“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— the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us— that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. And these things we write to you that your joy may be full.” (1 John 1:1–4)
Jesus Is Our Eternal Life
The opening four verses of John’s first letter to the churches in Asia Minor (perhaps initially Ephesus) provide two of the five stated reasons John wrote the letter: 1) So that readers might have fellowship with God and one another and 2) So that the readers’ joy might be full (1.3-4). The kernel thought in the passage may be reduced to the following sentence: We declare to you that which we have seen and heard. Of course, John speaks not of a concept but a person.
Knowing Christ is eternal life. Eternal life is more than a place or duration. Eternal life is tied to a Person and His work on our behalf. That Person is Jesus. As a matter of fact, we cannot have fellowship with one another apart from Jesus.
Jesus Is the Word of Life
Revelation 19.13 reveals that when Jesus returns as King of Kings and Lord of Lords, His name will be called The Word of God. He told Martha in John 11.25, “I am the resurrection and the life.” Thus Jesus is the Word of Life. But He is also the true God and eternal life (1 John 5.20).
The existence of Jesus as the God-Man was being denied by the false teachers of John’s day. John clearly confronts it in these opening verses of the Letter. John walked with Jesus before His crucifixion. He saw Jesus after He arose from the dead and walked the earth for 40 days. When terrified at Jesus’ sudden appearance, John heard the Savior say, “Why are you troubled? And why do doubts arise in your hearts? Behold My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself. Handle Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have” (Luke 24.34). The Word of Life is Jesus.
Jesus Is Our Fellowship
Our text reads, “Truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ.” There is no fellowship without the Person of Jesus Christ. Jesus said through John in his Gospel: “I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you.” That is the intimacy and fellowship John speaks of here. How do we access this fellowship and rest assured together? We do so through faith.
The fellowship we enjoy as believers is a privilege we have received because we first received the testimony of God respecting His Son. We believed that in Jesus is life. We believed; we live. This cannot be altered. But the privilege of fellowship may be forfeited by sin and rebellion.
Jesus Is Our Joy
Verse four says, “And these things we write to you that your joy may be full.” The result of our trust in Jesus is full joy. It really is inexpressible the joy Jesus brings into our lives. Fellowship and access with God, fellowship with all the saints, and redemption and reconciliation – that is joy! And we simply believed. We ceased from our striving and believed. Gary Derickson sums up the opening of John’s first letter in the following way:
We will see in this epistle that it matters what we believe about Jesus. Here we have been introduced to Him as life incarnate. A part of mature faith in Christ is recognition of Him as our life, not just life giver. At the same time, we remember we are not eyewitnesses, but among those more blessed than Thomas who believe without seeing (John 20:29). We are dependent on the eyewitness accounts to know in whom our faith is placed and to know the right things to believe. Thereby our faith is in the real Jesus, who saves, and not the invention of our minds or of the minds of others who would create a Jesus in their own image. [Gary W. Derickson, First, Second, and Third John, ed. H. Wayne House, W. Hall Harris, III and Andrew W. Pitts, Evangelical Exegetical Commentary (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2012). 1 Jn 1:4.]
Is Jesus everything? Truly?