V33what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ.. John and the apostles cannot and do not want to keep to themselves what they have seen and heard. It was manifested to them, but they would love to pass it on to you and me. They want us to partake of that. They must “proclaim” it, for they cannot but speak about it (cf. Acts 4:2020for we cannot stop speaking about what we have seen and heard.”). Their mouths spoke out of the abundance of their heart (Mt 12:34b34You brood of vipers, how can you, being evil, speak what is good? For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart.).
‘To proclaim’ has to do with drawing up a report or making a report of what you have learnt. John has learnt from the Lord and he made a report of that, in order to pass it on to us. Here it is written in a way that whenever you read his report, that proclamation comes to you. This is how I experience it too when I read it. When you read his report and you make yourself aware of it thoroughly, it is like time disappears and it makes you feel like you are in the company of the Lord Jesus during His life on earth.
The purpose of his report is that you “have fellowship” with him and the apostles as witnesses together. For the word ‘fellowship’ you could perhaps use the nowadays word ‘relationship’. However, I think that the word relationship does not rightly reflect the real meaning of ‘fellowship’. A relationship makes you think of being related to someone in a certain way or a connection you have with someone. But the word ‘fellowship’ contains much more. It means that you share something together with a person. You have the same portion.
Children of God have fellowship with one another, because they have Christ as their life. John wants you and me to have fellowship with him and his fellow apostles. By that he thus means that you and I share with them what we and they have in common and that is the Father and the Son.
But having fellowship with the apostles is not a goal in itself. It surpasses that. John wants you to be involved in the fellowship that he and his fellow apostles have “with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ”, i.e. with the Divine Persons. It is the desire of the apostles to expand the circle of fellowship. John’s intention is that you together with him and the other apostles have fellowship with the Father and the Son. By saying that he means that they share in the part that the Father has and in the part that the Son has. That fellowship together with the apostles is possible, because you have the same life as they have.
In the way John writes it down here – he mentions the Father first – the emphasis is on the fellowship with the Father. Of course the Son is not less, for He is God like the Father, He is one with Him (Jn 10:3030I and the Father are one.”). The distinction is that He, the Son, has explained the Father (Jn 1:1818No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained [Him].). All who have received Him, the Son, as their life, are now able to consciously enjoy the same fellowship with the Father like He has with the Father. You know the Father as the Father, because the Son is your life. What is always the case with the Son, is now the case with you too. Just like the Son, you want to glorify the Father and magnify and honor Him.
The fellowship with the Father is therefore at the front. Directly after that follows, as it were in the same breath, that the fellowship is also ‘with His Son Jesus Christ’. It is a fellowship that is at the same level as the fellowship with the Father. John is perfectly clear about that. By what has been declared to you about eternal life and what you have believed, you also have fellowship with the Son. The heart of the Father is focused on the Son and now your heart is also focused on Him.
I repeat what I said earlier, that it is not about the degree that you live up to and experience it, but about what is typical to the new nature that you have received.
V44These things we write, so that our joy may be made complete.. John declares with words, but he also declares by ‘writing’. In that way he records what he has proclaimed for the coming generations, so that everyone who hears it in this way, can be involved in the fellowship. Everything has been recorded in the written Word. Therefore you do not need to follow some training or be taught by some or other enlightened spirit about this. It is written in God’s Word, you can read it yourself and personally enjoy it.
John appeals to all believers in what they have in Christ. He who has life, has fellowship. He who has fellowship, enjoys it. It gives the highest degree of joy. How could that be otherwise? There is a ‘complete joy’ if you enjoy fellowship with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ.
This joy is the joy of the Lord Jesus, Who speaks twice about “My joy” (Jn 15:1111These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and [that] your joy may be made full.; 17:1313But now I come to You; and these things I speak in the world so that they may have My joy made full in themselves.). It is a joy which He fully wishes His disciples to have. The road that He went, shows the content of His joy. He walked in undisturbed fellowship with the Father and always did what pleased the Father. That was His joy. He knew and enjoyed the undivided love of the Father. If you want to know and enjoy that full joy, His joy, you ought to abide in His love (Jn 15:99Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love.). That happens when you keep His commandments (Jn 15:1010If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love.). The enjoyment of complete or full joy depends on a life in obedience.
You see that in the life of the Son. He is your life and therefore it is the same with you. You will certainly feel your incompetence. Do you know what you may do because of that? You can pray to the Father in the Name of the Lord Jesus. The result will be that you receive full joy (Jn 16:2424Until now you have asked for nothing in My name; ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be made full.).
V55This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all.. After his introduction, in which he mainly deals with life, John speaks in verse 55This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. about light. In his gospel ‘life’ and ‘light’ are also closely related to one another (Jn 1:4-54In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men.5The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.). The life that you received from God is life that is lived in the light. It belongs to the light and not to anything else. Your new life has got nothing to do with darkness and sin. That’s why that is the point of John’s message. He has not invented that message, but he declares what he has heard from Him, the Lord Jesus. The message says ”that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all”.
Actually, you will seek in vain in the gospel according to John for a statement of the Lord in which He uses these precise words. Such a statement does not need to be found anyway, for it is needless to say that His whole life declared that message, as it were. When you read about Him in John’s gospel and see Him, you see light, while you see nothing that has got to do with darkness.
When it is stated here that God is light, it doesn’t mean that it is a feature of God, but it is about His Being, about Who He is. His whole Being is light. All His features come from that. God is also love. That is said hereafter in the letter, even twice (1Jn 4:8,168The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.16We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.).
It is important to declare that God is light. It is about fellowship with Divine Persons. That fellowship can only happen in the light, in accordance with the perfect purity of God. God is always light. He was that too when there was no creation yet. He is light and is also in the light, He is surrounded by it (verse 77but 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 us from all sin.).
The fact that despite that, it is still said that in Him “there is no darkness at all”, has to do with time. It indicates that God is related to His creation, where spiritual darkness entered through sin. You also read that the Lord Jesus came in the darkness and that the darkness did not comprehend it (Jn 1:55The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.).
V66If we say that we have fellowship with Him and [yet] walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth;. The fact that God is light and that our fellowship can only be enjoyed in the light, excludes any possibility of walking in the darkness. It is absolutely not possible to say that we have fellowship with God and the Lord Jesus, while we walk in the darkness at the same time. John speaks in general terms and even includes himself thereby. You can derive that from the word “we”. It is actually about speaking out a certain confession. Then it is something that concerns each one who confesses to be a Christian and says to be living in fellowship with God and Christ.
John points out that it is basically impossible that there is a relation between light and darkness. It is not possible to belong to light and to darkness at the same time. Here you see again that John presents the things in black and white. As far as he is concerned, as you may say, it is not about how you walk, but where you walk. According to him it is not about your practice, but about your new life. Practice is certainly important and your new life ought to be visible in it. We will pay attention to that later. The point now is, what is typical for the new life where that is taking place and where it absolutely cannot be taking place.
It is a lie when a person says that he has fellowship with the Father and the Son, while he walks in the darkness. Such a person does not live in accordance with the truth. He ‘does not practice the truth’, for he does not know it and does not have it. He may present himself as a person who knows and has the truth, but his walk in the darkness, thus apart from God, shows that he is lying.
Now read 1 John 1:3-6 again.
Reflection: What do you learn in these verses about fellowship and about joy?