Partner with as God uses us to make a difference for those displaced by Russia's war on Ukraine.
Click to donate today!

Bible Commentaries

Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament

1 John 1

Verse 1

1 John 1:1 . Ὃ ἦν , That which was ) John writes his Epistle [which is furnished with a most august exordium. V. g.] in a simple style, without inscription or conclusion. He does not appear to have sent it abroad, but to have communicated it in person to his hearers. See 1 John 1:4 , compared with 2 John 1:12 , at the end. He says, That which was from the beginning , for He who was , ch. 1 John 2:13 ; because that which occurs again immediately. When speaking of God and Christ, the apostle frequently uses a common name for a proper one by the figure Antonomasia, as He Himself, He, The Holy One, The True One , and periphrasis, as He who is from the beginning , etc. In the first clause he marks out λόγον , the Word , Himself; and then the things which they have heard respecting Him. ἦν , was ) even before He was manifested . He was with the Father: see 1 John 1:2 . ἀπ ̓ ἀρχῆς , from the beginning ) The phrase ἀπʼ ἀρχῆς , from the beginning , of frequent occurrence in this epistle, is not to be taken in one and the same sense only, but to be explained from each passage which happens to be present: ch. 1 John 2:7 ; 1 John 2:13-14 , 1 John 3:8 . In this first passage of the epistle, the phrase from the beginning , comprises the whole state of the Word of life, with the Father , 1 John 1:2 , which state preceded his manifestation. Compare the expression, In the beginning , John 1:1 , note. Wherefore it is not an unsuitable flight of speech. ὃ ἀκηκόαμεν , that which we have heard ) Hearing , the sense by which we receive instruction, is put in the first place, sight follows by gradation. Both are reassumed in 1 John 1:3 , where I say may be understood. John proclaims so great an amount of evidence of this manifestation , that it is not now necessary to adduce the prophets: Comp. 2 Peter 1:19 , note. He speaks in the plural number in his own name, and in the name of other fathers : ch. 1 John 2:13 . He appears to have written at a time, when many of the fathers were still alive. ἐθεασάμεθα , we beheld ) to a very great degree. περὶ , concerning ) They perceived the truth of His flesh, and in it the glory of the only begotten. The word was denotes the latter, was manifested , the former. τοῦ λόγου τῆς ζωῆς , the Word of life ) ὁ λόγος , the Word is used by itself, and the Life by itself: whence the Apposition, The Word the Life ; then the Word of Life; The Word in whom was life : John 1:4 ; and the Life , that is eternal ; and, life eternal : 1 John 1:2 . Thus that title, the God of glory , includes the simple title of God .

Verse 2

1 John 1:2 . Ἐφανερώθη , was manifested ) gave Himself in the flesh to our eyes, ears, and hands: John 1:14 . The same word is used of His coming in glory: ch. 1 John 2:28 . καὶ μαρτυροῦμεν καὶ ἀπαγγέλλομεν , and we testify and declare ) Testimony is the genus; there are two species, declaration and writing , 1 John 1:3-4 . Declaration lays the foundation, 1 John 1:5-10 ; writing builds upon it, 1 John 1:4 , note. ὑμῖν , to you ) who have not seen. τὴν ζωὴν τὴν αἰώνιον , Life eternal ) In the beginning of the epistle mention is made of that Life eternal , which always existed, and afterwards appeared to us: at the end of the epistle mention is made of the same Life eternal , which we shall always enjoy. This title of itself teaches, that the goodness of Jesus in its highest sense is not denied: Mark 10:18 , note. ἦν , was ) A repetition by the figure Epanodos; comp. 1 John 1:1 , at the beginning. πρὸς τὸν πατέρα , with the Father ) So John 1:1 , with God .

Verse 3

1 John 1:3 . Ἀκηκόαμεν , we have heard ) This is now put after sight, because the declaration is principally from hearing. κοινωνίαν μεθʼ ἠμῶν , communion with us ) the same which we have who have seen . κοινωνία ) that is ἐστί . Communion , so that He Himself is ours; He in us, and we in Him. μετὰ τοῦ πατρὸς , with the Father ) who sent the Son, 1 John 1:4-10 . μετὰ τοῦ ὑιοῦ αὐτοῦ , with His Son ) whom the Father sent: ch. 1 John 2:1-2 . Respecting the Holy Spirit, see ch. 1 John 3:24 , note.

Verse 4

1 John 1:4 . Ταῦτα , these things ) From the emphatic singular he comes to the plural, for the sake of greater convenience of expression. These things , and no other: 2 Corinthians 1:13 , much less, smaller and more trifling things, as the defenders of traditions say. γράφομεν ὑμῖν , we write to you ) To this present the past, I have written , ch. 1 John 5:13 , answers. Comp. ch. 1 John 2:1 ; 1 John 2:12 , and following verses. Writing gives strong confirmation. ἵνα , that ) Fulness of joy arises from a full and abundant confirmation of soul in faith and love. To this, declaration and writing in conjunction especially tend: 2 John 1:12 . χαρα , joy ) Thus also John writes in his Gospel, ch. John 15:11 , John 16:22 . There is the joy of faith, the joy of love, the joy of hope. In this place the joy of faith is first noticed; and the expression is abbreviated, your joy ; that is, your faith, and the joy which springs from thence: but there is also intended the joy of love and of hope, flowing from thence.

