1 John 1:1
Parallel Verses
New American Standard Bible
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--

King James Bible
That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life;

Darby Bible Translation
That which was from the beginning, that which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes; that which we contemplated, and our hands handled, concerning the word of life;

World English Bible
That which was from the beginning, that which we have heard, that which we have seen with our eyes, that which we saw, and our hands touched, concerning the Word of life

Young's Literal Translation
That which was from the beginning, that which we have heard, that which we have seen with our eyes, that which we did behold, and our hands did handle, concerning the Word of the Life --

1 John 1:1 Parallel
Commentary
Barnes' Notes on the Bible

That which was from the beginning - There can be no doubt that the reference here is to the Lord Jesus Christ, or the "Word" that was made flesh. See the notes at John 1:1. This is such language as John would use respecting him, and indeed the phrase "the beginning," as applicable to the Lord Jesus, is unique to John in the writings of the New Testament: and the language here may be regarded as one proof that this Epistle was written by him, for it is just such an expression as "he" would use, but not such as one would be likely to adopt who should attempt to palm off his own writings as those of John. One who should have attempted that would have been likely to introduce the name "John" in the beginning of the Epistle, or in some way to have claimed his authority. The apostle, in speaking of "that which was from the beginning," uses a word in the neuter gender instead of the masculine, (ὅ ho.) It is not to be supposed, I think, that he meant to apply this term "directly" to the Son of God, for if he had he would have used the masculine pronoun; but though he had the Son of God in view, and meant to make a strong affirmation respecting him, yet the particular thing here referred to was "whatever" there was respecting that incarnate Saviour that furnished testimony to any of the senses, or that pertained to his character and doctrine, he had borne witness to.

He was looking rather at the evidence that he was incarnate; the proofs that he was manifested; and he says that those proofs had been subjected to the trial of the senses, and he had borne witness to them, and now did it again. This is what is referred to, it seems to me, by the phrase "that which," (ὅ ho.) The sense may be this: "Whatever there was respecting the Word of life, or him who is the living Word, the incarnate Son of God, from the very beginning, from the time when he was first manifested in the flesh; whatever there was respecting his exalted nature, his dignity, his character, that could be subjected to the testimony of the senses, to be the object of sight, or hearing, or touch, that I was permitted to see, and that I declare to you respecting him." John claims to be a competent witness in reference to everything which occurred as a manifestation of what the Son of God was.

If this be the correct interpretation, then the phrase "from the beginning" (ἀπ ̓ ἀρχῆς ap' archēs does not here refer to his eternity, or his being in the beginning of all things, as the phrase "in the beginning" (ἐν ἀρχῇ en archē) does in John 1:1; but rather means from the very commencement of his manifestation as the Son of God, the very first indications on earth of what he was as the Messiah. When the writer says 1 John 1:3 that he "declares" this to them, it seems to me that he has not reference merely to what he would say in this Epistle, for he does not go extensively into it here, but that he supposes that they had his Gospel in their possession, and that he also means to refer to that, or presumes that they were familiar with the testimony which he had borne in that Gospel respecting the evidence that the "Word became flesh." Many have indeed supposed that this Epistle accompanied the Gospel when it was published, and was either a part of it that became subsequently detached from it, or was a letter that accompanied it. See Hug, Introduction P. II. Section 68. There is, it seems to me, no certain evidence of that; but no one can doubt that he supposed that those to whom he wrote had access to that Gospel, and that he refers here to the testimony which he had borne in that respecting the incarnate Word.

Which we have heard - John was with the Saviour through the whole of his ministry, and he has recorded more that the Saviour said than either of the other evangelists. It is on what he said of himself that he grounds much of the evidence that he was the Son of God.

Which we have seen with our eyes - That is, pertaining to his person, and to what he did. "I have seen him; seen what he was as a man; how he appeared on earth; and I have seen whatever there was in his works to indicate his character and origin." John professes here to have seen enough in this respect to furnish evidence that he was the Son of God. It is not hearsay on which he relies, but he had the testimony of his own eyes in the case. Compare the notes at 2 Peter 1:16.

Which we have looked upon - The word used here seems designed to be more emphatic or intensive than the one occurring before. He had just said that he had "seen him with his eyes," but he evidently designs to include an idea in this word which would imply something more than mere beholding or seeing. The additional idea which is couched in this word seems to be that of desire or pleasure; that is, that he had looked on him with desire, or satisfaction, or with the pleasure with which one beholds a beloved object. Compare Matthew 11:7; Luke 7:24; John 1:14; John 11:45. See Robinson, Lexicon. There was an intense and earnest gaze, as when we behold one whom we have desired to see, or when one goes out purposely to look on an object. The evidences of the incarnation of the Son of God had been subjected to such an intense and earnest gaze.

