Life-Study of 1, 2, & 3 John, Judeby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
In this message we shall begin to consider the divine life as revealed in 1:1 and 2. Then in a later message we shall go on to consider the fellowship of the divine life. The divine life and the divine fellowship are both of crucial importance. According to 1 John, first we have eternal life, and then we have the fellowship of the eternal life.
First John 1:1 says, “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we beheld, and our hands handled concerning the Word of life.” This Epistle begins with the words “that which.” The apostle John uses the expression “that which” to open his Epistle and unfold the mystery of the fellowship in the divine life. The fact that he does not use personal pronouns here in reference to the Lord implies that what he intends to unfold is mysterious.
Paul’s ministry is to complete the divine revelation (Col. 1:25-27) of God’s New Testament economy, that is, the Triune God in Christ as the life-giving Spirit producing the members of Christ and building up the Body of Christ so that the Triune God may have a full expression—the fullness of God (Eph. 1:23)—in the universe. Paul’s writings were completed around A.D. 66. His completing ministry was damaged by the apostasy preceding and following his death. Then after a quarter of a century, around A.D. 90, John’s writings came forth. His ministry was not only to mend the ministry of Paul that had been broken, but also to consummate the entire divine revelation of both the Old Testament and New Testament, of both the Gospels and the Epistles. In such a ministry, the focus is the mysteries of the divine life. In his Gospel, as the consummation of the Gospels, the mysteries of the Person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ are unveiled. In his Epistles (especially the first), as the consummation of the Epistles, the mystery of the fellowship of the divine life, which is the fellowship of God’s children with God the Father and with one another, is unfolded. Then in his Revelation, as the consummation of the New Testament and the Old Testament, the mystery of Christ being the life supply to God’s children for His expression, and the center of the universal administration of the Triune God is revealed.
In 1:1 John speaks of that which was “from the beginning.” This differs from “in the beginning” in John’s Gospel (1:1). In the beginning traces back to eternity past before creation; from the beginning proceeds forward from the creation. This indicates that John’s Epistle is a continuation of his Gospel concerning the believers’ experience of the divine life. In his Gospel he shows the way for sinners to receive eternal life—by believing in the Son of God. In his Epistle he points out the way for the believers who have received the divine life to enjoy it in its fellowship—by abiding in the Son of God. And in his Revelation he unveils the consummation of the eternal life as the believers’ full enjoyment in eternity.
The phrase “from the beginning” is used twice in the Gospel of John, eight times in this Epistle, and two times in 2 John. In John 8:44; 1 John 1:1; 2:13, 14; and 3:8 it is used in the absolute sense, but in John 15:27; 1 John 2:7, 24 (twice); 3:11; and 2 John 5, 6, it is used in the relative sense.
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