In yesterday's post, we introduced this month's Series: I John.
We saw that the reason John wrote this letter was due to confusion about Jesus being Fully God AND Fully man:
John dealt with "two false theories concerning the person of Christ - Docetism, regarding the human Jesus as a ghost (that is, the view that Christ only seemed to have a body), and Cerinthianism, making Jesus a dual personality, at times human and at times divine."
Today, we begin looking at I John.
I JOHN 1
"1 That which was from the beginning, that which we have heard, that which we have seen with our eyes, that which we beheld, and our hands handled, concerning the Word of life"
John establishes immediately that this is a philosophical letter. He introduces his premise and begins with his CORE POINT: he is focused on "the Word of life" and basing it on the foundation of personal experience, not only his experience but the experience of a group of people...SPECIFICALLY, "what WE have":
This letter is to a group of believers on behalf of a group who has firsthand experience with "the Word of life". (It is possible that some of the people receiving the letter may have also had firsthand experience.)
Next comes a parenthetical comment:
"2 (and the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare unto you the life, the eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us);"
During the Romans Series, I stated that parenthetical comments are my favorite. The writer is speaking privately and directly to the reader...usually for emphasis, which is the case here. Like a great philosopher, John is immediately clarifying his CORE POINT.
John is saying "the life was manifested". In fact, John then ties this comment to the previous verse AND adds on to the CORE POINT by stating the life:
-is eternal life
-was with the Father
Then John "brackets" the comment by repeating that the life was "manifested" to us. This bracketing technique is used to show something is PROVEN...that something "checks out". It is the same as a Feedback Loop...John began by stating "manifested", progress through additional points, and complete the Feedback Loop by ending with "manifested". Within the "manifested" brackets is DOCTRINE: Jesus WAS with the Father...AND THEN WAS "manifested" unto us. Jesus existed with the Father BEFORE He was manifested to us.
What does "manifested" mean?
"manifested" is Strong's #5319 phaneroo - "from 5318; to render apparent (lit. or fig.):-appear, manifestly declare, (make) manifest (forth), shew (self)."
Strong's #5318 phaneros - "from 5316; shining"
Strong's #5316 phaino - "to lighten (shine)"
Not only does "manifest" reference physically appearing...it also references "light". (Remember this because both words will be used throughout this letter.)
So, John introduces Doctrine by stating that Word of life is eternal, was with God in Nature PRIOR to appearing in physical form. While this alone indicates Jesus is BOTH Fully God in Nature AND Fully Man in nature, we can also get support from the VERY BEGINNING of John's Gospel account...
"1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
2 The same was in the beginning with God.
3 All things were made through him; and without him was not anything made that hath been made.
4 In him was life; and the life was the light of men.
5 And the light shineth in the darkness; and the darkness apprehended it not." (John 1:1-5)
"shineth" in this verse is Strong's #5316 phaino!
Of all the Gospel accounts, John's has more Doctrine than the other three combined. If a person wants to learn New Testament Doctrine, I believe John is the best place to begin.
During the Daniel Series, we saw that Daniel knew Old Testament Doctrine PERFECTLY...and he ended up getting the GREATEST PROPHECY recorded in the Bible. Is it any wonder that John received the GREATEST PROPHECY (The Book of Revelation) recorded in the New Testament?
The Cause is Doctrine.
That would make Doctrine the MOST interesting and Profitable topic to discuss. WHY do people think it is the ONE topic to be avoided? When people shut down discussion because "it is a doctrinal issue", is this what God wants or is this what the flesh wants?
Look at the way John began his Gospel account and his letter to believers:
He wrote about the Word that was with God, life, and light.
However, John is not finished adding to his explanation in his letter...
I JOHN 1
"3 that which we have seen and heard declare we unto you also, that ye also may have fellowship with us: yea, and our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ:"
John again repeats the CORE POINT, however it is stated Cause to Effect.
Cause: declaring what John's group has seen and heard to the reader
Effect: so the reader may have Fellowship with John's group
John then states his group's Fellowship is with the Father AND with His Son Jesus. (Again, this reinforces the Doctrine that Jesus is God in Nature.)
We have discussed Fellowship on this blog in detail...
The word "relationship" is NOT used in the Bible. The word God uses is "Fellowship". It is something MORE than Relationship.
Chapter 12 of Modeling God's Wills deals in detail with Fellowship. Here are the links:
12-1 Definition of Fellowship
12-2 Sharing Levels
12-3 Fellowship vs. Relationship
12-4 Repair (Life)
12-5 Bible Verses Containing Fellowship
12-6 Fellowship With God
The key doctrinal point concerning Fellowship is that John is stating they can ONLY have Fellowship with these people IF these people have Fellowship with God (Father and Son).
Notice, in Chapter 12 of Modeling God's Wills, a section on "Repair (Life)" is in the middle of the Chapter on Fellowship. Fellowship and the ability to repair (life) are interdependent.
John just stated a Cause to Effect (declaring the CORE POINT so that it leads to Fellowship). Now John will conclude the first sentence of his letter with an Effect from the previous Effect (Fellowship)...
"4 and these things we write, that our joy may be made full."
John states that he is writing this letter so that OUR joy may be made full by being in Fellowship!
1. John is building a model.
John began with a CORE POINT. Then he went through multiple Feedback Loops (using Cause and Effect) in order to fill out his CORE POINT. This is "modeling".
Remember, the Bible states throughout that God Wants You To Be A Modeler.
2. These first four verses are a microcosm of the entire letter.
John's entire letter follows the same modeling pattern as the first four verses. John is going to state a CORE POINT. Then he is going to go through a Feedback Loop (using Cause and Effect) in order to add a layer to his CORE POINT. Then, he is going to repeat the process to add another layer. Then, he is going to repeat the process to add another layer...
This means that a person CANNOT accurately interpret a verse from I John unless the person completely understands the context the verse is built on. The person must understand the previous chapters. This is ESPECIALLY true with verses that occur later in I John because they are built on the most foundation...and, therefore, are limited the most in their interpretation.
For example, the MOST quoted phrase in this letter is "God is love". Actually, this verse is quoted TWICE by John in a bracketed form in the penultimate (second to last) chapter of this book! John has a VERY SPECIFIC purpose for, and meaning behind, writing this often quoted phrase. People who quote this phrase in contradiction to John's purpose and meaning are actually in DISAGREEMENT with God's Word!
3. Jesus is the Word of life that physically came to us from the Father.
John will philosophically explore the Effects of this CORE POINT throughout this letter. Each Feedback Loop that occurs with John's modeling process will return with a PROOF that this CORE POINT is true. This book will REQUIRE you to think. Are you willing and able to think? This book will make you uncomfortable in order for you to grow. Are you willing and able to be uncomfortable?
4. John's ultimate objective is to help the reader's joy to be made full.
Are you interested in THAT?
John's CORE POINT (and this letter) began with "That which was from the beginning, that which we have heard..."
Tomorrow, we will look at John's explanation of what was the SPECIFIC message that was heard from Him who was from the beginning...