“.And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.” ~ 1 John 1:4
Explanation of the Text: Fellowship provides the context of legitimate joy in that it comes from others, is experienced with others, and rejoices in others. In the previous verses, John urges believers towards genuine fellowship through the Father and Son resulting in fellowship with others. The greatest joy in John’s life is to see others have full fellowship with God the Father and God the Son, as they increase in grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ (1). In a desire to be a servant of God, joy is found in seeing others find their place with Him through Jesus Christ. With the motivating factor being a high view of God, encouragement and excitement are not simply found in our relationship with others, but seeing more their relationship with God.
And with that goal in mind, John identifies his purpose in writing. He is writing in order to compel others to a deeper relationship with our Lord. It is in this that he gets the most complete pleasure.
There is some discussion about the use of the word ‘our’ in the ESV text here. Confusion has occurred in translation because some original manuscripts indicate the word ‘our’ while others indicate ‘your.’ There is no certainty as to what pronoun meant, but it hardly matters. Either word would be acceptable. As already expounded upon, John and his ministry partners would find great joy in seeing others come to a relationship with Christ. In the same way though, others can only have complete joy only by beginning or having a relationship with Christ. Therefore, either word is acceptable, because both provide truthful statements.
Examination & Application of the Text: “Joy describes a reality in life of genuine satisfaction intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually”(2). Joy completely engulfs a persons entire being and then is shone forth to others in every facet of life. Joy becomes so completely entrenched in a person that it characterizes not only who that person is, but also the relationships that one has with others.
As we dwell on the text today, it should already be apparent to us that we find joy in two ways:
- In the fellowship of others: We find joy when we see others engage in fellowship with God. Part of the joy of sharing the Gospel, in teaching others the truth, and seeing their lives transform, is not so much about finding a new friend for ourselves. Instead it is rooted in seeing others find a new friend through fellowship with God.
- In the fellowship with others: Although the focus is seeing others fellowship with God, we get to benefit from that as well. We also find a new friend, being bound together by the only unbreakable bond to exist.
Fellowship should always translate into joy. It is a joy that we can have for others and a joy that we can have with others.
Questions to Consider:
- What is your level of joy right now? On a scale of 1 to 10, how would you rate it?
- What is your relationship with God right now? On a scale of 1 to 10, how would you rate it?
Joy is going to be directly proportionate to your relationship with God. The deeper your relationship with Him, the greater your level of joy. Therefore, joy must be rooted in a relationship with Him…..first by having a relationship with Him yourself and second, by leading others to a relationship with Him.
(1) Simon Kistemaker and William Hendriksen, James & The Epistles of John, New Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1953-2001), 239.
(2) David L. Allen, 1-3 John: Fellowship in God’s Family, Preaching the Word, Edited by R. Kent Hughes (Wheaton: Crossway, 2013), Location 320.