1 John 1:6
If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth:
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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.If we say that we have fellowship uith him - If we reckon ourselves among his friends, or, in other words, if we profess to be like him: for a profession of religion involves the idea of having fellowship with God, (compare the notes at 1 John 1:3), and he who professes that should be like him.

And walk in darkness - Live in sin and error. To "walk in darkness" now commonly denotes to be in doubt about our religious state, in contradistinction from living in the enjoyment of religion. That is not, however, probably the whole idea here. The leading thought is, that if we live in sin, it is a proof that our profession of religion is false. Desirable as it is to have the comforts of religion, yet it is not always true that they who do not are not true Christians, nor is it true by any means that they intend to deceive the world.

We lie - We are false professors; we are deceived if we think that we can have fellowship with God, and yet live in the practice of sin. As God is pure, so must we be, if we would be his friends. This does not mean necessarily that they meant to deceive, but that there was an irreconcilable contradiction between a life of sin and fellowship with God.

And do not the truth - Do not act truly. The profession is a false one. Compare the notes at John 3:22. To do the truth is to act in accordance with truth; and the expression here means that such an one could not be a Christian. And yet how many there are who are living in known 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 which it imparts, who nevertheless entertain the belief that they are the friends of God, and 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, and in fact have never had any true fellowship with that God who is light, and in whom there is no darkness at all. Religion is light; religion is peace, purity, joy; and though there are eases where for a time a true Christian may be left to darkness, and have no spiritual joy, and be in doubt about his salvation, yet still it is a great truth, that unless we know by personal experience what it is to walk habitually in the light, to have the comforts of religion, and to experience in our own souls the influences which make the heart pure, and which bring us into conformity to the God who is light, we can have no true religion. All else is but a name, which will not avail us on the final day.

6. say—profess.

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).

lie—(1Jo 2:4).

do not—in practice, whatever we say.

the truth—(Eph 4:21; Joh 3:21).

Light and darkness are frequently put for holiness and wickedness, Luke 16:8 Romans 13:12 Ephesians 5:8 1 Thessalonians 5:5. The sum then is: That if any pretend to friendship with God, or to have received holy and gracious influences from him, and do yet lead wicked lives, they are liars, even guilty of a practical lie, doing what makes their profession false and insincere.

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.

If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth:
1 John 1:6. Inference from 1 John 1:5. He alone has fellowship with God, who does not walk in darkness.

ἐὰν εἴπωμεν] The same form of speech (ἐάν) is repeated from verse to verse (only with the exception of 1 John 2:2) until chap. 1 John 2:3; then appears the participle with the definite article: ὁ λέγων, 1 John 2:4, 1 John 2:9; ὁ ἀγαπῶν, 1 John 2:10; ὁ μισῶν, 1 John 2:11.

The use of the hypothetical particles, especially of ἐάν, is also found very often in the Gospel.[53] On the 1st person plural, Lorinus says: suam quoque in hac hypothesi personam conjugit, ut lenius ac facilius agat; better Lücke: “By the communicative and hypothetical form the language gains, on the one hand, in refining delicacy, and, on the other, in more general reference and force;” unsatisfactorily Ebrard: “The 1st person plural serves only to express the general ‘we.’ ”

ὅτι κοινωνίαν ἔχομεν μετʼ αὐτοῦ] see 1 John 1:3. Fellowship with God forms the innermost essence of all true Christian life.

καὶ ἐν τῷ σκότει περιπατῶμεν] comp. Gospel of John 8:12. ἐν τῷ σκότει περιπατεῖν is not merely “not to know whither we are going” (Luther), but to live in darkness, i.e. in sin, as our element. According to Weiss, who denies to the σκότος, as well as to the contrasted φῶς, an ethical reference, it is = “to walk in the unenlightened state;” but is not this just the very state in which the life is ruled by sin?

Bengel, for more particular definition, rightly adds: actione interna et externa, quoque nos vertimus; such a walking in darkness is all life whose principle is not the love of God.[54]

ψευδόμεθα καὶ οὐ ποιοῦμεν τὴν ἀλήθειαν] for, τίς κοινωνία φωτὶ πρὸς σκότος; (2 Corinthians 6:14). ψευδόμεθα expresses the moral objectionableness of such a contradiction between the deed and the word.

