We have Seen Him, Heard Him, and Touched Him (1 John 1:1-4)

Date: 4/15/2018
More audio from All Saints Church
Type: Sunday Sermon
Topic: 1 John
Organization: All Saints
Price: FREE

1 John 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 — 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 — 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. 4 These things we write, so that our joy may be made complete.

The Personal Transformation of John, son of Zebedee: from a "son of the thunder" to the apostle of Christian love.

The Theological Context of 1 John: According to Peter Leithart (Epistles of John, Through New Eyes), the antichrists are Judaizers, not Greek Gnostics. But it is a kind of proto-gnosticism because there are very good reasons to believe that later Gnosticism was grounded in Judaism (see Ignatius).

The Parallel Outline of First 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

1) Be transformed by knowing Jesus (vv 1-2). The beginning of this epistle “echoes the prologue of John’s Gospel” (NIB). It references what was “from the beginning” which is the “Word of Life” which is “the preincarnate Christ” (NAC). John’s epistle begins with the confident assertion that “we” (apostles) know that the Word was manifest in the incarnation (1:1-3). These words witness to the “the facticity of the past event” (Hermeneia). John was an eyewitness of Jesus in ministry, in death and in resurrection life. It changed him. Because of knowing 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 the theme of agape love central. What kind of person are you now and who do you hope to become?

2) Be transformed by the life of God (v3 ). The Incarnation was to reveal God to us (John 1:18). John proclaims that we may have fellowship (koinonia) with the Father and Son. Koinonia is union and communion, “possessing something in common, i.e. of partnership or sharing” (Morris).  It is participation in a love relationship. The rest of the letter will make clear that, “Relationship with God is dependent on relationship with the community (see 5:1–2)” (Eerdmans). It is “life” in and with other persons and other Persons. Thus, “fellowship is not based primarily on ideas or philosophical principles but on a person who could be seen and heard and touched—not a spirit or some gnostic savior” (FW). Is your life in the Lord and with his people a source of strength or is it continually disrupted by idealogical idolatries?

3) Be joyful in relationship with the Triune God (v4). Calvin writes, “When Christ is preached to us, the kingdom of heaven is opened to us, so that being raised from death we may live the life of God.” John’s epistle is written to confirm our/your joy - “the joy of us all” (New English Bible).  It is the the message which brings fellowship which is fulfilled in joy. “Angelia, koinonia, chara . . . Consummated fellowship will bring completed joy” (Stott). By knowing God we can have a deep joy that transcends circumstances. John writes this to express and call forth the fulness (completeness) of joy in seeing others live in such rich fellowship. This joy specifically comes as a result of seeing others commune with 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 come to Christ and grow in Him?

Gregg Strawbridge 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 receive a Ph.D. in education and philosophy... read more