“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— 2 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— 3 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. 4 And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.” (I John 1:1-4)
What does the Apostle John mean when he writes, “That which was from the beginning”? The pronoun “that” can also be translated “the One” or “Who.” This person was essentially existing from the beginning, which means a point in time in the past in which there was nothing. This person is none other than Jesus Christ.
The phrase “from the beginning” bears resemblance to not only Genesis 1:1 but also John 1:1. In effect, the incarnation of Jesus Christ was as significant an event as creation itself.
John, in speaking about Jesus Christ and His incarnation, indicates that He was a real human being while at the same time God. In other words, Jesus Christ was God in the flesh. John and the other disciples heard Him, they saw Him with their eyes and paid attention to Him, they observed what He did and they touched His physical body. Jesus Christ is the word of life, paralleling John 1:1-5 and John 1:14. John’s point is that Jesus Christ is real.
Dr. John Walvoord writes, “With these introductory words, the apostle directed his first shafts at the heresy with which he was concerned. The antichrists brought new ideas, not those which were “from the beginning” of the gospel era. Moreover, their denial of the reality of the incarnate life of Christ could be countered by the experiences of the eyewitnesses whose testimony was founded on actual hearing, seeing, and touching (cf. “look” and “touch” in Luke 24:39). John’s message is solidly based on a historical reality.”
John the Apostle continues by saying “— 2 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—.” Jesus Christ, living here on earth who is the source of all physical and spiritual life, was manifested or revealed by God the Father and God the Holy Spirit. This manifestation was seen, understood by John and now declared and proclaimed to the recipients of John’s letter. John declares that Jesus Christ is the only source of eternal life. He was with God the Father from all eternity and then God the Father revealed Jesus Christ in time and space while He was on earth (Galatians 4:4). Jesus Christ is not only real but also revealed.
The reason John gives for sharing this information is so that the sinners will be converted and therefore have fellowship, not only with God but also with other believers. “3 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. 4 And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.” John concludes that Jesus Christ is not only real, revealed but also relational.
Do you know Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior? Have you received His righteousness by grace alone, through faith alone in His person and work? If so, rejoice that you have fellowship with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. If not, repent and receive Jesus today (John 1:12-13).
May the Lord’s truth and grace be found here?
Soli deo Gloria!