The King James Version uses the word "manifest" a lot. It would make a great word study to see how it is used by John and by Paul. The word basically means "to reveal; to make visible; to make clear." Other translations chose a variety of ways to say the same thing without using the word "manifest." They might use words as "appear;" "reveal;" "came;" or say that something is "obvious;" "evident;" or that "we can tell / know" something. These other choices of words are correct. It is just that the singular use of the word "manifest" has drawn attention to the connection of thought that many verses have in common. A theme is easily developed. The translation of the Bible you are using may not choose the same wording, but we will be looking for what Christ has revealed and is revealing to this world.
The Gospels begin with the manifestation of the Son of God. He was promised in the Old Testament (beginning with Genesis 3:15). The Old Testament Scriptures can be summarized as the preparation of the coming of the Messiah ("Anointed One / Chosen One"). The four Gospels, then, are the "manifestation" of the Promised One. We can verify that Jesus Christ is the Son of God by comparing all that was said about him prophetically in the Old Testament with all that Jesus said, all that He did, and all that He experienced, as revealed in the four Gospels. See John 1:45; Luke 24:13-27,44-48; I Corinthians 15:1-4.
In our Scripture reading, we were immediately told that "the life was manifested…that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us." (I John 1:2). The third chapter of I John will establish three reasons Christ was manifested to us:
- " To take away our sins (I John 3:5).
- " To destroy the works of the devil (I John 3:8).
- " To manifest / reveal who are the children of God and who are the children of the devil (I John 3:9-10) [Note: The child of God does not allow / tolerate the regular practice of sin. They reverence God's commandments. When sin happens, they confess / agree with God about it and strive towards Christ-like purity cp. I John 1:8-10; 2:1-6; 3:1-3]
Let's go back to the Gospel of John and explore what is meant by the statement, "the life was manifested…that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us." (I John 1:2).
"The Life" Manifested in John Chapter One:
The Creator was manifested to us (John 1:1-3,14). - Jesus ("The Word became flesh") was with the Father in the beginning and was equal with Him. See I Timothy 3:16 (KJV / NKJV); Colossians 1:14-19; 2:9). [Note: Zechariah 13:7. In this prophecy of Christ's death, Jehovah calls Christ "my fellow." That is to say that Christ is equal with Him - a peer. See Philippians 2:6].
Christ's life and light were manifested to us (John 1:4-5, 9-11). - Jesus' life was a light to this spiritually, morally dark world. His teaching and example gave the world a physical demonstration / manifestation of what God is like (John 14:9). This life / light was confusing and irritating to the world, causing people to resist and reject Jesus (John 3:19-20; 8:38-47; I John 4:4-6 cp. John 15:18-21; I John 3:1,11-13).
Christ's transforming power was manifested to us (John 1:12-13). By the power of God, others received Christ and were made to be partakers of the privileges of God's children. By His life we receive life. The life that He lived; the life that He sacrificed; the resurrected life that He now has forever are all for our benefit and God's glory. See John 6:63; 8:12,28-29; 10:9-18; 11:25-26; 14:6,18-23; Romans 4:25; 5:9-10; 8:34; Revelation 1:5-6,18.
The glory of God was manifested to us (John 1:14). "The Word became flesh and dwelt among us." This was predicted by Isaiah (Isaiah 40:5). The glory of God is more than just goodness and power. To behold the glory of God, we must behold who He is and what He does (Psalm 66:1-8; 72:18-19; 105:1-5; 111:1-10; 145:1-21). Christ's life demonstrates God's glory (John 10;24-38; 14:9-11; 15:22-25; Hebrews 1:1-3). It is the work of the gospel for us to reveal the glory of God through Jesus Christ (II Corinthians 3:18; 4:3-7).
God's grace and truth were manifested to us (John 1:14,16-17). Moses' law was the truth about holiness and sin, but the law was unable to provide mercy and grace. Every time the law was broken, death was the penalty - either your death or the death of a sacrificial animal. Christ bringing grace and truth means that along with the truth about God's holiness and righteous hatred of sin, He provides forgiveness and the ability to overcome sin's power by the power of a new life. See Psalm 85:9-13; John 1:12; 3:16-21 (cp. I John 3:1-10); 5:24-25; Romans 5:1-11; 6:23; 8:1-4; II Corinthians 5:14-15,17; Ephesians 2:8-10.
This has been given to us because Christ manifested himself to us, not as a lion to judge and rule the world, but as a lamb, a sacrificial lamb - to save us. See John 1:29 cp.3:17.