John’s letter starts with a recap of some truths from his gospel account. Specifically, John starts with the eternality of Jesus and the importance of the Apostles’ witness of his life, death, and resurrection, which brings followers of Jesus into a unity of fellowship and joy.
1 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. 2 The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. 3 We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. 4 We write this to make our joy complete.
John starts his letter with similar imagery to his gospel account. That which was from the beginning. Jesus is God from eternity past. The Apostles have heard, seen, and touched him and therefore proclaim him. Did you know that these were qualifications to be included as an Apostle?
In Acts 1:21-22, when they are replacing Judas, their criterion was that candidates for apostleship must have been with them from John’s baptism of Jesus until his ascension to heaven. They had to have witnessed it all. Otherwise they couldn’t even be considered.
John speaks of these things and says that the Apostles proclaim these truths about Jesus so that we can have fellowship with them, and by virtue of having fellowship with them, to have it with God himself. Jesus explains this idea himself in John 17:22-23:
22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— 23 I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.
Jesus in us and the Father in Jesus. This unity of the followers of Jesus with him and the Father is fundamental to our experience as we believe and receive Jesus’ life and death and resurrection for us.
This is the fellowship we share, and as John writes, in this fellowship our joy is made complete…