1 The ministry of John is based upon his personal acquaintance with the Lord in the flesh. Indeed, this was the prime qualification of all the twelve apostles (Ac.1:21). They were to bear witness to the evidence of their senses, both before and after His resurrection. They saw and handled Him, and heard His words of life. Paul, the one to whom the present secret administration of God's grace was revealed (Eph.3:9), had no personal contact, and did not know Christ until after His ascension and glorification.
1 The first few verses are a condensed summary of John's account of our Lord's life. In it, as here, the Lord is presented under the figure of the divine Expression, or Word. In Paul's epistles He is set forth as the Image of God (2Co.4:4; Col.1:15). John appeals to our ears, Paul to our eyes. Job contrasts the two, when he says to God: "I heard of Thee by the hearing of the ear, yet now my eye sees Thee" (Job 42:5). As in nature sight is a much higher sensation than sound, so we have a much loftier revelation of God through Christ as His Image than as His Expression. The Expression, or Word, became flesh (Jn.1:14) in order to declare God.
3 Jesus Christ is the title of our Lord's humiliation, the time to which John refers. Christ Jesus is the title of His exaltation, which, as viewed in John's writings, is still future, but which, for us, is His present place. So that our fellowship is not with Jesus Christ but with Christ Jesus.
5 God is Spirit. God is light. God is love. The first is a fact. The last two are figures, but they reveal His heart to our hearts.
6 The Circumcision evangel demands repentance, baptism (Ac.2:38) and works (Ja.2:14), and good conduct, and conferred a probational pardon, calling for continual cleansing. They knew nothing of the justification by faith Which is ours in Christ Jesus (Ro.8:1), in which all possibility of condemnation vanishes and leads to an experience altogether above that here set forth by the apostle. We have sinned, but are justified or vindicated, without reference to our own conduct, which is based upon this favor.
8 Fellowship with God as the Light leads to the discovery of all that is of the darkness. Sin in the saint is made manifest by the light. Away from the light sin may not be detected; it may be unknown. The Circumcision have constant recourse to the pardoning and cleansing virtues of the blood. Under the present reign of grace sin is always submerged by God's favor, so that no pardon is required or possible. Some will say that this puts a premium on sin. This is the very objection which is discussed and refuted in the sixth chapter of the epistle to the Romans. But it works out the very opposite in practice. Man is a contradiction. When the law says "Thou shalt not" it awakens in him a desire to do the very thing that God prohibits. And it is a blessed fact that, when the sluice gates of grace are opened wide so that there is no condemnation no matter what he does, he loses the desire to sin and finds in the very grace which guarantees immunity a latent power which enables him to rise above it.
1 The rendering "Advocate", in the sense of an attorney before a judge, is not at all in keeping with the character God assumes here. An advocate does not practice before a Father. The Revisers recognized this, and put "Comforter", "Helper", and "Paraclete" in their margin as alternatives. It is rendered "Comforter" four times in John's evangel. The verb covers the territory which we assign to the two words "entreat" and "console". A paraclete is either an entreater or a consoler. The latter hardly seems possible in connection with sin. We have made it an Entreater in this passage and a Consoler in John's evangel.
2 The strong contrast indicated by the emphatic "ours" should be noted. It is between Israel, the favored nation, and the whole world. Under the law propitiation was confined to them, but in the great antitype it embraces all mankind.
15 John speaks of the world oftener than all other writers of the Greek Scriptures put together. It means to him the prevailing system lying in the wicked one (5:19) which knows not God, hates His children, and is filled with lust and vanity. Fellowship with