1 JOHN 1:1-4 [10-23-11]


Chapter 1, Verses 1-4



Genesis 1:1) In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.

QUESTION: If God has no beginning, then what beginning is this referring to?

ANSWER: This “beginning” refers to the beginning of the act of creation that brought our universe into existence. It’s the beginning of God’s works that pertain to mankind.

John 1:1-3) In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

2) The same was in the beginning with God.

3) All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.

1 John 1:1) That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life; 

QUESTION: What “beginning” is each passage above referring to?


  1. In Genesis 1:1 the “beginning” refers to the beginning of creation.
  2. In John 1:1 the “beginning” refers to as far back as you want to go.
  3. In I John 1:1 the “beginning” refers to the beginning of the birth of the church; i.e., when Jesus began to interact with the disciples.

I John 1:1-4) [KJV] That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life;

Concerning “we have heard,” and “we have seen,”

“The verbs are both in the perfect tense, showing that the reference is to an event in the past that is still effective in the present” [UBS].

Regarding “we have looked upon,”

“that which we gazed upon as a spectacle” [Wuest].

“to behold, view attentively, contemplate” [Vine].

In regards to “our hands have handled,”

“and our hands handled with a view to investigation” [Wuest].

Concerning all of the above,

“a series rising in gradation. Seeing is a more convincing proof than hearing of; handling, than even seeing. “Have heard . . . have seen” (perfect tenses), as a possession still abiding with us” [JFB].

QUESTION: What is John wanting to impress on us in this verse?

ANSWER: John, and the others, didn’t merely witness someone claiming to be something; the things they heard and saw were still impacting John decades later. Not only that, but he went further to stress that these weren’t casual looks; they gazed on Him in wonder at all He did and contemplated what it all meant. Then they touched Him, prior to the resurrection, and could therefore testify that He was flesh and blood; and they touched His wounds after His resurrection and could therefore testify that He Who had died was truly alive.

2) [KJV] (For the life was manifested, and we have seen [it], and bear witness, and shew unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;)

QUESTION: What is John telling us here?

ANSWER: He, and the others, were eye witnesses. This isn’t mere speculation; this is the truth of what they had witnessed.

QUESTION: What is John also telling us?

ANSWER: The One he heard, the One he saw, the One he gazed upon in wonder, the One he touched before and after the resurrection is the One Who has been eternally with the Father, Jehovah God!

QUESTION: What’s the difference between the phrase “the Word was made flesh” in John 1:14, and the phrase “the life was manifested” [KJV] in our current verse?

ANSWER: “Corresponding with the Word was made flesh (John 1:14). The two phrases, however, present different aspects of the same truth. The Word became flesh, contemplates simply the historic fact of incarnation. The life was manifested, sets forth the unfolding of that fact in the various operations of life. The one denotes the objective process of the incarnation as such, the other the result of that process as related to human capacity of receiving and understanding it” [Vincent].

“The Apostle’s teaching us that when the Lord Jesus came, He Who was ‘from the beginning,’ Life came.  God manifested this Life (rendered it apparent) in the incarnation.  John says he heard it, he saw it, and he handled it.  He might have been thinking, ‘I thought I knew something about life, but then Life came.  Life was rendered apparent before me.  Then I realized that I had known absolutely nothing about life up until that very point of time.’”

John was dead (dead in sin) when he met Life.  You and I were dead until we met Life.  When Life comes everything changes” [Taken from my commentary on 1 John, page 6].

3) [KJV] That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship [is] with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.

(GW) This is the life we have seen and heard. We are reporting about it to you also so that you, too, can have a relationship with us. Our relationship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ.

NOTE: These first three verses of this Epistle are establishing the Apostle’s right to make certain statements that he’ll make in this letter.  He’s not sharing hearsay with his readers, but is sharing that which he heard, he saw, he gazed upon, and he handled.  More than that, he wasn’t simply a witness to a historical event.  He didn’t just hear Him, see Him, gaze upon Him intently, and handle Him with a view towards investigating Him; God manifested His Son to John, and the others included in “we.”  Because of the revelation given to Him through the manifestation of Christ he “thoroughly understood” Life, and “thoroughly understood” “who and what” Life “is.”  John experienced Life eternal in every way, and was now declaring the Truth about this Life to his readers [Taken from my commentary].

QUESTION: What is John telling us here?

ANSWER: True Christian fellowship occurs when we understand the purpose of the incarnation. God came, in the form of a man, to carry our sins away so that we can have fellowship with a Holy God. He came so we could experience “Life.” We can only truly experience fellowship with God when we understand the victory of the cross; and then, we can experience true fellowship with one another.

QUESTION: Why is that?

ANSWER: We can only enjoy fellowship with God when we understand that we are truly forgiven, and consequently, we can understand that God loves us, right now, with all our quirks. We can only enjoy fellowship with one another when we understand that all who have come to Jesus are truly forgiven, and consequently, we can love one another right now, in spite of all of our quirks.

NOTE: The forgiven forgive. Those who are loved in spite of their quirks love others in spite of their quirks. Those who have received grace give grace to others.

4) [KJV] And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full.

QUESTION: What does John want for his readers?

ANSWER: He wants us to be happy; he wants us to have a deep-seeded joy that will see us through the difficulties of this journey called life.

John 15:8-12) [GNB] My Father’s glory is shown by your bearing much fruit; and in this way you become my disciples.

12) [GNB] I love you just as the Father loves me; remain in my love.

12) [GNB] If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love.

12) [GNB] “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.

12) [GNB] My commandment is this: love one another, just as I love you.”

John 16:23-24) [GNB] “When that day comes, you will not ask me for anything. I am telling you the truth: the Father will give you whatever you ask of him in my name.

24) [GNB] Until now you have not asked for anything in my name; ask and you will receive, so that your happiness may be complete.”

QUESTION: What three things, according to John, will bring joy in our lives?

ANSWER: Here are those 3 things:

1.        We need to understand that the incarnation was intended to bring us into fellowship with God {current verse}.

  1. We need to walk in the love of God towards one another. {John 15:8-12}

We need to understand the privilege God has given us to come before Him in prayer, and that He wants to answer those prayers. {John 16:23-24}

Walk of Grace Chapel, Council Bluffs Church