The Word of Life*
what we have heard,
what we have seen with our eyes,
what we looked upon
and touched with our hands
concerns the Word of life—a
2for the life was made visible;
we have seen it and testify to it
and proclaim to you the eternal life
that was with the Father and was made visible to us—b
3what we have seen and heard
we proclaim now to you,
so that you too may have fellowship with us;
for our fellowship is with the Father
and with his Son, Jesus Christ.c
4We are writing this so that our joy may be complete.d
II. God as Light
God is Light. 5Now this is the message that we have heard from him and proclaim to you: God is light,* and in him there is no darkness at all. 6If we say, “We have fellowship with him,” while we continue to walk in darkness, we lie and do not act in truth.e 7But if we walk in the light as he is in the light, then we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of his Son Jesus cleanses us from all sin.f 8If we say, “We are without sin,” we deceive ourselves,* and the truth is not in us.g 9If we acknowledge our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from every wrongdoing.h 10If we say, “We have not sinned,” we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.i
* [1:1–4] There is a striking parallel to the prologue of the gospel of John (Jn 1:1–18), but the emphasis here is not on the preexistent Word but rather on the apostles’ witness to the incarnation of life by their experience of the historical Jesus. He is the Word of life (1 Jn 1:1; cf. Jn 1:4), the eternal life that was with the Father and was made visible (1 Jn 1:2; cf. Jn 1:14), and was heard, seen, looked upon, and touched by the apostles. The purpose of their teaching is to share that life, called fellowship…with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ, with those who receive their witness (1 Jn 1:3; Jn 1:14, 16).
* [1:5–7] Light is to be understood here as truth and goodness; darkness here is error and depravity (cf. Jn 3:19–21; 17:17; Eph 5:8). To walk in light or darkness is to live according to truth or error, not merely intellectual but moral as well. Fellowship with God and with one another consists in a life according to the truth as found in God and in Christ.
* [1:8–10] Denial of the condition of sin is self-deception and even contradictory of divine revelation; there is also the continual possibility of sin’s recurrence. Forgiveness and deliverance from sin through Christ are assured through acknowledgment of them and repentance.