Pondering the Passages: 1 John 1:1-4
How are you doing on your memory verses? Remember the 3 keys to effective Scripture memory: Repetition! Repetition! Repetition!
Memory Verse for the week: 1 John 1:1 “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched – this we proclaim concerning the Word of life.”
1 John 1:1-4
1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. 2 The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. 3 We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. 4 We write this to make our joy complete.
As John starts off his letter you get the feeling that he has had a recent personal encounter with Jesus – when in fact it has probably been 50 years since Jesus ascended into heaven. But for John that encounter has been a fresh encounter everyday. I have to ask myself the question: Is everyday a fresh encounter with Jesus? Is He just as real and alive in me as He was when I first met Him?
For John this meant that he couldn’t keep his mouth shut. Because of how Jesus was still working in him and still changing him John was compelled to proclaim – to talk about Jesus with whoever would listen. Is this true for me? I confess that I am much more likely to talk about disc golf or Duke basketball or my family or even church before I ever start talking about Jesus.
There are 4 things that stand out to me in this passage:
1) John calls Jesus the Word of life! – He says the same thing in the first chapter of his gospel. And 8 times in Genesis 1 we read that “God said…” Throughout the Jewish Scriptures God speaks through the prophets. But in Jesus God makes his boldest statement of all. He speaks loud and clear with a final Word saying “You want life, this is where you will find it!”
2) John calls Jesus the eternal life! – This makes me think of the verse in John 17:3 that says “Now this is eternal life – that they may know you the only true God and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” The reason that Jesus came to rescue us was so that we might know God. It’s hard to get to know someone that you can’t see – so God clothed himself with humanity so that we could get to know Him up close and personal…. in the person of Jesus.
3) John wants others to experience the kind of fellowship that he has with other believers! – There is nothing better than being a part of a community that loves and cares for each other. People who do not have this have no idea what they are missing. I believe this is a great motive for evangelism. So many people are missing out on what the church has to offer – a community, a family, a place of belonging – instead settling for lonely, friendless, purposeless lives.
4) John wants others to experience real and lasting joy! – Not happiness but joy. I’ve heard so many people say, “I just want to be happy.” Happiness is something that comes and goes. I don’t want just to be happy, I want to be filled with joy – so that when the happiness disappears (and it will) then I will still have what it takes so that I do not fall into despair or hopelessness. Joy is found in knowing the One who has not only given us life but also given His life for us.
Bonus thoughts: John (as he does in the opening to his gospel) is using trinitarian language in this passage. So let me whet your pondering appetite with a few facts about the history of this doctrine…
The doctrine of the Trinity took centuries to develop, but the roots of the doctrine can be seen from the first century.
The word “Trinity” is not found in the New Testament, nor is the doctrine explicitly taught there. However, foundations of the concept of the Trinity can be seen in the New Testament, especially in the Gospel of John.
Hints of Trinitarian beliefs can also be seen in the teachings of extra-biblical writers as early as the end of the first century. However, the clearest early expression of the concept came with Tertullian, a Latin theologian who wrote in the early third century. Tertullian coined the words “Trinity” and “person” and explained that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit were “one in essence – not one in Person.”
About a century later, in 325, the Council of Nicea set out to officially define the relationship of the Son to the Father, in response to the controversial teachings of Arius. Led by bishop Athanasius, the council established the doctrine of the Trinity as orthodoxy and condemned Arius’ teaching that Christ was the first creation of God. The creed adopted by the council described Christ as “God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father.”
Nicea did not end the controversy, however. Debate over how the creed (especially the phrase “one substance”) ought to be interpreted continued to rage for decades. One group advocated the doctrine that Christ was a “similar substance” as the Father. But for the most part, the issue of the Trinity was settled at Nicea and, by the fifth century, never again became a focus of serious controversy.
The doctrine of the trinity is one of the tenets of our faith that distinguishes Christianity from Mormonism, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and Judaism. If you would like to read more about this not-easily-understood doctrine then go HERE for a good, succinct treatment by the folks at Desiring God Ministries.
What has the Lord been teaching you from this passage? You can post your comments by clicking on the bubble at the top right of this post.
Next Weeks Passage to Ponder: Romans 12:1-2 (Don’t let the familiarity of this passage keep you from digging into it and finding rich, personal, practical truth.)
Next Memory Verse: Romans 12:1