Rawlings School of Divinity


Doctor of Philosophy


Benjamin P. Laird


1 John, first john, forgiveness, confession, fellowship, 1 John 1:9, 1 John 1:5-2:6, koinonia, position in christ, sanctification, light and darkness, johannine, antinomianism


Christianity | Religious Thought, Theology and Philosophy of Religion


The purpose of this study on 1 John 1:5–2:6 is to examine whether repeated confession of post-salvific sins is required either for additional forgiveness or to maintain fellowship with God. This dissertation argues that John teaches that confession is required for salvation and results in complete forgiveness at the moment of salvation; however, despite what is commonly taught, John never teaches ongoing post-salvific confession for forgiveness or to maintain fellowship with God. While post-salvific confession may benefit a believer on a psychological level, that is not what John taught in 1 John. From God’s standpoint, the relationship is not impaired by post-salvation sin because God sees Christ’s imputed righteousness in each believer, and fellowship with God cannot be broken. Instead of fearing God’s rejection or wrath, this should result in a holy life that demonstrates what God has already accomplished. The argument presented herein is that John is speaking about confession for salvation and not for forgiveness of additional sins by a person who is already saved. Forgiveness and fellowship are complete at the time of salvation rather than as a continuing lifelong process. To further this understanding, an exegetical analysis of 1 John 1:5–2:6 will be performed, as this is the crucial passage in the Johannine Epistles and the entire NT on post-salvific confession and fellowship with God.