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. (1Jo 1:1-4 NKJ)
By the time the Apostle John started to write, Jesus had been dead some fifty years. The early Church had endured the persecution of Nero. Mark was the first to write his account of the gospel in AD70, followed by Matthew and Luke. Finally, in a ten year period, John writes his gospel, three epistles, and the Revelation of Jesus Christ. So why did John wait all that time to write and then suddenly sprint to the finish line?
Domitian was emperor; persecution was on the increase, the people possibly wondered if he might be Nero reincarnated? Sound strange? Believe it or not, that was the most significant fear of Christians at that time. Also, by the end of the first century, Greek philosophy was beginning to influence the culture. To the Stoics, the Logos was the impersonal face of reason, John says, ‘no,’ the Logos in the Word, God incarnate.
Into this mix, John writes to his churches. It may be that by now people were beginning to doubt that Jesus existed or that he would return. John wants to make it clear, Jesus is real, and he is coming soon. I’ve seen him and declared unto you, John says, repeating himself three times. That’s how passionate John was.