Eyewitness to the Resurrection
1 Jn. 1:1-4 Eyewitness to the Resurrection
Parklane. Sunday April 23, 2006. 9:45-11:00
What makes a good story? Usually the stories that touch our lives most are those we experience firsthand. When something is important to us we are subject to intense emotions. When we tell others about the events, the emotions flow back and we can often remember vivid details. Things like smell, touch and visual images combine to an intense sensation.
When the apostle John was challenged about the resurrection and nature of Jesus Christ in the first century, the testimony that he gives is one of a first hand witness. As an apostolic eyewitness to Jesus’ ministry, including his death and resurrection, and as one of the 3 most intimate associates of the Lord (John, Peter, James). Written probably between 85-95 AD, it was written by an elderly eyewitness of Christ, John, to second and third generation Gentile believers.
We are very much like that original audience:
- As Hebrews 11: 1 says:
Heb 11:1 Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.
- We must base our faith on eyewitness testimony and the reliability of it.
How significant are the historical events of the Resurrection and person of Jesus Christ. If you have not trusted Christ, how do you regard these two things? Is it just a story like a nursery rhyme, that is general good teachings or feelings, yet fiction? The resurrection of Jesus Christ is an historical event that few can be indifferent about.
With the resurrection and the person of Christ, we can see 1) The Word of life, 2) Walking in the Light
1) The Word of Life
1 Jn 1:1-4
First we see the nature of the Humanity of Christ.
1:1 That which. He says “That” not “who”: The term has a broader meaning including the person and message of Jesus Christ. This phrase refers to the proclamation of the gospel that centers in Christ’s person, words, and works as contained in apostolic testimony. from the beginning. Although John’s gospel uses a similar phrase meaning eternity past (John 1:1, “in the beginning”).
Joh 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. Joh 1:2 He was in the beginning with God. Joh 1:3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. Joh 1:4 In him was life, and the life was the light of men. Joh 1:5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. Joh 1:6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. Joh 1:7 He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. Joh 1:8 He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light. Joh 1:9 The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.
The phrase in 1 J., in the context of vv. 1–4, refers to the beginnings of gospel preaching when the readers first heard about Jesus (cf. 2:7,24).
The phrase also emphasizes the stability of the gospel message; its contents do not change but remain stable from the very beginning; it is not subject to change due to current worldly fads or philosophical thinking. we have heard … we have seen … we have looked upon … our hands have handled.
· John most likely wrote these words in his old age, some 60 years after the events took place. These memories were permanently etched on his mind as if the events had just happened.
· Although the name of the author (the elder 2,3 Jn.), reference to the addresses (general letter to the churches in Asia-Turkey), and greeting are absent, the writer knows the readers intimately. He repeatedly addresses them as dear children, dear friends and my brothers (2:1, 12, 18, 28; 4:4; 5:21).
· He indicated that he belongs to their own fellowship (2:19).
This reality was so power for John and the others who heard, seen and touched Christ that they said:
Act 4:20 for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard."
· He uses terms that strongly affirm the physical reality of Jesus, for a being that is just spirit or apparition, cannot be heard, gazed at for long periods (“looked upon”) or touched (“handled”) as Jesus was by John during His earthly ministry and even after His resurrection.
· The phrasing links the resurrection appearances where Jesus was in the upper room and ate with the eleven.
Luk 24:39 See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me, and see. For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have." Luk 24:40 And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. Luk 24:41 And while they still disbelieved for joy and were marveling, he said to them, "Have you anything here to eat?" Luk 24:42 They gave him a piece of broiled fish, Luk 24:43 and he took it and ate before them.
· The Word of life. This refers not only to Jesus Christ but the proclamation of His gospel.
1:2,3 manifested … seen … bear witness … heard … declare. John dramatically reemphasizes through repetition of these terms in vv. 2,3 (cf. v. 1) the authority of his own personal experience as an eyewitness of Jesus’ life. Such repetition pointedly reminds his readers that John’s personal testimony refutes the false teachers who boasted arrogantly and wrongly about the Christ they had never seen or known.
