1 John i.

Notes & Commentary:

Ver. 1. The first two verses and part of the third have a great conformity with the beginning of St. John’s gospel. The construction is somewhat obscure, unless we observe that the second verse is to be taken by way of a parenthesis, and the sense is not complete till these words, we declare to you, &c. The whole may be expressed in this literal paraphrase: We declare and preach to you the eternal and always living word, which was from the[1] beginning, (for this word which was with the Father from eternity, hath appeared,[2] and manifested himself to us, when he took upon him our human nature, and was made flesh). This word I say, incarnate, we have seen with our eyes, we have heard him preach his gospel, we have touched his true body with our hands, as we witness and declare to you, that you may have fellowship with us, and be made partakers of the graces which God came from heaven to bestow upon mankind, to make us his adoptive sons and heirs of heaven. (Witham)

Ver. 5. God is light,[3] &c. We cannot have this fellowship with God the Father and his Son Jesus Christ, if we walk in the darkness of sin: we must walk as the children of light. (Witham)

Ver. 8. Not that we say or pretend we have no sin;[4] thus truth would not be in us, and we should even make God a liar, who has declared all mankind guilty of sin. We were all born guilty of original sin; we have fallen, and still frequently fall into lesser sins and failings. We can only except from this number our Saviour Christ, who, even as man, never sinned, and his blessed Virgin Mother, by a special privilege, preserved from all kind of sin: and of whom St. Augustine[5] says, “that for the honour of our Lord, when we speak of the holy Virgin Mary, he will have no mention at all made of any sin.” (Witham)


[1] Ver. 1. Quod fuit ab initio; in Greek, quod erat, o en ap arches. This answers to, in principio erat verbum[in the beginning was the Word, John i. 1].

[2] Ver. 1. Et vita manifesta est. This corresponds to, in ipso vita erat[in him was life, John i. 4], and apparuit nobis to Verbum Caro Factum est[the Word was made flesh, John i. 14]. And it was true to say that they had seen the eternal word, not as God, but under the veil of human nature.

[3] Ver. 5. Deus lux est; (John i.) erat lux vera[that was the true light, John i. 9].

[4] Ver. 8. Quoniam peccatum non habemus, &c. By which are confuted the errors of the Pelagian heretics, who denied original sin, and pretended that men by their natural strength could and did live free from all sins.

[5] Ver. 8. St. Augustine, lib. de Nat. et Gra. chap. xxxvii. Exceptâ S. V. Mariâ, de quâ propter honorem Domini, nullam prorsus, cum de peccato agitur, haberi volo mentionem.

Bible Text & Cross-references:

He declares what he has seen and heard of Christ, (who is the life eternal) to the end that we may have fellowship with God, and all good through him: yet so if we confess our sins.

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:

2 For the life was manifested: and we have seen, and do bear witness, and declare unto you the life eternal, which was with the Father, and hath appeared to us:

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

4 And these things we write to you, that you may rejoice, and your joy may be full.

5 And this is the declaration which we have heard from him, and declare unto you: *That God is light, and in him there is no darkness.

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

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

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

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

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



5: John viii. 12.

7: Hebrews ix. 14.; 1 Peter i. 19.; Apocalypse i. 5.

8: 3 Kings viii. 46.