Commentary on 1 John 1:1-4
Preaching Series on 1 John (Week 1 of 4)
June 24, 2018
Preaching text: 1 John 1:1-4 God’s Tangible Word of Life
Gospel: John 1:14-16 The Word became flesh
The short book known as 1 John re-proclaims the message of John’s gospel in a changed context. The gospel recognized that both Jesus’ followers and his foes agreed that he was human, but not everyone could see God’s work being revealed in him. So the gospel emphasized the divine side of his identity. 1 John, however, speaks to a context in which some have taken that emphasis too far, and saw Jesus only in spiritual terms. So the epistle emphasizes Jesus’ humanity.
Most people today certainly agree that Jesus was human, yet many have trouble with the particularity of that claim. They may find it plausible to think of Jesus an expression of spiritual or ethical ideals, but have difficulty with the particulars of his life, crucifixion, and resurrection. So 1 John focuses on the embodied word of God, and calls for an embodied faith.
The opening line of the gospel spoke of “the Word” that created all things in “the beginning,” and the epistle shifts the focus to the “Word of life” as the Christian message, which finds its “beginning” in the incarnation. The point of that message is to create fellowship or “koinonia” between God and people, and among people themselves.
1 John recognizes that God “speaks” an embodied word, which will repeatedly be identified as love. Authentic love is not an abstraction. It comes through speech, action, and presence. That is the manner of God’s communication. That will characterize authentic faith and authentic community as well.