Quietly Through 1st John (Week 1) :: What Was Heard, Seen, and Touched (1 John 1:1-4)

Yay! It’s Tuesday! And its officially the first day of our Quietly Through 1st John online Bible study. But before we begin I want to clarify something that I realized might be a bit confusing. Quietly Through the Bible, Quietly Through Thursdays, and Quietly Through 1st John are different things.

Quietly Through the Bible is the name for the two-year reading plan I shared last January. Quietly Through Thursdays is a series of posts I publish on Thursdays in response the two-reading plan. Quietly Through 1st John is an online Bible study that we are starting today with this post.

I like things quiet. I like the word quietly. I like to move quietly through God’s Word without a lot of extra bells and whistles. So maybe I’ve over used quietly a bit. Oh well. We’ll go with it until it gets overly confusing (are we already there?) and I can think of a different title for our online Bible studies.

Ok? Unconfused? Still confused? Confused for the first time? Sorry, but we’re moving on.

The 5 Ws of 1st John

There are some things we need to consider before jumping into the first verses of 1st John. These things are the who, what, where, when, and why (the 5Ws) of the book. These give us a little background information on the book and help us understand how John’s letter applied to the people of his day and how they apply still to us today.

  • Who wrote the letter and to whom did he write it? The apostle John, who referred to himself as the beloved apostle (John 13:23, 19:26, 20:2, 20:8, 21:7, 21:20), wrote this epistle as well as 2 & 3 John. He also wrote it to the Gospel according to John and the Book of Revelation. He wrote 1st John to Christians – people to put their faith in Jesus for Salvation (1 John 2:12-14).
  • What was going on in their time and place? The church that John was writing to was dealing with false teachers (1 John 2:13-19) and experiencing a split within their local church (1 John 4:1).
  • Where was all this going on? Though it is remains uncertain, some believe that John was writing from Ephesus to Christians living in Babylon.
  • When was the epistle written? Again, this is uncertain. We do not know exactly when John wrote this letter, but we can guess that it was sometime between 60 and 100 AD. This is important because it tells us that the epistle was written while the Roman empire was strong. Roman culture was full of the worship of false gods and being “spiritual” was the thing to be. This may have led to much of the false teachings that John addresses in his letter.
  • Why did John write this letter? We don’t have to guess. He makes it clear. He writes so that his audience my experience fellowship with God and fellow believers (1:3). Second, he writes so that their joy may be full (1:4). And third, he writes that they may continue to believe in the Son and have eternal life (5:13)

What Was Heard, Seen, and Touched (1 John 1:1-4)

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)

Ideas to Consider

Now consider the following:

  1. Who is John writing about? Compare these four verses to John 1:1-5.
  2. What was manifested, or made visible and known? What does John do with this manifestation (v2)?
  3. How do we partake in eternal life (v3)?
  4. What was his purpose for writing (v4)?

Commentary

(This is just a little bit of what I took away from the passage. Remember, I’m human and severely flawed. Don’t just take my words as God’s truth. Be sure to be led by the Spirit, not me.)

John was mostly likely writing to fellow believers in Christ. These individuals did not have the privilege of meeting and seeing Jesus face to face; however, this did not exclude them from knowing God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ. John was giving an eye witness account of ”that which was from the beginning… The Word of Life.” The Word of Life, being Jesus, John had heard with his ears, seen with his eyes, and touched with his hands. Jesus, the Word of Life, is the divine expression of the absolute fullness of a life that is actively and vigorously devoted to God (see original Greek for word and life).

In the beginning of this letter, John is declaring that eternal life was made known to him through the person of Jesus Christ. Eternal life! Here on earth! Eternal life is not something that we begin to experience in the future when we reach the pearly gates. We can begin to experience eternal life now!

Eternal life begins when we enter into fellowship with God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ. We can only have this fellowship when God the Father chooses to manifest Jesus Christ to us (Ephesians 1:17-19). And this only happens under one condition: when we realize the vileness of our sin, how far it separates us from the Father, and how we need a Savior.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding – Proverbs 9:10

We may have a head knowledge of who God is and what He is capable of, but until we acknowledge our desperate need for His Holy One, Jesus Christ, we will not have fellowship with our Creator and Savior.

John got it. He understood, because he acknowledged the Holy One as his personal Savior, and this brought joy. Joy that he knew was eternal. Joy that he did not want to selfishly keep to himself. Joy that was abundant. Joy that was enough to go around. Joy that he declared to all who would listen.

Reflection Questions

Please feel free to respond to any or all of these in the comments.

  1. John saw Jesus face-to-face, we haven’t. Yet God the Father still chooses to make Him know to us. How does He do this?
  2. Joy means calm delight. Consider your life before you acknowledged the Holy One. Is there a marked difference in your life now? Why or why not?
  3. What are you doing with your joy? Are you keeping it to yourself or declaring it to others? Why or why not?

Prayer

Lord in heaven, I thank you that you desire to make your Son manifest to us. Please help us to see that evilness of my own sin. Help us to see our need for the Savior Jesus Christ. I want fellowship with you God, I am desperate for it. Please show me how to live a life that is active and vigorous and devoted to You. In your name I pray amen.

Further Study Ideas

Here are a few study ideas to do between now and next Tuesday. I suggest doing one a day in order to keep you thinking about the passage all week long.

  • Start a double entry journal.
  • Hand write the passage.
  • Choose one or two words that stuck out to you and do an original language word study.
  • Did this passage make you think of other passages in the Bible? Spend some time reading those and consider how they might relate.
  • Hand write a personal prayer using many of the same phrases used in 1 John 1:1-4.
  • Read an additional commentary or listen to a teaching podcast from a trusted resource.
  • Write a summary of what you’ve learned from this passage. If you are a blogger, post your summary and share a like to it the comments below.
  • Read 1 John 1-5. Yep, the whole thing. I’ll be suggesting this each week. Just imagine what will be hidden in your heart by the end of this study.

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