From the very first John endeavors to bring this epistle into a historical, factual setting. He testifies that he saw and felt the Lord; that Christ was truly a man, flesh and bones both before and after His resurrection. Heretical teachings that infiltrated the infant church in the first century wanted to separate Jesus from the Christ, or make Jesus an apparition rather than a man. The Bible knows no such teaching since it adamantly confirms our Lord’s virgin birth (Luke 1:35; Matthew 1:20-21) and His bodily resurrection, Luke 24:38-40; John 2:19-21; 20:27-29.
1:2 (For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and shew unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;)
We read that in Christ was life, and that life was the light of men, John 1:4. The eternal life was made manifest to John and other witnesses; in fact He was made to appear to all of Israel (John 1:11) but they rejected Him. The fact that Jesus is eternal life suggests two things: first, that He is immortal. Jesus as God possessed the same intrinsic glory the Father possesses, John 17:5. Second, Jesus our Lord imparts life only when we receive Him by faith.
“But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God,” John 1:12-13.
John reiterates his message from verse two. First he labors to show us Christ, and as a living witness of Jesus while on earth John endeavors to declare both what he saw and heard from his risen Lord. The ultimate outcome of hearing and receiving John’s testimony is fellowship with God. “He that receiveth you receiveth me, and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me,” Matthew 10:40. If we receive John’s testimony we in fact receive Christ, and in turn receive the Father, 2nd John 1:9.
I believe this passage begins one of the cardinal themes of 1st John: fellowship. I have heard that the word “cardinal” descends from a Latin term meaning “hinge”; so in other words I am convinced that the doctrine of Christian fellowship is a point on which John’s epistle hinges. I mean both fellowship between Christians and that vital fellowship between a believer and his Lord. Now we know that Christians cannot fellowship with the unsaved because there is no common ground for it; one has eternal, spiritual life while the other is dead in trespasses and sins, 2nd Corinthians 6:14-16. We shall watch as John unfolds the necessity, vitality and fruitfulness of fellowship throughout this brief epistle, punctuated by one overall theme that undergirds John’s inspired message: love.