The First Letter of the Apostle John: Study No.2

Study No.2  (1 John 1:1-4)


(Vs.1) “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—“

“That which was from the beginning:” The Lord Jesus has always existed and will always exist. John tells us in his gospel that the Word of God is a person, namely the Lord Jesus the Anointed Messiah, who was in the beginning with God and that the Word Himself was God and that He, the Word, was in the beginning with God or face to face with God. In other words from all of eternity God was looking at one exactly the same as Himself. Everything that was created was created through the Lord Jesus and without Him nothing was made that was made (John 1:1-3). John goes on to tell us that He, the Word of God, was made flesh and tabernacled among us (John 1:14). In other words God became a fully human being on earth yet remained in heaven. This was possible when you consider the tact that He is Triune in nature.

It is interesting to note that before 100AD that the Jewish sages who did not accept the Lord Jesus as the Messiah did recognise from the Old Testament scriptures that there were two eternal powers in the heavens. One was invisible but the other visible in that He appeared to people in the Old Testament in human form. Those to whom He appeared knew they had seen God and yet lived. This person who had human form was the pre-existent pre-incarnate Son of the Living God our Lord Jesus. After 100AD these Jewish sages deliberately denied this truth concerning the deity of Jesus because the New Covenant believers in the Messiah Jesus were teaching that He was God incarnate which the spiritually un-regenerated mind of the Jewish mind could not accept.

The fact is that the two eternal beings or powers in the heavens who are the one God means that one of them could step out of heaven and take upon Himself a flesh and blood body and be one who was fully human and fully divine in the one body. The Lord Jesus clearly identified Himself as God incarnate yet spoke to God His Father in heaven. This is how God could be in the Messiah reconciling the world to Himself at the cross (2 Corinthians 5:19). The invisible God manifested Himself in a visible human body.

It also needs to be said that in both Testaments we also see that the Holy Spirt is God the Spirit, but it is made very clear in the New Testament that the Holy Spirit Himself is God the Spirit and equal in His divine nature and attributes with God the Father and with God the Son, and they are completely unified in their will and purposes and never act independently from each other. Even the Lord Jesus said “Truly, truly, I tell you, the Son can do nothing by Himself, unless He sees the Father doing it. For whatever the Father does, the Son also does” (John 5:19).

In the same way the Holy Spirit knows the mind, the thoughts, the feelings and the purposes of God the Father and the Son and acts in perfect accordance with their will. “And He (God) who searches our hearts knows the mind (The Greek text-“the thoughts, feelings and purposes”) of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God “(Romans 8:27).

In light of the New Testament then we are also told about the Lord Jesus that; “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist.” (Colossians 1:15-17). He was not just like God or a lesser divine created being without sin, but was of the exact and same character and nature as God making Him equal with God in every way.

All the way through all of his letters John is showing us that the Lord Jesus was not just made in God’s image and likeness as Adam was but that the Lord Jesus is the exact physical manifestation of the eternal God in human form. Adam was created in God’s image and likeness and that without sin but Adam did not pre-exist whereas the Lord Jesus was fully human the same as Adam was, except that the Lord Jesus had pre-existed from all eternity. John and the other disciples knew this to be true because of the inner revelation they had received from the Holy Spirit concerning Jesus’ true nature. The Lord Jesus was fully human, yet fully divine at the same time and in the one body. As they had observed his manner of life, His teaching, his miracles and His ministry and had lived with him every day they had come to know and believe that He was indeed the living and eternal Word of God tabernacling among them (John 1:14).

“…which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled,”

The Lord Jesus was no phantom being or ‘spirit’ or some kind of emanation as the Gnostics taught but a real flesh and blood man. Even after His resurrection in His glorified body He revealed Himself to His disciples and others and to 500 people at one time. (1 Corinthians 15:6) He was seen and touched and interacted with His followers after His physical resurrection as we see in His interaction with doubting Thomas. As John writes; “But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples were saying to him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he said to them, “Unless I see in His hands the imprint of the nails, and put my finger into the place of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.  After eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors having been shut, and stood in their midst and said, “Peace be with you.” Then He said to Thomas, “Reach here with your finger, and see My hands; and reach here your hand and put it into My side; and do not be unbelieving, but believing.” Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed” (John 20:24-29).

Thomas recognized that the Lord Jesus was God. It was an acclamation of worship and not a mere act of homage to a greater person as some would tell us. Thomas’ confession had already been affirmed by others during the ministry of the Lord Jesus where they worshipped Him as God (Matthew 14:33; 28:8-9).  In the Book of Revelation the Lord Jesus is worshipped as God because He was always God and face to face with God and of one essence and being with Him. During His earthly ministry and even in Sheol He did not cease to be God. During His earthly ministry He laid aside His divine prerogative to act as God but never laid aside His divinity as God. He conducted His whole ministry on earth as a man empowered by the Holy Spirit and everything He said and did was said and done through, and by the power of, the Holy Spirit (Luke 4:18-19) (Acts 10:38).

The wonderful Biblical truth is that the Lord Jesus was fully human and fully divine at the same time. He was the second Adam but the difference is that Adam was a created being but the Lord Jesus was never created but at the right time stepped out of eternity and took upon Himself flesh and tabernacled among us. Adam came from the dust of the ground but the Lord Jesus came down from heaven. As He Himself said; “No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man who is in heaven” (John 3:13).

Again He said; “For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but to do the will of Him who sent Me” (John 6:38). And again He said; “Truly, truly, I tell you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but it is My Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world” (John 6:32-33).

