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This passage has a clear structure—1 main statement “God is light” (1:5) and 3 couplets that flow from it (1:6-7, 1:8-9, 1:10-2:2).
There is a cause/effect between this first statement and the couplets: because God is light we should walk in the light and confess our sins. Each couplet begins with an erroneous “claim,” ‘if we...’ (vs. 6, 8, 10) which is, by contrast, corrected in the second half of the couplet ‘But if we...’ (vs. 7, 9, 2:1).
There is clear progression—from a right knowledge of God, to behavior, to confession of sin. A critical statement is verse 2:1 “I write this to you so that you will not sin.” This is important, as it is John’s reason for the instruction.
Note the supremacy of Christ, capture his Greatness—
“the blood of Jesus purifies us from all sin”
“ he is faithful and just to forgive our sins...”
“we have one who speaks in our defense—Jesus Christ the Righteous One”
Textual Outline: 1 John 1:5-2:2
John declares what he heard from Christ—God is light (1:5)
Couplet 1: The claim to have fellowship with him, but walk in darkness (1:6-7)
If we claim to have fellowship with him but we walk in darkness we lie and do not live by the truth (1:6)
But if we walk in the light we have fellowship with each other and the blood of Jesus purifies us from all sin (1:7)
Couplet 2: The claim to be without sin (1:8-9)
If we claim to be without sin we deceive ourselves (1:8)
[But] If we confess our sins he is faithful and just and will forgive our sin (1:9)
Couplet 3: The claim to have not sinned (1:10-2:2)
If we claim to have not sinned we make Christ a liar (1:10)
John writes so that we will not sin (2:1)
But if anyone does sin we have one who speaks in our defense, Jesus Christ the Righteous One (2:2)
8 The vast majority of these comments are from Gary Purdy, IBS, 2004.
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