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The introduction of 1 John states:

This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you... (1:5 NKJV)

The writer states they heard a message from Jesus and are now declaring it to the reader. They make the point this is not an idea of theirs; it is something they heard from Jesus:

...that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. (1 John 1:5 NKJV)

There is no record in the Gospel that Jesus ever said "God is light and in Him is no darkness at all."

The Gospel of John contains several statements Jesus made about light and darkness. For example:

Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12 NKJV)

Is the writer summarizing or paraphrasing the statements Jesus did make? Or is there some other explanation for the writer saying they are now declaring a message which was originally from Jesus?

  • @Lucian Please understand this is not a discussion forum. You have a huge batch of comments across the site that are topical discussions. Please reserve the comment space for requesting clarifications to or suggesting improvements to posts, not for discussing the topic. Particularly on questions the comment space is not for suggesting answers. If you have an answer, post an answer, but don't start discussions in the comments. Thanks for understanding. – Caleb Aug 10 '17 at 10:59
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The Greek text of 1 John 1:5 states,

Εʹ Καὶ αὕτη ἐστὶν ἡ ἐπαγγελία ἣν ἀκηκόαμεν ἀπ᾽ αὐτοῦ, καὶ ἀναγγέλλομεν ὑμῖν, ὅτι ὁ Θεὸς φῶς ἐστιν, καὶ σκοτία ἐν αὐτῷ οὐκ ἔστιν οὐδεμία TR, 1550

(The NA28 has «ἡ ἀγγελία» instead of «ἡ ἐπαγγελία». «ἡ ἐπαγγελία» also occurs elsewhere in 1 John in v. 2:25. The variant doesn’t change the meaning of the verse in question.)

According to Joseph Henry Thayer (translating Christian Gottlob Wilke),1 the verb ἀκούω is used in conjunction with a substantive in the accusative case, indicating something heard, in addition to the preposition ἀπό followed by a substantive in the genitive, indicating from whom something is heard.

Thayer, p. 23, ἀκούω, II. 1. b.

Thus, the phrase «ἡ ἐπαγγελία ἣν ἀκηκόαμεν ἀπ᾽ αὐτοῦ» may be translated as “the message that we heard from him.”

The text does suggest that the author of 1 John heard the Lord Jesus Christ himself speak that message. The phrase following the word «ὅτι» (“that”) indicates the message itself: «ὁ Θεὸς φῶς ἐστιν, καὶ σκοτία ἐν αὐτῷ οὐκ ἔστιν οὐδεμία»—“God is light, and there is not darkness in Him at all.”

One possibility is that the author did indeed here the Lord Jesus Christ speak that message, but the message was never recorded elsewhere in the other books of the NT. If so, it would then be one of the “many other things which Jesus did”2 (or said) but was never recorded. In fact, that is perhaps the most probable scenario if indeed the “Gospel of John” and the “First Epistle of John” were both written by the same disciple.3

The other possibility is that the message is what they understood by being eyewitnesses of the totality of the words and works of the Lord Jesus Christ.

For example, Henry Alford wrote,4

The Greek expositors ask the question respecting this message, καὶ ποῦ τοῦτο ἤκουσε [And where did he hear this?];—and answer it, ἀπʼ αὐτοῦ τοῦ χριστοῦ, ἐγώ εἰμι τὸ φῶς τοῦ κόσμου λέγοντος [From Christ himself who says, “I am the light of the world.”]. Their reply is right, but their reference to those words of our Lord is wrong. It was ἀπʼ αὐτοῦ τοῦ χριστοῦ [from Christ himself]: viz. from the whole revelation, in doings and sufferings and sayings, of Him who was the ἀπαύγασμα τῆς δόξης [“effulgence of the glory”] of the Father. With that revelation those His words admirably and exactly coincided: but they were not the source of the message, referring as they did specially to Himself, and not directly to the Father. In His whole life on earth, and in the testimony of His Spirit, ἐκεῖνος ἐξηγήσατο αὐτόν [“he revealed Him”]. So that this message is the result of the whole complex of 1 John 1:1.


References

Alford, Henry. The Greek Testament. Vol. 4. Boston: Lee, 1878.

Wilke, Christian Gottlob. A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament: Being Grimm Wilke’s Clavis Novi Testamenti. Trans. Thayer, Joseph Henry. Ed. Grimm, Carl Ludwig Wilibald. Rev. ed. New York: American Book, 1889.

