The beloved disciple John begins his first epistle in much the same vein as he began his gospel, by establishing everything that will follow upon the primacy of the person of Christ.  It is evident, from the style of all his writings, that John had no higher intention than that his readers understand that the man Jesus Christ is also God, and must be accepted and worshipped as such.  John was fully persuaded that there was no salvation for any soul outside of this unique, glorious person, Who had all the attributes of humanity, while at the same time being “God over all, blessed forever.”  If we would have fellowship around the doctrine of the apostles, which ultimately is fellowship with God Himself, then we must receive and worship this Christ that John proclaimed.  There is no other Christ that is a Saviour.  False teachers have posited many Jesuses throughout the ages.  Paul warned against those who would come preaching “another Jesus, Whom we have not preached.”  Any church, any preacher, any individual, who would present a Jesus who is something less than fully divine and fully human, in one unique person, teaches a Jesus that never existed, and a Jesus that cannot save.  If we hunger for eternal life, then we must be certain that we embrace the Christ of Whom the apostles wrote.  This was an uppermost concern in the mind of John, for already deceivers abounded, who confessed not that Jesus Christ was come in the flesh.  This viper’s brood of deceivers and antichrists has not died out, but proliferates even now, and doubtless will until our sovereign Lord returns to destroy all His enemies.

The very first words of this epistle refer to the Lord Christ, without actually calling Him by name.  But the text makes very clear that “that which was from the beginning” is the Saviour to Whom John would direct the faith of his readers.  John, who was doubtless an ancient man by this time, very likely the final surviving apostle, would point the believers of every age to the personal knowledge that He and His fellow disciples had of Christ.  He speaks of Jesus, and then says, “Which we have heard.”  The we here could legitimately be understood in a variety of ways.  It could possibly be taken as a royal we, the plural being put for the singular, as sovereigns sometimes do in their royal decrees.  More likely than this, it could be pointing to John and his companions in the faith, some of whom may possibly have been witnesses of Christ in the days of His flesh.  The most likely supposition to my mind, and that upon which I will operate in my interpretation of this epistle, is that we points to John and his fellow apostles.  It appears that John is placing great emphasis on the doctrine of the apostles, who were specially commissioned by Christ to preach the Gospel, and some of them to author or at least oversee the writing of the books of the New Testament.  Ultimately, John would have his readers to know that whatever doctrine they might hear which did not measure up to the standard of apostolic teaching, must immediately be discarded.

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