The Book of 1st John
"And these things we write, so that your joy may be made complete"

J. Deering,

Quick Links to specific locations in the text below: 

1.     The Visualized Text
2.     Questions To Be Explored
3.     Brief Outline
4.     Cross References
5.     Commentary
6.     The Horizontal Chart

THE VISUALIZED TEXT (NASB)  (conjunctions & prepositions underlined, words not in original text in italics)  (alternate text in purple)[1]


from the beginning,
            we have heard,
            we have seen
with our eyes,
            we beheld and
            our hands handled,
                                    The Word
of Life -- and

                                                The Life was manifested.
                                                            we have seen
                                                            (we) bear witness
                                                            (we) proclaim
to you
                                                The Eternal Life
with the Father and
was manifested to us --

            we have

                                    we proclaim to you also,
                                                                        may have fellowship
with us; and
                                                                        indeed our fellowship
with the Father, and
with His Son
                                                                                                Jesus Christ.

These things we write,
so that
(your) joy may be made complete.


(1 John 1:1)

1. What did John mean by:  "Concerning The Word of Life"
Bringing attention to the subject at hand – “that which,” The word, Logos, Thought, Idea, Concept, etc. – of Life

2. When was the beginning?
There was no beginning – but if there was a beginning, and there wasn’t, it would have been back then – only a temporal concept for the temporal mind of man

3. What was from the beginning?
The Pre-Incarnate Son of God, The Christ

4. What had they heard?
Prophecy, His testimony, eye witness accounts, His miracles, the evangelists, the Apostles

5. What had they seen?
His life, His death, His resurrection, changed lives, His birth, His growth, birth and growth of the Body of Christ, the changes in the political and religious systems who hated him so

6. Why was it important to say "with our eyes?"
He really existed, they Beheld Him with their physical eyes

7. What had they beheld?
The He is the Christ

8. What's the difference between "seeing with our eyes," and "beholding?"
Standing in awe – Taking Him in their arms – Adoration – much stronger word picture

9. What did their hands handle?
Him – His things – The eye w
itness and eye witness accounts

10 Why are they being "concerned" about these things?
The connection to the REAL world (as apposed to non-existance theories) – Physical hearing, Physical sight, Physical touch – all things that address issues that hinge on combating the philosophies of the day

11. What does the phrase "The Word of Life" mean?
Look back at the Gospel of John Chapter 14:6 – The Great “I AM” statements

(1 John 1:2)

1. Is the "Life" spoken of here "The Word of Life?"

2. Define the word "manifested."
Bought forth – a child was born, a Son was given (Isaiah 9:6)

3. Why restate that they had "seen" these things?
Restatement usually relates to the importance of a statement, “Listen when God says things twice” (Clarence B. Mason c1971 Philadelphia College of Bible)

4. What would be the importance of "bearing witness" in writing in this letter?
Standing and bearing witness during the days of great heresy

5. Who are these who "proclaim" these things?
John, the Apostles and Elders

6. Who are the recipients of this letter?
This was probably a circular church letter – the churches of Anatolia (the 7 churches of Revelation) and eventually us

7. Why is the author "proclaiming" these things to those who are already believers?
The heresy of Gnosticism came from within the church as have Mormonism and Jehovah Witness

8. What does the expression "The Eternal Life" mean?
“Him,” Jesus Christ

9. How is it possible that they have "heard," "seen," "beheld," and "handled," "The Eternal Life?"
They did so “In Him,” and with Him

10. How is it possible that "that which was with the Father" was made manifest to us?
The “Incarnation” (Christ the pre-incarnate Son of God becomes Jesus the man).  Called the “Hypostatic Union” in theology. God as physical flesh, not God visiting flesh.

(1 John 1:3)

1. Why state this all over again for the third time?
The importance of “getting through” to every reader or hearer – “Heresy is present in this body!”

