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Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament

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1 John 1:1

That which (o).
Strictly speaking, the neuter relative here is not personal, but the message "concerning the Word of life" (peri tou logou thv zwhv), a phrase that reminds one at once of the Word (Logov) in John 1:1,14; Revelation 19:14 (an incidental argument for identity of authorship for all these books). For discussion of the Logov see on John 1:1-18. Here the Logov is described by thv zwhv (of life), while in John 1:4 he is called h zwh (the Life) as here in verse 1 John 1:2 and as Jesus calls himself (John 11:25; 14:6), an advance on the phrase here, and in Revelation 19:14 he is termed o logov tou teou (the Word of God), though in John 1:1 the Logov is flatly named o teov (God). John does use o in a collective personal sense in John 6:37,39. See also pan o in 1 John 5:4.

From the beginning (ap' arxhv).
Anarthrous as in John 1:1; 6:64; 16:4. See same phrase in 1 John 2:7. The reference goes beyond the Christian dispensation, beyond the Incarnation, to the eternal purpose of God in Christ (John 3:16), "coeval in some sense with creation" (Westcott).

That which we have heard (o akhkoamen).
Note fourfold repetition of o (that which) without connectives (asyndeton). The perfect tense (active indicative of akouw) stresses John's equipment to speak on this subject so slowly revealed. It is the literary plural unless John associates the elders of Ephesus with himself (Lightfoot) the men who certified the authenticity of the Gospel (John 21:24).

That which we have seen (o ewrakamen).
Perfect active, again, of oraw, with the same emphasis on the possession of knowledge by John.

With our eyes (toiv optalmoiv hmwn).
Instrumental case and showing it was not imagination on John's part, not an optical illusion as the Docetists claimed, for Jesus had an actual human body. He could be heard and seen.

That which we beheld (o eteasameta).
Repetition with the aorist middle indicative of teaomai (the very form in John 1:14), "a spectacle which broke on our astonished vision" (D. Smith).

Handled (epshlaphsan).
First aorist active indicative of pshlapaw, old and graphic verb (from psaw, to touch), the very verb used by Jesus to prove that he was not a mere spirit (Luke 24:39). Three senses are here appealed to (hearing, sight, touch) as combining to show the reality of Christ's humanity against the Docetic Gnostics and the qualification of John by experience to speak. But he is also "the Word of life" and so God Incarnate.

 


Copyright Statement
The Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament. Copyright © Broadman Press 1932,33, Renewal 1960. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman Press (Southern Baptist Sunday School Board)

Bibliography Information
Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on 1 John 1:1". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". <http://classic.studylight.org/com/rwp/view.cgi?book=1jo&chapter=001&verse=001>. Broadman Press 1932,33, Renewal 1960.

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