out in plain language.


[1] James Rosscup: InterVarsity New Testament Commentary, 1 John, loc. cit.

[2] Malachi 4:1-2

[3] 2 Samuel 23:4; Isaiah 60:1

[4] H. P. Mansfield: The Test of True Love, Verse by verse Exposition of the Epistles of John, Logos Publications, West Beach, Australia, Church

[5] John 8:44-45

[6] 1 John 2:4

[7] 1 Kings 17:24

[8] Revelation 2:2, 9; 3:9

[9] John Bunyan’s Practical Works, Vol. 4, A Holy Life: The Beauty of Christianity, Reason Why All Christian Professors Should be Holy, Ch. 4, p. 112

[10] Pierce, S. E. , An Exposition of the First Epistle General of John, op. cit., Vol. 1, pp. 57–58

[11] Maurice, Frederick D., The Epistles of St. John, op. cit., Lecture III, pp. 51-52

[12] Karl Gottlob Braune: Homiletic, Firsts Epistle of John, op. cit., pp. 34-35

[13] Isaiah 5:20

[14] James 3:16

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WALKING IN THE LIGHT

NEW TESTAMENT CONTEXTUAL COMMENTARY

by Dr. Robert R. Seyda

FIRST EPISTLE OF JOHN

CHAPTER ONE (Lesson XLIII) 12/02/20

Therefore, it must be saints that John is referring to, says Pierce, or such as were connected with them in church communion, and by a Gospel profession, whom Paul must have his eye on, and design for, when he says that God is Light, and in Him is no darkness at all. So, how can they profess to know the Anointed One – His eternity, His incarnation, His manifestation as the Light, His being the Essential Word, and of His being Divine? That Eternal Life was with the Father, and they are still ignorant of this truth? They also professed they received the knowledge of Him and that they had communion with Him. The outward visible church of the Anointed One, is often constituted both by persons who are born again of God, and those who are not. The former are partakers of the Anointed One: the latter is not. Yet what they seemed to be with the Lord. However, they did not know themselves until it was manifested by outward conduct; or by defection and a departure from the truth.

If we say that we have fellowship with Him, notes Pierce, and yet walk in darkness, we lie and “do not the truth.”[1] John might have designed this to prevent real saints from being careless and negligent. He wants to stir up their minds, reach their hearts, and express the best for them. Furthermore, they need to watch their hearts, be careful with their behavior, avoid sinful tendencies in themselves and others because it would interrupt their holding, and maintaining communion with their heavenly Father.

With His being Light, Purity, and Holiness, Pierce says, there could be no communion with God if the mind is impure. No. Holiness becomes the house and worshippers of the Lord forever. Also, in the second place, to declare that such persons who were under the influence of their sins, and corruptions, could not, so long as this was the case, no matter what they say, have fellowship with the Lord. Are we, the apostles of the Anointed One, to be found wandering around in darkness, and at the same time, say we have fellowship with God the Father, who is Light, and in Him, there is no darkness at all? If so, we prove ourselves liars and do not follow the truth.[2]

Richard Rothe (1799-1867) points out that from what John has said so far, he draws the inevitable conclusion that the absolute condition of man’s fellowship with God is “walking in the Light,” and, therefore, walking in darkness along with fellowship with God is impossible. John stands opposed to a so-called “lip-service Christianity,” the indecision in which confession and communion stand in contradiction. Why speak about having fellowship with God when it is not real? There is a wide gap between what we profess and what we possess when it comes to fellowship with God in His Light – holiness.[3]

