The Apostles' Doctrine
1 John 1:1-4
That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked on…

The very mistakes of the primitive Churches have been to us the sources of unspeakable advantage. Principally to refute existing errors, the apostles gave out those beautiful expositions of Christian doctrine and duty which make the glory of the epistolary scriptures. Thus we see how, under the reign of omnipotent love, error itself is made to elicit truth, and the evils of a day to work out forms of good that shall brighten and unfold forever.


1. The eternal existence of Christ. He says, He is "that eternal life"; and at the close of his appeal he adds the assertion, "This is the true God and eternal life." Try to take in the meaning of the word "eternal"! You are unable to do it. We can explain nothing which lies beyond the horizon of our limited life. To us, that which is infinite never can be definite. Mysterious as is the word eternity, this one thing is clear — He who is eternal must be Divine. He who is "before all things" must be the cause of all things; and creation, however wide in range or rich in splendour, must be less by infinity than its author.

2. Jesus assumed human nature. The mystery is no argument against its truth. You are unable to explain the wonderful union of God and man in the nature of Christ; but are you more perfectly able to explain the union of matter and spirit in your own?

3. Jesus is the Word. What words are to thought, Christ is to God? He utters God; and of every imaginable manifestation of God, He is the manifestor. Nature shows the Divine perfections, but we may still doubt if it proves the Divine personality. The personal man yearns for the knowledge of a personal God. Age after age rose the ceaseless cry of man, "For God, for the living God!" Christ heard that cry, and said, "Lo, I come, I come!" In the earliest times He shadowed out the Divine personality by His appearance as the Angel of the Presence; and when the fulness of time arrived He broke the silence of ages, and in Him, at last, "the unutterable" found utterance. But Christ has given a yet more advanced revelation than this. He has uttered the Divine love to sinners. Great God! conscience threatens us; the law threatens us; death threatens us, and we deserve it all. "Art thou with us, or with our adversaries?" The Cross furnishes the reply. 4 Jesus is our Life. As the Word, He is the Revealer of what we need; as the Life, He is the Communicator of what we need. As the Word, He is God uttering Him self; as the Life, He is God giving Himself. As the Word, He is God without us; as the Life, He is God within us.

(C. Stanford, D. D.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: 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;

WEB: 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

The Apostle's Aim and Method
Top of Page
Top of Page