(Heard, Seen and Handled 2)
In a Nutshell
John explains his letter writing.
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Compare this way of starting his letter with what he wrote in his Gospel. Which document, do you think, was composed first before the other one?
It is what was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the word of life -- 2 this [same] life which [is now] revealed [to us], we have seen it and we [can] testify to it, declaring to you the eternal life that was with the Father and revealed to us -- 3 [it is this] that we have seen and heard which we also declare to you so that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. 4 And we write these [declarations] so that our joy may be complete.
What binds the writer of this letter to his readers? What binds "us" to "you"? It is what "we" here declare to "you": "our" unity, is in the life given to "us". That which was given to "us" is what "we" now proclaim to "you". It is what has been given from the beginning, has been revealed to "us" . Such is this revealed gift of eternal life that "our" joyful fulfilment of what "we" have seen and heard now comes for "us" in declaring it, passing it on, to "you". And what is this but life in the light of Jesus' abiding friendship (John 15:14-15)? It is this amazing revelation that frames the New Testament contribution of John, the "disciple whom Jesus loved." He was evidently amazed by it and writes to "us" so that we too may share this friendship.
That seems to be why the first letter of John, as with his other letters and his Gospel, is notable for its repeated declaration of the joy in binding "us" or "we" to "you", of ensuring that what is "ours" is "yours". It is a letter written in the knowledge that this friendship is nothing less than "eternal life" [ZOOEN TEN AIOONION] given to us with the Father's Only Son, Jesus Christ. He writes in the conviction that his office as letter-writer has perpetual meaning because of this same "eternal life". In this letter-writing act we come to "our" [HEMOON] announcement that the Word of life has come to invite "all of us" [HEMETERA] into fellowship with the Father and His Son. This letter proclaims a joyful hope that now can motivate all letter-writing; the ordinary task of letter-writing is fully and irrevocably restored because of "the things which we have seen and heard and of which we now write to you".
Strangely, mysteriously - particularly for those tempted to view letter-writing as something other than a rich and enriching creational responsibility that has been with us "from the beginning" - John tells us how his vision has been overwhelmed so that he becomes fully absorbed in a bond of deepest joy and fulfilment, telling his readers that his fulfilment is in their joy, that his joy is their fulfilment, since "our" [HEMETERA] "fellowship together" [KOINOONIAN] is truly given to us in the Father's bond to His Son.