Richard Holmes Tuck (1817-1868) says John was enjoying the “fellowship of the Father and the Son.” That fellowship, he wanted the disciples to enjoy as fully as he did. He would, therefore, have them explore its privileges and understand what it takes to keep it holy. And since he has in mind the particular character of the spiteful influences to which the disciples were then exposed, his instructions exclusively bear relation to their correction. It was then freely taught that all conduct is morally of little value to the spiritual person – nothing they do, in the bodily and material spheres, is regarded as a sin. Nothing breaks up their fellowship with God. It is clear, such teaching strikes at the very root of Christianity, virtually the recovery of humanity to righteousness. It is not sentimental or mystical holiness, but a real, present, practical way of living right, which must include knowing how to “possess the vessel of the body in sanctification and honor.”[4]

Marvin Vincent (1834-1922) helps us see that the Apostle John is contrasting “being in the Light” with “walking in darkness, and “Lying” with “telling the truth.” These are a combination of positive and negative statements.[5] The phrase to do the truth occurs only in John’s Gospel and First Epistle.[6] Walking in darkness keeps one from doing what is right. “Right action is true thought realized,” says Vincent. “Every fragment of right done is so much truth made visible.”[7]

John James Lias (1834-1923) believes that John was more concerned with the Life manifested in Jesus than with His person. Earlier in his Gospel, the Apostle spoke of His Person in its fulness.[8] He also spends little time repeating what he said about the Logos. Here it was the Life the Anointed One who came to deliver to all who would believe.[9] Lias points out that nothing can be more evident than John’s statement of this truth about lying. John says, “we lie,” if we claim fellowship with the Anointed One, “do not the truth.” It is more than making a misstatement; we act out the lie we speak. We deny the Eternal Principles and act as though they don’t exist. Our lives are continuous defiance of God’s Word and His Son Jesus the Anointed One as the Light. The Gospel doctrine rests on the indwelling of the Anointed One in the believer. Our Lord’s teaching is continually used throughout the Final Covenant,[10] signifying the presence of inner life.[11]

Lias says that freedom from the Law’s condemnation belongs only to those walking with the Spirit[12] and, therefore, fulfilling the righteousness of the Law. What is it to walk in the darkness or the Light? To walk in the Light is to acknowledge the truth revealed in Jesus the Anointed One. This revelation makes known to us God’s will, and primarily as the essence of holiness; true holiness consists in fulfilling the righteousness of the Law, by the illumination we received, which enables us to distinguish right from wrong, to set up before us a higher standard of purity and perfection. “Walking” in the light is to press daily forward towards realizing this idea of completion. The illumined soul perceives this, as well as all the steps which lead to it. To walk in darkness is, of course, the exact opposite of all this.[13]

Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1899-1981) lets us know that these opening words show us that the Gospel is a declaration, a manifestation, and a showing. It is being declared by those who heard, saw, and touched the Anointed One, the Son of God, who came to deliver the Good News. The Anointed One manifested this by coming in human form to walk among the people and let them hear Him, see Him, and touch Him. And it was shown by the life He lived, the miracles He performed, and rising from the dead. Lloyd-Jones goes on to say that the Gospel is also an announcement. It is more than speculation and far more significant than a human idea or philosophy.[14] Scriptures declared that the One prophesied in the First Covenant will be in the present. He is the author of a Final Covenant, decided on the cross, confirmed by His resurrection, and sealed with His blood. There is nothing else like it, and there never will be.

Ronald Ralph Williams (1906-1970) wonders what was there from the beginning? It is not an easy question to answer, he says. He points to the New English Bible (NEB) and notes that they made verse one look more straightforward than it is in the original Greek. The NEB reads: “IT WAS THERE from the beginning, we have heard it; we have seen it with our own eyes; we looked upon it, and felt it with our own hands, and it is of this we tell. Our theme is the word of life.” When compared to the original Greek, we read: “The thing that was there from the start, the thing that we have heard, seen with our eyes, gazed at, that our hands felt, concerning the message of life – and life was made visible.”[15] As Williams sees it, the NEB makes it old news while the Greek makes it more contemporary.

