The Incarnation of the Word of Life
1 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. 2 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. 3 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. 4 We write this to make our joy complete.
As we have studied the letters of Paul and Peter this year, now we dive into the letters of John, the apostle. What is common to them, as we have just seen in Peter's two letters, is the writers were all eyewitnesses. They saw first hand, touched first hand and heard first hand. These are the 3 apostles that were sent out to proclaim who Jesus was, how he came and what He proclaimed. You can almost tell how excited John is to share about the incarnation of Jesus. In the first part of the letter he refers to Jesus as the "Word of life". An important aspect of John's purpose is to show that Jesus was the pre-existent Word, who has now come in the flesh. This is consistent with the purpose of the Gospel of John
Like Peter, John is writing to the first century community of believers. He is most concerned with the person and work of Jesus, and especially his humanity. That is why he focuses so much in these first few verses on the disciples' personal experience with Jesus. John is only passing on what he has seen and heard with his own eyes and ears. He is confronting the other huge heresy in which it was taught that Jesus was not really a human. He only appeared to be a human being. This was called "docetism". This comes from the Greek word "dokeo" which means to seem or appear to be. The other word used is "an illusion".
So what is the big deal about that? If Jesus wasn't a human being he didn't really come to earth. And if he really didn't really come here, then he really didn't die on the cross. And if he didn't really die on the cross, then he really didn't rise from the dead. And if he didn't really rise from the dead our faith is in vain. We have no basis for how we have been forgiven, or how we will one day rise from the dead. This is why it is so important for John to be clear about this. And by the way this was one of the reasons for the Nicene Creed what written in AD 325. If you read the second article of this creed it says,
We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
the only Son of God,
eternally begotten of the Father,
God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made,
of one Being with the Father.
Through him all things were made.
For us and for our salvation
he came down from heaven:
by the power of the Holy Spirit
he became incarnate from the Virgin Mary,
and was made man.
For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;
he suffered death and was buried.
On the third day he rose again
in accordance with the Scriptures;
he ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead,
and his kingdom will have no end.
We see in this Creed the definition of Jesus as eternally begotten from the Father and true God from true God. And through Him how all things were made. And then we see Jesus came down from heaven and became a man. And as a man he suffered and died and was buried and rose again on the third day. Notice how much attention is given that Jesus is fully God and fully human one of the two greatest truths of the bible along with the Trinity.
So we begin the letter of 1 John, and he says he writes these things so that he can have fellowship with them. The deep sense of community that only two Christ followers can have together. And he says he writes, so our joy may be complete. John's complete joy would to always be in fellowship with the new believers. His biggest concern is that they would be deceived and fall out of Fellowship with God and them.
So what does this mean for us? It means that we too need to guard our fellowship we have in the body of Christ. We need to watch out for those who would deny the most important doctrines what we believe, especially regarding the person and work of Jesus. I am excited to take this journey through 1 John, I hope you are too.