1 John 1:1-4
January 5, 2020
- Illustration: Antique Pocket Watch
- When it comes to the Christian faith, we don’t want a counterfeit or imitation. We want the real thing.
- We want the Christianity of old. We want to Christianity of Jesus himself. We want the Christianity of the Apostles and of the New Testament.
- This book 1 John and this series aims to help us to better grasp and more fully embrace real, authentic, GENUINE Christianity.
- Author: Apostle John
- When this epistle was written: Around A.D. 85
- Original Audience: Church tradition has it that at that time John was living in Ephesus (modern day Turkey) – so it is likely this letter was addressed to either one local church or a group of local churches in that region.
- This church or these churches John was writing to had recently seen a number of people depart (2:19).
- False teachers had infiltrated the church. They denied the incarnation of Christ. Tragically, they denied his true humanity.
- This particular form of false teaching (early form of gnosticism) also said, since the body is evil, it doesn’t matter what you do with it—so feel free to sin if you like! It was a horrible teaching. Those who taught it and believed it left the church.
- This heretical teaching resulted in confusion, uncertainty, even anxiety for those who remained regarding the questions of “Who is Jesus really AND what does it really mean to be a Christian?”
- The people were wondering — “What is Genuine Christianity?”
- John wrote as a pastor and friend to the members of this church or churches so they wouldn’t be anxious.
- He wrote to calm them by giving them the truth; by helping them to understand what genuine Christianity is all about.
- You see the word proclaim twice in this passage (verses 2 & 3). John is interested in this book in clarifying, defending and promoting the message he and the other apostles proclaim–the message of the gospel—which is of course the real, authentic, genuine Christian message.
Five characteristics or qualities of the authentic gospel:
I. Grounded in the historical manifestation of the eternal (verse 1)
- “from the beginning” hearkens us back to the beginning of all things (Gen 1:1).
- John’s Gospel opens similarly:
- John 1:1 “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”
- John 1:14 “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.”
- Both John’s gospel and this epistle of John — are extremely concerned to make it clear that this Jesus who was the subject of the apostolic proclamation of the gospel IS the eternal pre-existent God of the universe.
- However, that’s not all; he is the eternal pre-existent God of the universe, John reminds us, made known in history in the person of Jesus Christ.
- At the outset of his epistle, John reminds his original readers and us – this Jesus is the central focus of all true, authentic, genuine Christian belief.
II. Corroborated by eyewitness testimony (Verse 1)
“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…
- The Eternal One who came into the World is someone that John himself and His fellow apostles –
- Heard with their own ears
- Saw with their own eyes
- Touched with their own hands
-  For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. (2 Peter 1:16)
- The gospels contain a great deal of eyewitness testimony.
- This should strengthen our confidence — in the genuineness, the authenticity, the truthfulness of the gospel message we believe and proclaim. It should also inspire us to spend time reading the gospels.
III. Gives Life (verses 1-2)
“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— (verse 1)”
- This also recalls the opening of the gospel of John. In the beginning was the Word.
- John calls Jesus “the word” because
- Jesus is God’s Word to us.
- Jesus is God’s perfect self-revelation.
- Jesus is God’s ultimate communication of Himself to us.
- “He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power (Hebrews 1:3).”
- Jesus perfectly reveals God, because He is God.
- He is 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 (verse 2).”
- The Apostle John is clear: Jesus both embodies life and He gives life.
- Jesus said “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”
- We spent time considering what it means practically that we have been given life in Jesus.
IV. Fosters Fellowship (verse 3)
“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.”
- The authentic, genuine gospel produces authentic, genuine community.
- Here John expresses his hope that the individuals and churches he is writing to will hold fast to the gospel and that the fellowship he enjoys with them will thereby be preserved.
- John provides a wonderful example for us to follow of what it means to value fellowship with other believers.
V. Produces Joy (verse 4)
“And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete”
- John writes the book of 1 John for the sake of the joy of all his readers (that includes us).
- When we believe, when we embrace, when we hold fast to and live in the good of the authentic, genuine, real gospel — the inevitable result is joy.
- Jesus came to fill us with joy…
- One day in heaven – that joy will be complete.
- Yet we can experience that joy in significant measure now….as we live in the good of the salvation we have been given.
- In the weeks ahead — as we consider the defining characteristics of real, authentic, GENUINE Christianity let us pray that God would pour out His Spirit upon us and grant us joy.
Questions For Discussion / Application:
- Re-read the text, 1 John 1:1-4. What initial observations and insights do you have from reading this text?
- Re-read verse 1. What is the Apostle John trying to underscore in verse 1? What point is he trying to make and why does it matter?
- We heard that “the authentic gospel is grounded in the historical manifestation of the eternal.” Unpack and explain what that means.
- The gospels contain a great deal of eyewitness testimony. How does this reality encourage and strengthen your faith?
- Jesus is the “word of life.” What does it mean practically that as believers, we have been given life in Jesus?
- In verse 3, we see that the Apostle John places a high value on the fellowship he enjoys with the believers He is writing to. What does it mean/look like to truly value fellowship….not just in word, but in action? What hindrances/obstacles do we face to pursuing fellowship with other believers?
- The authentic, genuine gospel produces joy (verse 4). What are some of the ways the gospel can produce joy in the heart of the Christian?