1 John 1:9 – God is Faithful to Forgive and Cleanse Us from All Unrighteousness

John asserts that those who believe in Christ have fellowship with God and can experience joy through this communion, using the Greek term koinonia as his basis.

This verse serves as a warning against Gnostic heresies that denied Jesus’ physical existence in this life and discusses forgiveness and cleansing as themes in its teachings.


Forgiveness means choosing not to hold another’s actions against them. This doesn’t mean approving of what they did; rather, it simply means that their sins won’t haunt you anymore.

Jesus took our sins upon Himself on the cross, which is exactly what forgiveness means – not something we do but God proclaiming to us that He has accepted them and cleansed us of them forever and ever.

Some may look to 1 John 1:9 for assurance of forgiveness for every sin they’ve ever committed, missing its point entirely as this passage was intended for those who feel lost and insist they have no sin to confess to Jesus; after doing this their sins will be as far from them as the east is from the west!


Adikia, the Greek term used here to translate as “unrighteousness,” refers to any act that violates either God’s standard of holiness and righteousness or that violates human standards of goodness. This includes every sin as well as activities that seem right but that are judged wrong by Him.

Vine notes that forgiveness (remission) addresses sinful acts committed while cleansing from unrighteousness deals with the individual’s personal character.” He suggests that when Christians confess their sins they can find relief both from guilt and from any potential contamination caused by those same sins.

Jim Bomkamp notes in 1 John 1 that confession is one of 34 Marks of a True Christian. Confession indicates a believer’s recognition that sin goes against God’s holy and righteous standards, thus turning away from hatred propagated by society, towards love for his fellow man in order to move closer towards Jesus and fellowship with Christ.

Fellowship with God

An obvious example of fellowship can be seen in a family dynamic; its members form deep, shared bonds of affection that cannot be broken or severed. Christians also share in this joy of communion between themselves and God.

Fellowship (koinonia, or koy-nohn-ee’-ah) is the result of believing in Jesus and being saved, as it’s an ongoing process requiring forgiveness and cleansing from past transgressions. When Christians sin, it’s imperative they acknowledge it so God can forgive them and remove any effects it had on their relationship with Him.

John’s writings make clear his conviction that Jesus’ death and resurrection were necessary to establish fellowship among his followers. Contrary to heretics who claimed spiritual illumination that made them free of sin and capable of attaining eternal life (1 John 1:8-10), John states explicitly that true fellowship with Him requires moral conformity with Him (1 John 2:1). One Peter 3:21 informs us: this message has been preached to YOU!


John wanted his readers to have the truth about Jesus. He taught from personal experience and testimony. He discussed Jesus’ incarnation, ministry, and gospel of salvation and forgiveness through Christ. Additionally, John reminded his readers that God is love and He loved those who believed; further encouraging them to show this love to all around them.

John emphasizes the fact that those who confess their sin will be forgiven and cleansed. He assures his readers that salvation covers past, present, and future sins; even though Christians still sin at times, their desire to please God pushes them toward greater holiness.

John was trying to protect his readers from falling into Gnosticism’s trap of Gnosticism – an error which held that matter was evil and spirit good, with knowledge – or Gnosis – being the means by which to ascend from physical existence into the spiritual realm. John wanted his readers to avoid this dangerous deception that threatened their well-being.

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