In verse 2, John proceeds to say of Him, “For the life was manifested…”  This is very much alike that profound saying of Paul in I Timothy 3:16, “God was manifest in the flesh.”  It would be beyond ludicrous to call any mere, mortal man “the life.”  We must perceive from this that Jesus Christ is no mere man, but the blessedly unique God-man, two natures uniting in one glorious person.  John affords Him the title of “the life,” not because he had found some eloquent saying with which he could tickle ears, but because the Lord Christ Himself had said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life…”  The life of God resided in Him, both in respect to His divine nature, and also in respect to the full indwelling of the Spirit Who came upon Him when He was immersed in the river Jordan.

Again, John reiterates the personal witness of the apostles to the historical Jesus.  God had manifested the life by sending His Son into the world to be the Saviour of sinners, and John, along with his apostolic companions, had seen Him, and could bear witness to Him.  They were fully acquainted with the facts of His life, and the reality of His resurrection, because they had beheld both with their own eyes.  The reality of Christ, the profound meaning of His earthly career for sinful men, had so gripped them that they were compelled to proclaim it to men.  Like Paul, John and all the other apostles could say, “Woe is unto me if I preach not the Gospel!”  They were impelled by the power of the Spirit working in them to show unto men that eternal life which had been manifested in the incarnate Son of God, Who had accomplished redemption by His sinless life and bloody death. 

The words “that eternal life” should be taken as another title of Christ.  He is the Mediator through Whom eternal life is communicated to mortal, hell-bound sinners.  He is the only Source of eternal life.  John gave no allowance for hope of eternal life through any of the false gods of his day, including the impostor christs who had arisen to trouble the early church.  No more should we give any credence to the ecumenical nonsense of our generation which parrots Satan’s lie that there are many paths to God, and that we should not dare to inflict our religious ideas upon anybody else.  No more than Zeus or Diana could grant eternal life to their adherents in John’s day can Muhammad or Buddha or the Pope do for their followers 2,000 years later.  Jesus Christ, the Christ of the Bible, the Jesus witnessed and written of by the apostles, is the only true Saviour, the only One Who can give eternal life to His worshippers.  All other saviours are false, and can lead their followers nowhere but into the ditch and down to hell.

We know that “that eternal life” is Jesus Christ, because John says He was “with the Father, and was manifested unto us.”  All other persons have a beginning in time.  But the Son of God was with the Father “before the world was.”  He was there at creation, was so active in the process that John could write in another place, “Without Him was not anything made that was made.”  Christ Himself spoke of the glory which He had with the Father before the world was.  The Author of our eternal life dwelt in perfect eternal felicity with the Father, but was manifested in these last times unto us.  In Him, the gracious, saving purpose of God is revealed for all men to see.  We are commanded to repent and believe upon Him, trusting in the truth of the mystery of His strange but glorious person, and relying upon His death and resurrection to secure everlasting life for us.