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1 John 1:3

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

That which we have seen and heard - We deliver nothing by hearsay, nothing by tradition, nothing from conjecture; we have had the fullest certainty of all that we write and preach.

That ye also may have fellowship with us - That ye may be preserved from all false doctrine, and have a real participation with us apostles of the grace, peace, love, and life of God, which communion we have with God the Father, who hath loved us, and given his Son Jesus Christ to redeem us; and with his Son Jesus Christ, who laid down his life for the life of the world and through whom, being God manifested in the flesh, we have union with God, are made partakers of the Divine nature and dwell in God, and God in us.

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

That which we have seen and heard declare we unto 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.

That ye 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 people. To “have fellowship,” means to have anything in common with others; to partake of it; to share it with them, (see the notes at Acts 2:42); 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 Saviour which he had, and partake of the same hope and joy. This is the true notion of fellowship in religion.

And truly 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, and 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. Compare the 1 Corinthians 10:16 note; 2 Corinthians 12:14 note. 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 cooperation with God. There is a sphere in which God works alone, and in which we can have no cooperation, 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 cooperation with him. There God works alone. But there is also a large sphere in which he admits us graciously to a cooperation 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 cooperation is referred to in such passages as these: “We are laborers together ( συνεργοί sunergoi) with God,” 1 Corinthians 3:9. “The Lord working with them,” Mark 16:20. “We then as workers together with him,” 2 Corinthians 6:1. “That we might be fellow-helpers to the truth,” 3 John 1:8. 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 special 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 Saviour in the triumphs of the latter day, when the scenes of the judgment shall occur, and when the Redeemer shall appear, that he may be admired and adored by assembled worlds. Compare the notes at 2 Thessalonians 1:10. See also Matthew 19:28; Revelation 3:21.

And with his Son Jesus Christ - That is, in like manner there is much which we have in common with the Saviour - 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, etc.” 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. Ephesians 5:32; Colossians 1:27. For a full view of the subject, see the author‘s notes, with the supplementary note at Romans 8:10.)

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
That essential Good, that uncreated Excellence, which had been from the beginning, from eternity, as equal with the Father, and which at length appeared in human nature for the salvation of sinners, was the great subject concerning which the apostle wrote to his brethren. The apostles had seen Him while they witnessed his wisdom and holiness, his miracles, and love and mercy, during some years, till they saw him crucified for sinners, and afterwards risen from the dead. They touched him, so as to have full proof of his resurrection. This Divine Person, the Word of life, the Word of God, appeared in human nature, that he might be the Author and Giver of eternal life to mankind, through the redemption of his blood, and the influence of his new-creating Spirit. The apostles declared what they had seen and heard, that believers might share their comforts and everlasting advantages. They had free access to God the Father. They had a happy experience of the truth in their souls, and showed its excellence in their lives. This communion of believers with the Father and the Son, is begun and kept up by the influences of the Holy Spirit. The benefits Christ bestows, are not like the scanty possessions of the world, causing jealousies in others; but the joy and happiness of communion with God is all-sufficient, so that any number may partake of it; and all who are warranted to say, that truly their fellowship is with the Father, will desire to lead others to partake of the same blessedness.
Ellen G. White
Selected Messages Book 3, 191.2

Justification and Sanctification Accomplished Through Faith—1890—When through repentance and faith we accept Christ as our Saviour, the Lord pardons our sins, and remits the penalty prescribed for the transgression of the law. The sinner then stands before God as a just person; he is taken into favor with Heaven, and through the Spirit has fellowship with the Father and the Son. 3SM 191.2

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Ellen G. White
Our High Calling, 216.5

Your fellowship is with the Father and with the Son, and you grow into the knowledge of the divine perfection. You grow in reverence, you gain confidence in communion with God. Looking steadfastly to Jesus, you grow in faith, and learning to distrust self, you appreciate the words of Christ, “Without me ye can do nothing.” John 15:5.... OHC 216.5

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Ellen G. White
That I May Know Him, 104

And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent. John 17:3. TMK 104.1

The sum and substance of the whole matter of Christian grace and experience is contained in believing on Christ, in knowing God and His Son whom He hath sent. But here is where many fail, for they lack faith in God. Instead of desiring to be brought into fellowship with Christ in His self-denial and humiliation, they are ever seeking for the supremacy of self.... O if we did but appreciate the love of God, how our hearts would be expanded, our limited sympathies would be enlarged, and break away from the icy barriers of selfishness, and our comprehension would be deeper than it now is.... TMK 104.2

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Ellen G. White
The Upward Look, 295.1

That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ. 1 John 1:3. UL 295.1

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