Without a doubt, some of the most compelling evidence in a courtroom comes from eyewitnesses. Secondhand stories harken back to the days of playing telephone at recess. We rightfully wonder if the story we hear matches the actual account. But when someone takes the stand and says, “Not only did I hear it, but I saw it, and even touched it,” we know their testimony deserves full consideration.
John knows this truth and starts his letter by reminding the readers that his testimony about the risen Christ comes from firsthand experience. His amplification from hearing, to seeing, to touching screams, “Trust me! I was there! I know Him!” He even uses the Greek verb for touching that denotes handling and examining. Before launching into the defense of the faith, John wants to remind and emphasize for the believers that the Christian faith grew from eyewitness testimony of public events—a public trial, a public crucifixion, a resurrected Jesus who appeared to many. Christians place their faith in a historic event grounded in reality.
After laying the groundwork for why his words should be trusted, John then launches into his arguments for the Christian faith over and against the message the false teachers were peddling. His two main points—God is light, and God is love—serve as anchors as he exhorts the readers to cling to the historic Christian faith.
Reminding the reader yet again that this message comes from on high, John plainly states in verse 5, God is light. Following the declaration, he then addresses three lies circulating in the region of Ephesus. True to his simple-yetprofound style of writing, John addresses the three untruths by patterning them the same way. As you read through verses 6–10, look for “If we say . . . we are liars (or some iteration of lying); but, if we . . . then . . .”
The first “if we say” claims that believers can have fellowship with God yet continue to walk in darkness. Lie. The second claims that believers graduate beyond having sin in their lives. Lie. The third continues from the second, with people claiming again to be sinless. Double lie. We call God a liar, thus making us even bigger liars. John combats these lies by deploying one of his favorite writing tools—contrastive words. God is light. How could we then walk in darkness? Those united to the One who is light should walk in the light. We are sinners by nature and choice. Do not deceive but be truth tellers.
His last indictment in chapter 1 smacks the false teachers right upside the head. If you claim these things, God is not in you. John’s boldness and clarity here leaves no room for those who might want to marry the historical claims about the risen Christ with false teaching. God is light. No darkness can be found in Him or in His words. Those who disagree find themselves in the shade.
Watch a captioned version of today’s video here: https://vimeo.com/295076507