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- 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- 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. 4 And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.
John writes this “epistle” in order to elaborate on the importance of Jesus both in terms of one’s own theology and in terms of one’s own practice. In reality for John, there is no difference between theology and practice: belief = lifestyle and lifestyle = belief, though this becomes more evident later in the epistle.
These four verses introduce this short work, and the initial framework introduces the author as an eyewitness to the ministry of Christ (“we have seen”) and displays how intimately the message of this letter is tied to salvation (“concerning the word of life”).
The point of this proclamation, according to verse 3, is to enable others to have fellowship with the author and with God. The author’s joy can only become complete in the sharing of what he knows.
Notice how this eyewitness testimony flows directly into evangelism, and how evangelism flows directly into discipleship. More than mental assent is called for, rather John looks for a direct connection in fellowship and community with the people to whom he writes.
As we progress slowly through this series on 1 John, I will be highlighting the tenses of verbs and arguing that there is a distinct importance in the usage of the present, namely that John intentionally stresses the importance of how one is currently acting and interacting with others. John wants the reader to acknowledge that faith is something lived out, not just mentally assented to, and that faith equates with both one’s salvation as well as one’s lifestyle. Thus, in a way, how one acts determines one’s eternal destination since actions show the true state of one’s beliefs.