Scripture Queries and Answers: 1 John 1

1 John 1:1‑3,6‑8  •  3 min. read  •  grade level: 5
1 John 1
Q. (1.) What is meant by “from the beginning?” (2.) Why the change from “which we have heard, which we have seen,” &c., in verse 1, to “which we have seen and heard,” in verse 3? (3.) Why have we the further words, “which we have looked upon and our hands have handled?” And (4) what is the point of the three “If we says” (ver. 6, 8, 10)?
A. (1.) “From the beginning” is Christ in flesh, the beginning of God's ways in grace. Man, as man, was only a field for bringing this out, however real a place he had in moral responsibility for this (which assuredly he had); but as to counsel, Christ is the object. Man develops, progresses, changes. “What was from the beginning” in what God does, is perfect. This is a root-principle of Christianity, and makes the person of Christ the foundation of all—His work displaying God's moral nature for others, but the person being that in which He is; and adherence is to Himself. This cannot change. The essence of Christianity is, therefore, that there is no development in it. (1 John 24.)
The change from “heard and seen” (ver. 1) to “seen and heard” (ver. 3) is because of the manifestation, I apprehend, spoken of in verse 2. But as hearing His word was the way of knowing Him and having eternal life, Christ having given them the words the Father had given Him, and by His title the Word, hearing was the first thing. They had thus His authority, believing Him (not their sight) as groundwork. But they did see Him. He was a real, living man then. And this was all-important.
So we have “looking upon,” or contemplating, Him added. It was not a momentary vision. He was seen as a man walking amongst them. They had “'handled” Him too: He was a real man come in flesh. This was the very essence of what they had, Jesus Christ come in flesh.
(4.) Grace and privilege are always in John connected with the Father and the Son; responsibility is connected with God's nature. The first part of this chapter (ver. 1-4) gives the privilege and joy simply and fully. Verses 5 and 6 test profession by the divine nature, purity, which, as light revealing itself, detects everything. If they pretended to have the joy and were not in the light, it was a lie. The true knowledge of God, revealed in the soul such as He is in holiness and truth, must exist to have fellowship in grace. Though it is not necessarily according to the light, it is in the light—only reality is supposed, walking in the light. The next, “if we say,” is a question of truth in us. (Ver. 8.) If Christ be in me as the truth, I shall be conscious of another principle and nature in me, which in itself always has its own will and fruits. I have not the truth in me, as the life of Christ is the truth in spiritual intelligence in me, if I do not know sin, which it is conscious of and judges, because it—truth—is in me. Sin here is the whole condition of the old man, though learned by indwelling sin—specially this last. Then, if I say that I have not sinned (ver. 10), I make God a liar; for He has declared all men have sinned: Christianity is founded on it, and the death of Christ declares it. God's word, in such a case, is not in us; for it reveals that all have sinned.