Study Notes

1John 1:1-4


This morning, we are starting another book of the Bible: the first epistle of John. Unlike many teachers and preachers, I don't usually spend time doing an introduction - expositing extensively on the author's biography, systematically summarizing for you the subjects, and making prolonged pronouncement of its purpose.

Instead, I generally prefer that the books stand on their own, only addressing these things as necessary when they arise in the book.

So, with that, I will simply tell you that the writer of 1John is the Apostle John, friend of Jesus, brother of James, son of Zebedee, former fisherman, and author of the Gospel of John, Revelation, and 1, 2, and 3 John.

So let's begin...

1:1-2 From The Beginning

John's style of writing is often confusing to beginning Bible readers. Both the first five verses of the gospel of John and the first two verses of 1John contain wonderfully detailed statements about Jesus Christ without actually giving His name.

Jesus is first described as being from the beginning. He is eternal, having always existed. As John told us in his gospel,

John 1:1-3 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.

In the beginning, Jesus already was.

Heard, Seen, Looked, Touched

Next, John says he had heard, seen, looked at, and touched Him.

When Jesus walked the earth performing His ministry, John was frequently fascinated by Him, as was anyone who saw Him perform miracles, watched Him heal the sick, and witnessed as He raised the dead.

- But John had been with Peter and James on the Mount of Ttransfiguration, seeing Jesus appear in His glory, with garments white as light, and His face shining like the sun.

- John was with the disciples when Jesus appeared miraculously before them, three days after he'd watched Jesus brutally murdered.

- And John alone had been on the island of Patmos in the Aegean Sea when Jesus appeared to him with eyes like fire and hair white as snow, with feet like burnished bronze glowing in a furnace, a sword coming out of His mouth, and a voice with the sound of many waters (Rev. 1:14-16).

John's response?

Rev. 1:17 When I saw Him, I fell at His feet like a dead man. And He placed His right hand on me, saying, "Do not be afraid..."

When John looked back on these events, he was amazed beyond words. He would remember the times when he and Jesus would be walking from town to town while passing a bottle of water back and forth. The times when they would be sitting around the fire at night, talking about life. The times when they would be leaning up against one another while eating dinner.

This Jesus, who had existed since eternity past, had been heard by John, seen by John, and touched by John! Incredible!

The Word Of Life

John also calls Jesus "the Word of Life," or more accurately translated, "the Word who is the Life.” John will be constantly drawing our attention to three things: life, light, and love.


In this first case, it is the life of Jesus that was first with the Father, and then had manifested on earth.

"Manifested" is a fancy way of saying, "made visible." Jesus prayed to the Father,

John 17:6 "I have manifested Your name to the men whom You gave Me..."

Jesus is the perfect representation of God to us. Paul said...

Col. 1:15 He is the image of the invisible God...

John told us in his gospel,

John 1:18 No man has seen God at any time; the only begotten God, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him.

The disciples didn't understand this at first. Even at the last supper,

John 14:8-9 Philip said to Him, "Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us." Jesus said to him, "Have I been so long with you, and {yet} you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father..."

The life of Jesus that was eternally with God was made visible to us in Jesus, who arrived physically, having been birthed to a mother, raised in a family, and growing as all humans do.

1:3-4 Fellowship With Us

John's purpose in writing this letter to us who have not had the opportunity to have seen, heard, or touched Jesus was so that we could be 'on the same page' as those who had.

He said, "I'm proclaiming this to you for one purpose: that you can have fellowship with us, so we can all be in fellowship with Jesus and the Father."

"Fellowship" is a word that is used by Christians constantly, but quite honestly, I didn't understand it for a long time after I became born again. The Greek word is "koy-nohn-EE-ah." It describes an intimate sharing, a communion that we have with other believers. In fellowship, we experience a connection with one another, a linking together, that is much deeper than if we were just all part of the same car club, sports team, or community organization.

The amazing thing is that same connection is with God as well! And that's ultimately why John was writing this letter: to see people enter into fellowship with God gave him complete joy. There was nothing that made him happier, nothing that he wanted more in life, than to see people become linked with Jesus.

Go to next study

Go to previous study