While I was reading through 1 John this morning, I picked up on something that I hadn’t really ever noticed before. 1 John 1 begins by talking about a word (word of life, v. 1) which is seeable, touchable, hearable. John tells us that the purpose of the apostolic ministry is to proclaim that very word (v. 2). What does John mean by this?
It is no secret that the Apostle John is fond of calling Jesus the Word, or the Word of God. In the Gospel of John, for instance, in the first chapter, he calls Jesus the Word (Greek is logos) who was with God and was God.
While it is supposed by some commentators that John is meaning to connect this Word or Logos to the religious background of his Greek audience (the Greeks perceived of a divine logos that was the reason or logic behind everything), it seems more plausible that John was using this term “Word of God” in connection to the prophets of the Old Testament.
There are many places in the Old Testament where “the word of the Lord” comes to the prophets (Jeremiah 1:4, Ezek 18:1, Zech 4:8). This “word of the Lord” was of course God’s divine revelation to his people Israel. This was, after all, the purpose of the prophets: to give the people God’s word. But of course, this “word” came indirectly: from an angel or vision, to the prophet, then finally to the people. It was direct revelation, but it had to pass through several ears before it finally reached the ears of the people.
In John 1, however, the apostle says that Jesus is God’s Word who became flesh and “tabernacled among us” (v. 14), meaning, God’s Word became visible, physical, tangible, directly accessible not simply to the ears, but to the eyes and the hands.
This is precisely what John says in his first epistle. He says in 1 John 1:1, “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…”
What John means to say here is that the Word of God is no longer a word given through the prophets; the Word is now in-fleshed, touchable, hearable, seeable, living and breathing. The prophetic word comes to us and tabernacles among us. The Word is no longer a “what”, but a “Who”
Hebrews 1:1-2 says this of Christ:”Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son”. Jesus is God’s last, eschatological prophetic word incarnate and touchable.
Or, put another way: Jesus is finally and fully what God has to say. He is the Word of God, capital “W”. All that Jesus said or did on this earth is what God himself said and did. He revealed himself totally and without condition in Christ. “If you’ve seen Me you’ve seen the Father”, Jesus says.
For John, Jesus is not simply God incarnate; he is! But he is also God’s final and full prophetic Word made visible, touchable, seeable. What joy!