Summary: John reveals three important purposes for writing 1 John in his introduction of the book.
What John Wanted
1 John 1:1-4, an introduction to the book.
A storekeeper in Maine refused to buy a salesman's wares. "You must remember, young fellow," he said, "that in this part of the country every want ain't a need." However, when John listed what he wanted to achieve in writing the book of 1 John, he spoke directly to our needs.
1Jn 1:1-4 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life-- the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us-- that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.
1 John is the first of three letters written by an unidentified writer, believed to be John the Apostle, to an unidentified audience that the writer was very loving towards. The written is in the style of the gospel of John, a word-smith. His introduction has no greeting or claim of authorship, but jumps right into the theme.
The parallel between the first chapters of John and 1 John are striking, giving us a clue to the writer. Able to present lofty ideas in flowing words, the epistle stands separate in message and tone to the writings of Paul. Paul's emphasis typically focused on our standing before God. The idea that sinful man could be redeemed and made acceptable before a Holy God energizes Paul's writing.
This epistle, however, speaks to man and says, "Let me introduce to you this wonderful God and His plan." He presents God's standing to us as opposed to our standing before God.
I want us to view the first four verses tonight and see the writer set the tone for the remainder of the book. As the curtain of this book pulls back, we begin to see our Lord. Ladies and gentlemen, here is your God and Savior.
I. He desires that you know Him.
That is, Jesus Chrit. He wants you to know He is Eternally Real. The eternal God became flesh. Verse 1. "That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands..." There is so much in this passage, we begin with wonder when we read this. The eternal God made Himself known in such a way we heard, saw, watched and touched with our hands. That was the testimony of the Apostles. (this should help identify the writer).
It is also reflected in the Gospel of John. The Word was from the beginning (John 1:1-2) and became flesh (John 1:14). All of the cults that have attacked true Christianity begin here. Either they deny that Jesus was eternally God or that God became flesh. John states unequivocally that God became flesh and the eternal that was from the beginning was witnessed by his touch, eyes and ears.
Verse 2. the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us--
II. He desires to have fellowship.
Verse 3. "that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ."
John says, "We are telling you about Him so that you can join us in having fellowship with Him."Why the "join in fellowship" part? Because those who have seen, touched and heard Jesus know that this fellowship is not based upon seeing, touching and hearing. It is offered to us who have not seen, touched or physically heard.
This was no stronger illustrated than in the life of Thomas the doubter. Thomas missed an important Church service, when Jesus appeared to the disciples after His death. When they told him he should have been there, his reaction was, "I don't believe it. I wouldn't have believed it is I saw it. I would have to touch it (place my fingers in the nail holes and my hand in the spear wound)."
When Jesus appeared to him, said, "OK, Thomas, here I am. Here are my hands and here is the hole in my side. Let's get this over with," Thomas fell and worshiped Jesus saying, "My Lord and my God."
Jesus' response? "Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed." John 20:29. In other words, this is not an exclusive club for those who knew the earthly Jesus while He was on earth. Those who saw and touched had a responsibility to tell those who could not. The doors flew open and Jesus says, "Come unto me..." Our God desires a relationship known as fellowship.