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1 John 1:3 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
3 that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ.
That which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you. We announce it, or make it known unto you—referring either to what he purposes to say in this epistle, or more probably embracing all that he had written respecting him, and supposing that his Gospel was in their hands. He means to call their attention to all the testimony which he had borne on the subject, in order to counteract the errors which began to prevail.
So that you too may have fellowship with us. With us the apostles, with us who actually saw him, and conversed with him. That is, he wished that they might have the same belief, and the same hope, and the same joy which he himself had, arising from the fact that the Son of God had become incarnate, and had appeared among men. To ‘have fellowship,’ means to have anything in common with others; to partake of it; to share it with them, and the idea here is, that the apostle wished that they might share with him all the peace and happiness which resulted from the fact that the Son of God had appeared in human form in behalf of men. The object of the apostle in what he wrote was, that they might have the same views of the Savior which he had, and partake of the same hope and joy. This is the true notion of fellowship in religion.
And indeed our fellowship is with the Father. With God the Father. That is, there was something in common with him and God; something of which he and God partook together, or which they shared. This cannot, of course, mean that his nature was the same as that of God, or that in all things he shared with God, or that in anything he was equal with God; but it means that he partook, in some respects, of the feelings, the views, the aims, the joys which God has. There was a union in feeling, affection, and desire, and plan, and this was to him a source of joy. He had an attachment to the same things, loved the same truth, desired the same objects, and was engaged in the same work, and the consciousness of this, and the joy which attended it, was what was meant by fellowship. Comp. Notes on 1 Cor. 10:16; 2 Cor. 12:14. The fellowship which Christians have with God relates to the following points: (1.) Attachment to the same truths, and the same objects; love for the same principles, and the same beings. (2.) The same kind of happiness, though not in the same degree. The happiness of God is found in holiness, truth, purity, justice, mercy, benevolence. The happiness of the Christian is of the same kind that God has; the same kind that angels have; the same kind that he will himself have in heaven—for the joy of heaven is only that which the Christian has now, expanded to the utmost capacity of the soul, and freed from all that now interferes with it, and prolonged to eternity. (3.) Employment, or co-operation with God. There is a sphere in which God works alone, and in which we can have no co-operation, no fellowship with him. In the work of creation; in upholding all things; in the government of the universe; in the transmission of light from world to world; in the return of the seasons, the rising and setting of the sun, the storms, the tides, the flight of the comet, we can have no joint agency, no co-operation with him. There God works alone. But there is also a large sphere in which he admits us graciously to a co-operation with him, and in which, unless we work, his agency will not be put forth. This is seen when the farmer sows his grain; when the surgeon binds up a wound; when we take the medicine which God has appointed as a means of restoration to health. So in the moral world. In our efforts to save our own souls and the souls of others, God graciously works with us; and unless we work, the object is not accomplished. This co-operation is referred to in such passages as these: ‘We are laborers together (συνεργοί) with God,’ 1 Cor. 3:9. ‘The Lord working with them,’ Mark 16:20. ‘We then as workers together with him,’ 2 Cor. 6:1. ‘That we might be fellow-helpers to the truth,’ 3 John 8. In all such cases, while the efficiency is of God—alike in exciting us to effort, and in crowning the effort with success—it is still true that if our efforts were not put forth, the work would not be done. In this department, God would not work by himself alone; he would not secure the result by miracle. (4.) We have fellowship with God by direct communion with him, in prayer, in meditation, and in the ordinances of religion. Of this, all true Christians are sensible, and this constitutes no small part of their peculiar joy. The nature of this, and the happiness resulting from it, is much of the same nature as the communion of friend with friend—of one mind with another kindred mind—that to which we owe no small part of our happiness in this world. (5.) The Christian will have fellowship with his God and Savior in the triumphs of the last days when the scenes of the judgment shall occur, and when the Redeemer shall appear, that he may be admired and adored by all who have survived to the end. See 2 Thess. 1:10. See also Matt. 19:28; Rev. 3:21.
And with his Son Jesus Christ. That is, in like manner, there is much which we have in common with the Savior—in character, in feeling, in desire, in spirit, in plan. There is a union with him in these things—and the consciousness of this gives peace and joy.
[There is a real union between Christ and his people, which lies at the foundation of this fellowship. Without this union, there can be no communion. But a ‘union with Christ in these things, i.e., in character and feeling, &c.,’ is nothing more than the union which subsists between any chief and his followers; and why the apostle Paul, or others after him, should reckon this a great mystery, is not easily comprehended. Eph. 5:32; Col. 1:27.]
By Albert Barnes
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