2. What had they seen?
The Apostles had seen it all

3. What had they heard?
The Apostles had heard it all

4. Why is it so important that they proclaim it?
To bring the body (church) to fullness by removing heresy

5. What is "fellowship?"
The gathering of “what is in common” (Gk. Koinonia)

6. What specific fellowship is John speaking of?
The gathering of those in the Spiritual Fellowship with God and Christ (Father, Son, Holy Spirit, John, Apolsles, Elders, believers in general, us)

7. Why is it important that John wants the readers to have fellowship with him and others like him?
The completion of the Body of Christ – The building of the Body of Christ – Accountability – inter-dependance

8. What does John mean by his "fellowship is with The Father?"
“Face-to-Face” and “nose-to-nose” fellowship and contact (Gk. Pros ton Theon)

9. Isn't that an outrageous idea?
Yes – the intimate and immediate contact between human “sinner/saints” and Almighty God

10. Can He be right?
Yes – this is one of the most important ideas about Christianity – it is not only possible but Desirable, by God to be “nose-to-nose” with Him

11. How is it possible for a human to have "fellowship" with Almighty God?
The prerequisit:  belief in His Son, Jesus Christ, alone

12. What does John mean by his statement that his fellowship is also with God's Son, Jesus Christ?
Since Jesus Christ was God Incarnate (Both God and Human flesh at the same time) God becomes knowable through Jesus Christ in a uniquely human manner.  God becomes knowable to humans through a human.  We can understand Him, know Him, communicate with Him through the humanity of Jesus Christ.

13. John's statement is in the Present Tense. What does that mean?
The Greek language uses the present tense to emphasize actions that were started in the past and continue through today as still active.

(1 John 1:4)

1. What does "these things" mean?
All of the things above that John has just been speaking about

2. Why are "these things" being written down and proclaimed?
“For the completion of our/your joy”

3. What does "in order that" mean in this sentence?
“so that,” the RESULT – these things, written down, and acted upon, will result in our/your joy.

4. Whose joy? (our/your)
There is an inconsistent rendering of the meaning here.  The sources of the two differences are “good sources,” and not easy therefore to discern which is the absolutely right rendering.  However, which ever your choice, the meaning of these verses remains intact.

5. What joy?
Joy In Jesus God the Christ, Joy In God the Father, Joy in God the Holy Spirit

6. How does the Proclaiming and Writing of these things accomplish the "completion of Joy?"
John felt that the preaching of the physical nature of the revelation of Jesus Christ would counteract the prevalent heresies of the day (only one part of the reasons for writing this letter, by-the-way).  Certainly, if the body of Christ would enter into a steadfast relationship with what the Scriptures teach about Jesus and they grasped that teaching with all their hearts, they would be then in the position of being in-the-truth.  The end result of this relationship would be joy.

7. Based upon these four verses (1 John 1:1-4) what title would you give the first 4 versus of 1 John?


I.          Introduction:  The Purpose of the Letter, 1:1-4
II.         Conditions for Fellowship, 1:5-2:2
            A.        Conformity to a Standard, 1:5-7
            B.         Confession of Sin, 1:8-2:2
III.       Conduct in Fellowship, 2:3-27
            A.        The Character of Our Conduct - Imitation, 2:3-11
            B.         The Commandment of Our Conduct - Separation, 2:12-17
            C.        The Creed for Our Conduct - Affirmation, 2:18-27
IV.       Characteristics of Fellowship, 2:28-3:24
            A.        In Relation to Our Prospect: Purity, 2:28-3:3
            B.         In Relation to Our Position:  Righteousness and Brotherly Love, 3:4-18
            C.        In Relation to Our Prayers:  Answers, 3:19-24
V.        Cautions of Fellowship, 4:1-21
            A.        Concerning False, Lying Spirits, 4:1-6
            B.         Concerning a True, Loving Spirit, 4:7-21
                        1.         The ground of brotherly love, 4:7-10
                        2.         The glories of love, 4:11-21
VI.       Consequences of Fellowship, 5:1-21
            A.        Love for the Brethren, 5:1-3
            B.         Victory over the World, 5:4-5
            C.        Verification of Christ's Credentials, 5:6-12
            D.        Assurance of Eternal Life, 5:13
            E.         Guidance in Prayer, 5:14-17
            F.         Freedom from Habitual Sin, 5:18-21

COMMENTARY:  (1 John 1:1-4)[3]

What was from the beginning?
Only God was from the beginning.  The words used here indicate that the human mind requires a beginning to things.  Since God always was, therefore there is no real beginning, but what John is trying to say is that if there was a beginning, but there wasn't, that would be when we should think of this.

