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I have chosen to title this series on 1st John, "The Reality of Divine Fellowship."

My conviction is that our fellowship as followers of Jesus is far more exalted and rich than we can imagine.

The opening

John begins with these words (1 John 1:1-4):

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched – this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. 

The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. 

We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us.

And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. We write this to make our joy complete.

At first, we may be somewhat disoriented. It's as if John lets loose a stream of words attempting to capture some of the wonder that is flooding his mind and heart.

One commentary begins (Robert Yarbrough, 29):

First John opens with a calculated flourish that bristles with words, concepts, and doctrinal allusions.

What is John writing about?

The person

Notice the terms "Word of life," "life," "eternal life." This life is not some abstract concept or disembodied energy.

This "life," or "eternal life," is more than living forever – as if it was a matter of duration.

Yarbrough (39) says,

"It is the language not merely of biological life in an enhanced or extended sense but also of eternal life, the enjoyment of God's covenant blessing, in the here and now, with a view ... to the age to come as well."

John describes "eternal life" in these terms (John 17:3):

Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.

The apostle puts "life" in terms of relationship with God (the Father), and Jesus Christ (the Son). Again, this relationship is not an abstract concept. 

Note how John specifies the real, objective, physical-ness of Jesus Christ:

  • we have heard;
  • we have seen with our eyes;
  • we have looked at; and,
  • our hands have touched.

Jesus is no mere phantom or apparition – he's a real, physical human being – and our relationship of life is with him.

What does this mean?

The fellowship

"Fellowship" translates the Greek word koin┼Źnia which is "close association involving mutual interests and sharing, ... close relationship, ... participation" (BDAG).

The "Word of life" is none other than Jesus Christ. This is the basis for fellowship, close relationship, participation, not only with John and other eyewitnesses, but also with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ.

The imagery of 1st John is both wonderful and stark. John writes of divine life, light, and love in terms of death–life, darkness-light, and hate–love.

This epistle declares the provisions of the reality of the divine fellowship –intimate participation with the Father and his Son, Jesus Christ, as well as all those who are true children of God.

The implications

Can we really be participants in the fellowship between God the Father and God the Son? The consequences are mind-boggling and life-changing.

What are the marks of that fellowship? Much of John's letter responds to this question.

Take some time to sit quietly and focus on what 1 John 1:1-4 says. What does this mean for you? Feel free to let me know some of your conclusions ("Contact")

Consider reading the series, "Who is Jesus?", which begins with "Two Crucial Questions." This may help you appreciate the magnitude of this fellowship.


Photo credit: John, the apostle, on the Isle of Patmos (source unknow).

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