In the first post, the purpose of the book (…that you may know you have eternal life), was discussed and those to whom the book was written (…Those who believe in the name of the Son of God) were identified. These important beginning points are found in chapter 5.
In chapter 1 John lays out the basis for all he will say in the following chapters. John was concerned about those in the culture where these ancient Christians lived who were not right about Jesus. John at once builds an unshakable foundation for his personal beliefs and for that of his readers. He was not making a case for religion or theological dogma, he was presenting the living Christ.
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— 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—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. And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete. ( 1 John 1-4 )
These four introductory verses are crucial to everything that follows. There is a theological and doctrinal mountain here to be uncovered. If you miss the truths of these four verses you will not understand at all what God was offering and accomplishing in the person of Jesus.
Jesus is God
John’s opening words mirror his words in the gospel that bears his name. Here he says: “That which was from the beginning..” and in John 1:1,2 “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was witih God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God”
Jesus is eternal
In the gospel John talks about Jesus’ work in creation. Here he says “from the beginning“. His reference is clearly one to the beginning of creation. But, in 1 John he also goes further. Jesus is himself eternal life, He was with the Father and was made manifest to us. There was never a time when Christ did not exist, He was/is eternal. He has always been eternal life has always been with the Father and only recently made manifest to us. In Romans 1:17 the Apostle Paul says of Him, in describing the gospel, “the righteousness of God is revealed..”. Jesus is “the righteousness of God” ( 1 Corinthians 1:30), He has always existed but only in the gospel message was He revealed.
Jesus is eternal life
John makes clear that Jesus is the word of life, that it has been made manifest, and that we have seen and heard. John is not talking theory or some steps needed to become a Christian, rather he is talking about a man, Jesus Christ. He is talking about someone he and his fellows have seen, heard, and even touched. And make no mistake about this, this God-man who has been revealed is himself eternal life and righteousness. When you have him you are righteous before the Father and you can’t die because your life is his life, eternal.
Christianity is Christ! I have made this statement for many, many years to people who look at me like a calf looking at a new gate. But, contrary to popular opinion, the statement is true and sure. What a sinner needs is eternal life to replace his death, and he needs right standing (righteousness) with God from whom he is alienated because of his sins. Religion, church attendance, good works, baptism, confirmation, spiritual experiences, and every other experience you can imagine cannot give a sinner what he needs most. He needs eternal life and righteousness and the man Christ Jesus is both!
(to be continued)