1 John 1:1-4

I.  INTRO

The first four words of the Bible:  In the beginning God.

John 1:1-5: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. 4 In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. 5 The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.

These passages are not referencing the beginning of God, the Trinity has existed for eternity – there is no beginning or end of God.

These passages are referencing the beginning of time as we know it.  Or, more specifically, this opening passage of the Gospel of John is identifying a new beginning, which divides human history into two parts:  1) Creation & 2) Christ.

  1. Roms 5:14 – Adam was a type of Christ
  2. 1 Cor 15:22,45: For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive… So also it is written, “The first MAN, Adam, BECAME A LIVING SOUL.” The last Adam became a life-giving spirit.

John is the most consistantly Christocentric writer in the NT.
John is the author of the gospel of John, 1st, 2nd, and 3rd John – as well as the Book of Revelation.

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 touched with our hands, concerning the word of life—2) the life was made manifest, and we saw it, and testify to it, and proclaim to you the eternal life which was with the Father and was made manifest to us—3) that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you may have fellowship with us; and our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. 4) And we are writing this that our joy may be complete.

John begins: he has heard, seen, and touched the Son of God…

“Pastor Grandpa John.”

On the judgment day God will ask people who have read this letter and not believed its testimony, “Why did you not believe the testimony of my friend servant John? Did his insights into your heart and the ways of God not help make sense of reality?”

We do not lack a reliable testimony to the truth of Christ.  This letter was written by the best friend of Jesus…

II.  BODY

Five Declarations in John 1:1–4.  In order to unpack the meaning of these first four verses, I have tried to put in logical order the six main declarations, which includes some very basic and very important theological substance…

1.  Jesus, the Word of Life (v.1), has eternally existed within the Trinity

Augustine, who spent 19 years (400-419) studying the doctrine of the Trinity – and wrote a definitive work, said, “If you deny the Trinity you lose your soul, and if you try to explain the Trinity you lose your mind.”

The concept of the Trinity was introduced by Jesus Christ Himself, including in Matthew 28:19-20. “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.

Jesus thus not only defines the Trinity, but appears to indicate that there is one name that encompasses the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

One theologian has said the most important belief [about the Trinity] is not that we see God in three ways, but that we understand God as dynamic community. Within the triune God there is a dynamic energy, which expresses the love of God experienced in Jesus Christ.[1]

Here are 7 points regarding the Trinity that will set the stage for our study of 1 John:

  1. Trinitarian life is a dance — perichoresis – chorography
  2. Trinitarian life is self-giving love – Jn 3:16: For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.
  3. Trinitarian life is communal (it shares).
  4. Trinitarian life is transparent – no secrets, it is not double-minded.
  5. Trinitarian life is humble.
  6. Trinitarian life is mutually submissive.
  7. Trinitarian life is exceedingly joyful – Within the Trinity there no sin, no jealousy, no conflict, no blaming – only love.

So the most fundamental assertion of this text is that Christ our Life has eternally existed with the Father. Everything else flows from this.

2.  Jesus, the Word of Life, humbled Himself and became flesh – v. 2 “and the life was manifested…”

The Doctrine of Incarnation – Jesus Christ is fully God and fully human.

The noun incarnation derives from the Latin verb incarno, itself derived from the prefix in- and caro, “flesh”, meaning or “to be made flesh.”  (Carne asada = “grilled flesh”)

Jesus is the most important person who has ever lived since he is the Savior — God in human flesh.  1) Creation & 2) Christ. (BC & AD – Anno Domini –in the year of our Lord)

He is not half God and half man.  He is fully divine and fully man.

Jesus has two distinct natures: divine and human.  Jesus is the Word who was God and was with God and was made flesh, (John 1:1,14).

**Here is the essence of the gospel as it relates to the incarnation: Jesus, the second Person of the Trinity humbled Himself (Phil 2) and became a man.  Jesus lived the life you should have lived and died the death you should have died. Jesus died in your place, so God can receive you not for your record and sake but for His record and sake.

The stumbling block of the Incarnation… Many are willing to believe in Christ if he remains a merely spiritual reality. But when we preach that Christ has become a particular man in a particular place issuing particular commands and dying on a particular cross exposing the particular sins of our particular lives, then the preaching ceases to be acceptable for many.

CS Lewis said it well in Mere Christianity: Jesus was a liar, lunatic, or He was telling the truth…

If this is true, it changes everything…

3.  Through the Life Jesus lived John has obtained fellowship with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. (v. 3)

The last part of verse 3 says, “Our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ.”

Fellowship (koinonia) is a personal experience of sharing something significant in common with others. It’s the pleasure of being in a group when you see eye-to-eye on what really matters. It’s having similar values and responding with the same kind of affections to what really counts.

For me it’s what makes working on the reTURN team with Dave Miles, Dave Brooks, and Tom Wilkens one of the greatest delights of my life.

Fellowship, or koinonia, is also what gives root and fiber and fruit to a Christian marriage.

So to say you have fellowship with the Father and his Son means that you have come to share their values. You believe what they believe and love what they love. And so you delight to spend time together. (Christian meditation.)

4.  Therefore John (and every Christ-follower) makes the proclamation of Christ the basis of his/our fellowship with other believers.

Verse 3 says, “That which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you may have fellowship with us; and our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ.”

Or to read the verse with the key conjunction (“so that”) joining the two main clauses: “Since our fellowship is with the Father and his Son, the only way we can cultivate fellowship with you is to proclaim to you what we know about the Son whom we have seen and heard.”

This takes us back to the Great Commandment and the Great Commission – Love God, love one another – and the Great Commandment – “go and make disciples.”  Vision for SBF?  Learning how to love.

More small groups?  This is where Christian fellowship happens in the context of sharing God’s word and our hearts – break off a piece of your heart and share it.

5.  John longs for the fullness of joy that comes when others share his delight in the fellowship of the Father and the Son.

Verse 4: “And we are writing this that our joy may be complete.” I think all the modern versions are right in accepting the reading “our joy” instead of the King James’ “your joy.”

The goal of God is God. God has created the universe to proclaim and manifest His glory.

First comes the tremendous joy of knowing God and experiencing fellowship with him.

But then we hunger for something more. Not that anything could be added to God, but that more of God can be experienced in the fellowship of the saints.

Ps 16:1-3

1 Preserve me, O God, for I take refuge in You.
2 I said to the LORD, “You are my Lord;
I have no good besides You.”
3 As for the saints who are in the earth,
They are the majestic ones in whom is all my delight.

Our joy in God’s fellowship is made complete in the joy that others have in God’s fellowship.

We are to pursue your own happiness in the holy happiness of others. This is the Trinitarian way…

God wants us to pursue our joy in the joy of others — just like John did. “We are writing this that our joy may be complete.”

Missional Prayer Guides…


[1] Juergen Moltmann, The Trinity and the Kingdom, Harper & Row, 1981.

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