One group of False Teachers (Gnostics) claimed that matter is evil. Another (Docetists- from the Greek verb dolein meaning to appear) denied that a sinless Christ could have a human (and thus sinful) body. They say that Christ only descended upon the body of Jesus at his baptism and left him at his crucifixion (Holy Blood , Holy Grail). In this manner, the Docetists sought to maintain that the heavenly Christ has no contact with a body that was evil. They actually taught that Christ did not really come in the flesh (Jn. 1:14) (see 1 J. 4:2, 2 Jn. 7).
· The false teaches had risen from among the congregations (1 Jn. 2:19) and the people who were left were probably second guessing themselves, and discouraged.
· The situation is very much like today where we have teaches who claim direct inspired revelation from God, a secret knowledge, that people must obey for eternal life.
Why was it necessary for Christ to have a physical body?:
Heb 2:17 Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.
John later said that the recognition of the human body of Christ is a test of orthodoxy:
1 Jn. 4:2 By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God.
Now we see the Nature of Christ’s Divinity
1:2 that eternal life … with the Father and … manifested to us. With this phrase, John accentuates the eternality of Christ in his pre-incarnate glory
· Jesus is described as “the Life” not just “life”: Fullness of life is in Jesus Christ. Faith in Christ enables life not eliminating some false concept of killing of all fun.
· The description of his life “with the Father” points to its eternal nature.
· One of the clearest witnesses of the declaration of the divinity of Christ is by the hostile sources around Jesus. One may suspect a friendly source to embellish the truth, but what of those who were hostile to him? The Pharisees knew who Jesus claimed to be and what he was doing but they hated it and they hated him.
Likewise, the Roman historian Tastitus, and the Jewish historian Flavious Josephus.
1:3 fellowship with us. Fellowship (koinonia) does not mean social relations, but that his readers were to be partakers (or, partners) with John in possessing eternal life
Phi 1:3 I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, Phi 1:4 always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, Phi 1:5 because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now.
Peter in his testimony and instruction to the Church explains:
1Pe 5:1 So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed:
2Pe 1:1 Simeon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ: 2Pe 1:2 May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. 2Pe 1:3 His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, 2Pe 1:4 by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.
That genuine Christians are never “out of fellowship” is clear, since this verse equates fellowship with salvation. The knowledge of this fellowship in Salvation is eternal and can be assured of such.
1Jo 5:13 I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life.
· Martyn Lloyd-Jones said: Assurance is not essential to salvation, but it is essential to the joy of salvation.
1:4 your joy may be full. A main goal for this epistle is to create joy in the readers. The proclamation of the reality of the gospel (vv. 1,2) produces a fellowship in eternal life (v. 3), and in turn, fellowship in eternal life produces joy (v. 4).
John writes this in the first person plural: so he, like the other apostles, preach and write as an eyewitness and earwitness.
Since the Resurrection and person of Jesus is the 1) Word of Life, then we are called to
2) Walk in the Light
1:5 we have heard from Him. The message that John and the other apostles preached came from God not from men.
Gal 1:11 For I would have you know, brothers, that the gospel that was preached by me is not man's gospel. Gal 1:12 For I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ.
2Pe 1:16 For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty.
God is light. In Scripture, light and darkness are very familiar symbols. Intellectually, “light” refers to biblical truth while “darkness” refers to error or falsehood (cf. Ps. 119:105; Prov. 6:23; John 1:4; 8:12). Morally, “light” refers to holiness or purity while “darkness” refers to sin or wrongdoing (Rom. 13:11–14; 1 Thess. 5:4–7).
The heretics claimed to be the truly enlightened, walking in the real light, but John denied that because they do not recognize their sin. About that basic reality, they were unenlightened.
no darkness at all. With this phrase, John forcefully affirms that God is absolutely perfect and nothing exists in God’s character that impinges upon His truth and holiness (cf. James 1:17).
