Illuminated Fellowship

In a Community of Light

The idea of a human having a relationship with God is as ancient as humankind. [Genesis 4:3, 4; 8:20, 21] In one form or another religions of all kinds have developed complicated rituals to ensure this communion or fellowship with the Divine. At almost one hundred years of age, having experience a vision of God in the holiness of light - a light described like a prismatic diamond with brilliant bursts of dark pigeon-blood red - the beloved apostle John writes of an illumination fellowship with God in a community of Light. [Revelation 4:1-3]

What makes John’s inspired epistle different is the concept of a fellowship with not only God the Father, but also with His Son. In language very similar to the introduction of his Gospel, John writes about the illuminated fellowship in which all Christians may communally share. Read his sublime words when introducing the first chapter of his first epistle.

A Fellowship with Father and Son

The Word of Life -- he was from the beginning and we actually heard him! We actually saw him with our own eyes and our hands actually touched him! That Life was made manifest and what we saw we are relating to you. We are giving our own eyewitness evidence regarding that everlasting Life. That Life actually faced toward the Father! And he appeared to us! We are relating to you what we actually saw ourselves! We do this that you too may share with us. Now this common relationship is also with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. We relate these things to you so our own joy may be perfectly complete. [1 John 1:4 Nazarene Saints Paraphrased Rendering (NCMM Paraphrase)]

Like his prologue to his Gospel, John writes of the Word or Logos who existed from the beginning, before the creation of the Cosmos. “He was from the beginning,” John states. The Greek is arches as it is in Genesis 1:1, Proverbs 8:22 (LXX), and John 1:1. The “beginning” here may be the beginning of earthly creation. Compare the prayer of Jesus at John 17:5, “ ... and now glorify me beside You with the glory I had beside You before the cosmos existed.” [Colossians 1:15; Hebrews 1:1-3; Revelation 3:14]

Such a magnificent being as the pre-existence Word became a human being, a true ANTHROPOS or HOMNID that was tangible For John relates his experience in being an eyewitness of the “Word manifest in the flesh.” There was the auditory evidence of actually hearing the Word with their own ears. He had visual evidence as he actually viewed the Word. And he had the evidence of feeling with his own hands this Word of Life, Jesus Christ the Nazarene. This is not a story resulting from hearsay or second hand tradition handed down.

That Word of Life had once been invisible like a spirit or angel. But during John’s life time “that Life became visible.” As a result of the experience John can write, “We have seen and now we report back out testimony.” In John 21:24 John says, “His eyewitness testimony is true.” The words being used are right out of a court testimony by a qualified witness in words from the legal profession. This testimonial evidence is a running theme throughout 1 John.

This Word was not a mere abstraction, but it was a celestial being “which was facing toward the Father” read to receive instructions when he was given permission as God’s creation agent, “Let light come into existence.” [Genesis 1:3] Or as one version renders John’s words, “which was face to face with the Father and was made visible to us. The Greek PROS here is the same in John 1:1, “and the Word was facing toward The God.” Yes, John says he and other eyewitnesses had seen and heard the Word who had become Jesus the Nazarene. As in John 1:14, “ ... we viewed his glory, the glory of an only-begotten son.”

John continues to write about this sharing by saying the fellowship of the Church “may commune with us.” He uses the Greek COINONIAN which is the root of the English words common, commune, community, communion, communism. Some render this word as fellowship, partnership, or communion. This communion was not only with the Son, but also with the Father. Thus God, the Son, and the Nazarene community all shared in common this enlightened relationship.

The word “sharing” occurs 16 times, and only once in the Hebrew Bible at Psalm 50:18 regarding bad associations. In Acts 2:42 it is a very real commune of a community sharing in possessions at a common spiritual table. In 1 Corinthians 10:16 it is communion at the Lord’s Supper. The idea of sharing is inferred by an often used word in 1 John and that is simply the Greek EN or “in”. So there is the real “sharing” of Acts 2:42 which is encouraged by Jesus and Paul; and then there is that invisible mystic “sharing” enjoyed by the body members of The Christ. [1 Corinthians 12:12, 24, 25] There is the spiritual “communion” with the Father and the Son. Though 2 Corinthians 13:14 could point the way for a “communion with the holy Pneuma” John omits the holy spirit here, missing a fine opportunity for a Trinitarian -- if John was such.