(Vs.2) “…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”:

The Lord Jesus was not only the source of Eternal Life but Eternal life itself because He was of the same nature as God and equal with God and not a lesser divine being than God. The fact that the eternal life revealed in the Lord Jesus was with the Father clearly tells us that He, the Eternal life Himself, was also with the Father from all of eternity and that they shared equally the capacity to impart that eternal, divine life.

As He also said Himself; “Truly, truly, I tell you, the hour is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. For as the Father has life in Himself, so also He has granted the Son to have life in Himself” (John 5:25-26). As John also tells us “In Him was life and this life was the light of men” (John 1:4). He Himself is the source of eternal salvation to all that believe in Him (Hebrews 5:9).

When the Lord Jesus came into this world, taking upon Himself a flesh and blood body at His incarnation, being also conceived by the Holy Spirit in Mary’s womb, He exercised that authority from His Father to grant eternal life because He was God the Son. All of God’s deity and fullness dwelt in Him. As we read; “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the pre-eminence. For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness of the Godhead should dwell in bodily form (Colossians 1:15-19).

The Lord Jesus revealed Himself to John as “the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last” In other words the Lord Jesus was, and has always been, and still is the eternal God who took upon Himself a flesh and blood body becoming totally human as well as remaining totally divine. God was in heaven but also on earth in the Lord Jesus in whom all of the fullness of God Himself dwelt. This is what John is conveying in all of his five letters. To deny the divinity of the Lord Jesus as we will see is the spirit of Antichrist that denies the Father and the Son’s eternal relationship with each other within the Trinity (1:18-23; 4:1-3).

(Vs.3) “…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 Messiah.”

There is no doubt that the apostles were so confident the Lord Jesus was God manifested as a man and fully human as well as fully divine that they just had to declare this great eternal truth. The wonder for them was that the eternal Triune God who had created everything in the universe was the one who had existed from all of eternity should reveal Himself in the Lord Jesus. They had ‘seen’ and ‘heard’ not by any human agency but by the direct supernatural revelation or “Ginosko” revealed by the Spirit of God to their regenerated human spirit. Those who deny the Deity of the Lord Jesus because they do not have this inward testimony of the Spirit with their human spirit cannot be said to be saved. For the Lord Jesus to come into the flesh He had to already exist.

As John later writes in this letter; “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know (Ginosko) the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Messiah has come in (into) the flesh is from God; and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world” (4:1-3).

The idea of fellowship John mentions has the idea of intimacy or communion and an interaction with another person of like mindedness. It is to be of one mind, heart and soul and especially a harmony of the human will. True fellowship and worship is centred on this great eternal truth concerning the relationship that exists between the Father and the Son in eternity and our worship as believers corporately is enhanced when we worship and appreciate the Trinity and the unique roll they have within the Tri-Unity of the Godhead. To know and to worship the Trinity is to know and experience the fullness of that eternal life which all three of them have equally. There cannot be any real fellowship where the Trinity is rejected.

The reason some had left the fellowship presided over by John and the other apostles was because those who left did not and could not accept the deity of the Lord Jesus nor accept the testimony of the apostles in relation to that divinity and to His atoning death and physical resurrection. They showed by this that they were not from God nor approved by Him, neither were they capable of having fellowship with the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit who are all One God. They were of a ‘different spirit’ (2:18-19). It will becomes more so in the last days when the doctrine of the Triune God, the Trinity, is going to come under attack once again especially in light of the immerging ecumenism and interfaith associations infiltrating Christendom today. In order for all of the religions to come together the deity of the Lord Jesus must be rejected and that fact that He is the only way to God (John 14:6).

(Vs.4) “And these things we write to you that your joy may be full.”

Our faith is based on the Word of God. As John writes in his gospel; “But these things are written that you may continue to believe that Jesus is the Anointed Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His name (John 20:31). It is God’s Word empowered by the Holy Spirit that produces faith in a person’s heart and life (Romans 10:17) (1 Corinthians 12:3) (1 Corinthians 2:10-16). With man this is impossible but with God all things are possible (Matthew 19:26).

This joy John mentions is one of the fruits of the Spirit within us as believers. The Joy of the LORD will give us strength even in adverse circumstances. As the prophet Nehemiah writes; “for the joy of the LORD is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10). This joy is not one dependent on favourable or outward circumstances but generated out of our spiritually reborn spirit by the Holy Spirit who is one with our human spirit if we have been born again from above. As Paul writes; “But the one who joins himself to the LORD is one spirit with Him” (1 Corinthians 6:17).

Fellowship and worship in the Holy Spirit with other believers will produce joy in abundance among those engaged in worship. This joy is also the deep inward assurance that what God has promised to do for us He will do if we continue to trust Him for what He has promised to do in His Word because His world is his bond and He will never deny His own word. Fellowship and praying with others in the Holy Spirit will also build us up in our faith and spiritually strengthen us and keep us in the flow of God’s love (Jude 1:20-21). As it has been said; “If we cannot stand together we will never stand alone.” A burning coal retains its heat when it is among other burning coals but if it is isolated from the others it cannot retain its heat.

This is why fellowship in the Holy Spirit is important, not just attending a Sunday Church service where often there is no real spiritual power or revelation. Without the interaction and manifestation of the Holy Spirit working in and through the local Body of the Messiah there will be absence of the real joy of the Holy Spirit and in the end spiritual complacency. Through encouraging each other from the scriptures in the power of the Holy Spirit and through the exercising of the gifts of the Spirit we will produce in each other joy and peace in believing. As Paul writes; “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:13). When there is absence of joy, either through incoming sin or through manifold temptations or adversity, trials and difficult circumstances, God’s Word will say the same thing tomorrow as it does today as scripture says; “The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever” (Isaiah 40:8).

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