John’s First Epistle (posted every Wednesday), by Warren E. Berkley
1 Jno. 1:1-4
The Life Was Manifest
“That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life – the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us – that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.” – 1 Jno. 1:1-4, English Standard Version
The first epistle of John begins very much like the gospel of John, with an affirmation of the eternal existence of Jesus Christ. What accompanies that affirmation is personal testimony: “we have heard … we have seen with our eyes … we looked and touched.” The reality of the incarnation was not a remote doctrine to John or the other apostles who accompanied Jesus. They were witnesses of His presence on earth. They were convinced by His signs, wonders and resurrection. So, they became proclaimers of the truth about Jesus Christ, “the Word of Life.”
They proclaimed Christ to people for a specific purpose. It says here, “so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son, Jesus Christ.” The joy of John and the other apostles did not lie merely in proclaiming the truth about Christ. The completion of their joy would be people responding, to enter into fellowship with God through Jesus Christ.
The subject of this paragraph is not just Jesus Christ but “that which” concerned Him and what was now possible for sinners: to enter into fellowship with God through Him.
Today, when the gospel is preached, the purpose is not just to provide information, nor even just reformation. The purpose is the restoration of one’s fellowship with God. Sin disrupts fellowship with God. Christ was manifest and suffered death on the cross so that fellowship with God can be restored. Joy is made complete when this purpose is personally realized.