Fellowship and Confession in 1 John 1:5-10 -- By: Zane C. Hodges

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 129:513 (Jan 1972)
Article: Fellowship and Confession in 1 John 1:5-10
Author: Zane C. Hodges


Fellowship and Confession in 1 John 1:5-10

Zane C. Hodges

[Zane C. Hodges, Assistant Professor of New Testament Literature and Exegesis, Dallas Theological Seminary.]

It would be difficult to find any single passage of Scripture more crucial and fundamental to daily Christian living than 1 John 1:5–10. For here, in a few brief verses, the “disciple whom Jesus loved” has laid down for us the basic principles which underlie a vital walk with God. It is always worthwhile, therefore, to examine these principles afresh in order that their truths might be more effectively applied to daily life.

Verse 5

This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you.1 With these words, the Apostle John embarks upon his first specific exposition of truth in fulfillment of the expressed intention of his prologue (1:1–4). Moreover, he has already stated there that the Epistle is based upon firsthand knowledge—”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” (v. 1). It is therefore in keeping with this guarantee that what he now unfolds is the message which we have heard of (from) him. In other words, the apostle speaks of truth directly communicated to the apostolic circle by the same Savior whom he had heard, seen, and touched.

It will be observed in this connection that verse 5 clearly perpetuates the first-second-third person relationships so plainly visible in verses 1–4. The “we” of course, both in verse 5 and 1–4, can

only be an apostolic “we” since the experiences claimed in verse 1 are such as were only enjoyed by those who had direct, personal contact with the Lord Jesus.2 In particular, the experience of touching Him is most fittingly mentioned since John was himself the one who, at the Last Supper, reclined in Jesus’ bosom and leaned back onto His breast to ask the identity of his Lord’s betrayer (John 13:23–25). The “you,” however, have not themselves had such intimate experiences an therefore rely on apostolic communication about them. The words...

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