“That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life— the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us— that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.”
1 John 1:1-4 ESV
The apostle, John, wrote the epistle of 1 John to a group of churches in Asia Minor. There had been a number of false teachers who started adhering to the sham doctrine of Gnosticism. Gnosticism upheld that all matter (that we can touch, see, hear, smell and taste) was fundamentally evil and that only spirit was good. This influenced the way they thought about Jesus – Jesus couldn’t have come in human form, because then Jesus was material and fundamentally evil. They thus believed that Jesus as God came in spirit and only seemed to have a body.
This concept of Jesus was problematic in several ways, not the least of which has to do with Jesus’s atonement for our sins on the cross. It was absolutely crucial that Jesus was fully human in His living and dying, so that He could live the perfect law-abiding life as the last Adam, and that He may identify with sinful man.
The apostle, John, lost no time in addressing this issue, giving evidence for both the humanity and deity of Jesus at the start of his epistle. The words “heard”, “seen”, “looked upon”, “touched” and “made manifest” all point to the Apostles’ witness to Jesus’s completely physical humanity, throughout His life, death and resurrection.
Was John giving this evidence so that they could understand Jesus’s humanity and deity on an intellectual level to debate about it? No. It was so that they may have fellowship with God’s people and, even more than that, “fellowship…with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ” (emphasis added). In other words, John was proclaiming the true nature of Jesus, so that they may believe in the crucified Jesus as Messiah and Lord; that they may be adopted into God’s family through fellowship; and that they may receive the inheritance of Eternal Life.
This is the Gospel, and the proclamation of it produces complete joy in those who share it, so that the hearers may, in turn, share it with others, and their joy be made complete.
Questions for reflection: Do you find joy in sharing the Gospel? If not, what do you think is the reason for that? If you had the opportunity to share the Gospel with an unbeliever or sceptic, how would you explain it?