Summary: As John begins this mighty epistle, he does so by exalting the Lord, Jesus Christ. We must never lose our focus and awe of the Lord. The first few verses of the epistle set the stage for what is to follow.
A Witness to the Word of Life
1 John 1: 1-4
Tonight I want to begin a study of the first epistle of John. Although John never mentions himself directly in this epistle, he is universally accepted as the author. The style, vocabulary, and content point to John, with direct similarities to the Gospel of John and the second and third epistles. All three epistles were found in the earliest Greek manuscripts and were accepted as divinely inspired Scripture. Polycarp referenced all three epistles in his letter to Philippians around AD 155.
This epistle was written to the church at large, with no specific greeting or references to a particular group. It is apparent John had the well being of the church in mind. He sought to strengthen their faith and comfort them in difficult times. 1 John 1:4 – And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full. 1 John 5:13 – These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God. John also desired to defend the faith and strengthen the church in the face of false doctrine and heresies that abounded in his day.
There can be no doubt this epistle is of great benefit to each of us as well. It provides practical application for our daily lives. We are in the midst of the most difficult time the American church has known. We face obstacles and adversity that were not present a few years ago. I pray our time in 1 John will challenge our commitment and strengthen our faith in Christ.
As we begin our study, John presents Christ as the Word of Life. I want to examine the certainties revealed in the text as we consider: A Witness to the Word of Life.
I. The Preeminence of the Word (1) – That which was from the beginning. Keep in mind that John was writing to the church at large, in essence all believers. It would appear that he would’ve begun with a greeting or introduction, but he immediately speaks of the eternal nature of Christ. He urges them to consider the source of their faith, the Principle element in Christianity.
This should come as no surprise. John began his gospel account of our Lord in the same manner: John 1:1-2 – In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  The same was in the beginning with God. The early believers were under intense persecution and he wanted them to take comfort in the fact that their faith in Christ was not some new found religion. It wasn’t something that sprang up from a group of lunatics at Pentecost. They had trusted in the eternal God, the Sovereign of the ages.
When the apostles were confronted concerning their faith in Acts 5, Gamaliel offered wisdom and insight to us (Acts 5:36-39). John was reminding them that their opposition wasn’t the first and it wouldn’t be the last, but they had no reason to fear. Their faith was in One who would endure and wasn’t limited to the unbelief or hindrances of man.
II. The Presentation of the Word (1b-2) – That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life;  (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;) John had already assured them of Christ’s eternal nature, but for those who needed a bit more assurance, he now speaks of the proof he has to offer regarding Jesus.
He was an eyewitness to the life, ministry, and miracles of the Lord. He had sat at His feet and heard His wisdom. His eyes had beheld the miracles He performed. John was there as He died upon the cross and he entered the tomb, finding it empty. He was among those who witnessed the Lord after the resurrection, receiving instruction to continue in the faith and the furtherance of the gospel.
Peter too reveals his eyewitness testimony of our Lord in 2 Pet.1:16 – For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty. He had not been part of something carnal; he witnessed the glorious majesty of God Himself. We have never seen the Lord with these eyes, but we all have encountered His glory and power. I have witnessed God transform too many lives to doubt who He is. I know what He has done for me and you will never convince me that my Lord is not alive and well today. The world may doubt and scoff, but we have undeniable, irrefutable proof that our Lord lives and has the power to change lives!