Rudolf Schnackenburg (1914-2002) sees hearing and proclamation coordinated. That’s because the “we” are the mediators and what was heard to the “you” who should accept it precisely in the same way as the “we” received it themselves. It is more than John passing along a mere message. Instead, as the experience and mediation of higher reality. That’s why John makes a fresh start after he says, “we have heard.”[16] What would you think about someone sharing what a ride on a roller coaster feels like if they never experienced it themselves? The same goes for anyone trying to describe a real encounter with Jesus the Anointed One, have never had one themselves?

Bruce B. Barton (1954- shares that in many Scriptures, they contrast God and evil’s realm by the differences between light and darkness. Here is a chart that helps us see this very clearly:

DARKNESSLIGHTREFERENCE
Despairing conditionHopeful conditionIsaiah 9:2
Inability to recognize the LightAbility to enlighten the worldJohn 1:4-6, 9
The power of SatanThe power of GodActs 26:18
Evil deedsGood deedsRomans 13:12-14
Natural sinful heart conditionGift from God2 Corinthians 4:6
Fruitless worksSource of all that is goodEphesians 5:8-11
Spiritual forces of evilArm of GodEphesians 6:12-13
Powerful captivityKingdom of the SonColossians 1:12-14
Inability to exist in God’s presenceGod is omnipresent1 John 1:5, 7
Transient naturePermanent nature1 John 2:8-11

[1]Do not the truth” is another way of saying someone is not sticking with the truth.

[2] Pierce, S. E., An Exposition of the First Epistle General of John, op. ci., Vol. 1, pp. 50–53.

[3] Rothe, Richard: The Expository Times, op. cit., February 1890, p. 117

[4] Richard Holmes Tuck: Homiletic Commentary, I John, op. cit., p. 236

[5] See verse 5

[6] See John 3:21

[7] Vincent, Marvin: Word Studies on NT, op. cit., pp. 314-315

[8] See John 1:1-18

[9] Lias, John James: An Exposition of the First Epistle of John, Klock & Klock Christian Publishers, Inc., Minneapolis, 1982 Reprint of 1887, p. 11

[10] Matthew 7:16

[11] John 15:1-8

[12] Romans 8:1

[13] Lias, J. J. First Epistle of John Homiletical, op. cit., pp. 39–43

[14] Lloyd-Jones, Martyn: Life in Christ, Studies in 1 John, Five Volumes in One, Crossway, Wheaton, IL, 2002, p. 41

[15] Williams, Robert Ralph: The Letters of John and James, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1965, p. 17

[16] Schnackenburg, Rudolf: The Johannine Epistles, Crossroad, New York, 1992, p. 49

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WALKING IN THE LIGHT

NEW TESTAMENT CONTEXTUAL COMMENTARY

by Dr. Robert R. Seyda

FIRST EPISTLE OF JOHN

CHAPTER ONE (Lesson XLII) 12/01/20

Did John come up with this idea of light and darkness on his own? No! He heard what his Master said about it. Jesus told him and others that He came as a Light to shine in this dark world so that all who put their trust in Him will no longer wander around in the darkness.[1] That’s another way of saying, accept the truth instead of continuing to live with the lies you’ve heard. I’m sure that John remembered what his Lord said about those aligned with the worldly side of life. He told them their father is the devil. They belong to him. They want to do what he wants. He was a murderer from the beginning. He was always against the truth. There is no truth in him. He is like the lies he tells. Yes, the devil is a liar. He is the father of lies. But then Jesus says, I am telling them the truth, and that’s why they don’t believe me.[2] So when someone turns down an invitation to invite Jesus into their heart and lives, it’s because they don’t want to know the truth.

