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We read:

“That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life

the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us— that which we have seen and heard we declare to you,

that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. And these things we write to you that your joy may be full.” ‭‭I John‬ ‭1:1-4‬ ‭

Q: Is the Word of Life a proclamation of salvation (eternal life), Jesus, or God’s written word?

Similar questions: In 1 John 1:1, why is the relative pronoun declined in the neuter gender?

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

NOTE: Verse 2 seems to break off from it possibly referring to Jesus, so I’m confused here.

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4 Answers 4

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The answer to who or what is the "Word of Life" in 1 John 1:1 is actually answered earlier in the same verse. John prefaces this title with the following:

  • that which is from the beginning - compare the identical description of Jesus in John 1:1 -
  • "we have heard"
  • "we have seen with our own eyes"
  • "we have gazed upon"
  • "we have touched with our own hands"

Thus, the "Word of Life" cannot be an abstract idea but must be a physical object. Let us compare this to the following:

  • Jesus is given the Title of "The Word" in John 1:1, 14, Rev 19:13
  • In Him was life, and that life was the light of men - John 1:4
  • “I am” the Bread of Life (John 6:35-51)
  • “I am” the Light of the world (John 8:12)
  • “I am” the Resurrection & Life (John 11:25)
  • “I am” the Way, Truth & Life (John 14:6)

Thus, there can be little doubt that 1 John 1:1 is discussing Jesus Himself.

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References in the Gospel of John, including the Prolegomena (1:1-18) point to Jesus himself. The neuter is John emphasizing that Jesus came in the flesh.

25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25–26)

6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (John 14:6, ESV)

Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. (John 6:35, ESV)

I am the bread of life. 49 Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. 50 This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. 51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh. (John 6:48–51, ESV)

So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. 54 Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. (John 6:53–54, ESV)

For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom he will. (John 5:21, ESV)

For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself. (John 5:26, ESV)

but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. (John 20:31, ESV)

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  • So you assert a complement of John’s gospel type view?
    – Cork88
    Apr 27, 2022 at 3:38
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    Yes, I would essentially add what Dottard already has. John is emphasizing that Jesus came in the flesh.
    – Perry Webb
    Apr 27, 2022 at 9:04
  • I appreciate the insight, +1
    – Cork88
    Apr 27, 2022 at 14:47
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In answer to your question? Jesus Christ is "The Word of Life" not only here at 1 John 1:1 but at John 1:1-4 backs it up, specifically John 1:4. "In Him was life, and the life was the light of men."

Notice (the past tense,) Jesus had life in Himself BEFORE His incarnation. The kind of life indicated by the Greek word "zoe" specifies the highest form of life known in Scripture. "The Word" is the author of our life. John indicates not only spiritual life but also all forms of life. (John 1:3)

This sequence of events is before He incarnated as a man and then as a man (who was a 100% contingent human being to His Father) rightly explains John 5:26. "For just as the Father has life in Himself, even so He gave to the Son also to have life in Himself."

This power was given back to Him AFTER His resurrection, after He had accomplished His mission as a man. This is the point the Apostle John is making at 1 John 1:2, "and the life was manifested and we have seen and bear witness and proclaim to you, THE ETERNAL LIFE which was WITH the Father and was manifest to us."

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Is this “Jesus” or the “Scripture”? Neither.

We know from John 1 that 'the logos was made flesh' - this occurred ~2000 years ago when Mary conceived and gave birth.

This same logos is mentioned by John again in 1John with reference to the same time period - before Jesus was born.

No one is bearing witness to the logos - they are bearing witness to the logos in the person of Jesus and to the attribute that Jesus now holds, namely 'the life' (he can give eternal life too at the last day).

For as the Father has life in Himself, so also He has granted the Son to have life in himself. John 5:26, v21

The passage, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon looks to the logos through which (not who) God made all things and now in Jesus, 'all things' reach their destined completion Col 1:17.

Continuing in the passage, "the life was manifested", refers to the life that was made able to be touched, seen and heard - Jesus became the 'word of life' embodied. He sits at God's right hand administering all things under God including judgement and life-giving to those who will join him in immortality.

The 'word of life' was not always Jesus - as John says, the logos became flesh. Jesus is the logos, the word of life once he was born and accomplished his mission to defeat death and sin being the embodiment, the 'manifestation' of God's logos.

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  • Dear friend, what you said here: “Jesus became the 'word of life' because he is the exalted son who obeyed his Father and God…” Even if this particular verse 1st John 1:1 isn’t referencing Jesus after all; your Hermeneutic doesn’t make sense. John 1:1-5, 14 show that Jesus was always the “Word”, nowhere does scripture say “He became the Word” or “He became God”. Rather, Jesus is God, was with God in the beginning, and without Jesus(the Word) nothing came into being that has come into being: “…God who created all things through Jesus Christ;” ‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭3:9‬
    – Cork88
    Apr 27, 2022 at 3:36
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    Dear friend, if you think Jesus is God, I'm not going to attempt to elucidate in comments. Suffice to say, the bible never defines Jesus as God, and as the Gospels point out, he was not in the beginning with God. PS. That's why you are confused.
    – Steve
    Apr 27, 2022 at 4:13
  • I’ve actually studied on this, you are confused with respect to any hermeneutic that suggests that Jesus isn’t God. Jesus was with God before the world was, meaning He wasn’t created for the first time 2,000 years ago. You are too committed to your Oneness doctrine, there is no foundation exegetically for it. “And now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.” ‭‭John‬ ‭17:5‬ ‭You should read this book, it shows your erroneous position: amazon.com/Definitive-Look-Oneness-Theology-Trinitarianism/dp/…
    – Cork88
    Apr 27, 2022 at 14:50

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