WALKING IN THE LIGHT

NEW TESTAMENT CONTEXTUAL COMMENTARY

by Dr. Robert R. Seyda

FIRST EPISTLE OF JOHN

CHAPTER ONE (Lesson XVI) 10/26/20

Another current Bible scholar John W. (Jack) Carter (1951-),[1] sees the Apostle John defending the preeminence of his Gospel as opposed to a so-called “good news” that the church was hearing from the false preachers. Noting his relationship with the truth, John makes it clear that his theology is derived from first-hand knowledge of Jesus the Anointed One and was taught by Him directly. Unlike the heretics creating chaos in the church by preaching a message of their creation, John can prove that he bases his true-faith presentation upon a personal relationship with Jesus. He heard, saw, observed, and touched Jesus. 

John reminds the church that Jesus is not a myth. He is one who could be engaged in a face-to-face conversation.[2]  Greville Priestley Lewis (1891-1976) already said that for John to have any credibility to make such claims about “The Word,” he must be an “eye-witness.” As in any court of law, when calling a witness, they are to “declare” not what somebody else told them, but what they heard and saw for themselves. Otherwise, it is considered hearsay.[3]

David Jackman (1973) says that John’s mention of “from the beginning” is not from creation, but the incarnation what John focused on because it was of his most significant interest. There is also a subtle suggestion that John is saying that He, who is the incarnation, was there at creation. The Word that spoke everything into existence is now the Living eternal Word in human form. There can be no separation between the two. There has never been a time when the Word was not, nor will there ever be a time when the Word is not. They converged at just the right moment in time, foreordained by the Father.[4]

The idea of the logos in Greek thought harks back at least to the 6th-century BC when philosopher Heraclitus discerned in the cosmic process a logos like that of humans’ reasoning power. Later, the Stoic philosophers who followed the thinker Zeno of Citium (4th–3rd century BC), defining the logos as an active rational and spiritual principle that permeated all reality. They called the logos providence, nature, god, and the universe’s soul, composed of many influential logoi (plural) in the universal logos. Philo Judaeus (Philo of Alexandria), a 1st-century AD Jewish philosopher, taught that the logos was the intermediary between God and the cosmos, being both the agent of creation and the agent through which the human mind can apprehend and comprehend God. According to Philo and the Middle Platonists (philosophers who interpreted in religious terms the teachings of Plato), the logos was both inherent in the world and, at the same time, the transcendent divine mind.

It is as if John said to everyone, “This Logos you have been talking about and writing about for centuries – well, we have heard Him, seen Him, studied Him, and touched Him. Now, let me now tell you about Him.” I like the way Guzik puts it:  What John wrote of is not the beginning of this world, nor is it the beginning of creation. It is the beginning revealed in Genesis 1 and John 1:1. Before there was anything, this beginning existed, to begin with when all that existed was God and in God.[5]

1:2a     John says it this way, Yes, the One who is the Life was shown to us … 

EXPOSITION

It appears that John did not want any reader of his letter to entertain any doubts that he didn’t know who he was talking about. And as far as Jesus is the Anointed One who revealed spiritual life, John remembers what he said in his Gospel: “Eternal life is in him, and this life gives light to all mankind.”[6] And our Lord made that truth personally known to Martha, the sister of Lazarus when He assured her that “I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in Me will have life even if they die.”[7]

The Apostle Paul told Timothy that it is quite true that the way to live a godly life is not an easy matter. The answer lies in the Anointed One, who came to earth as a human, was proven spotless and pure in His spirit, served by angels, preached among the nations, accepted by people everywhere, and received up again to His glory in heaven.[8] And later, Paul wrote Timothy and told him, and now the coming of our Savior, the Anointed One, Jesus, is revealed to us. He destroyed death and showed us the way to have life. Yes, through the Good News, Jesus showed us the way to have life everlasting.[9] The same is true of those who talk about being a Christian because, as an infant, they were baptized, went to church, and participated in all the church’s rites, rituals, and ceremonies. However, true believers can talk about a personal relationship as a result of what they heard, experienced, and felt in their hearts.