Verse 5

1 John 1:5 . Ἡ ἀγγελία ) ch. 1 John 3:11 . The declaration , which relates to the main subject. Neither in the gospel nor in the epistles does John speak of the Gospel by name; but he terms it the testimony, the word, the truth ; and here, by a closely resembling sound, ἀγγελίαν , the declaration . That which was in the mouth of Christ ἀγγελία , a declaration , the apostles ἀναγγέλλουσι , declare ; for they in turn give forth and propagate ἀγγελίαν , the declaration received from Him. It is called the word , ch. 1 John 2:7 . ἀπ ̓ αὐτοῦ , from Him ) from the Son of God: John 1:18 . φῶς ) The Light of wisdom, love, and glory. What the light is to the natural eye, that God is to the spiritual eye. As he here calls God Light, so ch. 1 John 2:8 , he calls Christ Light. σκοτία , darkness ) The meaning of this is plain from the opposite.

Verse 6

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 7

1 John 1:7 . Ὡς , as ) Imitation of God is the test of fellowship with Him. αὐτὸς , He Himself ) God. So the Hebrews often say, הוא , He, that is, God. So αὐτὸς , 1Ma 3:22 . ἔστιν , is) This word is more inward, and more worthy of God, than to walk. κοινωνίαν ἔχομεν , we have fellowship) that is, Then we truly say, that we have fellowship: for walking in the light certainly and immediately follows this. μετ ̓ ἀλλήλων ) mutual, between us and you: 1 John 1:3 : for ἀλλήλων , reciprocally, does not appear an appropriate expression respecting God and men: comp. John 20:17 . It is however an abbreviated expression: in 1 John 1:6 , with Him, understand from 1 John 1:7 , and among ourselves [and one with another]: in 1 John 1:7 , among us [one with another], understand from 1 John 1:6 , with Him. Comp. John 14:10 , note. καὶ τὸ αἷμα , and the blood) Fellowship with the Son of God is described. Respecting the blood, comp. ch. 1 John 5:6 ; John 6:53-56 ; Revelation 1:5 . καθαρίζει ἡμᾶς , cleanseth us) by remission and taking away: comp. 1 John 1:9 . πάσης , all) original and actual.

Verse 8

1 John 1:8 . Ἁμαρτίαν , sin ) There is an opposition between those who say, We have no sin , and those who confess their sins (plural). He is therefore speaking of actual sins, which flow from original sin. In proportion as each person has contracted less or more, so he deems it necessary to confess less or more; Proverbs 28:13 ; and that either respecting the past, 1 John 1:10 , or the present, 1 John 1:8 . John comprises in his discourses all to whom that declaration comes, both good and bad; without distinction, according to their measure. But there were even then some who extenuated sin, and therefore also disparaged grace. ἡ ἀλήθεια , the truth ) John often comprises faith also together with the notion of truth : ch. 1 John 2:4 . אמת and אמונה are conjugate words. οὐκ ἔστιν ἐν ἡμῖν , is not in us) is not in our heart, and therefore not in our mouth. The fault is in us; is ours: the glory belongs to God: 1 John 1:9 .

Verse 9

1 John 1:9 . Ἐὰν ὁμολογῶμεν τὰς ἁμαρτίας ἡμῶν , if we confess our sins ) This verse is placed between two antithetical sentences, as ch. 1 John 2:10 . For it is antithetical to say, I have no sin , and, I have not sinned , 1Jn 1:8 ; 1 John 1:10 . The former is concerning the guilt of sin, which still remains; the latter is concerning the actual commission . By the former, we deceive ourselves ; by the latter, we make Him a liar . It is the best plan to confess before God, who holds us guilty as sinners, 1 John 1:10 ; and the universal necessity of this confession is here asserted: so that John not only says, that if we have sinned we must confess; but that all have reason to say, I have sin , and I have sinned , and ought to confess that, although with different degrees: otherwise we should not need cleansing by the blood of Jesus Christ. πιστὸς , faithful ) He makes good all things, which we promise ourselves respecting the goodness of God. ἔστι , is ) so that we experience it, and do not make Him a liar. καὶ δίκαιος , and just ) so as to spare the sinner, and abolish the sins. Thus also Jesus Christ is called the righteous , ch. 1 John 2:1 . ἀφῇ , to remit ) while He takes away the guilt. καθαρίσῃ , to cleanse ) so that we sin no more.

Verse 10

1 John 1:10 . Ψεύστην ποιοῦμεν αὐτὸν , we make Him a liar ) God says, Thou hast sinned; to deny this is impious. Comp. ch. 1 John 5:10 . ὁ λόγος αὐτοῦ , His word ) which is true: 1 John 1:8 . The word accuses us with truth; and by contradiction it is driven from the heart. ἐν ἡμῖν , in us ) and therefore we are liars : ch. 1 John 2:4 .

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Bengel, Johann Albrecht. "Commentary on 1 John 1". Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament. 1897.