1 John 1:2
(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;)
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1 John 1:2. For the life — The living Word; was manifested — In the flesh to our very senses; and we have seen it — In its full evidence; and bear witness — Testify by declaring, by preaching, and writing, 1 John 1:3-4. Preaching lays the foundation, writing builds thereon: and show unto you — Who have not seen; the eternal life — The eternal Word and Son of God, who lives himself for ever, and is the author of eternal life to us, John 10:28; Hebrews 5:9; which was with the Father John 1:1-2; in his bosom, John 1:18; of the same nature and essence with himself, and was with him from eternity; and was manifested to us — With all the genuine characters of the Son of God and the promised Messiah. That the apostle speaks of his eternity a parte ante, (as they say,) and as from everlasting, is evident, in that he speaks of him as he was in and from the beginning; when he was with the Father, before his manifestation to us; yea, before the making of all things that were made, as John 1:2-3. So that he is the eternal, vital, intellectual Word and Son of the eternal, living Father. Now here was condescension and kindness indeed! that a person possessed of eternal, essential life, should put on flesh and blood, or the entire human nature; should assume infirmity, affliction, and mortality, in order to visit sinful mortals, to dwell among and converse with them; to reveal to them, procure for them, and then confer on them, eternal life; even felicity and glory unspeakable with himself for ever!

1:1-4 That essential Good, that uncreated Excellence, which had been from the beginning, from eternity, as equal with the Father, and which at length appeared in human nature for the salvation of sinners, was the great subject concerning which the apostle wrote to his brethren. The apostles had seen Him while they witnessed his wisdom and holiness, his miracles, and love and mercy, during some years, till they saw him crucified for sinners, and afterwards risen from the dead. They touched him, so as to have full proof of his resurrection. This Divine Person, the Word of life, the Word of God, appeared in human nature, that he might be the Author and Giver of eternal life to mankind, through the redemption of his blood, and the influence of his new-creating Spirit. The apostles declared what they had seen and heard, that believers might share their comforts and everlasting advantages. They had free access to God the Father. They had a happy experience of the truth in their souls, and showed its excellence in their lives. This communion of believers with the Father and the Son, is begun and kept up by the influences of the Holy Spirit. The benefits Christ bestows, are not like the scanty possessions of the world, causing jealousies in others; but the joy and happiness of communion with God is all-sufficient, so that any number may partake of it; and all who are warranted to say, that truly their fellowship is with the Father, will desire to lead others to partake of the same blessedness.For the life was manifested - Was made manifest or visible unto us. He who was the life was made known to people by the incarnation. He appeared among people so that they could see him and hear him. Though originally with God, and dwelling with him, John 1:1-2, yet he came forth and appeared among people. Compare the Romans 1:3 note; 1 Timothy 3:16 note. He is the great source of all life, and he appeared on the earth, and we had an opportunity of seeing and knowing what he was.

And we have seen it - This repetition, or turning over the thought, is designed to express the idea with emphasis, and is much in the manner of John. See John 1:1-3. He is particularly desirous of impressing on them the thought that he had been a personal witness of what the Saviour was, having had every opportunity of knowing it from long and familiar contact with him.

And bear witness - We testify in regard to it. John was satisfied that his own character was known to be such that credit would be given to what he said. He felt that he was known to be a man of truth, and hence he never doubts that faith would be put in all his statements. See John 19:35; John 21:24; Revelation 1:2; 3 John 1:12.

And shew unto you that eternal life - That is, we declare unto you what that life was - what was the nature and rank of him who was the life, and how he appeared when on earth. He here attributes eternity to the Son of God - implying that he had always been with the Father.

Which was with the Father - Always before the manifestation on the earth. See John 1:1. "The word was with God." This passage demonstrates the pre-existence of the Son of God, and proves that he was eternal. Before he was manifested on earth he had an existence to which the word life could be applied, and that was eternal. He is the Author of eternal life to us.

And was manifested unto us - In the flesh; as a man. He who was the life appeared unto people. The idea of John evidently is,

(1) that the Being here referred to was forever with God;

(2) that it was proper before the incarnation that the word life should be given to him as descriptive of his nature;

(3) that there was a manifestation of him who was thus called life, on earth; that he appeared among people; that he had a real existence here, and not a merely assumed appearance; and,

(4) that the true characteristics of this incarnate Being could be borne testimony to by those who had seen him, and who had been long with him. This second verse should be regarded as a parenthesis.