So, John is not mincing any words here. Jesus came to bring us light – the understanding of who God is, as opposed to darkness – not knowing who God is, in addition to His plan of salvation and the gift of eternal life. It is what John wanted to pass on to those who read this Epistle. But if we claim to have this Light and live with the aid of this Light, but we are dwelling in spiritual darkness, it means we are trying to fool someone. John recorded the words of Jesus, where He said: “We judge unbelievers by this fact: The Light came into the world. But they did not want Light. They wanted darkness because they were doing evil things. Everyone who does evil hates the Light. They will not come to the Light because the Light will show all the bad things they have done.”[3]  

Therefore, John says here, if you are one of those who still prefer the darkness while claiming to be living in the Light, you are lying.  John gives us the reason, “But anyone who follows the true way comes to the Light. Then the Light will show that whatever they have done was done through God.[4]  In other words, if you are truly living in the Light, you won’t have to say a thing, the Light shining through you will tell it all.  Not only that, but Jesus clearly explains: “Whoever walks in daylight will not stumble and fall because they can see with the light from the sun.  But whoever walks at night will stumble because there is no light.[5]  So, there’s more than one way to tell if a person is lying about walking in the Light.  Jesus knew His time here on earth was limited, so He cautioned the people listening to Him that they had better start following the Light while it was still available.[6]

COMMENTARY

What Benedictine monk Bede (672-735) shared with us back in verse three, he now expands on here by saying that John calls sin heresies and hatred darkness. Therefore, the mere confession of one’s faith is not enough for salvation if there is no sign of good works confirming that faith. Simultaneously, the goodness of deeds is of no value if not done in the simplicity of faith and love. Anyone who is in any way surrounded by darkness is unable to have fellowship with the One in whom there is no sign of wickedness at all.[7]

When taken at face value, what Bede the Venerable says here might make us wonder how Jesus lived a sinless life when surrounded by doubting Jews and pagan Gentiles the whole time He was here on earth. So, by John saying here in verse eight that we should be more like Jesus, it might be less effective than we are asked to believe. But Symeon, the New Theologian, has no doubts. He says, see to it, brothers, that while we seem to be in God and think that we have communion with Him, we will find ourselves excluded and separated from Him unless we can see His Light.[8]

John Owen (1616-1683) states, then, if these things are so, “what type of people we should be, in all manner of holy behavior?” Even “our God is a consuming fire.” What communion is there between light and darkness? Shall sin and lust dwell in those thoughts which receive in and carry out love from and to the Father? Holiness fits His presence forever; an unclean spirit cannot draw close to Him. A godless heart cannot live with Him. A lustful person will not desire to hold fellowship with an upright person, and will a person with worthless and foolish imaginations have communion and dwell with the most-holy God? No!

There is no consideration given love, says Owen, but it is a powerful motive producing holiness. Did not Ephraim say, “What have I to do any more with idols?” when in God, I find salvation. Communion with the Father is wholly inconsistent with loose behavior. “If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk around in the darkness, we lie and do not do what is true.” “The one who says, “I know Him” (I have communion with Him), “and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in them.”[9] The most groundless or glorious pretense made to an acquaintance with the Father, without holiness and obedience to His commandments, serves only to prove the pretenders to be liars. Love of the world and love of the Father do not fellowship together.[10]

Matthew Poole (1624-1679) tells us that Light and darkness are frequently contrasted with holiness and wickedness.[11] Poole sums it up, this way: If any person pretends to enjoy friendship with God or to receive holy and gracious gifts from Him and continue to live sinful lives, they are practical liars, guilty of doing wrong, and makes their profession of faith false and insincere.[12]

Poole does not forget to mention that we all have sinful tendencies, which the Apostle Paul admitted.[13] When that happens, John states that if we confess our sins, He will be fair with us and forgive our sins.[14] The sin John is referencing is out and out disobedience to God’s Word and Will and because they only have a formal relationship with Him, not a justified relationship.