Jam 1:17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.
1:6 In spite of their claims to enlightenment and although the false teachers may have claimed fellowship with Christ, their walking in darkness refuted such claims, and consequently, demonstrated their lack of genuine salvation. The reference to “lie” in v. 6b refers to the claim of fellowship in v. 6a.
do not practice. This points to their habitual failure regarding the practice of the truth.
1:7 A genuine Christian walks habitually in the light (truth and holiness), not in darkness (falsehood and sin). Their walk also results in cleansing from sin as the Lord continually forgives His own. Since those walking in the light share in the character of God, they will be habitually characterized by His holiness.
3Jo 1:11 Beloved, do not imitate evil but imitate good. Whoever does good is from God; whoever does evil has not seen God.
A genuine Christian does not walk in darkness but only in the light (2 Cor. 6:14; Eph. 5:8; Col. 1:12,13), and cleansing from sin continually occurs (cf. v. 9).
· You can no more separate justification from sanctification than you can separate the circulation of the blood from the inhalation of the air. Breathing and circulation are two different things, but you cannot have one without the other; they do together, and they constitute one life.
1:8 Not only did the false teachers walk in darkness (i.e., sin; v. 6) but went so far as to deny totally the existence of a sin nature in their lives. If someone never admits to being a sinner, salvation cannot result (see Matt. 19:16–22 for the account of the young man who refused to recognize his sin). Not only did the false teachers make false claims to fellowship and disregard sin (v. 6), they are also characterized by deceit regarding sinlessness (Eccl. 7:20; Rom. 3:23).
1:9 Continual confession of sin is an indication of genuine salvation. While the false teachers would not admit their sin, the genuine Christian admitted and forsook it.
Psa 32:5 I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, "I will confess my transgressions to the LORD," and you forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah.
Pro 28:13 Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.
The term “confess” means to say the same thing about sin as God does; to acknowledge His (God’s) perspective about sin. While v. 7 is from God’s perspective, v. 9 is from the Christian’s perspective. Confession of sin characterizes genuine Christians, and God continually cleanses those who are confessing (cf. v. 7). Rather than focusing on confession for every single sin as necessary, John has especially in mind here a settled recognition and acknowledgment that one is a sinner in need of cleansing and forgiveness. This therefore impacts our relations with others:
Eph 4:32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
This is how then the resurrection impacts us:
Col 2:13 And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, Col 2:14 by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.
1:10 make Him a liar. Since God has said that all people are sinners (cf. Ps. 14:3; 51:5; Is. 53:6; Jer. 17:5,6; Rom. 3:10–19,23; 6:23), to deny that fact is to blaspheme God with slander that defames His name.
Papias, the bishop of Hierapolis (near Laodicea) around 125AD quoted from 1 Jn. He is acknowledged (Ireneus) as hearing it directly from John. Confirmation from Historical artefacts, archaeology and the faithful witness of martyrs all point to a direct line of teaching and attesting to the truth. The question for you is what you are basing eternity on. Is it the faithful witness of the only one to knows what is beyond the grave and returned to proclaim it or is it on wishful thinking and avoidance. Eternity awaits.
The challenge for us in hearing eyewitness testimony, and other evidence, is what we do with it. Perhaps we are like Thomas:
Joh 20:24 Now Thomas, one of the Twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. Joh 20:25 So the other disciples told him, "We have seen the Lord." But he said to them, "Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe." Joh 20:26 Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you." Joh 20:27 Then he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe." Joh 20:28 Thomas answered him, "My Lord and my God!" Joh 20:29 Jesus said to him, "Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed."
Although we may doubt, any reasonable examination will conclude that Christ is indeed Lord and God.
The testimony and evidence of the Glorified human body of Christ is the guarantee that our physical bodies shall also be glorified, for those who believe:
Phi 3:20 But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, Phi 3:21 who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.