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Bible Commentaries

John Trapp Complete Commentary
1 John 1

 

 

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Verse 1

1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life;

Ver. 1. That which was from the beginning] Christ, the eternal God. {See Trapp on "John 1:2"}

Which we have heard, &c.] The man Christ Jesus, the arch-prophet.

Which we have seen] And what so sure as sight? See Luke 1:2. αυτοπτης, this was denied to many kings and prophets, Luke 10:24. To have seen Christ in the flesh was one of the three things that Austin wished, which yet St Paul set no such high price upon, in comparison to a spiritual sight of him, 2 Corinthians 5:16. {See Trapp on "2 Corinthians 5:16"}

Which we have looked upon] εθεασαμεθα, diligently and with delight. How sweet shall be the sight of him in heaven! With what inconceivable attention and admiration shall we contemplate his glorified body outshining the brightest cherub!

And our hands have handled] i.e. With whom we have most familiarly conversed, sitting with him at the same table, and eating some bushels of salt with him, as the Greek word, Acts 1:4, seems to import, συναλιζομ. from αλς, salt. Christ’s faithful ministers that have the honour to handle his law (as the phrase is, Jeremiah 2:8) come nearest to the apostles in this glorious privilege.


Verse 2

2 (For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and shew unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;)

Ver. 2. For the life was manifested] Christ, who is "life essential," swallowed up death in victory, and "brought life and immortality to light by the gospel," 2 Timothy 1:10.


Verse 3

3 That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.

Ver. 3. Declare we unto you] That (Theophilus-like) ye may be at a certainty, fully persuaded, Luke 1:1, having a plerophory or "full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgment of the mystery of Christ," Colossians 2:2. {See Trapp on "Colossians 2:2"}

And truly our fellowship] If any should object, Is that such a preferment to have fellowship with you? What are you? &c. He answereth, As mean as we are, we have "fellowship with the Father and Son." Union being the ground of communion, all that is theirs is ours. This made Moses cry out, "Happy art thou, O Israel!" or, "Oh the happiness of thee, O Israel!" the heaped up happiness. "Who is like unto these" Deuteronomy 33:29. The saints, how mean soever, are (in true account) the world’s paragons, the only earthly angels, because in "fellowship with the Father and the Son," that is, with the Father by the Son.


Verse 4

4 And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full.

Ver. 4. And these things write we] Out of the Scriptures, those wells of salvation, draw we waters with joy, Isaiah 12:4, suck these breasts of consolation, and be satisfied, Isaiah 66:11. Nusquam inveni requiem nisi in libro et claustro, saith one. Chrysostom brings in a man laden with inward troubles, coming into the church; where, when he heard this passage read, "Why art thou cast down, my soul, &c., hope in God," &c., he presently recovered comfort. (Hom. in Genes.) There is a singular efficacy in the promises to comfort those that are cast down, Romans 15:4. {See Trapp on "Romans 15:4"}


Verse 5

5 This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.

Ver. 5. That God is light] He is αυτοφως, light essential, and they that walk with him must be as so many crystal glasses with a light in the midst; for can two walk together, and they not be agreed? Amos 3:3. That was a devilish sarcasm of the Manichees, that God (till he had created light) dwelt in darkness, as if God were not eternal light, and dwelt in light unapproachable, 1 Timothy 6:16. But what madmen were the Carpocratian heretics, who taught (even in St John’s days, as Epiphanius testifieth) that men must sin, and do the will of the devils; otherwise they could not enter into heaven! These might well be some of those Antichrists he complaineth of 1 John 4:3; 1 John 4:6, and of those libertines and liars he here argueth against.


Verse 6

6 If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth:

Ver. 6. If we say that, &c.] As they do that profess to know God, but in works do deny him, Titus 1:16. {See Trapp on "Titus 1:16"}

And walk in darkness] There is a child of light that walks in darkness, Isaiah 50:10, but that is in another sense. The wicked also that are here said to walk in darkness have their sparkles of light that they have kindled, Isaiah 50:10, but it is as a light smitten out of a flint, which neither warms nor guides them, but dazzleth their eyes, and goes out, so that they lie down in sorrow.


Verse 7

7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.

Ver. 7. We have fellowship one, &c.] That is, God and we; inasmuch as we are made partakers of the divine nature, and are pure as God is pure, 1 John 3:3, in quality though not in an equality. We have fellowship with God: 1. In his holiness. 2. In his happiness.

And the blood of Jesus] That whereas God’s pure eye can soon find many a foul flaw in the best of us (our righteousness being mixed, as light and darkness, dimness at least, in a painted glass, dyed with some obscure and dim colour, it is transparent and giveth good, but not clear and pure light), lo, here is a ready remedy, a sweet support, "the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin." And God beholding us in the face of his Son, seeth nothing amiss in us; no more than David did in lame Mephibosheth, when he beheld in him the features of his friend Jonathan.


Verse 8

8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.

Ver. 8. If we say that we have] If any should be so saucy, or rather silly, as to say with Donatus, Non habeo, Domine, quod ignoscas, I have no sin for Christ to cleanse me from, he is a loud liar, and may very well have the whetstone. St James for his innocent conversation was surnamed Justus; and yet, putting himself into the number, he saith, "For in many things we offend all," James 3:2.


Verse 9

9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Ver. 9. If we confess] Homo agnoscit, Deus ignoscit. Man acknowledges, God forgives. And Confessio peccati est vomitus sordium animae. Confession of sin is the vomit of the filthy soul. (Aug.) Judah (his name signifies confession) got the kingdom from Reuben. No man was ever kept out of God’s kingdom for his confessed badness; many are for their supposed goodness; as those justitiaries in the former verse, whose hearts are big swollen with high conceit of themselves; and whose lips are held close by the devil; who knows well there is no way to purge the sick soul but upwards.

He is faithful] And yet Bellarmine saith that he cannot find in all the book of God any promise made to confession of sin to God. (De Justific. i. 21.) He might have seen (besides other places not a few) Proverbs 28:13; Psalms 32:5, &c., that this very text is a most heavenly promise of mercy to those that confess heartily, and not hollowly. The word faithful also refers to God’s promises, as just doth to the blood of Christ (the ransom received) whereby the saints are cleansed, and it stands not with God’s justice to demand the same debt twice, viz. of the surety and of the debtor.

From all unrighteousness] All without exception; why then should we put in conditions, and as it were interline God’s covenant? He is a sin pardoning God, Nehemiah 9:31; no God like him for that in heaven and earth, Micah 7:18; he multiplieth pardon, as we multiply sin, Isaiah 55:7; he doth it freely, for his own sake, naturally, Exodus 34:6; constantly, Psalms 130:4, and here. The blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth (not, he hath cleansed or will cleanse, but he doth it) daily and duly, constantly and continually. This should be as a perpetual picture in our hearts.


Verse 10

10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

Ver. 10. We make him a liar] For the Scripture hath concluded all under sin, Romans 11:32. {See Trapp on "Romans 11:32"}

 


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Bibliography Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on 1 John 1:4". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/1-john-1.html. 1865-1868.

Lectionary Calendar
Sunday, September 15th, 2019
the Week of Proper 19 / Ordinary 24
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