Saturday, 7 March 2020
…that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. 1 John 1:3
With the parenthetical thought of verse 2 complete, John returns to the thought which began in verse 1 by saying, “that which we have seen and heard.” In this, he reverses the thought of verse 1 –
Verse 1 – That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes
Verse 3 – that which we have seen and heard
The restatement of the thought is to solidify the fact in our minds that this really happened, and that their testimony is reliable. What the eyes have seen, the ears also heard. There is no disconnect between the two, as if there was a delusional vision. Rather the senses were united in what occurred.
John leaves out the words “and our hands have handled” from verse 1. In this, the mind must insert that thought, which is actually an effective way of having someone mentally remember that point as well. If someone said, “John is tall, handsome, and rich,” and then a minute later said, “John is handsome and tall,” the mind would reach back to retrieve the third thought by itself.
In leaving out “and our hands have handled,” and in that now being called to memory in this way, John continues with, “we declare to you.” This, once again, takes us back to the post-resurrection occurrence which was cited in the commentary of verse 1 from Luke 24. After revealing Himself to the apostles, John’s gospel takes up the narrative –
Now Thomas, called the Twin, one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 The other disciples therefore said to him, “We have seen the Lord.”
So he said to them, “Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.”
26 And after eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, “Peace to you!” 27 Then He said to Thomas, “Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing.”
28 And Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!”
29 Jesus said to him, “Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” John 20:24-29
The apostles had handled Christ, but Thomas was not with Him. Later, Thomas was there, and he too saw Him, speak to Him, and touch Him. It is this final proof, added to all of the times they had previously been with Him, that assured them concerning the Word of life. The apostles, through John’s words now, declare that life, as he says, so “that you also may have fellowship with us.”
The testimony of the apostles was given, but it is only a testimony. There must be an acceptance that what is presented is true. In accepting that, the blessed state of fellowship is realized – not just in understanding, but in full possession. This is the reason for John’s repetition of thought from verse 1. He understands that faith must be involved. Jesus said as much, and so he is giving the surest testimony he can so that it can come about.
In receiving their words, there is, as he says, “fellowship with us.” But in their fellowship already exists a higher fellowship which will likewise be granted to those who, by faith, accept their words. Of this, John says, “and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ.”
The Greek has an article before fellowship which, if included in the English, would make the translation cumbersome, but it is important to see – “indeed, the fellowship now, the of us, is with the Father and with the Son of Him – Jesus Christ.” John is providing emphasis in showing that the fellowship which exists – which they have and possess – is not just among one another, but it is inclusive of both the Father and the Son. It is the distinctive characteristic which belongs to true believers.
There is a harmony which is – right now and always – realized in this communion. Further, John carefully repeats the preposition meta, or “with,” before both “Father” and “Son” – with the Father and with the Son. In this, he is clearly and unambiguously showing that the two are separate entities within the Godhead who are both involved in the fellowship which exists among believers.
Life application: Despite the unclear, or purposefully twisted, thinking of cults such as the Jehovah’s Witnesses, the Bible clearly proclaims the Godhood and Manhood of Jesus Christ. Here John is addressing the Gnostic belief that Jesus wasn’t truly a man, but was rather a spirit being. His proclamation could not be any clearer. This is similar to the gospels which relate that they physically handled and also ate with Jesus. The writing is purposeful, and it is meant to make explicit the physical nature of the risen Christ – something various cults, incredibly, still deny.
It is this incarnation which allows the fellowship described in today’s verse. Without a complete understanding of Jesus, we can never truly understand God the Father. But, because of Christ’s coming, we have the surety that our fellowship with them is real, and in turn our fellowship among other believers is both sound and worth pursuing. Unlike other relationships, that of Christian fellowship should be on an entirely different level because of the work of Jesus.
Lord Jesus, You are the tie that binds – You tie us to a sound understanding of God the Father; You tie us to eternal fellowship with the Holy Spirit; and You tie us together as friends in the fellowship of believers. Because of You, our fellowship is complete. Thank You for what You have done to unite us! Amen.