But if we walk in the light,.... Are persons enlightened by the Spirit of God, so as to have a true sight and sense of sin, to know Christ, and the way of salvation by him; and are children of the light, and are going on and increasing in spiritual light and knowledge; walk on in Christ, the light, by faith, and in the light and truth of the Gospel, and as becomes it, and as children of light; and as such who are called out of darkness into marvellous light:
as he is in the light; according to the light which he has given, who is light itself, is in it, and dwells in it. This "as" denotes not equality, but likeness: when this is the case, then it is a clear point, that
we have fellowship one with another; not with the saints, with the apostles, and other Christians, but with God: "we have mutual communion", as the Arabic version renders it; God with us, and we with him. Some copies read, "with him", as in 1 John 1:6; and such a reading the sense requires; and agreeably to this the Ethiopic version renders it, "and we are partakers among ourselves with him"; that is, we all jointly and mutually appear to be like him, and partake of his nature, and have communion with him; and not only so, but with his Son Jesus Christ, as appears from our having a share in the cleansing efficacy of his blood:
and the blood of Jesus Christ, his Son, cleanseth us from all sin: there is a pollution on human nature, which is original, natural, universal, and internal, and is such that nothing can remove but the blood of Christ; not ceremonial ablutions and sacrifices, nor moral duties, nor evangelical performances, or submission to Gospel ordinances, and particularly baptism, which is not the putting away the faith of the flesh; nor even the graces of the Spirit, no, not faith, no otherwise than as it has to do with this blood; for this cleansing is not to be understood of sanctification, for that more properly belongs to the Spirit of God, and besides, does not cleanse from all sin; for notwithstanding this, sin is in the saints: but either of the atonement of sin, by the sacrifice of Christ, and so of a complete justification from it by his blood, which is put for both his active and passive obedience, the one being finished in the other; or rather of the pardon of sin, procured by the blood of Christ, and the application of that blood to the conscience, which purges it from dead works, and which has a continued virtue in it for that purpose. Christ's blood, being applied by the Spirit of God, has been always cleansing from sin; it had this virtue in it, and was of this use, even before it was actually shed, to the Old Testament saints; whence Christ is said to be the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world; and it has the same efficacy now as when first shed, and will have to the end of the world; and being sprinkled upon the conscience, by the Spirit of God, it takes away the sins of believers, and cleanses from them, as fast as the corruption of nature rises, or sins appear; and removes them out of their sight, and speaks peace to their souls; and which is owing, as to the dignity of Christ's person and the value of his sacrifice, so to his continual intercession, advocacy, and mediation; and which reaches to all sin, original and actual, secret and open sins; sins of heart, thought, lip, and life; sins of omission and commission, greater or lesser sins, committed against light and knowledge, grace and mercy, law and Gospel, all but the sin against the Holy Ghost; and in this Christ was the antitype of the scape goat, of which the Jews sayF7Misn. Shebuot, c. 1. sect. 6. , that
"it atoned for all the transgressions of the law, whether small or great, sins of presumption, or of ignorance, known, or not known, which were against an affirmative or negative command, which deserved cutting off (by the hand of God), or death by the sanhedrim.'
The Arabic and Ethiopic versions render it, "from all our sins"; and this must be ascribed to the greatness of his person, as the Son of God; wherefore the emphasis lies on these words, "his Son": the Son of God, who is equal with God, and is truly and properly God: as it must be the blood of man that must, according to the law, be shed, to atone for and expiate sin, and cleanse from it, and that of an innocent man, who is holy, harmless, and without sin; so it must not be the blood of a mere man, though ever so holy, but the blood of one that is God as well as man; see Acts 20:28. The divine nature of the Son of God, being in union with the human nature, put virtue into his blood to produce such an effect, which still continues, and will, as long as there is any occlusion for it.