1:5 Now 1 this is the gospel 2 message 3 we have heard from him 4 and announce to you: God is light, and in him there is no darkness at all. 5 1:6 If we say we have fellowship with him and yet keep on walking 6 in the darkness, we are lying and not practicing 7 the truth. 1:7 But if we walk in the light as he himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses 8 us from all sin. 9
2 tn The word “gospel” is not in the Greek text but is supplied to clarify the meaning. See the note on the following word “message.”
3 tn The word ἀγγελία (angelia) occurs only twice in the NT, here and in 1 John 3:11. It is a cognate of ἐπαγγελία (epangelia) which occurs much more frequently (some 52 times in the NT) including 1 John 2:25. BDAG 8 s.v. ἀγγελία 1 offers the meaning “message” which suggests some overlap with the semantic range of λόγος (logos), although in the specific context of 1:5 BDAG suggests a reference to the gospel. (The precise “content” of this “good news’ is given by the ὅτι [Joti] clause which follows in 1:5b.) The word ἀγγελία here is closely equivalent to εὐαγγέλιον (euangelion): (1) it refers to the proclamation of the eyewitness testimony about the life and ministry of Jesus Christ as proclaimed by the author and the rest of the apostolic witnesses (prologue, esp. 1:3-4), and (2) it relates to the salvation of the hearers/readers, since the purpose of this proclamation is to bring them into fellowship with God and with the apostolic witnesses (1:3). Because of this the adjective “gospel” is included in the English translation.
4 tn The referent of the pronoun “him” is not entirely clear in the Greek text; it could be either (1) God the Father, or (2) Jesus Christ, both of whom are mentioned at the end of v. 3. A reference to Jesus Christ is more likely because this is the nearest possible antecedent, and because God (the Father) is specifically mentioned in the following clause in v. 5.
5 tn The key to understanding the first major section of 1 John, 1:5-3:10, is found in the statement in v. 5: “God is light and in him there is no darkness at all.” The idea of “proclamation” – the apostolic proclamation of eyewitness testimony which the prologue introduces (1:2, 3) – is picked up in 1:5 by the use of the noun ἀγγελία (angelia) and the verb ἀναγγέλλομεν (anangellomen), cognate to the verb in 1:3. The content of this proclamation is given by the ὅτι (Joti) clause in 1:5 as the assertion that God is light, so this statement should be understood as the author’s formulation of the apostolic eyewitness testimony introduced in the prologue. (This corresponds to the apostolic preaching elsewhere referred to as κήρυγμα [khrugma], although the term the Apostle John uses here is ἀγγελία.)
sn Following the theme statement in 1:5, God is light and in him there is no darkness at all, the author presents a series of three claims and counterclaims that make up the first unit of 1 John (1:5-2:2). The three claims begin with “if” (1:6, 8, 10) and the three counterclaims begin with “but if” (1:7, 9; 2:1).
sn The relationship of the phrase keep on walking to if we say is very important for understanding the problem expressed in 1:6. If one should say (εἴπωμεν, eipwmen) that he has fellowship with God, and yet continues walking (περιπατῶμεν, peripatwmen) in the darkness, then it follows (in the apodosis, the “then” clause) that he is lying and not practicing the truth.
7 tn Or “living according to…”
8 tn Or “purifies.”
9 tn BDAG 50 s.v. ἁμαρτία 1 defines this term as “a departure fr. either human or divine standards of uprightness” (see 1 John 5:17 where ἁμαρτία [Jamartia] and ἀδικία [adikia] are related). This word occurs 17 times in 1 John, of which 11 are singular and 6 are plural.
sn From all sin. Sometimes a distinction between singular “sin” and plural “sins” has been suggested: Some would see the singular all sin of 1:7 as a reference to sinfulness before conversion and the plural sins of 1:9 as a reference to sins committed after one became a Christian. This amounts to making 1:7 refer to initial justification and 1:9 to sanctification. But the phrase all sin in 1:7 is so comprehensive that it can hardly be limited to preconversion sins, and the emphasis on “walking” in 1:7 strongly suggests that the Christian life is in view (not one’s life before conversion). In 1 John 1:8 sin appears as a condition or characteristic quality, which in 1:10 is regarded as universal. Apart from forgiveness in Christ it results in alienation from God (2:15) and spiritual death (3:14). But according to 1 John 1:7, cleansing from sin is possible by the blood (representing the sacrificial death) of Jesus.