The Incarnation of Jesus: 1 John 1:1-4 Part two

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It’s Christmas time and many of us are busy with last minute gifts, family get-togethers, and for Christians, remembering the reason we celebrate this holiday: God coming down and dwelling among us. As I was thinking about this truth, I wondered if most of us could really defend the Incarnation of Jesus. That brought me David Levy’s Israel My Glory magazine article on 1 John 1:1-4. I hope you’re encouraged and will learn as I did from reading this timeless piece.

Christ Experience
John often repeated himself to emphasize his point. In 1 John 1:2 he did so to further explain the concept of life in the phrase Word of life:

The life was manifested [made visible], and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father [depicting a face-to-face relationship with, but distinct from, God the Father] and was manifested to us.

The life to which John bore witness was with God the Father in eternity but appeared in the physical person of Jesus Christ on Earth as a historical reality. John affirmed with apostolic authority that Jesus is “the life” (Jn. 14:6), or eternal life, who is coequal and coeternal with the Father. John said so with assurance because he had “seen,” “[borne] witness,” and “declare[d]” that Jesus is eternal and provides eternal life to all who believe.

Jesus displayed the life that was in Him: He raised people from the dead, giving physical life back to Jairus’s daughter (Mk. 5), the son of the widow of Nain (Lk. 7), and Lazarus (Jn. 11). He also promised to give eternal life to all who believed in Him (6:47; 17:2).

John’s personal experience with Jesus; his affirmation of who He is; and his authoritative, apostolic proclamation of the message provided to him by the risen Christ (Mt. 28:18–20) are proof enough that Jesus Christ is the God-Man. The use of we throughout these verses indicates all the apostles bore the same testimony and proclamation of Christ.

John’s personal experience with Jesus; his affirmation of who He is; and his authoritative, apostolic proclamation of the message provided to him by the risen Christ (Mt. 28:18–20) are proof enough that Jesus Christ is the God-Man.

John repeated the words was manifested to us  (1 Jn. 1:2) to emphasize and highlight Christ’s Incarnation, this time personalizing it by saying “to us.” The point is that John and the apostles had close, personal relationships with the incarnate Life in the person of Christ.

Christ Enjoyed
By restating the words seen and heard, John reminded his readers of his message and its purpose, while explaining the importance of Christ’s Incarnation for himself and all believers: “That which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ” (v. 3).

The phrase you also means believers who did not enjoy a personal relationship with Christ during His earthly life can still have spiritual fellowship with Him.

The word fellowship  (Greek, koinonian ) means “common” and denotes a sharing of an object or belief with another. Here it refers to sharing the faith in Christ proclaimed in John’s gospel message. John stressed that this bond of fellowship transcends the earthly and is “truly” with God the Father and Jesus Christ.

Rejecting John’s message and the fellowship indicates an insincere profession of faith. In reality, such people have no fellowship with God.

The definite article the before Father  indicates both the Father and Son are equally God and are one in the Godhead. Here John explicitly declared the divine nature of the incarnate Christ. This teaching leaves no room for such heresies as Gnosticism or Docetism.

What an amazing, marvelous, and high privilege of fellowship God has granted all believers. To fellowship with the Godhead through Jesus Christ is unfathomable.

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John closed this section by giving the reason for his letter: “And these things we write to you that your [our] joy may be full” (v. 4). The phrase these things we write  emphasizes that John’s letter agrees with all the other apostles’ witnesses in that they were commissioned to define, describe, and defend the reality of Christ’s Incarnation.

Full joy within Christian fellowship is produced by a personal (intimate and intelligent) relationship with Jesus Christ in salvation, studying God’s Word, and yielding one’s life to the Holy Spirit’s ministry. Although we can experience overflowing joy in the Lord today, the joy we experience will never be full and complete until we get to heaven. Then we will see Christ face-to-face and experience a fullness of joy that will last for eternity.

Until that day, our faith does not focus on some abstract idea of Jesus but, rather, on the incarnate Christ, the God- Man, revealed in Scripture (Jn. 1:1–2, 4, 14). We live by faith, with hope and joy—a joy that is full of glory in Christ.

⇒ If you missed Part One Click Here.

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David M. Levy

David M. Levy is the media resource specialist and a Bible teacher for The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry.

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