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— (ESV)
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, of the Word of life; (KJV)
Greek: Ὃ ἦν ἀπʼ ἀρχῆς, ὃ ἀκηκόαμεν, ὃ ἑωράκαμεν τοῖς ὀφθαλμοῖς ἡμῶν, ὃ ἐθεασάμεθα καὶ αἱ χεῖρες ἡμῶν ἐψηλάφησαν περὶ τοῦ λόγου τῆς ζωῆς
Transliterated Greek: HO ēn ap’ archēs, ho akēkoamen, ho heōrakamen tois ophthalmois hēmōn, ho etheasametha kai hai cheires hēmōn epsēlaphēsan peri tou logou tēs zōēs –
Literal Word for Word Translation: what was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and our hands have touched concerning the word of life –
Commentary: Verse 1 is a testimony that extends through verse 3 about the proclamation of the Word of Life, the eternal life, that appeared before John and the apostles as Jesus Christ, the son of God. This letter of 1 John is a refutation of Gnostic beliefs from the mystery religions that were already being mixed with the gospel. The Gnostics did not believe Jesus had a physical body, but rather He was a spirit being who appeared to have a physical body. They believed pure divinity cannot mix with corrupt matter. However, Jesus, who is the Word of God, the Word of Life, became living flesh and dwelt among mankind as a physical being (John 1:1-5, 14). This is an absolutely essential point to the whole gospel. If Jesus had not come in the very same form as man, He could not have sympathized with us in our trials and suffereings (Heb. 2:9-18; 4:14-16), and He could not have died in the place of sinners to bring all who place their faith in Him to a new life (Rom 3:21-26; 5:6-11; Col 1:19-22), and ultimately to a resurrection where those who were born apart from God can dwell in the very presence of God for all eternity (1 Peter 1:3-5).
Notice that John uses all of the senses but smell. He and the disciples had verbally heard from the Word of Life. They had not just seen the life made manifest, but they had looked upon Him over the years they were following Him. They knew everything about Him. They touched Him. Jesus was real live flesh! He was not a myth, a fake, a ghost, nor an angel, but the Word of God in union with human nature.