Footnotes

1 p. 23
2 John 21:25
3 John 21:24
4 p. 425–426

4

John wrote elsewhere that the Bible does not contain all of the sayings and acts of Jesus:

And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written (John 21:25)

  • 1
    Are you suggesting that the statement "God is light and in Him is no darkness at all" has no foundation in the Gospel and the Letter is meant to correct this oversight? – Revelation Lad Nov 22 '16 at 6:24
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    History can only ever be a collection of snapshots. We only have Luke's testimony that Jesus healed the ear of the man who had it cut off in Gethsemane. And we only have John's testimony that the name of the man who lost the ear, was Malchus. If we only have John's evidence in a letter of another saying of Jesus, then it just adds another snapshot to the story of Jesus. – enegue Nov 22 '16 at 6:37
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Two simple observations, which by no means constitute an answer, but which were deemed inappropriate to be posted as comments:

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Peace.

To start from the Beginning…..

….the “Beginning” here in 1 John 1:1 is speaking of Jesus Christ our Lord who is the Beginning of the creation of God (Revelation 3:14).

That which was from (no definite article) Beginning (that is, Jesus) which we have heard from Him….the Word (Saying) of life. They heard the Saying of life from Beginning….that is, from Jesus who is the Beginning….who spoke exactly what He heard from the Father. This is a clue to go to Genesis 1 to find the Word/Saying.

1 John 1:1 KJV (1) 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;

In (no definite article) Beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. That is, in Jesus Christ….the Beginning of the creation….God created the heavens and the earth.

Genesis 1:1 KJV (1) In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.

Through Him (the Beginning/Jesus) all things were created….

Colossians 1:15-19 KJV (15) Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: (16) For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: (17) And he is before all things, and by him all things consist. (18) And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence. (19) For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell;

In Beginning (which has no definite article) was the Word (Saying)….

John 1:1-5 KJV (1) In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (2) The same was in the beginning with God. (3) All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.

The Beginning (Jesus) spoke the Word/Saying that God is Light and in Him is no darkness at all.

Jesus/the Beginning is the one speaking the words of God (and God said…) in Genesis 1. Jesus spoke what He heard the Father saying…the Saying/Word was God speaking.

(4) In him was life; and the life was the light of men.

Those who are walking in darkness cannot receive His speaking (in their unbelief) and therefore will not be able to understand what He is saying. They are left outside of the understanding of His words (in the dark) while those who are found doing His commandments when they hear His words will be able to enter in to understand in the light of the knowledge of God.

(5) And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.

This is the message…the Saying… which the apostles heard of Him (Jesus who is the Beginning): that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. This is the Saying of Life of which we are to adhere to so that we may shine as lights in this dark world.

1 John 1:5-7 KJV (5) This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.

Elohim is plural because we have true fellowship/communion with Him…the One Father… and the only begotten Son and with one another when we walk in the Light and not the darkness. We are united together in the Father and the Son who cleanses us from all sin.

(6) If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: (7) But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.

Genesis 1:2-5 KJV (2) And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.

God speaks through the Beginning (Jesus Christ) in Genesis 1 and He says that God (Elohim) is Light. The only way to have fellowship with Him is to also walk in the light.

“And God said…” This is the very first message that we have heard from the Beginning (Jesus…the Logos of God): that God is light. The Beginning speaks the very first words of what He heard from the Spirit of God.

The first spoken lesson from the Beginning (Jesus) is about the divine nature of God: that He is Light and we are to walk in the Light with Him (…and there was light). Those who do not walk with Him in the light are walking in darkness even though they may profess that they have fellowship with God.

When we hear the voice of the Beginning speaking, the Light shines within our very hearts and we are to believe in the Light and become children of light by walking in it (and there was light in response to the Light).

The first Saying ever from God to man and spoken through Jesus (the Beginning) = “let there be Light”…..He (God) is light.

The Hebrew word “hayah” in the context of Genesis 1:3 means “to exist”. Elohim is saying “He IS Light”. God IS Light and that light shines in our hearts and so we must walk in the light with Him (and there was light).

(3) And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.

“And there was light”: We must become light (we change from darkness to light as we become children of light) as He is Light (He does not change). He is the Father of “lights” (as we are to shine as lights in this world) and the Father has no variation nor shadow of turning. (See James 1:17).

The “fellowship” or communion is with God (again, “Elohim” is plural because we have fellowship with Him when we walk in the light with Him).

If God is Light, then there is no darkness in Him whatsoever for God divided the Light from the darkness. Light has absolutely no fellowship with darkness as they are completely divided from each other.

This is all from the beginning…the Beginning… who spoke the Sayings of God and about God into this world. God is Light and there is no darkness at all in Him.

(4) And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness. (5) And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.

The children of the light…the children of the Day…. remember to have love for others always (entertaining strangers and their words) while the children of the night do not remember and they will not believe in what they hear in the day a stranger comes along to speak His words to their hearing ears. They are caught “unawares”…. “asleep” to His righteousness… and will be found practicing evil in their unbelief in the day He visits them with His words. Those who “sleep”, sleep in the “night”.

1 Thessalonians 5:5 KJV (5) Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness.

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