You know that he was revealed so that he might take away sins, and there is no sin in him.
This sentence is composed of a compound οἴδατε ὅτι (“you know that”) clause asserting two truths about Jesus: the mission and personal nature of Jesus Christ revealed in this verse is the foundation for the reality of Christian living that is necessarily experienced by all who know him. The verses that follow will base their claims off the effectual power of Christ’s mission to take away sins and his sinless nature.
“So that he might take away sins”: God showed his love for the world by sending his Son to take away our sins so that the darkness of our separation from God might be done away with and our joyous fellowship with God might be restored.
This was the proclamation of John the Baptist and Scripture:
John 1:29 (CSB) — 29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Here is the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!
Hebrews 9:26 (CSB) — 26 Otherwise, he would have had to suffer many times since the foundation of the world. But now he has appeared one time, at the end of the ages, for the removal of sin by the sacrifice of himself.
The necessity of Christ’s mission to remove our sins is seen in the understanding that our sins separate us from God because of his holy nature:
1 John 1:5–6 (CSB) — 5 This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light, and there is absolutely no darkness in him. 6 If we say, “We have fellowship with him,” and yet we walk in darkness, we are lying and are not practicing the truth.
Isaiah 59:2 (CSB) — 2 But your iniquities are separating you from your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not listen.
In order for salvation to be brought into the world, it was necessary for Christ to take away the sins of the world so that we could be reconciled to our Holy God.
Therefore, the world may rejoice at the sight of the Lamb, as it is written:
Psalm 32:1 (CSB) — 1 How joyful is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered!
Recall that John has just said that sin is lawlessness. He now reminds us of what we know in regard to that truth: Jesus came to remove the sin-and-lawlessness that separates us from God! This is cause for great rejoicing in those who believe that Jesus rose from the dead because if Jesus rose from the dead, then we have been made partakers of that new life in Christ:
Romans 6:3–5 (CSB) — 3 Or are you unaware that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 Therefore we were buried with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too may walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have been united with him in the likeness of his death, we will certainly also be in the likeness of his resurrection.
To be left under the dominion of sin and doomed to carry out the wicked desires of the flesh is a death sentence of eternal separation from God. Only through the awesome salvation of Christ can sin’s captives be set free and ushered into the presence of God by the grace of Jesus Christ.
Now we must look at what it means that Jesus took away the sins of the world:
Mark 10:45 (CSB) — 45 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Ephesians 1:7 (CSB) — 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace
Colossians 2:15 (CSB) — 15 He disarmed the rulers and authorities and disgraced them publicly; he triumphed over them in him.
1 Peter 3:18 (CSB) — 18 For Christ also suffered for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring you to God. He was put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit,
The death of Christ ransomed us from the power of Satan, demonstrated the righteousness of God in love, purchase our forgiveness according to his grace, and bring us back into fellowship with God by making those who were once dead in sin alive again in righteousness through faith by the promised Holy Spirit!
“There is no sin in him”: this statement reflects the opening propositions of John’s epistle:
1 John 1:5 (CSB) — 5 This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light, and there is absolutely no darkness in him.
John’s statement is more than the fact that Christ did not commit sin. He argues that Christ does not possess a sinful nature. In this case, with the negative particle “no” (οὐκ), it emphasizes the fact that there is not a single sin in Jesus. Just as there is no darkness in God (1:5), there is no sin at all in Jesus, who came to remove it. Furthermore, John uses the present tense verb “is” (ἔστιν) to assert that sinlessness is an eternal part of Christ’s nature. His sinlessness is not limited to his preexistence, his incarnate life in the flesh, or his present exalted status. Instead, Christ is sinless—past, present, and future. Sinlessness is essential to his very personhood.
Therefore, John maintains that in his very nature Christ is the Righteous One (2:29), the Pure One (3:3), and the Sinless One (3:5). He is our atonement and advocate (2:1–2), and he is the supreme example and pattern of what his children should be and can be by abiding in him.