historical, eternal


“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 - the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us - that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you…”  (1 John 1:1-3a ESV)

Recently, in my favorite used bookstore I found a copy of John Stott's commentary on the epistles of John. Here are some excerpts of his commentary on verses 1-3 of the first chapter... 

“The Eternal entered time and was manifested to men. The Word became flesh and thus presented Himself to the three higher senses of men (hearing, sight and touch). The four relative clauses proceed from the most abstract to the most material aspect of divine revelation' (Westcott). To have heard was not enough; men 'heard' God's voice in the Old Testament. To have seen was more compelling. But to have handled was the conclusive proof of material reality, that the Word was 'made flesh and dwelt among us'.”

“Men can apprehend only what God is pleased to make known. This stress on the material manifestation of Christ to men's ears, eyes and hands is of course directed primarily against the heretics who were troubling the Church. The followers of Cerinthus are shown that the Word of life, the gospel of Christ, is concerned with the historical incarnation of the Eternal Son. He who is from the beginning is He whom the apostles heard, saw and touched. It is impossible to distinguish between Jesus and the Christ, the historical and the eternal. They are the same Person, God and man."

“Such an emphasis on the historical revelation of the invisible and intangible is still needed today, not least by the scientist trained in the empirical method, the radical who regards much in the Gospels as 'myths' (but you cannot 'demythologize' the incarnation) and the mystic who tends to become preoccupied with his subjective religious experience to the neglect of God's objective self-revelation in Christ.”

“Having heard, seen and touched the Lord Jesus, he [John the Apostle] bears witness to Him. Having received a commission, he proclaims the gospel with authority, for the Christian message is neither a philosophical speculation, nor a tentative suggestion, nor a modest contribution to religious thought, but a dogmatic affirmation by those whose experience and commission qualified them to make it.”

 -- John R. W. Stott, The Epistles of John, Tyndale NT Commentaries (Eerdmans, 1964), pp 59, 61-63.


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