April 23 – 1 John 1:1-4


Main focus: We’re turning to 1 John to grow in joyful fellowship with the Triune God and with his people.

Before we get started, check out our 1 John Intro post for some background on why we’re reading this letter this summer. As we step into a new book of the Bible, including the epistles, it can be easy to start full steam and breeze by the beginning. The entirety of God’s word is inspired by the Holy Spirit, and it’s all equally important (2 Tim. 3:16). So, in starting a new series on John 1 this week, we want to start on a slow note with the beginning of John’s first letter as a way to grow in joy and accord with the Triune God and fellow Christians. 1, 2, and 3 John, along with the Gospel of John and Revelation, are all most likely written by the apostle John; for more on that, we recommend the Bible Project’s video for a deeper diveinto this and a broad overview of the book.

Throughout the letter, John is writing to Christians and urging them to be unified in fellowship (1:3), love their brothers and sisters in Christ (2:10), and remain in the light by testing false teachings about Christ (4:1-6).

1 John isn’t a letter to a single church but most likely a letter to a collection of churches and church leaders across what is now Turkey. John seems to have had two general purposes for the writing of this letter: 1. to refute and combat false doctrine that Jesus was not fully God and 2. to encourage and edify those who believe, commune with, and worship Christ. Later, John asks, “Who is the liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, he who denies the Father and the Son” (1 Jn 2:22). 

During this time, many claimed that Jesus was not the Son of God, suggesting that he was just an angel, prophet, or a good person. Scripture repeatedly tells us otherwise (ex. John 5:18; Titus 3:4-7; Heb 1:3; etc.) and claims like this are the basis for John describing them as “antichrists.” But we’ll get into that later in chapter 2.

John begins this letter almost poetically with verses 1 and 2, reminding the believers that the amazing things they’ve seen—miracles, signals and wonders, and the works of his apostles—are all because of Jesus, God incarnate. The beginning of this letter also has a similar thematic parallel to the beginning of the Gospel of John, emphasizing Jesus as the “Word of life” (see John 1:1-4).

We also see John encouraging believers who have heard and seen the goodness of God. He reminds them (and us) of the things “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” (1:1). Next, we read that “the word of life…was made manifest to us” by God (v2). Here, we see that God revealed himself as the incarnate Word of life: Jesus.

In discussion, we’ll talk about what God desires for his Church and what it looks like to respond in love and community. In putting these verses together, we see that the natural response to interacting with Jesus through the Holy Spirit (Acts 1-2) is fellowship with the Triune God and fellowship with other believers. This is the urging from John in this passage and what our response should be; that we would desire fellowship with fellow believers and to share that with those who do not believe. This is all so that “our joy may be complete” (v4).

Questions for Discussion
• Could someone read 1 John 1:1-4 for us?

• What stood out to you from the passage?

• How does John describe this “word of life”?

• Look at verses 2-3; why do you think John is doing this sort of testifying and proclaiming?

• In what ways do you hope to grow in responding to Jesus this way?

• In verse 3, why do you think John relates all this to “fellowship”?

• What are some practical ways you can grow in fellowship with God and with others this week?