But Jesus telling others about His mission was not enough. He told His disciples that after He sent the Comforter – the Holy Spirit, He would also be a witness to who Jesus was. However, they must also go out and testify that they were with Him from the beginning and are His witnesses. Jesus was no secret agent who was supposed to remain undercover during His mission here on earth. In that case, He would have died mysteriously in some underground dungeon, not openly on a cross not too far from Jerusalem’s market square.[10] To back up his first letter to the elders among the scattered Messianic Jews, Peter told them that he also was an elder and a witness to the Anointed One’s sufferings and will share in His glory when He again is revealed to the whole world.[11]

COMMENTARY

Clement of Alexandria (150-216) tells us about the manifestation to signify that the Eternal Life always existed, without beginning.[12] And Andreas (600-700) feels that John says this regarding the close union of the Word with the flesh. Or perhaps he says this concerning the resurrection, considering how it was made known to the apostles by Thomas’s action. That proved that Christ rose again with the same flesh in which he was crucified.[13]

That’s why Didymus the Blind (313-398) noted an essential difference between seeing and contemplating. What a person sees can be shared with others, which is not always possible with things we envision in our minds. There are many things foreseen by our imagination but cannot be expressed in words because they are indescribably formed in our vision. In this verse, let us note that those who are bearing witness are not validating the life of Jesus but making themselves more believable by their witnessing.[14]

James Arminius (1560-1609), theologian and minister of the Dutch Reformed Church,  opposed the strict Calvinist teaching on predestination. So, in response, he fashioned a theological system known later as “Arminianism.” Arminius received a theological professorship at Leiden, Germany, which he held until his death. For Arminius, the Apostle John’s theology offers God in Christ as an object of our sight and knowledge. It shines with such clearness, splendor, and plainness that we can behold Him as in a mirror. Thus, by the glory of the Lord, we are transformed by the Spirit into the same image from glory to glory.[15]

In comparison with this brightness and glory, which was so unmatched and surpassing, says Arminius, the Law itself is said not to have been either bright or glorious: For it “had no glory in this respect, there was an even brighter glory.”[16] It is true because that glory is “the wisdom of God kept secret from the beginning of the world.[17] This great mystery is overwhelming and unfathomable, yet, exhibited in the Anointed One, Jesus. He was “made manifest” with such brilliant clearness that we saw God in human form.[18] It was for no other reason than it could never have happened without Him becoming a human. His incarnation had one purpose. As John says, “that the eternal life with the Father, and the Word of Life from the beginning with God, might be heard with our ears, seen with our eyes, and handled with our hands.[19]


[1] University professor (retired). University of Memphis, State University of New York, UNC Charlotte and Publisher & Editor, American Journal of Biblical Theology

[2] Carter, Dr. John W. (Jack). 1,2,3, John & Jude: Holding to the Truth in Love (The Disciple’s Bible Commentary Book 48) (pp. 8-9). The American Journal of Biblical Theology.  Hayesville, NC. Kindle Edition.

[3] Lewis, Greville P., Epworth Preacher’s Commentaries, The Johannine Epistles, The Epworth Press, London, 1961, p. 10

[4] Galatians 4:4

[5] Ibid.

[6] John 1:4

[7] John 11:25 – New Century Version (NCV)

[8] 1 Timothy 3:16

[9] 2Timothy 1:10

[10] John 15:27

[11] 1 Peter 5:1

[12] Clement of Alexandria: Commentary on First Epistle of John, op. cit., p. 1161

[13] Andreas: Bray, G. (Ed.), op. cit., 1-3 John, pp. 167–168

[14] Didymus the Blind, Bray, G. (Ed.)., op. cit., p. 167

[15] 1 Corinthians 3:18

[16] 2 Corinthians 3:8

[17] 1 Corinthians 2:7. Romans 16:25

[18] 1 Timothy 3:16

[19] The Works of James Arminius, Vol. 1, Oration 2, p. 56

About drbob76

Retired missionary, pastor, seminary professor, Board Certified Chaplain and American Cancer Society Hope Lodge Director.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s