2 and the life was manifested, and we have seen and testify and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested to us— 3 what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ. 4 These things we write, so that our joy may be made complete.
Although John doesn't identify himself in this epistle, my study Bible says that the "strong, consistent and earliest testimony of the church ascribes it to John the disciple and apostle... only someone of John's well known and preeminent status as an apostle would be able to write with such unmistakable authority, expecting complete obedience from his readers, without clearly identifying himself." Later, it says "John was one of the 3 most intimate associates of Jesus, being an eyewitness to and participant in Jesus' earthly ministry. In addition to the 3 epistles, John also authored the fourth gospel, in which he identified himself as the disciple "whom Jesus loved" and as the one who reclined on Jesus' breast at the Last Supper."
These things give John the authority to claim what is said in today's verses about "we have seen and testify and proclaim" and "we have seen and heard".
During the time that this epistle is believed to have been written, there were false teachers whose message boiled down to: Matter is evil and spirit is good, so sin committed by the body does not pollute the soul, so nothing you do with your body has any connection or effect on your spirit. "Therefore sin committed in the physical body did not matter; absolute indulgence in immorality was permissible; one could deny sin even existed and disregard God's law." They also taught that Jesus was not actually a human man but a spirit. Because he was holy, he could not have been made up of "evil matter" like the rest of us. This negates the salvation through the blood of Christ on the cross - if he wasn't actually a man, he could not have been the sacrifice on our behalf. The believers who were faithful to apostolic doctrine were shaken by the separation of those who believed these teachings, and here is John, the last remaining living apostle, who knew Jesus personally and witnessed his ministry first hand, confirming and reassuring those remaining faithful. And now we, as we read and study the Word of God for ourselves, have that same confirmation and reassurance as well.
"In light of the circumstances of the epistle, the overall theme of 1 John is... "back to the basics of Christianity." The apostle deals with certainties, not opinions or conjecture. He expresses the absolute character of Christianity in very simple terms... clear and unmistakable, leaving no doubt as to the fundamental nature of those truths. A warm, conversational, and above all, loving tone occurs, like a father having a tender, intimate conversation with his children."
Have you ever felt that personal tone when reading the epistles of John? I don't know that I really thought about it consciously at the time, but looking back now I recall a sense of almost relationship with the writer when reading these epistles. You can feel the love in the language.
One last thing regarding verse 4: A main goal for this epistle is to create joy in the readers. The proclamation of the reality of the gospel produces a fellowship in eternal life, and in turn, fellowship in eternal life produces joy.
What hope there is in that! Fellowship in eternal life, to be together in the presence of God and His Son Jesus Christ - where our joy will be complete.
Sorry if this sounds a little disjointed today. Sinus headache + cold meds = lack of flow in thought process.
Tomorrow's scripture focus: 1 John 1:5.