John was the last living apostle, and the only one who wasn’t martyred for Christ. History tells us that Stephen was stoned, Matthew was slain in Ethiopia, Mark dragged through the streets until dead, Luke hanged, Peter and Simeon were crucified, Andrew tied to a cross, James beheaded, Philip crucified and stoned, Bartholomew was flayed alive, Thomas pierced with lances, James, the less, thrown from the temple and beaten to death, Jude shot to death with arrows, Matthias stoned to death and Paul beheaded.
History also tells us that Domitian tried to kill John by boiling him in hot oil, but God had a plan and a purpose for his life. He has plans for all of our lives as well.
Gnosticism was gaining a foothold in the church when John wrote this letter. The Gnostics believed that Jesus was a phantom when He lived on the earth and didn’t have a body of flesh.
It was later developed by a man named Arias. His teachings developed into what came to be known as Arianism or what came to be called the Arian Heresy. He taught that Jesus was not really God, but a created being. This heresy later became the basis for the Watchtower Society or Jehovah’s Witnesses who teach that Jesus is Michael the Archangel.
v.1 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;
That which was from the beginning: The beginning that John is referring to here is not the beginning of the world or of creation: it is when there was nothing but God.
Which we have heard…seen with our eyes…looked upon, and our hands have handled: This means that God came to earth and He was heard, seen and touched by man.
Word of Life: Now he identifies this God as the Word of Life.
Eternality of Jesus
v.2 (For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and shew unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;)
Now John says that this life appeared physically and he has seen it, and can bear witness to it, and that in Jesus is eternal life. Micah 5:2 says, But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.
Micah declares that the one who is to be ruler in Israel will be from of old and from everlasting. The interesting thing is that the word everlasting in this verse literally means “beyond the vanishing point” (i.e., beyond what can be seen).
In this verse in John, he is saying that this eternal life was with the Father. There is no doubt that this is a strong declaration about the eternality or deity of Jesus.
John wrote in his Gospel, In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not...And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth (John 1:1-5, 14).
Jesus also said of himself in Revelation 1:8 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End.