New Defender's Study Bible Notes
1:1 from the beginning. Note the similarity between the opening verses of John’s gospel and his first epistle, both starting with a reference back to creation. The gospel of John looks back before the beginning of time, when only God existed, and Jesus Christ was God. His epistle, on the other hand, proceeds forward from that beginning of time (Genesis 1:1) to the incarnation of the eternal “Word,” which became “the Word of life,” the manifestation of the Father in “His Son Jesus Christ” (I John 1:3).
1:1 we. The author uses the plural “we,” referring undoubtedly to the twelve apostles, but later uses the first person singular when his epistle becomes more personal (e.g., I John 2:1). In any case, it is obvious that the author is the beloved disciple, John, even though he never identifies himself by name. The similarity in vocabulary between John’s gospel and his epistles is strikingly obvious. For example, the word “know” occurs more in the Gospel of John than in any of the other gospels, and occurs in I John more than in any other epistle. Exactly the same phenomenon is noted for many other vocabulary words. These include such words as love, light, truth, fellowship, commandment, abide, witness, eternal, manifest, keep, overcome, beginning, father, son, and others.
1:1 heard. John was writing this epistle late in the first century after all the other apostles were dead. Tradition suggests he was writing from Ephesus, where he served many years as bishop and pastor, possibly intending his letter to be circulated among all the churches of the region, including the seven churches of Revelation 2 and 3. He stressed to his readers of the younger generation that he and the other apostles had actually heard Jesus speak (note John 5:24), seen Him with their own eyes (John 1:18), “beheld” Him in His glory (John 1:14) and handled Him with their own hands (Luke 24:39).
1:2 life was manifested. When “the Word of life” (I John 1:1) “became flesh” (John 1:14), that eternal life “was manifested unto us.” Because we have been shown life in God as it really is, when we have seen Christ, we know that He is able to convey that same eternal life to us.
1:3 fellowship. “Fellowship” as used in Scripture does not refer to mere social companionship or camaraderie, as we tend to use the term today. The same word is translated “communion” (e.g., I Corinthians 10:16; II Corinthians 6:14). The basic meaning is “joint participation in things held in common.” The fellowship we can have with the Father through the Son (John 17:22,26) is the same fellowship we as believers can have with one another.