3

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— 2 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 ESV 1 John 1:1-2

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our own eyes, which we have gazed upon and touched with our own hands—this is the Word of life. 2 And this is the life that was revealed; we have seen it and testified to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life that was with the Father and was revealed to us. BSB

What is that "which"? Whatever it is, it was revealed (made manifest) to the disciples.

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 v3

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  • 1
    'The life the eternal which was with the Father', is that which is revealed. Manifested : audible, visible and handleable. If eternal, then Deity. If with the Father eternally, then Son. The eternal Son of God is manifested. The words are quite clear. What part of that are you enquiring about ?
    – Nigel J
    Apr 29 at 6:50
  • The text seems to consistently say 'that' or 'which', not who. Is the son a what or a which? Is a which a deity?
    – steveowen
    Apr 29 at 6:55
  • 1
    That which is manifested is 'the life the eternal'. But 'that' is invisible. Thus the Person is manifested, in order to reveal the life of that Person. Then he is heard, seen, handled. Then he is believed on. And 'that' eternal life is shared by them who believe on him.
    – Nigel J
    Apr 29 at 6:58
  • They saw it with their eyes... are you reading the text ?
    – steveowen
    Apr 29 at 7:00
  • 1
    They saw a person with their eyes. And heard his words. And believed his words. Such as 'I and my Father are one'. And believing, they have eternal life (just as does he) through his name. (Up-voted +1.)
    – Nigel J
    Apr 29 at 7:11
5

The answer to the OP's question is at the other end of the same sentence which begins in 1 John 1:1 and continues (in the Greek) until the end of V3. The "that" is actually identified as:

  • "the Word of life" (v1)
  • "life eternal" (V2)

This is consistent with other writings of John where he says:

  • John 1:4 - In Him was life, and that life was the light of men.
  • John 6:35-51 - “I am” the Bread of Life
  • John 11:25 - “I am” the Resurrection & Life
  • John 14:6 - “I am” the Way, Truth & Life
  • 1 John 5:11, 12 - And this is that testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.
1
  • Can't argue with this, in of itself. Apr 30 at 8:28
3

την ζωην .. την αιωνιον .. ητις ην .. προς τον πατερα [1 John 1:2 TR - undisputed]

the life .. the eternal .. which was .. with the father [Literal]

'The life the eternal which was with the Father', is that which is revealed. Manifested : audible, visible and handleable. If eternal, then Deity. If with the Father eternally, then Son.

The eternal Son of God is manifested. That which is manifested is 'the life the eternal'. But 'that' is invisible. Thus the Person is manifested, in order to reveal the life of that Person. Then he is heard, seen, handled. Then he is believed on. And 'that' eternal life is shared by them who believe on him.

They saw a person with their eyes. And heard his words. And believed his words. Such as 'I and my Father are one'. And believing, they have eternal life (just as does he) through his name.

And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name. [John 20: 30,31 KJV]

'No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared, John 1:18. Manifested, the Son has declared the Father.

Else, would we not know.

Many words he spoke. Many signs he did. Much did he suffer. And yielded up his life to death. Much is recorded of these events, by chosen and faithful witnesses who saw him, heard his words and handled his real presence in this world.

And God raised him from the dead, in declaration that this is the Son of God.

The life the eternal which was in the bosom of the Father is manifested and believed on unto eternal life.

3

What is 'That' in, "That which was from the beginning..." 1 John 1:1

Let's look at the literal translation of 1 John 1:1.... (bolding mine)

"Which was from beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen to the eyes of us, which we viewed and the hands of us felt, about the word of the life."

With a view to emphasizing the 'Which' (neuter, indefinite), the word 'That' has been added to the text ('What' in the NASB). There is no Greek word being translated here to encompass the word 'That'. 'Which', being neuter indefinite, has the meaning of something relating to the person and revelation of 'the (genitive case) word of the life', whoever John is relating to. The who, when considering the whole verse, not to mention verses 2 and 3, would, however, have to be Jesus, the man. The who, having a previous beginning (which would suggest creation in of himself) is undoubtedly in reference to the 'Logos', who was with the Father at the beginning of all (other) creation, the 'pre-human' and authentically 'spiritual' Jesus, albeit by another name.

John goes on to say how he and other Christians got to hear the man Jesus, see the man Jesus and touch the man Jesus, 'the life' having been manifested, in no uncertain terms, as is their witness. In verse 3, we see a further sharing of that witness, in fellowship with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ.

