“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— 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— 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.” (I John 1:1-3 ESV)
When you ask most folks to define eternal life, they most always say, “Eternal life means living forever.” Well, that may be an aspect of eternal life, but that is not what eternal life is. In fact, eternal life is not a what, it’s a who. In the passage above, John says that he and the Apostles actually saw, heard, and touched eternal life. Say what? Yep, John tells his readers that the eternal life (τὴν ζωὴν τὴν αἰώνιον) which was with the Father, was made manifest, and they had interacted with “it.” (Doesn’t this put you in mind of what John said in his gospel? “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.”) In the Greek, this seeing and hearing the life is in the “Perfect Indicative Active,” and it carries with it a certain nuance that we sometimes miss. John is saying, “Guys, what we saw and heard in Jesus affected us at the time we experienced it, and it is still impacting us today.” Eternal life was not merely something John looked forward to. He tells his readers that eternal life was revealed to them in the person of Jesus when he walked among them, and as a result; they are enjoying intimacy with God in the “right now.” And, John wanted those to whom he had written (and us) to participate in the same fellowship.
Another cool thing we can see in this passage has to do with the word with. πρὸς τὸν πατέρα or “with the Father” is jam packed with awesomeness! πρὸς or with actually denotes a moving towards, to “interface with.” It implies interaction and reciprocity. Do you see the implications of this? This actually shows the distinctiveness of the Son (the life), and his interaction with the Father! In this one phrase, we get a glimpse into the very nature and life of God. We see Jesus the life, the Son, and the second “person” in the Trinity, in relationship with the Father from all of eternity. And John says that the Father and the Son, who have been eternally knowing, loving, and communing together, have invited us to share in the eternal life of God! Hallelujah!! Remember, it was John’s gospel that quotes Jesus as saying, “And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” Friends, not only has your sin been atoned for, you have been invited to share in the very life of God! As you come to Jesus, as you become more deeply in love with him; you get to know and fellowship with God. In Jesus, you experience eternal life right now.
God loved us so much that he gave us Jesus, his only begotten Son who is life himself. Knowing him now means you will never die, for in him; you already possess eternal life.