What have we heard?
John's reference is to the two things.  First, the testimony of the Prophets and the Old Testament Scriptures, and secondly their relationship to this One, Jesus Christ, who is being called "The Word" here in his text.

What have we seen, with our own eyes?
First, John has seen the Christ, he has seen the miracles, he has seen the prophecies of the Old Testament come true in his own eyes.  He has even seen the crucifixion, He has cared for the mother of Jesus during this terrible event.  He has seen the resurrection, the ascension, the post crucifixion appearances of Jesus Christ.  He's seen the beginnings of the Church, He was there at Pentecost (?).  He's been a disciple of John the Baptist, a disciple of Jesus, an Apostle, a Church Father, a Pastor.  He includes "with our eyes" a statement to reinforce the fact that he and others speak from first hand experience, and not hearsay.

What had they beheld with their hands?
Similarly to the preceding sentence, John states again even a different manner of beholding these events.  This time his emphasis is upon the actual touching of the characters in the events.  Like "doubting Thomas" many can only find belief in those things that they can touch, or in this case hear from someone else that they have touched.

Concerning the Word of Life:
This becomes the focal point of these first sentences.  The "Word of life" has not yet been defined here in the text, but these letters were not intended to be just read through once.  They were designed for carful scrutiny and constant study and re-reading.  Like all of Scripture, each little piece depends upon the whole.  No verse of scripture is of private interpretation (1 Tim 3 ??).  No verse stands alone, never can you just read a verse and come to a conclusion on its real meaning.  Every verse must be weighed upon all of the Scriptures - Genesis through Revelation - and all the doctrines contained therein.  Only then can you have the proper understanding and background for understanding the meaning of a verse.

The "word" spoken of here is a Greek word that points to an "idea" more than a word.  It relates to the idea of an expression that is put forth.  So then, "Word of Life" becomes the "Idea of Life, or The Expression of Life."  Knowing that these word speak of The Christ they bring forth a broader and more wonderful understanding of this simple term.  John will digress now into a dialogue concerning The Christ.

And The Life was manifested:
So then, the wonderful "idea" or "Expression of life" becomes manifested in time and space.  This of course happens with the Incarnation of Jesus Christ, His birth to the virgin Mary.  With this even come the direct intervention of God into Human history -- as a man.  The term "manifested" is not adequate to describe God's entering into human history in such a way.  The theologians call it the "hyper static union."   God and man in one being.  Not God living in a human body, not a human body possessed by a god, but truly fully God and fully man at the very same time.  From this time forward no one can ever point the finger at God and say "you were never a human being, you don't know what it's like!"  From this point in history, God is a man, and this man is God.

There are some interesting verses in Joel.  Chapter nine is often used as the "Christmas Verses" where the "babe is born and the Son is given."  But there is so much more in these verses.  They point to a time when the Gentiles will play a major part in the life of Israel, a time when a "people in darkness, will see a great light."  The verses then go on to name the names of this one who will come.  Prince of peach, wonderful counselor.  These names all seem to be quite appropriate for Jesus, the Son of God.  But what about "Almighty God, Eternal Father."  Who often we modern day Christians miss the point the Jesus is not just the Son of God, but is God Himself, available to us in human form.  Not three separate gods, but One God who reveals Himself in three distinct way in the Scriptures.  As The Father, As The Son, As The Holy Spirit."  It is in this way that "The Word of God" has become manifest in our world, in our space, in our time.

And we have seen and bear witness and proclaim to you:
More emphasis on the fact that we are talking about eye witnesses, those who have seen and actually touched the evidence.  And these are the ones who have been so touched by these evidences that they have become proclaimers of these facts.  They are not just witnesses but preachers of what they have seen and touches.