2
  • “ who was with the Father at the beginning“ where did you get ‘who’ from? Not this passage. John was being quite explicit with his repeated ‘which’, not the he and him as John 1 has insidiously copped.
    – steveowen
    May 1 at 6:04
  • I truly understand where you are coming from, which is why this was such a difficult one to answer (don't know who voted you down by the way). The 'Which' being neuter indefinite, suggesting the impersonal, threw me for awhile. '(That) which', is opposed to 'He whom', which would then (truly) be in the personal sense and therefore definite. But, after reading-Bible Hub Commentaries- and in particular-Vincent's Word Studies-it became clearer, which I should have referenced in my answer. May 1 at 10:45
-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— 2 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 ESV 1 John 1:1-2

  • That which was from the beginning
  • which we have heard
  • which we have seen
  • which we looked upon
  • concerning the 'word' of life - Gr. 'logos' of life

We are told what this passage is concerning - 'the logos of life' - 'which was with the Father'.

In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God... John 1:1

  • Same arrangement - the logos was 'with' God/the Father.
  • the life was made manifest - the logos became flesh

we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life.

What is the author saying here?

Jesus is the result of the word made manifest/revealed - made flesh. Jesus is the one who they touch and see, testify and proclaim. But they don't talk about him or who, but that and which because they are referring to the logos - the what, which, it, from which Jesus came.

It is the logos made manifest - how? By it becoming flesh. When? Approx 4 BC. Who? Jesus. What? The son of God.

The 'life' was with the Father.

This is not Jesus, because he is the person and presence of the logos ‘manifested’ when he was born of Mary, witnessing of God as the image of God his whole life in the flesh.

Now ascended, Jesus is now also the giver of life.

I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. John 6:51

the dead will hear the voice of the son of God, and those who hear will live. 26 For just as the Father has life in Himself, so He gave to the son also to have life in himself John 5:25

Conclusion.

'That which was from the beginning...' IS the logos - the word of God, which was in the beginning 'with' God. This word had life, as whatever God said, became according to His will.

Worthy are You, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honour and power; for You created all things, and because of Your will they existed, and were created. Rev 4:11

Millennia after John 1:1, Jesus arrived as the logos became flesh and John beheld and testified of the logos - in the person of Christ, the son of God. Because God could not die, He needed a perfect sacrifice to be offered. The logos could not die either, it is but the word, will and life of God's creative power. Jesus is this logos manifested in human flesh - a second Adam who would become, being perfected through suffering, the holy Lamb who overcame the world and rescued it from destruction through his death.

Before this revealing of the word/logos there is no concept in this passage (or any other passage) of a person/entity called logos, but a purpose, a plan or intent, will, life and power of God in His word.

We cannot confuse or conflate this logos with Jesus. They are not equally interchangeable. At no time should we say, ‘in the beginning was Jesus’! Jesus was born ~2000 years ago to be God's word, will and purpose as a mortal man. This is the critical crux of 1 John 1:1-2 which sheds considerable light on other passages regarding the life and origin of Jesus.

+++++++++++++++

Another answer mentions, "The eternal Son of God is manifested". This is a fine example of reading into the text that which is not provided and thus erroneous understanding obtained. No text, especially this one, speaks of a 'Son' being manifested, rendering this a completely false statement. On that false premise is built all manner of fabrications not of the inspired text.

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  • Interesting that the body of your answer excludes "and the Word was God", which is no fabrication and is in the inspired text. Aug 13 at 12:13
  • It's not part of this passage.
    – steveowen
    Aug 13 at 12:21
  • No but you point to the first part of John 1:1 in order to make the point that the Word was with God, as though "with God" is all the Logos was. Aug 15 at 12:24
  • 1
    Yes, because that was a commonality with both passages. I'm simply showing that John 1 is echoed in 1John and that there's more to knowing who and what Jesus is apart from the, frankly overdone, John 1 focus to the ignoring of all the other input God has provided. It's easy to manipulate J1 and make it say whatever the dogma demands, (like in the beginning was Jesus) but not when the texts are drawn together.
    – steveowen
    Aug 15 at 13:09
  • Sure, I get that. But it's a big step from "you can't say in the beginning was Jesus" to "the Logos has no personhood until Jesus." Aug 15 at 16:14

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