Copr. 1997, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.  All Scripture references are to the NIV unless otherwise noted. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard. 

INTRODUCTION: This week we start a new quarter and a new study on the letters of John. Our study this week is the first 4 verses of 1 John 1. You may be interested to know that in the Greek these four verses form a single sentence. Lets jump right in!


     A. Read 1 John 1:1.  The subject of these four verses that form a single sentence in the Greek is "We proclaim." So John is proclaiming about something.  What is it? [If you have the KJV, this phrase is found in v. 3 "declare we."] (The Word of life.)

     B. What do you think is the "Word of life?" 

     C. Does v. 1 sound familiar? "That which was from the beginning ... we proclaim concerning the Word of life?" (Yes! John 1:1 "In the beginning was the Word ...." Or Genesis 1:1: "In the beginning God ...." This clearly indicates that the "Word of life" is Jesus.)

          1. Why is Jesus called the "Word?" (A word is something that we use to communicate with others. A tool to describe something. God was communicating with us through Jesus. He was a "tool" to describe God to man.)

          2. Does this similarity of language to the gospel of John give us a clue as to who is the "we" who wrote the book of 1 John? (The apostle John because he uses the same kind of language as in the gospel of John.)

     D. So John says, We want to tell you about Jesus who was from the beginning ...."


     A. Lets assume that you had a UFO encounter last night. Also assume that you and I do not know each other. You want me to believe your story and I'm pretty skeptical. 

          1. What would you say to make me believe? (Since we do not know each other, you cannot appeal to my trust in you. So you have to appeal to what makes a trust-worthy witness.)
          2. Lets look at the law a minute. There are a few rules that help the fact-finder focus on reliable, competent evidence.  These rules exclude the fact-finder from even hearing very unreliable, incompetent evidence.  One well-known evidentiary rule is the "Hearsay rule."

               a. What does the hearsay rule exclude? (Most out-of-court declarants.  If you are the one who saw or heard the evidence, you have to be in court to be able to talk about it.  I can't testify, "My Uncle Bob saw that the light was red." If Bob saw it, he has to be the one in court declaring it. It requires first-hand knowledge.)

               b. Does John sound like he knows about the hearsay rule in v. 1? (Yes! He says that he is an eye-witness, no hearsay here.)

          3. Aside from personal knowledge, what are some other things you would guess a lawyer relies upon in cross-examination to show that someone is or is not a reliable witness? (The ability to observe.  Ranges from distance issues, to lighting issues, to the condition of your eyesight, to weather conditions, to bias, etc.)

               a. What does John say to bolster his testimony (our willingness to believe him) beyond having first-hand knowledge?((1) He heard;(2) He touched.)

               b. Notice that he says he saw it twice. "We have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at ..."What does this mean? (The Greek means more than just looking, it means he contemplated it. Sort of a long, serious look.  Not just looking, really seeing.)

                    (1) Why does he say that? (Eye witnesses can be wrong.  So he says this was a long, hard look. We spent time with Jesus. Not a casual matter.)

               c. So John involves all of his senses in telling this story except the sense of smell!

     B. Do you think John is talking about his time with Jesus before his crucifixion, or his time thereafter? (Probably both, since I doubt the debate centered on whether Jesus was a historical person, I think John is speaking primarily of the resurrected Jesus.  So John says, "His resurrection is real, I took it in with my own senses.)


     A. Lets read v.2. We discussed Jesus being "the Word" of life. Here, it emphasizes the second part: "the life." What is important about calling Jesus "the life?"

          1. Why say, "the life appeared?" (The point is that God became man. "[T]he eternal life which was with the Father... appeared to us." John is not ambiguous about this. He claims that Jesus is the eternal God who made His appearance as a human.  You either believe this or you do not.  You cannot logically, like some religions, believe in Jesus but not believe He was God.  To do that makes Jesus' closest associates outrageous liars.  You either make the faith leap or you do not. No middle ground here.)

     B. Read v.3. Why does John say he is giving his testimony (his proclamation)?  What is his motive? (So his reader can have fellowship with John.)

          1. What kind of fellowship does John have? (He says this is a pretty special fellowship, because he fellowships with "the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ.")

     C. Notice the substance of John's testimony in v.3: he says that he is writing about what he has seen and heard.  

          1. How does that help us to fellowship with the Father and Jesus? 

               a. What is fellowship, anyway? (Fellowship is getting to know someone, spending time with someone.  John says, "Look, I've spent time with Jesus.  I know Him.  If you spend some time with this message you will be "spending time" with Jesus and get to know Him.")

               b. In John 14:7-9 Jesus says that if we know Him we know the Father.  Do you see John's line of logic here? 

                    1. I am a first hand witness who has spent time with Jesus. I will tell you about Jesus so you will know about Him.

                    2. Jesus is a first hand witness who has spent time with the Father. Knowing Jesus is knowing the Father.

                    3. Therefore, if you listen to my message, you will know the Father.
     D. Read v. 4. Shouldn't this say John is writing to make OUR joy complete instead of HIS joy complete?  After all, he already knows Jesus.  He is already in this special fellowship club. He is offering to let us in on this very special fellowship club!

          1. Imagine someone saying to you that they would take you to the White House and (for free!) introduce you to the President.  Wouldn't it be obvious that the purpose was to make your day special instead of making the President's day special?

          2. Now ratchet this up a million degrees and say you are being taken into the "club" of the Creator and Lord of the Universe. Is this for your benefit or for His?

          3. Now you see that something very unusual and special is being said here: God wants to fellowship with you.  It gives God joy to fellowship with you.  The lesson points out (Wednesday) that in John's gospel (15:15) he reports that Jesus calls us "friends, for everything [Jesus] learned from the Father [Jesus] made known to you." The text continues to say that Jesus chose us, we did not choose Him?  He wanted us to come to the oval office! We did not ask to come.  James 2:23 reports that Abraham had a friendship with God. 

     E. John includes himself in the "our joy." This means he is getting joy out of this too!

          1. What does this mean for you when you enter into the fellowship by reading the words of John's letters? (Yo can have joy in sharing this with others!)

IV. NEXT WEEK:  "Light Against the Darkness"-- Our joy continues with a discussion of 1 John 1. Study!