1 John (1): Life that Transforms (1:1-4)
That You May Know: An Exposition of First John
Part 1: Eternal Life Manifested in Christ Transforms Us
1John 1:1–4: What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the Word of Life — 1:2 and the life was manifested, and we have seen and testify and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested to us — 1:3 what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ. 1:4 These things we write, so that our joy may be made complete.
1) You can be transformed by knowing Jesus (vv1-2). John’s epistle begins with the confident assertion that “we” (apostles) know that the Word was manifest incarnately (1:1-3). John himself was changed by knowing the real Jesus that was heard, seen and touched. John was an eyewitness of Jesus in ministry, in death and in resurrection life. Because of know Christ, John underwent a profound character transformation (Mark 3:17, 9:38) from a “son of thunder” debating about who is the greatest to the apostle of love whose Gospel and first Epistle make theme of love central. What kind of person are you now and who do you hope to become?
2) You can be transformed by life in the Father and Son (v3). The Incarnation was to reveal God to us (John 1:18). John proclaims Christ in this Word that we may have fellowship (koinonia) with the Father and Son. Koinonia is union and communion. It is participation in a love relationship. It is really just “life” in and with other Persons. Is your life in the Lord and with his people a source of strength or is it continually disrupted by willful wickedness?
3) You can have transcending joy by living in relationship with the Lord (v4). John’s epistle is written to confirm our joy. By knowing God we can have a deep joy that transcends circumstances. John writes this part of the Bible to express the fulness (completeness) of joy that he may have in seeing others live in such rich fellowship - “So that our joy may be made complete” (v4). This joy specifically comes as a result of seeing that others commune in Christ. John’s repeated concern is for the community of believers to live and love in the Lord. Is your life marked by such joy and are you promoting such joy be seeing others grow in Christ?
A Chiastic Outline of 1 John (GS revised from J. C. Thomas, cited in the NAC on 1 John)
A 1:1–4 — Prologue — Eternal Life Manifested
B 1:5–2:2 —The Truth Proclaimed
C 2:3–17 — The Love Commandment
D 2:18–27 — Antichrists Deny Jesus is the Christ
E 2:28–3:10 — Confidence as Children of God
F 3:11–18 — The Message: Sacrificial Love for One Another
E’ 3:19–24 — Confidence in God’s Presence
D’ 4:1–6 — Antichrists Deny Christ Came in the Flesh
C’ 4:7–5:5 — The Love Example
B’ 5:6–12 — The Testimony Received
A’ 5:13–21 — Conclusion — Eternal Life Assured
Gregg Strawbridge, Ph.D., is the pastor of All Saints Church in Lancaster, PA. He became a committed follower of Jesus Christ at age 20, discipled in the context of a University Navigator Ministry. As a result of personal discipleship he went on to study at Columbia Biblical Seminary (M.A., Columbia, SC, 1990), as well as a Ph.D. in education and philosophy... read more