2. the life—Jesus, "the Word of life."

was manifested—who had previously been "with the Father."

show—Translate as in 1Jo 1:3, "declare" (compare 1Jo 1:5). Declare is the general term; write is the particular (1Jo 1:4).

that eternal life—Greek, "the life which is eternal." As the Epistle begins, so it ends with "eternal life," which we shall ever enjoy with, and in, Him who is "the life eternal."

which—Greek, "the which." the before-mentioned (1Jo 1:1) life which was with the Father "from the beginning" (compare Joh 1:1). This proves the distinctness of the First and Second Persons in the one Godhead.

He interrupts the stream of his discourse by this seasonable parenthesis, while he therein gives an account how the Word of life, the life, that eternal life, ( already noted to be here all one, and chiefly to mean the Son of God), which being

with the Father must be to us invisible, came to be so sensibly known to mortal men on earth; which he doth by telling us he

was manifested; and that was sufficiently done, both who he was, and what he designed, in his partaking with us of flesh and blood, and being found in fashion as a man, whereby he subjected himself to the notice of our senses; and was hereupon said to have been manifested in the flesh, 1Jo 3:5 1 Timothy 3:16; the glory of his Divinity also shining forth most conspicuously in his God-like conversation, and wonderful works, through this veil, and confirming the truth of his heavenly doctrine, which more distinctly declared both that it was the Son of God who was come down into this wretched world of ours, and what the kind design was of his descent hither. So that what here the apostle says more briefly, that he was manifested, well admits the larger account which he gives of it in his Gospel, John 1:14: 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. Whereupon (as he adds) he bears witness, and shows forth what he had seen so manifested, as it belonged to his apostolical office to do.

For the life was manifested,.... That is, the Word of life, who is life itself, the fountain of life, having it as God, in and of himself, without derivation from, and independent of another, originally and eternally, and who is the cause, author, and giver of life in every sense to others; this living God, who from all eternity was invisible, was in the fulness of time manifested in human nature; see John 1:14.

And we have seen it; as before with the eyes of their bodies:

and bear witness; for they were both eye and ear witnesses of the Word, and of the truth of his incarnation, and bore a faithful record to his proper deity, and real humanity:

and show unto you that eternal life; Jesus Christ, the true God, and eternal life, as in 1 John 5:20; so called, because he has everlasting life in himself; as he is the living God, and because he has eternal life for all his people; not only the purpose and promise of it are in him, but the thing itself; and it is in his power and gift to bestow it on all the Father hath given to him, and to them he does give it. The beginning of it lies in the knowledge of him, and the consummation of it will be in the lasting vision and enjoyment of him:

which was with the Father; that is, which life, eternal life, and Word of life, was from the beginning, or from all eternity with God the Father; which phrase is expressive of the eternal existence of Christ, as the Word and Son of God, with his Father, his relation to him, his oneness in nature, and equality with him, and his personal distinction from him; see John 1:1;

and was manifested unto us; in human nature, as before observed, and that to the apostles, as he was not to the patriarchs and prophets; for though they saw him in promise, in prophecy, in type, and figure, and he sometimes appeared in an human form for a short time to them, yet they did not see him incarnate, in actual union with human nature; nor had they him dwelling among them, and conversing with them, as the apostles had; this was an happiness peculiar to them.

(For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and {c} shew unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;)

(c) Being sent by him: and that doctrine is correctly said to be shown, for no man could so much as have thought of it, if it had not been thus shown.

1 John 1:2. Without bringing to an end the thought begun in 1 John 1:1, from the exact continuation of which he has already digressed in περὶ τοῦ λόγου τ. ζ., the apostle in this verse expresses the double thought, that the life was manifested, and that this eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested, has been seen and is declared by him; so that in this both ὃ ἦν ἀπʼ ἀρχῆς and ὃ ἀκηκόαμεν, how the former, namely, could have been the subject of sensuous perception, find their more particular determination. This whole verse is of course parenthetical; but that it is not regarded by John as mere parenthesis (contrary to Düsterdieck) is clear, partly from the connecting καὶ, and partly from this, that in 1 John 1:3 it is not ὃ ἦν ἀπʼ ἀρχῆς, but only ὃ ἀκηκόαμεν κ.τ.λ., that is resumed, while the former is fully dealt with in this verse.

