In the prologue to the epistle we know as 1 John, the Apostle writes
That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our own eyes, … which we have touched with our hands … we proclaim to you
Here are 5 things that John proclaims to us about Jesus in this letter:
Jesus is the Christ
- contra the claims of the false teachers (2:22), John boldly proclaims that Jesus is the Christ (1:3; 2:1; 3:23; 4:2; 5:1, 6, 20). All who believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son sent by the Father to be the Savior, have eternal life (3:23; 4:14; 5:1,12 cmp John 3:16; 11:27).
- John does not go to great lengths to explain the term Christ – which means Messiah — in this epistle. But it is evident from his Gospel that Messiah refers to the Savior and King promised to Israel and written about in the Scriptures (John 1:41; 4:25; 7:27,31,42; 12:34).
Jesus is Righteous
- Jesus is righteous (2:1, 29; 3:7), and in Him there is no sin (3:5). He is also faithful and just (1:9). Jesus can be trusted because He is loyal and has integrity. Everything He does is based on truth and can be defended as being right.
- Jesus told us that He was the Light of the world (John 8:12) and that He has come into the world as light (John 12:42). Like the Father He has no darkness in Him (1:5).
Jesus is the Propitiation for sins
- Jesus has not only come into the world to be a Light, but to be the Savior of the world (1 John 2:1-2; 4:9-14) and to destroy the works of the devil (3:8), which are sin and darkness.
- In two passages (1 John 2:2; 4:10), John calls Jesus the “propitiation” or “atoning sacrifice” for our sins. The emphasis is on Jesus being the actual sacrifice that is offered up for sin. This aligns with what the apostle wrote when he recorded John the Baptist’s testimony that Jesus is “the Lamb of God [ie. the sacrifice], who takes away the sin of the world”.
- In his notes, John Wesley, after reading that Jesus is the “atoning sacrifice” for the sins of the whole world reminds us that “just as wide as sin extends, the propitiation extends also”.
- In presenting Jesus as the sacrifice, John is emphasizing the blood and death of Jesus, which is what allows God to forgive our sins. This was made clear in (1:7), where John writes that the “the blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin“. These statements would be a strong contrast to the false teachers denial of Jesus in the flesh.
- The word John uses, ιλασμοσ (propitiation), is used only twice in the NT. Both by John and both in this letter. The same Greek word can be seen in the LXX in passages like Ezekiel 44:27 and Numbers 5:8. Similar concepts are expressed in Rom 3:25 and Hebrews 9:5 (ἱλαστήριον), where the emphasis is on the mercy seat (where the blood is poured), and in Hebrews 2:17 (ἱλάσκεσθαι), where the emphasis is on Jesus as the high priest presenting the offering.
Jesus is our Advocate
- While John does not emphasize the resurrection directly, he talks about Jesus’ present ministry being in the presence of the Father as our Advocate (2:1). Dead heroes don’t save and they also can’t be our advocate, but Jesus has conquered death and has ascended to be with the Father.
- The word often translated “advocate” is the Greek term “paraclete” (παρακλετοσ). This word is used 5x in NT and only by John (John 14:16, 26; 15:26; 16:7). In his Gospel the word primarily refers to the Holy Spirit. However, Jesus does tell us that He will send “another Paraclete” (14:16) so we know that Jesus is also one.
- What is a “paraclete”? It is one who pleads another’s cause before a judge or asks for something on our behalf. That is why translators often use the word “advocate” here. In the widest sense the term means someone who is a helper.
- In John Wesley’s notes on 1 John, he ties many of these observations about Jesus together when he writes that Jesus is “not a guilty person, who stands in need of pardon for himself; … not a mere petitioner, who relies purely upon liberality, but one that has merited, fully merited, whatever he asks.“
- Jesus can plead our case as one who is just and righteous. There is no one who could better defend us because He has sacrificed everything – laying down His life so that we could be His (John 10:11,15, 17; 1 John 3:16).
Jesus is with the Father but is returning
- John tells that Jesus was with the Father (1:2) and is now with Him again (2:1). In between these two statements Jesus was sent to be the Savior of the world (4:25) and to destroy the works of the devil (3:8). Jesus was able to conquer death and approach the throne of the Father, who is Light (1:5), and dwell in His presence because there was no darkness in Him (2:1; 3:5). Jesus’ presence with the Father establishes that the sacrifice for sin was accepted and forgiveness can be granted (2:2; 4:10).
- John makes it clear that Jesus will one day appear again (2:28; 3:2) to judge the world (4:17). We can have confidence, if we are truly abiding in Him, at that moment, because if Jesus is with the Father as our Advocate (2:1) now, how much more will He defend us and help us when He appears.
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