The Divine Life, Life-Study of 1 John, Message Four, pp. 33-36
THE DIVINE LIFE
Scripture Reading: 1 John 1:1-2; 2:25; 3:15; 5:11-13, 20; John 1:4; 3:15-16, 36; 5:24; 6:47, 63; 8:12; 10:10, 28; 11:25; 14:6; Acts 11:18; Rom. 5:10, 17, 21; 6:23; Eph. 4:18; Col. 3:4; 1 Tim. 6:12, 19; 2 Tim. 1:10; Titus 1:2; Heb. 7:16; 2 Pet. 1:3; Rev. 2:7; 22:1-2, 14, 17, 19; Matt. 19:16, 29
LIFE AND THE WORD OF LIFE
First John 1:2 says, "And the life was manifested, and we have seen and testify and report to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested to us." In this verse "life" is a synonym for "the Word of life" in the preceding verse. Both life and the Word of life denote the divine Person of Christ, who was with the Father in eternity and was manifested in time through incarnation, and whom the apostles have seen and testify and report to the believers.
In 1:2 John says that the life was manifested. This manifestation of the eternal life was through Christ's incarnation, which John stressed strongly in his Gospel (John 1:14) as an antidote to inoculate the believers against the heresy which said that Christ did not come in the flesh. Such a manifestation, corresponding to the Word of life being touchable (1:1), indicates again the substantial nature of the Lord's humanity, which is the manifestation of the divine life in the New Testament economy.
THE ETERNAL LIFE
The life that was manifested is the eternal life. The word "eternal" denotes not only the duration of time, which is everlasting, without end, but also the quality, which is absolutely perfect and complete, without any shortage or defect. Such an expression emphasizes the eternal nature of the divine life, the life of the eternal God. The apostles saw this eternal life and testified and reported it to people. Their experience was not of any doctrine, but of Christ the Son of God as the eternal life, and their testimony and preaching were not of theology or biblical knowledge, but of such a solid life.
We have pointed out that the eternal life is eternal not only with respect to time, but also with respect to quality. This life is also eternal with respect to its sphere. There fore, the word eternal denotes three things: time, space, and quality. As to the element of time, this life will last forever. As to space. to sphere, this life is vast, unlimited. As to quality, eternal life is perfect and complete, without defect or shortage. The sphere or field of eternal life encompasses the whole universe. Eternal life is so vast that it covers the entire field of life. Whatever is in the field of life is encompassed by this eternal life. Our human life, however, is very different. Our life is not only temporary, but it is also limited. But eternal life is neither temporary nor limited; rather it is everlasting with respect to time and unlimited with respect to space. Furthermore, our life has many defects and shortages. However, the divine life, the eternal life, has no defects and no shortages.
The eternal life is an indestructible life (Heb. 7:16). Nothing can destroy or dissolve this life. It is an endless life, being the eternal, divine, uncreated life, and the resurrection life which has passed through the test of death and Hades (Acts 2:24; Rev. 1:18). Satan and his followers thought that they had terminated this life by crucifying it. The religious leaders had a similar concept. However, crucifixion gave this life the best opportunity to be multiplied, to be propagated. Because this life is unlimited, it can never be conquered, subdued, or destroyed.
The Life of God
Eternal life is the life of God (Eph. 4:18; 2 Pet. 1:3). We may say that this life is actually God Himself with the contents of divine love and divine light. And this life is of the Spirit of God (Rom. 8:2), especially when it becomes our life for our enjoyment.
The Son of God
Eternal life is also the Son of God. This life is not simply a matter or a thing; this life is a Person. The divine life is God Himself expressed in His Son. First John 5:12 says, "He who has the Son has the life." In our experience we know that eternal life is the Son of God Himself.
With the Father in Eternity
First John 1:2 says that eternal life was with the Father. The Greek word rendered "with" is pros (used with the Greek accusative case). It is a preposition of motion, implying living, acting, in union and communion with. The eternal life which is the Son was not only with the Father, but was living and acting in union and communion with the Father in eternity. This word corresponds to John 1:1- 2.
The Father is the source of the eternal life, from whom and with whom the Son was manifested as the expression of the eternal life for those the Father has chosen to partake of and enjoy this life.
Instead of trying to analyze these aspects of eternal life, we should enjoy them as "courses" of a spiritual meal. Eternal life is the life of God, it is the Son of God, and it was with the Father in eternity. Here we have at least four courses for our enjoyment: God, the Son of God, the Father, and eternity.
Some may wonder how to enjoy all these marvelous courses. According to my experience, the best way to enjoy them is to pray-read the Word. For example, pray-read the words "the life of God" found in Ephesians 4:18. As you pray-read, you may say, "Oh, the life of God! Amen! Right now, I enjoy God, and I enjoy Him as my life. Hallelujah for God! Hallelujah for life! Hallelujah for the life of God! Hallelujah for the enjoyment of the life of God and for the enjoyment of God as life!"
Manifested to the Apostles
John says that the life which was with the Father was manifested to the apostles. The manifestation of eternal life includes revelation and impartation of life to men, with a view to bringing man into the eternal life, into its union and communion with the Father.
What was once hidden has been manifested to the apostles. John, one of the apostles, now opens to us the divine mysteries. If we eat the Word through pray-reading, we shall receive the benefit of the manifestation of eternal life.
Seen, Testified, and Reported to the Believers
by the Apostles
The apostles saw eternal life, the life that was manifested, and then testified and reported this life to the believers. What they reported was not some theology or doctrine which they had heard and concerning which they had been taught, but the divine life, which they had seen and testified by their practical experiences. This divine life is a Person, the Son of God as the very embodiment of the Triune God to be our life.