καί] is not put for γάρ, but is copulative, “not disjunctive, but conjunctive” (Lücke); the thought with which it is connected is that which lies in ὃ ἦν ἀπʼ ἀρχῆς, that the life, before it became subject of perception, was, as it is afterwards put, πρὸς τὸν πατέρα.[36]

ἡ ζωὴ ἐφανερώθη] Instead of a relative, the noun is repeated, as is peculiar to the diction of John; ἡ ζωή instead of ὁ λόγος τῆς ζωῆς, because the emphasis, as has been already remarked, is on ζωή, is analogous to Gospel of John 1:4, where also, after it is said of the λόγος: ἐν αὐτῷ ζωὴ ἦν, it is not ὁ λόγος, but ἡ ζωή, that is the subject of the following sentence.[37] It is plainly incorrect to understand by ΖΩΉ the doctrina de felicitate nova = evangelium (Semler), or, with others: the felicitas of believers; but neither is S. G. Lange’s explanation, according to which ΖΩΉ = “auctor vitae, the Life-giver,” sufficient, for Christ is so designated not merely according to the operation that proceeds from Him, but at the same time according to the peculiarity of His nature.[38]

ἘΦΑΝΕΡΏΘΗ] In what way the ΦΑΝΈΡΩΣΙς took place is taught in chap. 1 John 4:2 and John 1:14. In this way, that the life which was in itself hidden appeared in the flesh or became flesh, did it become perceptible by sense, subject of the ἈΚΟΎΕΙΝ, ὉΡᾶΝ Κ.Τ.Λ. Ebrard rightly remarks: “the ΣᾺΡΞ ΓΊΓΝΕΣΘΑΙ indicates the objective event of the incarnation as such; the ΦΑΝΕΡΩΘῆΝΑΙ, the result of it for our faculty of perception.”

ΚΑῚ ἙΩΡΆΚΑΜΕΝ ΚΑῚ Κ.Τ.Λ.] The object that belongs to the verbs is ΤῊΝ ΖΩῊΝ ΤῊΝ ΑἸΏΝΙΟΝ; according to de Wette, Brückner, and Düsterdieck, this object is only attracted to ἈΠΑΓΓΈΛΛΟΜΕΝ, and the object is to be supplied to both of the first verbs from what precedes (ΖΩΉ); but the two ideas ΜΑΡΤΥΡΟῦΜΕΝ and ἈΠΑΓΓ. are thereby unduly separated from each other; there is more in favour of supplying only an ΑὐΤΉΝ with ἙΩΡΆΚΑΜΕΝ (1st ed. of this comm., Myrberg), by which the idea of this verb is significantly brought out: “the life was manifested, and we have seen it;” but as in the context even this construction is not indicated, it is better, with most commentators, to connect ΤῊΝ ΖΩῊΝ Τ. ΑἸΏΝ. also with ἙΩΡΆΚΑΜΕΝ.

By ἙΩΡΆΚΑΜΕΝ the apostle brings out that the eternal Life which was made manifest and perceptible was seen by himself; the verb ΜΑΡΤΥΡΟῦΜΕΝ, which signifies the utterance of that which one has personally seen or experienced (comp. Gospel of John 19:35; also 1 John 1:3-4; 1 John 3:23),[39] is directly connected with this, and thereupon first follows the more general idea ἀπαγγέλλομεν; Baumgarten-Crusius incorrecty refers ΜΑΡΤΥΡΟῦΜΕΝ specially to ἘΦΑΝΕΡΏΘΗ and ἈΠΑΓΓΈΛΛΟΜΕΝ to ἙΩΡΆΚΑΜΕΝ, with the assertion that “the former two have more objective, the latter more subjective meaning.” Myrberg’s explanation also: ΜΑΡΤΥΡΊΑ est expertae veritatis simplex confessio, qua homo sibi ipsi potius, quam aliis consulat: ἈΠΑΓΓΕΛΊΑ annuntiatio veritatis cognitae, qua aliis potius, quam sibi ipsi providere studeat, is without grammatical justification.

