|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
1:5-10 A message from the Lord Jesus, the Word of life, the eternal Word, we should all gladly receive. The great God should be represented to this dark world, as pure and perfect light. As this is the nature of God, his doctrines and precepts must be such. And as his perfect happiness cannot be separated from his perfect holiness, so our happiness will be in proportion to our being made holy. To walk in darkness, is to live and act against religion. God holds no heavenly fellowship or intercourse with unholy souls. There is no truth in their profession; their practice shows its folly and falsehood. The eternal Life, the eternal Son, put on flesh and blood, and died to wash us from our sins in his own blood, and procures for us the sacred influences by which sin is to be subdued more and more, till it is quite done away. While the necessity of a holy walk is insisted upon, as the effect and evidence of the knowledge of God in Christ Jesus, the opposite error of self-righteous pride is guarded against with equal care. All who walk near to God, in holiness and righteousness, are sensible that their best days and duties are mixed with sin. God has given testimony to the sinfulness of the world, by providing a sufficient, effectual Sacrifice for sin, needed in all ages; and the sinfulness of believers themselves is shown, by requiring them continually to confess their sins, and to apply by faith to the blood of that Sacrifice. Let us plead guilty before God, be humble, and willing to know the worst of our case. Let us honestly confess all our sins in their full extent, relying wholly on his mercy and truth through the righteousness of Christ, for a free and full forgiveness, and our deliverance from the power and practice of sin.
Verse 6. - A corollary from verse 5. If God is Light to the exclusion of all darkness, then fellowship with darkness excludes fellowship with him. If we say ἐὰν εἴπωμεν; "if any of us, no matter who he be, at any time say." The construction marks the supposed action as one likely to occur. The apostle includes himself in the possibility, and of course he and his readers did say that they had communion with God. By" walking" περιπατεῖν ´ερσαρι is meant our daily life, our movement and activity in the world (John 8:12; John 11:9, 10; John 12:35; John 21:18; Revelation 21:24); this activity will inevitably express the κοινωνία in which we live. To have communion with him who is Light, and be continually exhibiting a life of darkness, is impossible. The Carpocratians and other Gnostics, who taught that to the enlightened all action is indifferent, because neither purity nor filth can change the nature of pure gold, are perhaps here aimed at (Mansel, 'Gnostic Heresies,' pages 117-121). We lie, and do not the truth. As in verse 5, St. John enforces a statement by denying the opposite. But the negative is not a mere equivalent of the positive: the two together mean, "we are false both in word and deed." Truth with St. John is not confined to language; it is exhibited in conduct also (cf. ποιεῖν ψεῦδος, Revelation 21:27; Revelation 22:15).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
If we say that we have fellowship with him,.... The Alexandrian copy reads, "for if we say": that is, if any profess to be partakers of the divine nature, to be like unto God, and to have communion with him, to have the light of his countenance, and the discoveries of his love:
and walk in darkness; in the darkness of sin, ignorance, and unbelief, or are in a state of unregeneracy and blindness; whose understandings are darkened, and they know not God in Christ, nor have any true sight and sense of themselves, their sin and danger; and are ignorant of Christ and his righteousness, and the way of salvation by him; and are strangers to the Spirit of God, and the work of his grace; and are unacquainted with the truths of the Gospel; and not only so, but go on in darkness more and more; prefer it to the light, love it, and the works of it; have fellowship with them, and choose them; take pleasure in the ways of sin and wickedness, and continue, and walk on in them; if such persons pretend to fellowship with God, they are liars:
we lie; it cannot be, it is a contradiction, the thing is impossible and impracticable; what communion hath light with darkness? or what fellowship can the throne of iniquity, or those in whom sin reigns, have with God? for God is light, and were they partakers of him, or like unto him, or had communion with him, they would consequently be in the light, and not in darkness, and much less walk in it; wherefore they are liars,
and do not the truth: they do not say the truth, nor act according to it; they do not act uprightly or sincerely, but are hypocrites, and pretend to that which they have not; and if they did the truth, they would come to the light, and not walk in darkness; see John 3:21.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
have fellowship with him—(1Jo 1:3). The essence of the Christian life.
walk—in inward and outward action, whithersoever we turn ourselves [Bengel].
in darkness—Greek, "in the darkness"; opposed to "the light" (compare 1Jo 2:8, 11).
do not—in practice, whatever we say.
the truth—(Eph 4:21; Joh 3:21).
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