Summary: Conditions for fellowship with the Lord and others is based on conformity to a standard and confession of sins.
When John wrote this epistle the heresy of Gnosticism was making its way into the church. Among the teachings were, knowledge is superior to virtue, the nonliteral sense of Scripture is correct and can be understood only by a select few, evil in the world precludes God being the only Creator, the incarnation is incredible because deity cannot unite itself with anything material such as the body, and there is no resurrection of the flesh.
John tells us Jesus is the subject of good news. He is the foundation and object of our faith and hope. He is the Word of Life, the eternal, intellectual Word of the eternal living Father, manifested in the flesh. Through Him we are united to God. There is sufficient evidence eternal life assumed mortality and dwelt among mankind. The life, the word of life, the eternal life could not be seen and felt; but the life manifested might be, and was.
The Word incarnate, presented and evinced itself to every senses of the apostles. To their sense of
hearing. The Word assumed a human mouth and tongue, that He might utter words of life. The apostles heard His public sermons and private expositions. They were charmed by the words of Him who spoke as never man spoke before or since.
To their sense of sight. The Word became visible. The apostles saw the eternal Word in the life and ministry of Jesus, in his transfiguration on the mount, and after His return from the grave and resurrection from the dead.
To their sense of feeling: This refers to the apostles seeing Jesus after His resurrection from the dead. When He showed them His hands and His side, when He permitted them to touch Him. Jesus knew of Thomas’s unbelief, and his claim he would not believe Jesus had been raised from the dead till he had seen and felt the wounds by which He died. Accordingly at the next meeting with the apostles Jesus called Thomas, in the presence of the rest, to satisfy the curiosity of his
unbelief. And probably others of them did so too. Our Lord took care to satisfy all the senses of His apostles, that they might be the more authentic witnesses of Him to the world.
It became the apostles’ responsibility to reveal to the church the evidence by which they were led to proclaim and propagate the Christian doctrine in the world. Wisdom and integrity obliged them to demonstrate that it was not a cunningly, devised fable that they presented to the world. It was the truth that caused them to open their mouths and make a public profession.
It was necessary the apostles be well assured of the truth of the doctrine they embraced if they were to see the evidences of their convictions. Their doctrine was able to face the most judicious examination.
The reason John makes this summary of faith is that the believers of it may be moved to the same happiness with the apostles. That which they saw and heard they proclaimed to others so that they too may have fellowship with the apostles and fellowship with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ.
John does not necessarily mean personal fellowship but that which is consistent with distance from each other. It is communion with heaven, and the blessings that come from the throne of the Father. There may be some personal distinctions in the common participation of fellowhsip that belongs to all saints, from the highest apostle to the lowest believer. Just as there is the same faith, there are the same promises dignifying that fellowship and the same blessings and glories enriching and filling those promises.
In verse four, John gives his reason for writing verses one through three. It is to move us above
sin and earth and to carry us to a blessed communion with the Father and the Son. In this we see for what end the eternal life was made flesh. That He might move us to eternal life in communion with the Father and Himself. That believers may be enlarged and advanced in holy joy.
The church age is not an age of fear, sorrow, and dread, but of peace and joy. Terror and astonishment was present at mount Sinai, but exultation and joy are present at mount Zion, wherethe eternal Word, the eternal life is manifested in the flesh. The mystery of the Christian religion is directly calculated for the joy of mortals. It should be joy to us that the eternal Son came to seek and save that which was lost. That He made a full atonement for our sins and has conquered sin and death and hell, that He lives as our Intercessor and Advocate with the Father, and that He will come again to perfect and glorify His persevering believers.