By ὙΜῖΝ, ἈΠΑΓΓΈΛΛΟΜΕΝ is put in reference to the readers of the Epistle; hence it does not follow, however, that it is to be understood only of the writing of this Epistle, and is therefore simply resumed by ΤΑῦΤΑ ΓΡΆΦΟΜΕΝ in 1 John 1:4; but the former is the more general idea, in which the more special one of the writing of the Epistle is embraced; the ΓΡΆΦΕΙΝ is a particular kind of the ἈΠΑΓΓΈΛΛΕΙΝ.[40] Ebrard incorrectly separates the two, by referring ἀπαγγέλλομεν to the written Gospel of John, and ΓΡΆΦΟΜΕΝ to this Epistle.

ΤῊΝ ΖΩῊΝ ΤῊΝ ΑἸΏΝΙΟΝ] The noun is here put for the pronoun ΑὐΤΉΝ, not only in accordance with John’s usual mode of expression, but because the idea of ΖΩΉ was to be more particularly defined by ΑἸΏΝΙΟς. Baumgarten-Crusius erroneously explains Ἡ ΖΩῊ Ἡ ΑἸΏΝΙΟς by “bestowing higher, unending life;” rather the ΖΩΉ, which Christ is, is marked by ΑἸΏΝΙΟς as such as ἮΝ ἈΠʼ ἈΡΧῆς, or—still more comprehensively—as such as, though by the incarnation it entered into time, is in itself nevertheless without measure of time, eternal (Brückner; similarly Braune). It is true, the idea ΖΩῊ ΑἸΏΝΙΟς has elsewhere in the N. T. admittedly another signification, but this does not justify the explanation of Calvin: ubi secundo repetit: annuntiamus vitam aeternam, non dubito quin de effectu loquatur, nempe quod annuntiet: beneficio Christi partam nobis esse vitam. De Wette’s explanation also, that Ἡ ΖΩῊ Ἡ ΑἸΏΝΙΟς is an idea “which hovers in the middle between the eternal true life which is to be appropriated by believers (John 17:3), and life in Christ, so that the first is to be considered in closest connection with ἈΠΑΓΓΈΛΛΟΜΕΝ, but the second in reference to the reflexive ἭΤΙς ἮΝ,” can so much the less be held correct as the simple and clear thought of the apostle is thereby rendered complicated and obscure. Of that which the believer possesses in Christ there is here no mention at all, but only of Christ Himself; and, besides, that Ἡ ΖΩῊ Ἡ ΑἸΏΝ. is to the Apostle John not merely a subjective, but also an objective conception, is proved by chap. 1 John 5:11.

ἭΤΙς ἮΝ] ἭΤΙς is more significant than the simple , inasmuch as it makes the twofold relative clause as containing a confirmation of the preceding statement: ἙΩΡΆΚΑΜΕΝ Κ.Τ.Λ., ΤῊΝ ΖΩῊΝ ΤῊΝ ΑἸΏΝΙΟΝ.[41]

The imperfect ἦν also does not here indicate the intemporal existence, but is used in reference to ἐφανερώθη: ere the ζωή appeared, it was with the Father.

πρὸς τὸν πατέρα] comp. Gospel of John 1:1 : πρὸς τὸν Θεόν. The preposition πρός is often combined with the accusative in the N. T. in the sense of “with:” comp. Matthew 13:56; Matthew 26:55; but πρός with the accusative differs from πρός with the dative in this, that it describes being with one another not as a mere being beside one another, but as a living connection, a being in intercourse with one another (so also Braune); but we put too much into it, if we find the relationship of love directly expressed by πρός.[42] John does not mean to bring out that the ΖΩΉ (Christ) was connected with the Father in love, but that Christ already was, before He appeared (ἐφανερώθη); before He was ἘΝ Τῷ ΚΌΣΜῼ with men, He was therefore in heaven with God, and indeed in lively union with God as He afterwards entered into a lively communion with men. Quite erroneously, Socin, Grotius, and others understand the expression of the concealment of the ΖΩῊ ΑἸΏΝ. in the decree of God. From the fact that John here calls God in His relation to Christ ΠΑΤΉΡ, it follows that the sonship of Christ to God is to be regarded not as first begun with His incarnation, but as premundane.

ΚΑῚ ἘΦΑΝΕΡΏΘΗ ἩΜῖΝ] is not a mere repetition of what has been already said, but in ἩΜῖΝ a new element is added, by which ἙΩΡΆΚΑΜΕΝ and Ὃ ἈΚΗΚΌΑΜΕΝ Κ.Τ.Λ., 1 John 1:1, find their explanation.

