I John; Chapter 1:1-4 [1-16-11]


1 JOHN

Chapter 1, Verse 1

{A Wednesday Evening Study}

[1-5-11]

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.

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

ANSWER: This “beginning” refers to a time prior to our history, which includes the history of our universe. This “beginning” refers to a time before anything that is real to us in the material realm was created. This “beginning” is a time that existed before anything that has a beginning existed.

NOTE: I limited my above comment to the time of creation that is pertinent to you and I. However, I believe God has always been a Creator, and consequently, there were other “beginnings” in the distant past before this one. And God was in the beginning before those creations, and He was the One creating.

1John 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: If God has no beginning, then what beginning is this referring to?

ANSWER: See the following comments:

“The sense may be this: ‘Whatever there was respecting the Word of life, or him who is the living Word, the incarnate Son of God, from the very beginning, from the time when he was first manifested in the flesh; whatever there was respecting his exalted nature, his dignity, his character, that could be subjected to the testimony of the senses, to be the object of sight, or hearing, or touch, that I was permitted to see, and that I declare to you respecting him.’” He goes on to say, “If this be the correct interpretation, then the phrase ‘from the beginning’ (ap’arches) does not here refer to his eternity, or his being in the beginning of all things, as the phrase ‘in the beginning’ (enarche) does in John 1:1; but rather means from the very commencement of his manifestation as the Son of God, the very first indications on earth of what he was as the Messiah.” [Barnes].

NOTE: Allow me to add my thoughts to Barnes’ notes:

John uses the expression “from the beginning” nine times in this Epistle, one time in his second Epistle, one time in his third Epistle, and four times in the Gospel of John, for a total of fifteen times. With the two exceptions of when he’s referred to the devil as sinning “from the beginning” (1John 3:8), and as being a murderer “from the beginning” (John 8:44) it appears to me that he’s using the expression to refer to the beginning of “grace and truth” (John 1:17) arriving in the person of Jesus Christ. Following is a list of those uses of this expression:

1) Jesus knew “from the beginning” who would not believe in Him, and who would betray Him.

John 6:64) But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him.

2) Jesus said He was Who He told them He was “from the beginning.”

John 8:25) Then said they unto him, Who art thou? And Jesus saith unto them, Even [the same] that I said unto you from the beginning.

3) Jesus said the disciples had been with Him “from the beginning.”

John 15:26-27) But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, [even] the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me:

27) And ye also shall bear witness, because ye have been with me from the beginning.

4) John reminds his readers about an old commandment that they had had “from the beginning.”

5) In that same verse, John adds that they had heard that old commandment “from the beginning.”

1J0hn 2:7) Brethren, I write no new commandment unto you, but an old commandment which ye had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word which ye have heard from the beginning.

6) John writes to those he refers to as “fathers” because they had known Him that is “from the beginning.”

1John 2:13) I write unto you, fathers, because ye have known him [that is] from the beginning. I write unto you, young men, because ye have overcome the wicked one. I write unto you, little children, because ye have known the Father.

7) John again addresses the “fathers” because they had know Him that is “from the beginning.”

1Jn 2:14) I have written unto you, fathers, because ye have known him [that is] from the beginning. I have written unto you, young men, because ye are strong, and the word of God abideth in you, and ye have overcome the wicked one.

8) Concerning the Truth that Jesus is the Christ (vs. 24) John instructs his readers to let that Truth abide in them that they had heard “from the beginning.”

9) John wrote that they would continue in the Son, and in the Father, if the Truth remained in them that they heard “from the beginning.”

1John 2:24) Let that therefore abide in you, which ye have heard from the beginning. If that which ye have heard from the beginning shall remain in you, ye also shall continue in the Son, and in the Father.

10) He also wrote that loving one another was the message that they heard “from the beginning.”

1J0hn 3:11) For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.

11) John also said in his second Epistle that loving one another was the commandment that they had had “from the beginning.”

2J0hn 1:5) And now I beseech thee, lady, not as though I wrote a new commandment unto thee, but that which we had from the beginning, that we love one another.

12) John also said that love was walking in the commandment that they had heard “from the beginning.”

2John 1:6) And this is love, that we walk after his commandments. This is the commandment, That, as ye have heard from the beginning, ye should walk in it.

Without a question all of the examples in the above list, with the possible exception of numbers 1, 6, and 7, refer to the beginning of the Christian faith that was introduced to us through the life, death, burial, resurrection, and ascension of the Lord Jesus Christ, or to the beginning of the Christian faith in the individual believers at the time of their conversions.

I think a strong case could be made for numbers 6 and 7 also referring to that “beginning.” In other words, John could be saying to the “fathers” that they were there “from the beginning” of the Christian faith, meaning that they were old men who had personally seen Jesus. If that’s the case he’s essentially saying to them, “You ‘fathers’ know that I’m telling you the Truth because you were there also,” instead of, as most Commentators would say, “You are spiritual ‘fathers’ because you have become intimately acquainted with the Lord Jesus through the process of spiritual growth.”

I think it’s also quite possible that number 1 is also referring to this “beginning.” If that’s the case, then even though Jesus, as all-knowing God, had know from “in the beginning” (John 1:1), as man He had known “from the beginning” exactly who would not believe in Him, and who would betray Him. In other words He’s expressing this Truth from the human perspective. [Taken from my commentary on 1 John, pages 2-3].

1 JOHN

Chapter 1, Verse 1-4

{Switched From Wednesdays to Sundays}

[1-16-11]

1 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) [GW] This life was revealed to us. We have seen it, and we testify about it. We are reporting to you about this eternal life that was in the presence of the Father and was revealed to 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) [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.

[MSG] We saw it, we heard it, and now we’re telling you so you can experience it along with us, this experience of communion with the Father and 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, 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.

9) I love you just as the Father loves me; remain in my love.

10) 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.

11) “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.

12) 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) 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}.

2.      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