George Swinnock (1627-1673) says that a person’s life is often spoken of in the Word of God as a walk.[15] Look at it this way: The womb is where they set out at the dawning of their life. As they go, their actions are the steps they take as they begin their walk toward their journey’s end, at an inn or resort. Thus, we call a Christian’s life “walking in the light[16] or “walking in the law.”[17] That’s because their motion is regular and progressive. They must possess a divine word for all their works and a precept from God for all their practices. Scripture is the compass by which they chose their direction and the square ruler by which they build. That’s why they are said to “walk with God” because they proceed according to His Word and Will. They do not walk independently or without purpose,[18] but according to God’s design and destiny. Furthermore, the holy life of a saint is similar to an orderly walk in these two respects.[19]

Swinnock says that the comfort of your life now consists of communion with God, but those who say they have fellowship with God and walk in darkness are lying. Your God hates to taste those waters which run out of such moldy vessels; much less will He put up with any contamination from rotten hearts, and smelly breaths, to draw near to Him in heaven, “Don’t you realize that those who do wrong will not inherit the Kingdom of God?”[20] [21]

Jonathan Edwards: (1703-1758) points out the scope of the Apostle’s message and the connection of his discourse, plainly show that the Apostle means to assert that all moral good is from God. In the preceding verses, the Apostle John warns those he writes not to blame God for their sins or pride or lusts. Instead, know that every blessing is a gift from God. He does not pass out evil deeds. God is the Father of Light and only Light. And because He is Light, there is no darkness around Him, not even a shadow. What He says is parallel to what the Apostle John says when signifying God’s perfect holiness without any sin.[22]

Samuel Eyles Pierce (1746-1829) declares that we have no fellowship with God while living in sin. If we say that we commune with Him and still walk in darkness, we lie because we are not telling the truth. It is wholly incompatible with the grace of God to have fellowship with God while wallowing in sin. And our Lord the Anointed One Himself expressed the impossibility of it, when He said to Nicodemus, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.”[23] I believe it does not, says Pierce, nor is it designed to say that a sinner can be in union with God while they live in an unrenewed and unregenerated condition. Still, it may be the case that some unbelievers profess to have faith in the Anointed One and boast of having communion with the Holy Trinity.


[1] John 12:46

[2] Ibid. 8:44-45

[3] John 3:19-20

[4] Ibid. 3:21

[5] Ibid. 11:10

[6] Ibid. 12:35-36, 46

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

[8] Symeon the New Theologian: Discourses 33.2, Bray, G. (Ed.), op. cit., p. 171

[9] 1 John 2:4

[10] John Owen: Of Communion with God, Part 1, Ch. 4, pp. 51-52

[11] Luke 16:8; Romans 13:12; Ephesians 5:8; 1 Thessalonians 5:5

[12] Poole, Matthew. Matthew Poole’s Commentary on the Holy Bible – Book of 1st, 2nd & 3rd John (Annotated) (Kindle Location 313). Grace Works Multimedia. Kindle Edition

[13] Romans 7:15-20

[14] 1 John 1:9

[15] Psalm 39

[16] 1 John 1:6

[17] Psalm 110:9

[18] 1 Corinthians 3:3

[19] George Swinnock: Nichol’s Series of Standard Divines: Puritan Period, Vol. 2, 1968, p. 185

[20] 1 Corinthians 6:9

[21] Ibid. p. 227

[22] Edwards, Jonathan, The Works of: Vol. 6, Remarks on Important Theological Controversies, Ch. 4, p. 325

[23] John 3:3

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WALKING IN THE LIGHT

NEW TESTAMENT CONTEXTUAL COMMENTARY

by Dr. Robert R. Seyda

FIRST EPISTLE OF JOHN

CHAPTER ONE (Lesson XLI) 11/30/20

As Ben Witherington III (1951-) points out, not only did God say, “Let there be light,” but He IS light.[1] It means that He is complete in His glory (the physical connotation of light), in His truth (the intellectual), and His holiness (the moral).[2] In other words, God does not need to borrow these virtues from any other outside source. They are not only “in” Him, but they “are” Him. Perhaps we can see the favorable implication of these qualities by knowing that He, who is all of these things, lives in us through His Spirit. Along with Witherington, Karen H. Jobes (1968-) explains that Light is an appropriate metaphor for God. It is the first fundamental property of the universe created by God; it allows and sustains all life; it makes life far more pleasant and safer than living in the dark, revealing what is hidden.[3]