[36] Ebrard wrongly conceives the logical relation thus, that by καί the thought that is latent in the preceding verse: “that Christ was of eternal being, but became incarnate and was manifested,” is confirmed.

Groundlessly Baumgarten-Crusius asserts that ζωή “has here more inner, spiritual meaning than in Gospel John 1:14;” this is to mistake the meaning which the word has in that passage.

[38] The chief elements which are contained in the idea ζωή are differently stated by the commentators; Frommann mentions as such: “the truth, perfection, or the living and happy character of being;” Köstlin: “the mightiness, blessedness, and endlessness of being.” If we keep to the scriptural mode of conception, the chief elements appear to be “consciousness, activity, and happiness;” true activity is only where consciousness is, and happiness is activity which is not disturbed or hindered by any opposition.—Weiss wrongly infers from John 17:3, that by ζωή is to be understood only the knowledge of God, and it is erroneous for him to maintain that ἡ ζωή does not here signify Christ Himself, but “His peculiar knowledge of God,” which He possessed even before His φανέρωσις. The relative clause ἥτις ἦν πρὸς τὸν πατέρα, which is connected with τὴν ζωὴν τὴν αἰώνιον, is opposed to this interpretation; inasmuch as it shows that here ἡ ζωὴ ἡ αἰώνιος, and just as much ἡ ζωή, is to be considered as the same subject which John in the prooemium of the Gospel calls ὁ λόγος, and of which he says there that it ἦν πρὸς τὸν Θεόν.

[39] Incorrectly a Lapide: quasi martyres i.e. testes Dei tum voce, tum vita, tum passione, morte et martyrio.

Bengel’s interpretation: “Testimonium, genus; species duae: annuntiatio et Scriptio; annuntiatio ponit fundamentum, scriptio superaedificat,” is inadmissible.

[41] The statement of Ebrard is inapposite, that by ἥτις the subject-matter of the relative clause is stated as an already (from ver. 1) known and at the same time acknowledged element of the substantive idea on which the relative clause depends. The right view seems to lie at the base of the explanation of Sander: “I declare unto you eternal life, even as such as,” etc., at least it is not touched at by the remark of Ebrard in opposition: “The meaning of John is plainly this, that the ζ. αἰών. is really and in itself one which was with the Father and was manifested to us, and is by no means represented as such merely in the proclamation of it.” Düsterdieck rightly says: “By ἥτις the twofold extension of the predicate is connected with the subject ἡ ζ. ἡ αἰών., not merely in simply relative manner, but in such a way that the extension of the predicate contains at the same time an explanatory and confirmatory reference;” but it is difficult to admit that by virtue of ἥτις the καὶ ἐφανερώθη ἡμῖν in its close connection with ἦν πρ. τ. πατ. is marked as the connecting link which unites to ὃ ἦν ἀπʼ ἀρχ. the accessory elements ὃ ἀκηκόαμεν κ.τ.λ.

[42] Besser: “The Word was with God, related to the Father in filial love.” Still less justifiable is Ebrard’s explanation: “The ζωή was a life flowing forth indeed from the bosom of the Father, but immediately returning into it, floating in the inner circulation of the life of God.” (!)

1 John 1:2. A parenthesis reiterating the assurance of the reality of the manifestation. The Apostle heaps assurance upon assurance with elaborate emphasis, and the cumbrousness of his language should not be removed by devices of construction or punctuation, making 1 John 1:1 a complete sentence: (1) “That which was from the beginning (is) that which we have heard, etc.”; (2) “That which was from the beginning, which we have seen … beheld, our hands also handled”. Cf. Tert. in crit. n. μαρτυροῦμεν, according to the Lord’s parting charge (cf. John 15:27; Luke 24:48; Acts 1:8). ἡ μαρτυρία Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ (Revelation 1:2; Revelation 1:9; Revelation 19:10) was the apostolic ἀπαγγελία. ἀπαγγέλλομεν, κ.τ.λ.: “Whence we gather that Christ cannot be preached to us without the Heavenly Kingdom being opened to us, so that, being wakened from death, we may live the life of God” (Calvin). Observe the note of wonder in the Apostle’s language. Speech fails him. He labours for expression, adding definition to definition.

