Lectionary Year B
April 30, 2000
1 John 1:1-2:2

Step V: Distillation


The major theme of this pericope seems to be “the word of life”, an figure evidently referring to Jesus Christ. Thereafter, witnessing and the ways it is done arrest our attention. It happens by seeing, hearing, touching/handling. Right closely thereafter, we get into the reason for this witnessing, “fellowship” and “joy being complete”. Then, the figure of walking in darkness as opposed to walking in light takes on noticeable proportions. Related thereunto, the text addresses sin, confession and forgiveness. Again, the person and role of Jesus Christ gets mentioned. He is called Advocate, the righteous and the sacrifice/expiation. This pericope takes on the connotation of a declaration, a right dynamic declaration. It declares ways for believers to experience forgiveness, joy and fellowship, especially with God. Powerful stuff, here.


1:1 This was from the beginning, which we heard, which we saw with our (own) eyes, which we have touched with our (own) hands concerning the Word of Life - 2 and this Life was revealed, and we have (actually) seen it and testify to it and (now) declare to you that this Life is eternal (as it was) from the Father and (it) was revealed to us - 3 what we have seen and heard, we (now) are declaring to you, in order that you might have fellowship with us. And really this fellowship is (primarily) with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. 4 And this (message) we are writing to you, so that your joy might be complete.

      5 And this is the message which we have heard from Him, that this God is of light and (that) darkness is never in Him ever. 6 Now, if we say we have fellowship with Him while we are walking in darkness, we deceive ourselves and we are (simply) not doing the truth; 7 however, if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all (intended) unrighteous (tendencies). 8 However, if we say we have no sin, we make of Him a liar and the truth is far from us. 9 Yet, when we confess our sin, He who is faithful and just thereby forgives us our sinfulness and cleanses us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we should say that we have never sinned, we make of Him a liar and His Word is not in us.

      2:1 My dear friends, I write these things to you so that you should not sin. However, since you do sin, we have this Advocate with the Judge Christ Jesus, the Righteous; 2 and He is the expiation for our sinfulness and not for ours alone but also for the sinfulness of the entire world.


Recently on NPR’s “Morning Edition” Fonda Bock reported on the Humana Festival of New American Plays in Louisville, Kentucky. For the second year, the festival features plays performed on the telephone, “phone-dramas”. The plays run two to five minutes each. Theater-goers say they are like listening in on old fashioned party-line telephone conversations. Locals say the dramas proceed right into establishing strong conflicts, describing their development and move on to finding resolutions. Seems a little like the classical “thesis, antithesis, synthesis” outline for sermons. This process seems it would be congruous for our dealing with some of the content of 1 John.

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