Summary: We have first hand testimony in the epistles of John; the kind that would be accepted in any court of law; of the incarnate existence of Jesus Christ. John proclaims him to us for the sake of our joy and fellowship
-and the life was manifested, and we have seen and bear witness and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested to us –
WHAT WAS FROM THE BEGINNING
Y’know what I like about the Bible? Well, I like lots of things about the Bible. But one thing I like about the Bible is how it just says the truth and leaves the reader to believe simply because it is truth.
It starts out that way. It doesn’t say, “In the beginning there was God. Now this is the proof that there is God…” It just says, “In the beginning God…”
And John starts his gospel that way. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God.”
So when we come to this letter of John to the church it shouldn’t surprise us that the tone is the same. After all, this is written, as we will go on to see, by someone who had seen with his eyes and touched with his own hands, talked to, ate with, traveled with, suffered with, was loved by and loved in return, the One he was anxious to talk about; so anxious that with not so much as a “Dear Church” salutation, he just jumps right in.
This is simply the truth, and here it is for you, the reader, to believe. “What was from the beginning,…we proclaim to you also”
An overview of this entire epistle reveals that John’s primary purpose in writing it to the churches is to encourage them concerning their walk in Christ and their relationship to one another and as believers toward the unbelieving world.
However as is evident in his Gospel, John clearly combats the teaching of the Gnostics who, as a cult, were very prevalent during that time.
Now it is simplistic to say that the Gnostics were a cult, since there were numerous groups who taught and believed the philosophy of Gnosticism in general.
The word ‘gnosis’ really means knowledge or enlightenment, and to define Gnosticism as a belief system as simply as possible, it is fundamentally a belief in salvation through knowledge.
I looked up the word on the internet and was overwhelmed at the available information there. If you are interested in searching that out in your spare time I can tell you it would be educational.
But it is my job to teach, so I’ll take a few minutes and give you some basic information I took from www.meta-religion.com website.
“Gnosis refers to a knowledge that is essential to free oneself from the evil material world and bodily existence. Gnostics believe humans err because they are ignorant, unlike the Christian belief that man is sinful by nature. Gnostics will receive salvation when they gain knowledge, gnosis. The knowledge must be of their inner self or soul. It is similar to the Hindu definition of meditation.
Some of the basic beliefs of Gnosticism are as follows:
“Between this world and the God incomprehensible to our thought, the ‘primal cause’, there is an irreconcilable antagonism.
The ‘self’, the ‘I’ of the Gnostic, his ‘spirit’ or soul, is unalterably divine. This ‘I’ however, has fallen into this world, has been imprisoned and anaesthetized by it, and cannot free itself from it.
Only a divine ‘call’ from the world of light loosens the bonds of captivity. But only at the end of the world does the divine element in a man return again to its home.”
Now there is a myth behind these beliefs concerning God the father and the Spirit (capital ‘S’) the feminine side of God, who they call Sophia. Jesus was a product of God and Spirit and joined them to make up the Trinity.
Sophia wanted to give birth to a being like herself (how messed up is this stuff?) so she proceeded without permission from God, and the result was imperfect so she hid it behind a cloud. This imperfect offspring of Sophia nevertheless had some powers and he used them to create the world.
So you can see where the Gnostics get the philosophy that the material world and flesh are bad, while the spirit is good and ultimately divine.
Because of this, as Gnosticism began to find its way into the early church, its proponents believed and taught that Jesus was not physical but that he came from God and the Spirit Sophia, and that his physical form was only an illusion.
They therefore would not participate in communion or baptism because they pertain to the body of Christ.
It’s important for you to know these things because these beliefs have become prevalent again in our day, primarily in the New Age movement but are on the upsurge; and again are finding their way into the church.