1 John 1:3-5, “That which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. And these things we write to you that your joy may be full. This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all.”
Verse 3a: “That which we have seen and heard we declare to you…”
“To have fellowship with God, we must begin with God and His authoritative revelation of Himself.
John is not sharing with us his speculations on what God may be like. He doesn’t throw out an idea and suggest that his readers discuss what they think about it. Rather, John says, ‘We heard this straight from Jesus and we announce it to you.’ It wasn’t a discussion point; it was an authoritative pronouncement from Jesus through the apostles to the readers. To have fellowship with God, we must start with His authoritative revelation in His Word.
Note, also, that John does not begin with his hearers felt needs. He doesn’t discuss where they may be hurting, or bring up how this message will help them have a happy family life or a successful personal life. Rather, John begins with God and he brings us face to face, not with God’s love, but with His holiness. Coming after verse 3, about having fellowship with God, you would expect John to say, ‘To have fellowship with God, you need to know that He loves you very much.’ But, rather, he bluntly says, ‘God is light.’ Then, so that we don’t dodge the uncomfortable implications of that, he states the negative, ‘and in Him there is no darkness at all.’” –Steven Cole
John saw Jesus heal the sick, restore sight to the blind, and make the lame walk. He listened to the wisdom of His words. He was with Him on the Mount of Transfiguration. He was in the boat when Jesus walked on water and again when He calmed a raging storm with a word. He was present when he took the five loaves and two fish and fed nearly ten-thousand hungry people. He was there at His crucifixion and remembered that Jesus had predicted it would happen. More than anything, He saw the resurrected Jesus. Three days after he was dead and buried, John was having dinner with Jesus! He had a chance to question him and learn from him those forty days after His resurrection. As a result of what John witnessed and heard John drew some conclusions about this real person, Jesus. He tells us that Jesus is the Word of Life. When John calls Jesus “the Word,” Jesus is the One who fulfilled the promise of God. He is the One who expresses the heart of God. He reveals the mind of God. He is one who gives light and life and John isn’t asking us to believe his theories. He’s asking us to believe his eyewitness testimony. –Adapted from Bruce Goettsche
Verse 3b: “that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ.”
Fellowship in Greek is Koinonia meaning, community, communion, joint participation, sharing, intimacy, fellowship and partnership.
The church is a family! The early church ate together, shared their wealth, prayed together, witnessed together and suffered together.
Hebrews 10:25 TLB, “Let us not neglect our church meetings, as some people do, but encourage and warn each other, especially now that the day of his coming back again is drawing near.”
So Koinonia is all in the family. God wants His people to enjoy one another. A family visited our church for several Sundays, then we didn't see them again. I visited them and was told that our church was unfriendly! I pointed out to him that he came in late and left during the closing prayer, he never had a chance to fellowship. They did come back and became every good church members.
And that fellowship is not just with each other but with the Father and His So, Jesus Christ. Our relationship is horizontal and vertical. Love the Lord, and love your neighbor
Verse 4: “And these things we write to you that your joy may be full.”
“Joy” in Greek is chara, meaning, “cheerfulness, great pleasure or delight, gladness, and calm delight.”
“Christians should always find reasons to be joyful. There are many ways to define joy. Joy isn't just a smile or a laugh. Joy is something that is deep within and doesn't leave quickly. When we have the joy of the Lord, we'll know it and so will others. Since joy is given by God and something that He wants us to have, we need to be joyful! In addition to being joyful, we should let others have their joy and not bring them down when they are excited about good things. The only thing worse than not having joy is stealing someone else's.” –Theopedia
How on earth can we have joy in this world? Our world is filled with sorrow, misery and woe! Sadness surrounds us all the time. Death, sickness, accidents, crime, immorality and unkind people are ever with us. Marlena, my wife said on day, I can’t watch violence on television, so we had to stop watching the news! So, what is there to be so happy about?
The joy of our Salvation:
Isaiah 12:3 NLT, “With joy you will drink deeply from the fountain of salvation!” The most joyous thing in my life is my personal relationship with Jesus Christ. It would be so sad not to know, not to be sure that you have eternal life. There is joy in knowing God!
John 17:3 MSG, “And this is the real and eternal life: That they know you, the one and only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you sent.” Philippians 3:10, “That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection.”
Many years ago in London, a Salvation Army boy was beating his drum so loud, it was annoying everyone. The boy said, “When I think about where I was when Jesus found me, and where He brought me to, I get so excited I could bust the bloomin’ drum.”