The negative clause is not a mere repetition of the same thought, but introduces along with it a new idea: ψευδόμεθα refers to εἴπωμεν; οὐ ποιοῦμεν τ. ἀλ. refers back to ἐν τ. σκ. περιπατῶμεν; for ποιεῖν τὴν ἀλ. is not merely = ἀληθεύειν (Ephesians 4:15), but signifies the practice of ἀλήθεια in word and deed; comp. John 3:21, where it is contrasted with φαῦλα πράσσειν, and is used expressly of ἔργα. In the common interpretation, according to which it is = agere candide, sincere (Cyprian, Theodorus, Socinus, Grotius, etc.), τὴν ἀλήθειαν does not receive its due force; by the article the idea is specified in its complete generality and objectivity: “the true,” i.e. that which corresponds to the nature and will of God (Brückner, Braune), although it must be admitted that the general idea is here used with special reference to the desirable conformity between word and deed; emphasis is thereby given to the fact that in the case mentioned in ἐὰν κ.τ.λ. the alleged κοινωνία with God is practically denied. In de Wette’s explanation: “to do that which corresponds to the nature of Christian fellowship,” a meaning is given to the expression which is neither indicated in the word nor in the train of thought.

[53] ἐάν is used—as Winer says, p. 260, VII. p. 273—with the idea of an objective possibility, i.e. when the particular event is to be represented simply as objectively possible, and the speaker does not want to express his subjective view of it (whether he considers it probable, desirable, etc.). A Tertium non datur (Ebrard) is not contained in it.

[54] That in περιπατεῖν there is a reference to the outward manner of life is self-evident, but that it only signifies this, as visible by the eyes of men, to the exclusion of the inner activity of life, is an unfounded assertion of Ebrard. The commentators rightly point out that this περιπατεῖν ἐν σκότει is different from “the failing and falling, through over-haste and weakness, in temptation and in conflict” (Gerlach); “it does not mean: still to have darkness in us” (Spener).

1 John 1:6-7. The heresy of Antinomianism, represented by the Nicolaitans (cf. Introd. p. 156). ἐὰν εἴπωμεν, a gentle and charitable hypothesis. He does not charge his readers with actually holding this pernicious doctrine, and he includes himself (“we,” not “ye”). περιπατεῖν, Heb. הָלַךְ, of the whole course of life. The Greek phrase is ἀναστρέφεσθαι (conversari). God is light and sin darkness, peccata tenebræ sunt (Aug.), and it is impossible to be living in sin or compromising with it and at the same time be enjoying fellowship with God. ψευδόμεθα: we may believe the lie, being self-deceived (1 John 1:8); for disobedience to the Truth blinds us to it. Knowledge comes by doing (cf. John 7:17). τὴν ἀλήθειαν, see note on 1 John 1:8. “Walking in the light” has two blessed results: (1) “fellowship with one another,” which may mean either fellowship with God—He with us and we with Him (Aug., Calv.), or communion of saints—our fellow-believers with us and we with them. In fact the one idea implies the other. They are inseparable. Communion with our brethren is the consequence and evidence of communion with God. Cf. 1 John 4:20. (2) “Cleansing in the blood of Jesus.” τὸ αἷμα Ἰησοῦ, God’s Infinite Sacrifice for the sin of the world—a N.T. phrase of peculiar poignancy and fragrance. Cf. Ignat. ad Rom. vii.: τὸ αἷμα αὐτοῦ, ὅ ἐστιν ἀγάπη ἄφθαρτος. When we walk in the light, that demonstration of the length to which God has gone in sacrifice for our sakes, is ever before us, and the amazing spectacle subdues our hearts, takes possession of them, and drives out every evil affection. cf. Catherine of Siena: “The blood and tears of the Divine Son are able to cleanse us from head to foot”. πάσης ἁμαρτίας, “every sin,’ i.e. every outbreak of the sinful principle; not “all sin” (πάσης τῆς ἁμαρτίας). cf. Romans 3:19 : πᾶν στόμαπᾶς ὁ κόσμος.

