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The Living Expression

We saw him with our very own eyes.[a]
    We gazed upon him[b] and heard him speak.[c]
    Our hands actually touched him,[d]
    the one who was from the beginning,
    the Living Expression of God.[e]
This Life-Giver was made visible
    and we have seen him.
    We testify to this truth:
    the eternal Life-Giver
    lived face-to-face with the Father
    and has now dawned upon us.
So we proclaim to you
    what we have seen and heard
    about this Life-Giver
    so that we may share and enjoy
    this life together.
    For truly our fellowship[f] is with the Father
    and with his Son, Jesus, the Anointed One.[g]

We are writing these things to you because we want to release to you our fullness of joy.[h]

God Is Light

This is the life-giving message[i] we heard him share and it’s still ringing in our ears. We now repeat his words to you: God is pure light. You will never find even a trace of darkness in him.[j]

If we claim that we share life with him,[k] but keep walking in the realm of darkness, we’re fooling ourselves and not living the truth. But if we keep living in the pure light that surrounds him,[l] we share unbroken fellowship with one another,[m] and the blood of Jesus, his Son, continually cleanses us from all sin.

Purified from Sin

If we boast that we have no sin, we’re only fooling ourselves and are strangers to the truth. But if we freely admit our sins when his light uncovers them,[n] he will be faithful to forgive us every time. God is just to forgive us our sins because of Christ, and he will continue to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.[o]

10 If we claim that we’re not guilty of sin when God uncovers it with his light,[p] we make him a liar and his word is not in us.


  1. 1:1 Or “We perceived [experienced] him with our eyes.”
  2. 1:1 The apostles gazed upon Jesus both during Christ’s earthly life and in resurrection glory.
  3. 1:1 The Aramaic text yields an interesting thought. By using the words one and heard in the same context, we’re taken back to the ancient prayer of the Hebrews known as the Shema: “Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one.” John is stating that he has heard the One that Israel was commanded to listen to, and that One is Jesus Christ. See Deut. 6:4.
  4. 1:1 The word for touch is poetic. It comes from a sensory verb meaning “to pluck the strings of an instrument.” It can also be translated “to feel” (see Acts 17:27). It is as though John is saying, “We have plucked the chords of his being and felt what motivated him, his melody within.”
  5. 1:1 Or “Word [Logos] of life.” See the second footnote on John 1:1. This verse in both Greek and Aramaic breaks many rules of grammar and is used as a poetic tool to pack deep revelation in as few words as possible.
  6. 1:3 The Greek word koinōnia means “to share in partnership; a reality shared in common.” Through Christ, our shared reality is now with the Father. See also 2 Peter 1:4.
  7. 1:3 It is believed that these first three verses comprised an early hymn sung by the church.
  8. 1:4 Or “that our joy may be fulfilled.” The first four verses form one Greek sentence, somewhat awkward in its construction, with three parenthetical interruptions in the sequence of the Greek sentence, which would be confusing if left in a literal form. This translation attempts to make one long, complicated Greek sentence into a meaningful translation of what John wrote.
  9. 1:5 The Greek word for “life-giving message” (promise) is angelia and is found only twice in the New Testament. It is related semantically to euangelion, which means “to evangelize or preach the [life-giving] gospel.” The Aramaic can be translated “This is the hope that we heard from him and gives you hope because God is light and there is absolutely no darkness in him.”
  10. 1:5 Or “no darkness at all can find any place in him.” Although we do not have these exact words in any of the four Gospels, it is clear that John and the apostles attributed these words to Jesus Christ. Not everything Jesus said or did is recorded in the Gospels. If all of the events given in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John were condensed, we would only have details recorded of but a few months of Jesus’ entire life of over thirty-three years. See John 21:25.
  11. 1:6 Or “We share in fellowship with him” (Gr. koinōnia, “having things in common,” “sharing in what he has and who he is”). This is the first of six conditional “if” clauses that extend through 2:1.
  12. 1:7 Or “as he [Christ] is in the light.”
  13. 1:7 That is, God and the believer enjoy fellowship on the basis of walking in the light of God. Fellowship is maintained with God as we continue walking in the light he reveals to us. To walk in the light also involves being open, transparent, and honest, acknowledging any darkness the Lord might reveal in us. The blood of Jesus will cleanse us from all known sin, and if we continue to be open to God’s pure light his blood will cleanse us from all unknown sin as well, enabling imperfect believers to walk in fellowship with a holy God. Freedom from sin (which is mentioned seventeen times in 1 John) is equated to walking in the pure light of God—not simply a fleshly struggle but a desire to walk in fellowship with God in his light.
  14. 1:9 Confession of sin is the way to find restoration and unbroken fellowship with God. It cleanses the conscience and removes every obstacle from communion with Christ. Confession does not gain God’s acceptance, for that was won for us forever by the sacrifice of Christ. It is on the basis of being his dearly loved children that we restore intimacy with God through our tenderhearted confession before him. God will always be faithful to restore our first-love passion for him. There is no need to confess the same sins over and over, for that is ignoring the blood of Jesus that cleanses us. All of our sins were paid for on the cross and we can do nothing to remove them, but confession acknowledges God’s faithfulness to restore our intimacy with him. Our Father and our forgiving Redeemer fill the heavens with grace toward every believer, even when we sin.
  15. 1:9 “Unrighteousness,” in this context, means the sins we’re not aware of. Confession cleanses known sin and restores fellowship with God, but God’s faithfulness, in seeing Christ as our Sin-Bearer, cleanses us from all unknown sin as well. If we do but one thing (confess our sin), God will do four things: (1) demonstrate his faithful love, (2) demonstrate justice by counting our sins paid for by Christ, (3) forgive us every sin, and (4) continue a deeper work of cleansing from all aspects of sin’s defilement.
  16. 1:10 We can only confess what God has revealed to us in his light. But when he shows that a thought or life pattern is sinful, we must agree with him in order to be restored. We cannot hide or conceal our sin, but confess our failure to him and move forward in faith. This is like a “rebound” for a missed shot.

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