Billy Bray, one of God’s quaint vessels got a real dose of salvation, and he just did everything to express himself. People made fun of him, and laughed at him. They asked, “Why are you so happy all the time? Suppose you discover you’re not saved at all, you’re not really a child of God, and suppose you were to die and go to hell?” Billy said, “Well, I suppose that if I die and discover that I’m not Christian and I end up I hell, Jesus has been so wonderful and real in my life, I will just have to shout all the way to hell. When I get down to hell I will run up and down the streets shouting ‘Halleluiah, praise the Lord.’ The devil will come over to me and say, ‘Billy Bray, we can’t stand that down here, we can’t put up with that, we’ll just have to send you to heaven.’” That’s the joy of salvation!
Habakkuk 3:17,18 NLT, “Even though the fig trees have no blossoms, and there are no grapes on the vines, even though the olive crop fails, and the fields lie empty and barren; even though the flocks die in the fields, and the cattle barns are empty, yet I will rejoice in the Lord! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation!”
Isaiah 61:10, “I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness…”
Psalm 119:14, “I have rejoiced in the way of Your testimonies, as much as in all riches.”
The joy of the Scriptures.
Jeremiah 15:16, “Your words were found, and I ate them, and Your word was to me the joy and rejoicing of my heart.”
Psalm 119:47, “And I will delight myself in Your commandments,
Which I love.”
Psalm 119:97, “Oh, how I love Your law! It is my meditation all the day”
Psalm 119:162, “I rejoice at Your word as one who finds great treasure”
God’s Word is, a lamp to light my pathway through life; a hammer to knock out the dents in my life; a fire to warm me even on my dreariest days; a seed sown in desolate places, making them a garden. God’s Word brings healing, freedom, illumination, faith and wisdom.
I will stand in awe of God’s Word; tremble at its judgments, search it daily; receive it with joy; glorify it; handle it accurately and carefully; teach it and preach it without apology; and suffer for it if need be.
God’s Word is my restrainer from sin; my guide in darkness; my source of joy forever; my standard of conduct; my spiritual food…I love a good meal; and my source of life.
God’s Word is sharper than any two-edged sword; pure; perfect; sure; harmonious; enduring; effectual; God-breathed; and living and active.
Joy in trials.
Psalm 94:19, “When the cares of my heart are many, your consolations cheer my soul.”
Romans 5:3, “More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance.”
Romans 8:18, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.”
Romans 12:12, “Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.”
Colossians 1:24, “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake.”
James 1:2,3, “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.”
1 Peter 4:13, “But rejoice insofar as you share Christ's sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.”
The apostle seems to be saying, “If you have doubts, they will kill your joy. Doubt is a great joy-killer; but we have seen him, we have heard him, we have handled him who is the fountain of all true joy.” Let no doubts come into your hearts, for these are well-attested facts of which we speak.
Some Christians have joy, but there are only a few drops in the bottom of their cup; but the Scriptures were written that our joy may be full. Why, if you have nothing else to make you glad the fact that Jesus died for you and He lives for you, should cause you to rejoice in Him.
Meet the joy-stealers:
Worry: The “what ifs” in life paralyze us. Philippians 4:6 NLT, “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.”
Circumstances: A Christian should never the under the circumstances, but with the Holy Spirit that lives in him, he can conquer the circumstances. Philippians 4:11, “I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content…”
Doubt: A feeling of uncertainty or lack of conviction. James 1:5,6, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. 6 But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind.”
People: Too often people get us down. They are the ones who can always find reasons why you can’t do something. When I was a new believer, having been a drunk atheist, several people, including one man who had been to seminary, tried to discourage me in my faith. My own sister-in-law told me it wasn’t real, that I would give it up eventually. Well, it is now been almost sixty years and I haven’t given it up yet! Why not? Christ has hold of me! John 10:28-30 MSG, “My sheep recognize my voice. I know them, and they follow me. I give them real and eternal life. They are protected from the Destroyer for good. No one can steal them from out of my hand. The Father who put them under my care is so much greater than the Destroyer and Thief. No one could ever get them away from him.” And, Philippians 1:6, “Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.”
Verse 5: “This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all.”
“Having explained the general aim of his book—to make his readers, as disciples, partakers of the same fellowship which he and his fellow-apostles had with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ, and of the fullness of joy in the Lord which that implies,—the writer proceeds to open up the nature and character of this fellowship of joy. He begins by laying down the first and primary condition of it, the fundamentally necessary qualification for its possession, that without which it cannot be.” –Robert Candlish
While the other New Testament writers describe the attributes and activities of God, the apostle John is the only one to make three assertions concerning the nature of God (there is one other in Hebrews 12:29, “God is consuming fire.”) 1) God is Spirit (John 4:24); 2) God is Light (1 John1:5); and 3) God is Love (1 John 4:8,16).
