Four times in verse 1 he uses the word which to unfold hints about Jesus Christ. First, he says Jesus was from the beginning. He pre-dated the ministry that he had with the apostles. Second, he ties in hearing. Third, seeing. Fourth, looking at with more care. While which is not used a fifth time it is implied about touching.
This is John’s counter to those false teachers who would say Jesus was real, but not like us. He does not collide with them by name, but he counters the falsity through personal experience. He dodges confrontation with all of its distractions preferring the advantages of instruction. John places a higher value on his hearers being informed to the point of proper belief than he does on their running around saying, “so and so is wrong.”
John edges toward Jesus by saying that his encounter concerned the word of life. This is still abstract, but he promptly ties in the concrete by simply saying a life became manifest. That life walked on the earth and influenced the apostles over a period of years. From this vantage, they testify and proclaim. John then expeditiously steps to other focal points: the life was eternal, with the father, manifested to the apostles.
John and his fellow apostles were celebrities people wish to mix and mingle with. It is one thing to see Tiger Woods and another thing entirely to have a personal conversation with him. At the 2018 Masters Tournament, one of my daughter’s friends drove Tiger Woods from one place to another and, “had an actual conversation with him.” I can write this here, but it is third hand. I am not a golf fan, nor likely to swoon if driving a golf-celebrity from one place to another. If I did have the opportunity, however, I would certainly take it, and I would tell about it.
The letter that John is writing is to those who would want to be with him, relate to him, share and engage spiritual things with him. That is what fellowship means or to go a step further what communion means. To have a meaningful togetherness with the apostles, people must understand the truth as John and his colleagues have experienced it and have taught it.
John’s communion is with the person/God of Jesus Christ, not a ghost/God who wafted on the earth for some years. Those who desire connection with John must see things as John does. These relationships are possible, but only in the context of proper belief.
Connecting the dots
Jesus is the sum of verses 1-3. Jesus is the that mentioned at the very outset of this letter.
In writing these verses, we see John unpack things from hint to experience to witness. There is a continuity wherein verse 1 is the beginning of Jesus, verse 2 the earthly ministry of Jesus, and verses 3-4 the church. Just before we came to 1 John we went through the book of Revelation. In the latter part of Revelation 22, Jesus described himself as being the root and offspring of David. He was before David and after David. That, too, is continuity from beginning to David to eternally progressing offspring.