It is time to begin a new adventure and I thought that since it has been a very long time since we have taken a close look at John’s letters, that we could mine the treasures contained in 1, 2 and 3 John. When I was studying these letters in Seminary, about 500 years ago (or so it seems now) we were told that these are very very difficult little books to understand, but as you will see, these are actually some of the easiest books of the New Testament to understand; they are simplicity itself once you get used to John’s writing style. Let’s just dive in!
That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. We write this to make our joy complete.
1 John 1:1-4
John has a way of telling the story of Jesus from a lofty, heavenly viewpoint, and this is surely one of those instances. His Gospel begins in a similar way, (see John 1:1-4) it provides a perfect parallel passage in fact. Of course, in Revelation, John’s vantage point is so lofty that most misread it entirely. Here in this short letter, John is setting forth two basic and wonderful facts: First, that Jesus is the Messiah, the anointed One of God. Second, He is setting forth the fact that he, himself, is an eyewitness of Jesus, and Apostle who lived and walked with Jesus for over three years, consequently he is able to give eyewitness testimony about Him.
In verse one, John is letting us know that he saw this Jesus with his own eyes, touched Him with his own hands, heard Him with his own ears, and that now he (John) is proclaiming Jesus as the Word of Life, the Word that was with God and that was in fact God from the very beginning, a beginning that predates time itself.
I hate to be crass after such lofty statements, but to put it in the simplest possible modern American terms, John is saying something like: Hey! I’m about to tell you something important; listen up. Hey dummy, I know what the heck I’m talking about here!
Back to lofty: In verse two, John takes a step further, as he did in John 1:2. This Word of Life really appeared, and John saw Him, John was there. This eternal life that came from the Father Himself John is now going to proclaim to us; John will proclaim this great news of the Word of Life so that we may have fellowship with John and with Jesus, the Son as well as with the Father. And in doing so, our entry into fellowship will make John’s joy complete.
Fellowship is an interesting word, from the Greek word koinōnia meaning “association, community, communion, joint participation, intercourse; the share which one has in anything, participation.” This participation is not only in relationship, but in purpose, for we really cannot separate the Person of Christ from the purpose of the Father. John’s joy will be complete, because by the proclamation of the Word of Life, we will be in relationship and purpose with John, our fellow believers, and with the Lord Himself.
Well dear reader, this is the introduction, I can’t wait to get to the proclamation itself, but that will have to wait until next time…