Pastor’s wife, founder, and editor of “The Ladies’ Companion Magazine,” Valorie Quesenberry, comments on verse five here by saying that God’s divine nature has not faded. He is completely pure – not shadows, no stains, no discolorations, no blots. The Holy Spirit’s indwelling us gives us the power to choose what is right by running to the light, both in our inward thoughts, goals, and desires and in our interactions with others. Paul told the Philippians to fix their thoughts on real, honorable, right, pure, lovely, and admirable things. To think about subjects that are excellent and worthy of praise.[4] These are the things of Light, says Quesenberry, the upright-virtues. That means they are Godly things. Outward godliness begins from within. The light within shines outward. We must cherish godliness as our core motivation for focusing on these matters.[5]  

Current Christian writer Ken Johnson tells us that some Gnostics, like Cerdo,[6] taught the most-supreme god was a duality, much like the Chinese idea of yin and yang. He said there were two gods: one good god and the opposite evil god, both equal in power. The good god is light, and the evil god is darkness. This belief is not Christian doctrine. Using Gnostic terminology to make sure everyone would understand clearly, John said God is the only Light. God is good and all-powerful. Some cults today, like the ancient Gnostics, believe in multiple gods. Mormonism is just one example.[7]

David Jackman notices how carefully John introduces this first critical statement – God is Light. John didn’t discover something as a result of his philosophical explorations, but a message he received. The Apostle heard it from HIM – Jesus the Anointed One. Now he compares what he and the other apostles heard from the Word Himself and what others said about God’s Light. Says John, what we heard goes back to the beginning of time and brought to us by the Word Himself in His incarnation as Logos. It is John’s way of stressing the divine source of what he’s is about to declare. The authority for his teaching lies in what he has heard in the historical revelation of God in Jesus the Anointed One.[8] It is something we preachers and teachers can keep in mind. We know where our outline or manuscript came from, but what about the message it contains? Is it from our mind or God’s?

John Phillips references how in 1666 AD, Isaac Newton discovered that light consisted of tiny particles and traveled straight. Then in 1678 AD, Christiaan Huyghens (1629-1695)[9] declared that light traveled in waves. Finally, the two theories merged and found that white light is composed of seven colors – red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet. It was made visible by refraction. However, without being refracted, light travels in a straight line at 186,282 miles per second. Then Albert Einstein (1879-1955) discovered that the speed of light is constant. Even in a vacuum, the speed of light never changes, regardless of its source’s motion. So, when John said that God is Light, His words are straight to the point and never changes. That’s why it is important to keep walking straight in the Light of God’s Word.

Phillips then says that another magnificent property of light cannot be defiled. Even when it passes through muddy water, it is not tainted. Instead, it helps reveal contamination. As we know, even plants and trees and flowers turn toward the light. That’s why since Jesus came as the Light, we should always keep our eyes on Him.[10] He is forever the same. Our Lord is immaculate and beyond the reach of darkness. He reveals Himself to us in all the diverse beauties of His character and being. Therefore, in His light, we take root, grow, and flourish.[11]

1:6a:    So, if we say that we enjoy a close fellowship with God, but we continue living in darkness, we are untruthful people…

EXPOSITION

Although John’s metaphor of light and darkness not existing together is simple, there is more to it than that. Having a close fellowship with God means continually living in the Light. But “light” here does not mean illumination by a lantern or a light bulb or even sunshine, Light is emblematic of understanding the truth. Meanwhile, “darkness” does not mean all light being extinguished or living in a cave or hidden bunker. Darkness is symbolic of ignorance of the truth. So, if a person claims they live their lives following the truth they’ve received through the Gospel, yet still conduct themselves while living in sin without any concept of God, they are not telling you the truth.