And our hands have handled - That is, the evidence that he was a man was subjected to the sense of touch. It was not merely that he had been seen by the eye, for then it might be pretended that this was a mere appearance assumed without reality; or that what occurred might have been a mere optical illusion; but the evidence that he appeared in the flesh was subjected to more senses than one; to the fact that his voice was heard; that he was seen with the eyes; that the most intense scrutiny had been employed; and, lastly, that he had been actually touched and handled, showing that it could not have been a mere appearance, an assumed form, but that it was a reality. This kind of proof that the Son of God had appeared in the flesh, or that he was truly and properly a man, is repeatedly referred to in the New Testament. Luke 24:39; "behold my hands and my feet, that it is I:myself: handle me and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones as ye see me have." Compare John 20:25-27. There is evident allusion here to the opinion which early prevailed, which was held by the Docetes, that the Son of God did not truly and really become a man, but that there was only an appearance assumed, or that he seemed to be a man. See the Introduction, Section 3. It was evidently with reference to this opinion, which began early to prevail, that the apostle dwells on this point, and repeats the idea so much, and shows by a reference to all the senses which could take any cognizance in the case, that he was truly and properly a man. The amount of it is, that we have the same evidence that he was properly a man which we can have in the case of any other human being; the evidence on which we constantly act, and in which we cannot believe that our senses deceive us.

Of the Word of life - Respecting, or pertaining to, the Word of life. "That is, whatever there was pertaining to the Word of life, which was manifested from the beginning in his speech and actions, of which the senses could take cognizance, and which would furnish the evidence that he was truly incarnate, that we have declared unto you.' The phrase "the Word of life," means the Word in which life resided, or which was the source and fountain of life. See the notes at John 1:1, John 1:3. The reference is undoubtedly to the Lord Jesus Christ.

1 John 1:1 Parallel Commentaries

Library
June the Twenty-Seventh God is Light!
"In Him is no darkness at all." --1 JOHN i. That wonderful mansion of God's Being is gloriously radiant in every room! In the house of my life there are dark chambers, and rooms which are only partially illumined, the other parts being in the possession of night. Some of my faculties and powers are dark ministers, and some of my moods are far from being "homes of light." But "God is light," and everything is glorious as the meridian sun! His holiness, His grace, His love, His mercy: there are
John Henry Jowett—My Daily Meditation for the Circling Year

Fellowship with God
And now, my brethren and sisters in the common faith of our Lord Jesus, this morning I trust that many of us can say, "Our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ." Did the apostle John need to say, "Truly"--as much as though some doubted or denied it? We, too, have sometimes an occasion to make as solemn an affirmation as he has done. There are certain sectaries who exalt the form of their church government into a sine qua non of piety, and they say of us that it is impossible
Charles Haddon Spurgeon—Spurgeon's Sermons Volume 7: 1861

The Way of Fellowship
When man fell and chose to make himself, rather than God, the centre of his life, the effect was not only to put man out of fellowship with God, but also out of fellowship with his fellow man. The story of man's first quarrel with God in the third chapter of Genesis is closely followed, in the fourth chapter, by the story of man's first quarrel with his fellow, Cain's murder of Abel. The Fall is simply, "we have turned every one to his own way."[footnote1: Is. 53: 6] If I want my own way rather than
Roy Hession and Revel Hession—The Calvary Road

Sanctification.
In the last chapter we showed that the doctrine of justification deals with the sinner's change of relation, or change of state. We also learned that faith is the instrumental or applying cause of justification. In another place we showed that true faith presupposes penitence, and this again presupposes a sense and knowledge of sin. Again we showed that penitence and faith are the two essential elements of conversion; that where these elements are found there is a change of heart, and the beginning
G. H. Gerberding—The Way of Salvation in the Lutheran Church

Cross References
Luke 1:2
just as they were handed down to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word,

Luke 24:39
"See My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself; touch Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have."

John 1:1
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

John 1:4
In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men.

John 1:14
And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.

John 19:35
And he who has seen has testified, and his testimony is true; and he knows that he is telling the truth, so that you also may believe.

John 20:27
Then He said to Thomas, "Reach here with your finger, and see My hands; and reach here your hand and put it into My side; and do not be unbelieving, but believing."

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