2. For the life was manifested] Better, And the life &c. It is S. John’s characteristic use of the simple conjunction. ‘Manifest’ (φανεροῦν) also is one of S. John’s characteristic words, frequent in Gospel and Epistle and occurring twice in Revelation. Words and phrases which connect the Epistle with the Gospel, or either of these with the Apocalypse, should be carefully noted. ‘Was manifested’ means became such that He could be known by man. Note that the sentence does not begin with a relative, ‘which was manifested’, but that the noun is repeated. This repetition, carrying on a part of one sentence into the next for further elucidation and development, is quite in S. John’s style.

have seen] This is the result of the manifestation: the Divine Life has become perceptible by the senses. In what way this took place is told us in 1 John 4:2 and John 1:14.

and bear witness] The simple connexion of these sentences by ‘and’ is also in S. John’s style; and ‘bear witness’ (μαρτυρεῖν) is another of his favourite words, occurring frequently in Gospel, Epistle, and Apocalypse. Testimony to the truth, with a view to producing belief in the Truth, on which eternal life depends, is one of his frequent thoughts. But the frequency of ‘bear witness’ in his writings is much obscured in A. V., where the same verb is sometimes rendered ‘bear record’ (1 John 5:7), ‘give record’ (1 John 5:10), and ‘testify’ (1 John 4:14, 1 John 5:9), and so also in the Gospel and the Revelation. Similarly the substantive ‘witness’ (μαρτυρία) is sometimes translated ‘record’ (1 John 5:10-11) and sometimes ‘testimony’. The R.V. in this respect has made great improvements. Comp. ‘This Jesus did God raise up, whereof (or, of whom) we all are witnesses’ (Acts 2:32).

and shew unto you] Better, and declare unto you: it is the same verb as occurs in the next verse; rare in S. John (John 16:25, but not John 4:51 or John 20:18) but frequent in S. Luke. In this parenthetical verse, as in the main sentence of 1 John 1:1; 1 John 1:3, the Apostle emphatically reiterates that what he has to communicate is the result of his own personal experience. ‘He that hath seen hath borne witness, and his witness is true: and he knoweth that he saith true, that ye also may believe’ (John 19:35 : comp. John 20:30-31, John 21:24).

that eternal life] Rather, the life, the eternal (life). “The repetition of the article brings forward separately and distinctly the two notions of life and eternity” (Jelf). It is well known that the translators of 1611 did not perfectly understand the Greek article. Sometimes they ignore it, sometimes they insert it unwarrantably, sometimes (as here and 1 John 5:18) they exaggerate it by turning it into a demonstrative pronoun. Comp. ‘that Prophet’, ‘that Christ’, ‘that bread’ (John 1:21; John 1:25; John 6:14; John 6:48; John 6:69; John 7:40). For ‘the Life’ as a name for Christ comp. ‘I am the Resurrection and the Life’: ‘I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life’ (John 11:25; John 14:6). ‘Eternal life’ is another of S. John’s characteristic phrases, a fact somewhat obliterated in A.V. by the Greek phrase being often rendered ‘everlasting life’ or ‘life everlasting’. ‘Eternal’ is better than ‘everlasting’, although in popular language the two words are synonymous. S. John’s ‘eternal life’ has nothing to do with time, but depends on our relation to Jesus Christ. S. John tells us over and over again that eternal life can be possessed in this world (1 John 5:11; 1 John 5:13; 1 John 5:20, 1 John 3:15 : see on John 3:36; John 5:24; John 6:47). He never applies ‘eternal’ (αἰώνιος) to anything but life, excepting in Revelation 14:6, where he speaks of an ‘eternal gospel’.

which was with the Father] Or, which indeed was with the Father: it is not the simple but compound relative, denoting that what follows is a special attribute; ‘which was such as to be with the Father’. For the ‘was’ see on 1 John 1:1. ‘With the Father’ is exactly parallel to ‘with God’ in John 1:1. It is anticipated in the passage on the Divine Wisdom; ‘Then I was by Him as one brought up with Him’ (Proverbs 8:30). It indicates the distinct Personality of ‘the Life’. Had the Apostle written ‘which was in God’, we might have thought that he meant a mere attribute of God. ‘With the Father’ is apud Patrem, ‘face to face’ or ‘at home with the Father’. Comp. ‘to tarry a while with you’ (1 Corinthians 16:7); ‘when we were with you’ (1 Thessalonians 3:4); ‘whom I would fain have kept with me’ (Philemon 1:13).

was manifested unto us] Repeated from the beginning of the verse. In both cases we have a change from the imperfect tense (of the continuous preexistence of Christ) to the aorist (of the comparatively momentary manifestation). But S. John’s repetitions generally carry us a step further. The manifestation would be little to us, if we had no share in it. But that Being who was from all eternity with the Father, has been made known, and made known to us.