The Eternal Life:
John begins the transition from "The Word of God" to "we proclaim to you The Eternal Life.  These two terms are equal in John's development of his thought here.  "The Word of God" and "The Eternal Life" refer to the same one, The Christ, who is Jesus.  John wants his readers to understand the importance of these thoughts.  That God's expression, His idea, has been manifested as the only access to "The Eternal Life."

Which was with the Father:
The emphasis here is not the "was"  but "was with."  No emphasis upon the past rather emphasis upon the fact that "The Word of God" has always been in the presence of The Father.  Remember the opening verses "In the beginning was The Word."  In the beginning "The Word" and "The Father" have one existence together, and this "One" has been manifested to us.

We proclaim to you also, that you also may have fellowship:
What's the point in bringing all this up and becoming proclaimers of these things?  That you also may have fellowship with us!  That you might also be partakers in this "Word of Life", Eternal Life."  This fellowship is with God the Father and God the Son and is only available by believing.  John will continue to stress that this believing is only through Jesus Christ, The Son of God, The Eternal Life.

And these things we write, so that our joy may be made complete:
It's not the writing that makes their joy complete, it is the understanding and believing that makes believers of us that make their joy complete.

The first four verses of the text have concentrated upon the knowledge of how God has interacted with mankind.  He has done so in such a way as to enter into the life and times of mere human beings in order to bring an eternal fellowship with those who would accept and receive these things concerning His Son.

Cross Referenes:

             John 1:1 ff - "In the beginning was the Word"
            1 John 2:13 - "I am writing to you"
            1 John 1:3 - what "we have seen"
            Acts 4:20 - "we cannot stop speaking"
            John 19:35 - "he who has seen and born witness"
            2 Peter 1:16 - "we did not follow cleverly devised tales"
            John 1:14 - "And the Word became flesh"
            1 John 4:14 - "we have beheld and bear witness"
            Luke 24:39 - "See My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself"
            John 20:27 - "reach here your hand and put it into My side"
            John 1:1, 1:4 - "in Him was life...."

            John 1:4 - "in Him was life...."
            Romans 16:26 - (His revelation as a mystery) "but now is manifested"
            1 timothy 3:16 - (The mystery of Godliness) "revealed in the flesh"
            1 Peter 1:20 - (He who was foreknown) "has appeared"
            1 John 3:5, 3:8 - "The Son of God appeared"
            1 John 5:20 - "The Son of God has come"
            John 19:35 - "he who has seen and born witness"
            1 John 4:14 - "we have beheld and bear witness"
            John 15:27 - "and you will bear witness also, because you have been with Me from the beginning"
            1 John 2:25 - "the promise He Himself made to us"
            1 John 5:11, 13, 20 - Know:  Witness, Life, His Son
            John 10:28 - "I give eternal life to them...."
            1 John 17:3 - "And this is eternal life..."
            John 1:1 - "The Word was God" (statement of being, not past tense)

            John 19:35 - "he who has seen and born witness"
            2 Peter 1:16 - "we did not follow cleverly devised tales"
            Acts 4:20 - "we cannot stop speaking"
            John 17:3 - "And this is eternal life..."
            John 17:21 - "that they all may be one, even as Thou, Father, art in Me..."
            1 Corinthians 1:9 - "God is faithful, through whom you were called into fellowship...."

            1 John 2:1 - Another reason for writing - "that you may not sin"
            John 3:29 - "and so this joy of mine has been made full."


[1] "Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE, © Copyright The Lockman Foundation 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1988. Used by permission."
[2] Charles Caldwell Ryrie, "Ryrie Study Bible, expanded edition,"  p. 1924, New International Version, Moody Press, Chicago, 1994
[3] Deering, Jim,

Quick Links to specific locations in the text below: 

1.     The Visualized Text
2.     Questions To Be Explored
3.     Brief Outline
4.     Cross References
5.     Commentary
6.     The Horizontal Chart