What does 1 John 1:1 mean?
ESV: That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life —
NIV: That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life.
NASB: 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—
CSB: What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have observed and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life—
NLT: We proclaim to you the one who existed from the beginning, whom we have heard and seen. We saw him with our own eyes and touched him with our own hands. He is the Word of life.
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;
NKJV: 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, concerning the Word of life—
Verse Commentary:
John starts from the very "beginning," referring to Jesus (1 John 1:3). Jesus is God, and was in the beginning with God (John 1:1). Similar to the opening passages of Genesis and the Gospel of John, 1 John starts with a clear connection between Jesus and God the Father as the beginning of all things. John also refers to the idea of Jesus coming to earth as a flesh-and-blood man (1 John 1:2), which is a critical part of the gospel.

John was closely connected with Jesus. He was a personal witness to Jesus' earthly ministry. John was one of the closest followers of Jesus. He heard Him teach, saw Him before and after the resurrection, and touched Him with his own hands. John was the last surviving apostle, and so he spoke with an authority few could match. John further calls Jesus the "word of life," a phrase used elsewhere only in Philippians 2:16.
Verse Context:
First John 1:1–4 introduces this letter written by the apostle John. John references Jesus’ eternal existence, and His identical nature to God the Father. John also makes a claim to eyewitness testimony: he has personally seen these things he is teaching others about. Mutual fellowship, between Christians, and in Christ, is also mentioned here.
Chapter Summary:
Chapter 1 re-states the fact that Jesus is the eternal Son of God. John confirms that he has personally seen and heard the things he is teaching. God’s truth is presented as “light,” while false teachings are presented as “darkness.” Those who hold to the truth are saved from sin; those who claim to have no sin at all are self-deceived.
Chapter Context:
Chapter 1 sets the stage for the rest of John’s letter. The concepts of truth vs. falsehood, light vs. darkness, and rightness vs. self-deception are explored in more detail later on. By claiming to be an eyewitness, and marking the difference between God’s truth and error, Chapter 1 gives a sense of how serious this subject is. In fact, the distinction between truth and error is a primary marker used for spiritual self-reflection.
Book Summary:
First John seems to assume that the reader is familiar with the gospel. Rather than re-state these facts, John is concerned with building confidence in Christian believers. At the same time, his words encourage believers to examine their own lives for signs of their relationship with Christ. This letter also challenges false teachers and their incorrect claims about Jesus. Many themes are shared with the Gospel of John.
Accessed 7/17/2024 1:22:57 PM
© Copyright 2002-2024 Got Questions Ministries. All rights reserved.
Text from ESV, NIV, NASB, CSB, NLT, KJV, NKJV © Copyright respective owners, used by permission.
www.BibleRef.com