John states his purpose in writing is that “Our joy may be completely fulfilled.” Happily we today at the beginning of the 3rd millennium may also share in this divine fellowship and spiritual communion. But now John is inspired to write of the illuminated nature of this communion.

Fellowship in Light

Now this is the communication we learned directly from Jesus himself. We proclaim to you: GOD IS LIGHT and there is no dark evil in Him. If anyone of us should ever claim, “I have a communal relationship with God,” and continue to live a life in dark evil -- we are liars! However, if we live like we are in righteous illumination -- exactly as Jesus lived in righteous illumination -- then we are a community cleansed from sin sharing in the blood of God’s Son, Jesus. [1 John 1:5-7 NCMM Paraphrase]

John is now to restate a “message we heard from Jesus. This truth is state simply: “The God is Light and there is no darkness in Him.” That is, “no darkness can find any place in Him” [KNX] This is not a new revelation for such a truth is recognized in the Hebrew Bible:, “ ... the light of Yehowah.” [Isaiah 2:5] James also describes God as, “ ... the Father of the celestial Lights.” [James 1:17]

It is impossible for God to reside in evil darkness. [Job 24:14-16; 2 Corinthians 6:14; 1 Thessalonians 5:7, 8] “God is light” -- what a simple message that would seem over-simplified or obvious to a modern reader; but, not so, among an idolatrous pagan people whose religious rites contained many dark initiations. When John sees The One in Revelation 4:3 it is “light” he describes. If the Revelation occurred before 1 John then John is now writing out of those memories.

Now John knows that some might claim to be part of this illuminated fellowship in this community of light. Some may assert, “We have a communion with Him.” That is these Christians believed they also enjoyed this communion -- inferring an intimate relationship with The God. It is hard to believe John had not read Paul at 2 Corinthians 6:14, “What communion is there between light and darkness?” For reasons John will make clear these pseudo Christians actually “walked in the Darkness.” Thus, anyone who said that but “continue to live a life in dark evil” is lying.

In contrast, “If we live like we are in righteous illumination -- exactly as Jesus lived in righteous illumination -- then we are a community cleansed from sin sharing in the blood of God’s Son, Jesus.” This “walking in the light” is exactly the same as the life-course of Jesus. It is only then that there is also a sharing or communion in the blood of the Lamb which cleanses from sin.

“Walk” is a way of saying “conduct” and here refers to that conduct which is the same as following the Nazarene’s footsteps. True communion with God the Father is manifest by the life-style of the claimant. So, those who walk together in this enlightened relationship with God and His Son are “a communion together.” This results in being part of a community cleansed by the blood of Jesus. However, not all walk after Christ.

Self-Deceived if Claim no Sin

Every time we make the claim, “I have never sinned,” we deceive ourselves and prove we do not have the Truth. Every time we confess our sins God is trustworthy and just. As a result He releases us from our sins, purifies us from all our unrighteousness. Every time we make the claim: “I have never sinned,” we accuse God of being a liar. Surely His Word no longer remains within us. [1 John 1:8-10 NCMM Paraphrase]

There are those who are self-righteous and think they never do wrong. They may not actually make the statement, but their attitude is saying, “I have never sinned!” John says that is a mistake and evidence that such a person does not possess the Truth. On the other hand every time we confess our sins God is faithful and righteous so that He releases us from our sins. Thus we belong to a spiritual communion that is truly righteous. Those who are audacious enough to say they have never sinned are liars and God’s Word never resided in the heart.

How blessed we are to have these few verses in 1 John 1. We have the eyewitness testimony written down by those who actually saw, heard, and touched “the Word who became manifest in the flesh.” This testimony by John results in our sharing in an illuminated fellowship, a real community of Light within the Church. Though some around us may prove to be false in their claims of never sinning, we may remain in this blessed community of fellow believers by walking exactly as our Lord walked - in righteousness and light - cleansed from those sins we confess.

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Nazarene Commentary 2000© by Mark Heber Miller

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