John reminds his readers of the great privilege of the apostles, which was to have spent time with Jesus in a particular manner. His description makes clear that the apostles had a close, instructive and contemplative relationship with the Saviour. They had ample opportunities for discovering who Jesus was in order to be competent conveyors of his message, which was about God and the plan of salvation.
In addition to reminding his readers of that privilege, John also presents his information about Jesus in an attitude of worship – he is overwhelmed by the greatness of his Master, Jesus Christ. One of the heresies that John was responding to in this letter denied essential aspects of the person of Jesus, and John here is reminding us that responding to such errors should not only be done accurately. In addition, the defender of the truths about Jesus should do so with a spirit of adoration because they describe his deity. Why is accuracy and adoration important when speaking about Jesus? John’s answer from this passage would be straightforward – a person cannot have fellowship with Jesus without them.
So what does John say about Jesus? First, the apostle states that Jesus is eternal, that he has existed from the beginning. Second, John states that the eternal God became a real man.
Third, John states that Jesus is the word of life. This description would include natural life and Jesus as creator had spoken the universe and its range of creatures into existence and since then had kept them in existence. The title also indicates that Jesus is the source of spiritual life, and that he provides from himself the experiences and the ability to have them that all his people, and angels, have. Further, this title reveals that Jesus possesses the life of God and that he enjoyed eternal communion with the Father.
Fourth, John states that he and his fellow apostles saw Jesus reveal those three aspects of life when he was with them. On many occasions, they saw the power that Jesus had over the creation and how he was able to give life to those who had died. They also Jesus give spiritual life to a wide range of people including themselves and observed the radical changes that receiving such life brought about. And they observed the extraordinary manner in which Jesus interacted with the heavenly Father.
Fifth, John states that he and the other apostles had been given the great privilege of testifying to the greatness and grandeur of Jesus Christ. John had been doing so for almost six decades and he had never become tired of engaging in it. And here he is as an old man declaring the same message that he had first announced when he was a young man. His example tells us that there is enough in Jesus Christ to sustain the longest ministry and no one needs to go elsewhere to find supplements to that message.