1 John 1:2. Ἐφανερώθη, was manifested) gave Himself in the flesh to our eyes, ears, and hands: John 1:14. The same word is used of His coming in glory: ch. 1 John 2:28.—καὶ μαρτυροῦμεν καὶ ἀπαγγέλλομεν, and we testify and declare) Testimony is the genus; there are two species, declaration and writing, 1 John 1:3-4. Declaration lays the foundation, 1 John 1:5-10; writing builds upon it, 1 John 1:4, note.—ὑμῖν, to you) who have not seen.—τὴν ζωὴν τὴν αἰώνιον, Life eternal) In the beginning of the epistle mention is made of that Life eternal, which always existed, and afterwards appeared to us: at the end of the epistle mention is made of the same Life eternal, which we shall always enjoy. This title of itself teaches, that the goodness of Jesus in its highest sense is not denied: Mark 10:18, note.—ἦν, was) A repetition by the figure Epanodos; comp. 1 John 1:1, at the beginning.—πρὸς τὸν πατέρα, with the Father) So John 1:1, with God.

Verse 2. - Parenthetical. The main thought of verses 1 and 3 is, "We declare to you a Being both eternal and yet seen and known by us." That of verse 2 is, "This Being, in his character of the Life, became visible, and in him are centered all the relations between God and man." Quite in St. John's style, verse 2 takes up and develops a portion of verse 1, using its last word as the basis of a new departure (comp. John 1:14; ἐφανερώθη gives the same fact as σάρξ ἐγένετο from another point of view). Became flesh is the fact in itself; the incarnation of the Λόγος. "Was manifested" is the fact in reference to mankind; their admission to the knowledge of it. The union of "see" with "bear witness" recalls John 19:35; and here, again, verse 2 resumes and develops part of verse 1. Have seen sums up the four verbs in verse 1; for in all languages sight is used of experience generally. Bear witness and declare carries us a stage further - the communication of the experience. It is doubtful whether τὴν ζωὴν τὴν αἰώνιον is the object of all four verbs or of ἀπαγγέλλομεν only. Note the double article: the life, the eternal life. The Epistle begins and ends with this theme (1 John 5:20). (For ἥτις and πρός, cf. John 8:53; John 1:1.) Which indeed (as all must know) was with the rather. The verse ends as it began, but not with a mere repetition; the Life was manifested, and in particular to us. 1 John 1:2This verse is parenthetical. Compare, for similar interruptions of the construction, 1 John 1:3, John 1:14, John 3:16, John 3:31; John 19:35.

And (καὶ)

See on John 1:10; see on John 8:20.

The Life (ἡ ζωὴ)

The Word Himself who is the Life. Compare John 14:6; John 5:26; 1 John 5:11, 1 John 5:12. Life expresses the nature of the Word (John 1:4). The phrase, the Life, besides being equivalent to the Word, also indicates, like the Truth and the Light, an aspect of His being.

Was manifested (ἐφανερώθη)

See on John 21:1. Corresponding with the Word was made flesh (John 1:14). The two phrases, however, present different aspects of the same truth. The Word became flesh, contemplates simply the historic fact of incarnation. The life was manifested, sets forth the unfolding of that fact in the various operations of life. The one denotes the objective process of the incarnation as such, the other the result of that process as related to human capacity of receiving and understanding it. "The reality of the incarnation would be undeclared if it were said, 'The Life became flesh.' The manifestation of the Life was a consequence of the incarnation of the Word, but it is not coextensive with it" (Westcott).

Have seen - bear witness - shew

Three ideas in the apostolic message: experience, testimony, announcement.

Bear witness

See on John 1:7.

Shew (ἀπαγγέλλομεν)

Better, as Rev., declare. See on John 16:25. So here. The message comes from (ἀπὸ) God.

That eternal life (τὴν ζωὴν τὴν αἰώνιον)


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