Our Lord gives us an example of this.[12] And the Apostle James spells it out quite clearly: “What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has nothing to show for it? Can such faith save them? If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds.[13] But in John’s revelation, the assembly of believers in Laodicea received a stern warning: I know everything you do. You are neither hot nor cold; I wish that you were either hot or cold! But you are only half-warm. So, like half-warm water, I am ready to spit you out of my mouth.[14]

So, there are some questions to ask: How can you say you have fellowship with a warm-hearted Father when your heart is so cold? Do you think you have communion with God Almighty when you are so spiritually weak and lethargic? How can you claim to have fellowship with the Light of the World when you wander around in darkness? In other words, is it possible to keep company with the Holy Comforter the Father sent when you are full of doubt and despair?

The Psalmist David expressed his faith and confidence in having daily fellowship with Adonai when he sang: “Every morning, O Lord, I lay my gifts on the altar before you and look expectantly to you for help. And every morning, you hear my prayers, O God, because you don’t want people with bad intentions anywhere near you. They cannot stay in your presence. People who do not follow Your Will and Wise counsel cannot come near You. You despise all those who are continually planning to do what’s wrong.”[15] And the Apostle Paul joins John, his brother in the Lord, by asking the Corinthians how anyone could claim to be the Temple of the Holy Spirit participate in pagan rites, rituals, and celebrations of lifeless gods?[16] We may be in the world, but we are not of the world.[17]

Don’t you know, says John, when you align yourselves with the gods of this world, you have turned your destiny over to fate and coincidence? Listen to what Asaph the Psalmist says about the leaders in society and fashion trendsetters of the world. They think of themselves as “little gods,” but they don’t know what is happening. They don’t understand! They don’t know what they are doing! Can’t they see their world is falling apart all around them?[18]

And King Solomon warns his people that they should have enough sense to stay away from sinful-minded people who want them to be their partners in wrongdoing – people who turn from God’s ways to walk down dark and dangerous paths.[19] That because those who have fellowship with God walk on a path illuminated like the early morning light. It gets brighter and brighter until the full light of day. But the course of those who seek to do wrong, their path is like moving around in the night. They trip and fall over what they cannot see.[20]


[1] Cf. Psalms 104:2 to Psalms 27:1; 36:9 and Isaiah 49:6

[2] Witherington III, Ben: Letters and Homilies for Hellenized Christians: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary on Titus, 1-2 Timothy and 1-3 John (Letters and Homilies for Hellenized Christians Series) (Kindle Location 5973). Kindle Edition.

[3] Jobes, Karen H., 1, 2, and 3 John, op. cit., p. 63

[4] Philippians 4:8

[5] Revivalist Magazine, Vol. 131, No. 6, September 2019, p. 6

[6] Cerdo, a Gnostic teacher of the first half of the 2nd century. He came to Rome from Syria. Cerdo taught that the God preached by the law and the prophets was not the Father of our Lord Jesus. His first two principles were that there are two gods, one good, the other evil, and it was the evil god who created the world.

[7] Johnson, Ken. Ancient Epistles of John and Jude, op. cit., p. 54

[8] Jackman, David: op. cit., p. 27

[9] Dutch mathematician, astronomer, and physicist, who founded the “wave theory” of light, discovered the true shape of the rings of Saturn, and made original contributions to the science of dynamics—the study of the action of forces on bodies.

[10] Hebrews 12:2

[11] Phillips, John: The John Phillips Commentary Series, Exploring the Epistles of John, Kregel Publications, Grand Rapids, 2003, pp. 31-32

[12] Matthew 7:22

[13] James 2:14, 16, 18

[14] Revelation 3:15-16

[15] Psalm 5:3-5

[16] 2 Corinthians 6:14-16

[17] Cf. John 15:19

[18] Cf. Psalm 82:5

[19] Proverbs 2:11-13

[20] Cf. Ibid 4:18-19; See John 11:10

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