“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, concerning the Word of life…”
Two men (Paul and John) wrote nineteen books of the 27 in the New Testament. John wrote five books: the gospel of John, the 3 epistles of John, and the book of Revelation.
The prolog of 1 John runs from verse 1 through verse 4. John launches immediately into a defense of the authenticity of the humanity of Christ, which is the subject of the entire book of 1 John.
John writes this epistle to counteract the Gnostic heresy. An agnostic knows nothing; a Gnostic knows everything (supposedly). They taught that Jesus was a phantom or spirit, not a genuine human being.
1 John focuses on the person of Christ. Joy revolves around Him, “How tedious and tasteless the hours when Jesus no longer I see.” The thrill and joy of the Christian life disappear when we lose sight of Jesus.
As John is writing this epistle, he is thinking about Cerinthus. Cerinthus came into town with a full load of hot air about incipient Gnosticism. This form of Gnosticism denied the humanity of Christ. John here is attacking that doctrine.
That which was from the beginning,
John does not refer here to the absolute beginning of creation (Ge 1:1) but the beginning of the message of Jesus Christ to the apostles. This verse gives the testimony of those who walked with the Lord when He was on earth. They accompanied Him for 3 and ½ years. They ate with Him and traveled with Him. Jesus personally taught them.
The word “which” is neuter referring to the manifestation of Christ (Jn 1:18; 6:46; 1 Ti 6:16; 1 Jn 4:12). This collectively gathers into one all the varied and wonderful truths regarding the person of Christ. It is all that He is, represents, or ever will be. It is what He is in Himself plus what He is for us and the entire universe.
The word “was” indicates what Jesus was essentially. This combats the Gnostic heresy that portrayed Jesus as impersonal, a mere emanation.
John’s congregation went berserk over a false system of spirituality. They thought that they could have fellowship with God apart from a true understanding of the humanity of Christ.
The “beginning” here is the message to the apostles in which God revealed Himself in Jesus Christ. He is the beginning of the revelation of God. He reveals God comprehensively. Eternal fellowship precedes temporal fellowship.
God must reveal Himself before we can fellowship with Him.
There has always been a lot of speculation about God; however, we cannot have fellowship with God unless we first know Him. We cannot know God apart from Christ. He is the principle by which God reveals Himself.
What is the principle of fellowship with God? There is only one member of the Trinity revealed to mankind (Jn 1:18; 6:46; 1 Ti. 6:16; 1 Jn 4:12), and that member is Jesus Christ.
If we fellowship with God, we must come to know Him first. How do we get to know Him? At the point at which He reveals Himself – in the person of Christ. Jesus is the point of God’s revelation. Christianity is Christ. We cannot know Jesus Christ apart from the cross. We cannot have eternal fellowship with Christ apart from the cross. Eternal fellowship always precedes fellowship in time.
Before we can have fellowship with God, we must meet Him personally. Before we can know someone, we must first meet them, be introduced to them, and shake their hand. We just can’t walk up to God and shake his hand.
God’s greatest expression of grace is Jesus Christ. God always reveals Himself on the principle of grace. He never reveals Himself on the principle of human ability. God always bases spirituality on God’s ability, not on our ability.