6. An inference from the first principle just laid down. God is light, utterly removed from all darkness: therefore to be in darkness is to be cut off from Him.

If we say] With great gentleness he puts the case hypothetically, and with great delicacy he includes himself in the hypothesis. This ‘if we’ continues in almost every verse until 1 John 2:3, after which it is changed into the equivalent ‘he that’, which continues down to 1 John 2:11; after that neither form is used. This is one of several indications that from 1 John 1:6 to 1 John 2:11 is a definite division of the Epistle, based upon the introductory verse, 1 John 1:5. With 1 John 2:12 there is a new departure.

walk in darkness] This ‘walk’ (περιπατεῖν) is the Latin versari and signifies the ordinary course of life. The word in this sense is frequent in S. Paul and in S. John. Comp. 1 John 2:6; 1 John 2:11; 2 John 1:4; 2 John 1:6; 3 John 1:3-4; Revelation 21:24; John 8:12. It expresses not merely action, but habitual action. A life in moral darkness can no more have communion with God, than a life in a coal-pit can have communion with the sun. For ‘what communion hath light with darkness?’ (2 Corinthians 6:4). Light can be shut out, but it cannot be shut in. Some Gnostics taught, not merely that to the illuminated all conduct was alike, but that to reach the highest form of illumination men must experience every kind of action, however abominable, in order to work themselves free from the powers that rule the world (Eus. H. E. IV. vii. 9). ‘In darkness’ should probably be in the darkness: in 1 John 1:6-7, as in 1 John 2:8-9; 1 John 2:11, both light and darkness have the article in the Greek, which is not merely generic but emphatic; that which is light indeed is opposed to that which is darkness indeed. In 2 Corinthians 6:14, ‘What communion hath light with darkness?’, neither word has the article.

we lie, and do not the truth] Antithetic parallelism, as in 1 John 1:5. The negative statement here carries us further than the positive one: it includes conduct as well as speech. See on John 3:21, where ‘doing the truth’ is opposed to ‘practising evil’. It is also the opposite of ‘doing a lie’ (Revelation 21:27; Revelation 22:15). In LXX. ‘to do mercy and truth’ is found several times. So also S. Paul opposes truth to iniquity (1 Corinthians 13:6); shewing that neither does he confine truth to truthfulness in words. In this Epistle we find many striking harmonies in thought and language between S. John and S. Paul, quite fatal to the view that there is a fundamental difference in teaching between the two Apostles.

1 John 1:6. Ἐὰν εἴπωμεν, if we say) To say anything at variance with the fact, is fraud: 1 John 1:8; 1 John 1:10. So he that saith, ch. 1 John 2:4; 1 John 2:9; if a man say, ch. 1 John 4:20. To say, is to persuade one’s self and others, to think, to bear before one’s self [to profess openly], to pretend.—κοινωνίαν, fellowship) 1 John 1:3.—ἐν τῷ σκότει, in darkness) Comp. ch. 1 John 2:8-11.—περιπατῶμεν, we walk) by internal and external action, wherever we turn ourselves.—ψευδόμεθα, we lie) A similar expression occurs, ch. 1 John 2:4.—οὐ ποιοῦμεν τὴν ἀλήθειαν, we do not the truth) that is, the truth has no place with us in our very action.

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). 1 John 1:6If we say (ἐὰν εἴπωμεν)

The subjunctive mood puts the case as supposed, not as assumed.

Walk in the darkness

The phrase occurs only in John's Gospel and First Epistle. Darkness here is σκότος, instead of σκοτία (1 John 1:5). See on John 1:5. Walk (περιπατῶμεν), is, literally, walk about; indicating the habitual course of the life, outward and inward. The verb, with this moral sense, is common in John and Paul, and is found elsewhere only in Mark 7:5; Acts 21:21.

We lie and do not the truth

Again the combination of the positive and negative statements. See on 1 John 1:5. The phrase to do the truth occurs only in John's Gospel and First Epistle. See on John 3:21. All walking in darkness is a not doing of the truth. "Right action is true thought realized. Every fragment of right done is so much truth made visible" (Westcott).

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