Remember that there were apparently false winds of doctrine beginning to blow in the young church, winds of ethical error, ie: you can believe in God and then live any way you want. You don't have to worry about sin. So John addresses error by reminding them of the truth about God, and then he explains how doctrine calls for duty, a practice in agreement with the truth about God.
“Theology proper is theology that has to do with who God is and what He is like. It’s usually one of the first sections in a systematic theology. It deals with things like: the names of God and the attributes of God, the characteristics of God and the works of God--like creation and providence and redemption. And it’s interesting that John responds to this ethical error in the church by first taking people to who God is, and he announces in verse six that God is light. Now in doing that, in and of itself, he reminds us of a very important truth; and that is this: that the Christian life flows from what you really believe God is. What you really believe God is. Who you really believe God is. What you really believe God is like will work itself out in the way that you live the Christian life. And so he makes this announcement that God is light.” –J Ligon Duncan
God is Light! He is not just one light among many other lights; He is not a light-bearer; God does not have light as one of His characteristics, but He is light; and although He created light, Genesis 1:3, “Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light.” God Himself is uncreated light. And, the light of God is visible in Jesus, Who said, “I am the Light of the world” (John 8:12).
“God is knowledge, God is truth; God is purity. ‘God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.’ There is no darkness of sin, or ignorance, or error about God. In his Exposition Spurgeon adds that God is...Not a light, nor the light, though he is both, but that He is light. Scripture uses the term light for knowledge, for purity, for prosperity, for happiness, and for truth. God is light, and then in his usual style, John, who not only tells you a truth but always guards it, adds: ‘In Whom is no darkness at all.’” –Charles Spurgeon
“God is light" which is the opposite of darkness. In Scripture darkness stands for sin, evil, death, and light for holiness, goodness, life. “God is light” means that He is the sum of all excellency.” A.W. Pink
“God is Light” is the present tense (continuously) and indicative mood, the mood of reality. In other words, God really is Light and He is Light forever and ever! And as the following Psalm teaches, for believers He is my light!
Psalm 27:1, “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?”
“Light illuminates our way and repels the darkness, thus revealing hidden enemies.” – The African Bible Commentary
Apart from natural phenomena, light is used in Scripture:
1 Timothy 6:16, “who alone has immortality, dwelling in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see, to whom be honor and everlasting power. Amen.
James 1:17, “”Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.”
Psalm 4:6, “Lord, lift up the light of Your countenance upon us.”
Isaiah 60:19,20, “The sun shall no longer be your light by day, nor for brightness shall the moon give light to you; but the Lord will be to you an everlasting light, and your God your glory…The Lord will be your everlasting light…”
John 1:4,5,9 “In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend…That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world.”
John 3:19, “And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.”
John 8:12, “Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, ‘I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.’”
John 9:5, “As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”
John 12:36,46 “While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light…I have come as a light into the world, that whoever believes in Me should not abide in darkness.”
When we walk with the Lord in the light of His Word,
What a glory He sheds on our way!
While we do His good will, He abides with us still,
And with all who will trust and obey.
Trust and obey, for there’s no other way
To be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey
Spurgeon on the Word of God: “It is a lamp by night, a light by day, and a delight at all times. David guided his own steps by it, and also saw the difficulties of his road by its beams. He who walks in darkness is sure, sooner or later, to stumble; while he who walks by the light of day, or by the lamp of night, stumbles not, but keeps his uprightness. Ignorance is painful upon practical subjects; it breeds indecision and suspense, and these are uncomfortable: the Word of God, by imparting heavenly knowledge, leads to decision, and when that is followed by determined resolution, as in this case, it brings with it great restfulness of heart.”
Isaiah 60:1-5, “Arise, shine; for your light has come, And the glory of the Lord has risen upon you. For behold, darkness will cover the earth, And deep darkness the peoples; But the Lord will rise upon you, And His glory will appear upon you. And nations will come to your light, And kings to the brightness of your rising. Lift up your eyes round about, and see; They all gather together, they come to you. Your sons will come from afar, And your daughters will be carried in the arms. “Then you will see and be radiant, And your heart will thrill and rejoice; Because the abundance of the sea will be turned to you, The wealth of the nations will come to you.”
Unless otherwise noted, the New King James Version of the Bible was used. Also The New Living Translation (NLT); The New American Standard Bible (NASB); The Message (MSG); The New Century Version (NCV); The Amplified Bible (AMP); The King James Version (KJV), The New Life Version (NLV); English Standard Version (ESV); J.B. Phillips New Testament; Easy to Read Version (ERV) and The Living Bible (TLB).