Grounded in Christ
In lecture today we were reading 1 John and I read the intro (1:1-4) in a way I never had before. I realized that it is one continual long flowing sentence that carries on four different declarations of “who or what” Christ is. The grammatical things that point out the continual and “declaratory” nature of this intro are: the continues use of “which”-it’s used 6 times and in the gk. it is the very first word that shows up on the text of 1 John; the verb of “proclaim” in vs.3 and 4 and the fact that a period does not show up until the end of verse 3! What these boring grammatical details show us is that John begins his epistle with a long continuos proclamation of “who or what Jesus is”. These points are underlined or highlighted in the verses below:
“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, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.”
In summary, John Begins his epistle with proclaiming that Jesus is:
- From the beginning
- What John Heard
- What John Saw
- What John looked upon and touched, the word of life;
- The manifest life which was made manifest to us
- What John has seen and heard.
This is what John was proclaiming-that the eternal word of life existing from the beginning was manifested in a way people could see, touch and hear. The eternal infinite entered time and space, the metaphysical entered the physical, God came to man. This whole topic has been summed up in the important theological term: INCARNATION. And all study of incarnational theology should find 1 John 1:1-4 an extremely relevant text.
An important theologian of the 19th century who is known for his “incarnational” thinking is T.F. Torrance he expounds in a beautiful way about this teaching of incarnation in his book "Space Time and Incarnation", a lengthy and thought-provoking passage of that book is quoted in full below:
“If God is merely impassible He has not made room for Himself in our agonied existence, and if He is merely immutable He has neither place nor time for frail evanescent creatures in His unchanging existence. But the God who has revealed Himself in Jesus Christ as sharing our lot is the God who is really free to make Himself poor, that we through His poverty might be made rich, the God invariant in love but not impassible, constant in faithfulness but not immutable.
This relation established between God and man in Jesus Christ constitutes Him as the place in all space and time where God meets with man in the actualities of his human existence, and man meets with God and knows Him in His own divine Being. That is the place where the vertical and horizontal dimensionalities intersect, the place where human being is opened out to a transcendent ground in God and where the infinite Being of God penetrates into our existence and creates room for Himself within the horizontal dimensions of finite being in space and time. It is penetration of the horizontal [creation] by the vertical [Incarnation] that gives man his true place, for it relates his place in space and time to its ultimate ontological ground so that it is not submerged in the endless relativities of what is merely horizontal.
Without this vertical relation to God man has no authentic place on earth, no meaning and no purpose, but with this vertical relation to God his place is given meaning and purpose. For that reason it is defined and established as place on earth without being shut in on itself solely within its horizontal dimensionality. Unless the eternal breaks into the temporal and the boundless being of God breaks into the spatial existence of man and takes up dwelling within it, the vertical dimension vanishes out of man's life and becomes quite strange to him -- and man loses his place under the sun.”
Space, Time, and Incarnation, p. 75-6