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.1 John 1:1
The construction of the introductory phrase is unmistakably linked to Genesis, as well as John’s Gospel account. This anchors the current events (which John will address later) to cosmic events. In other words, protology and eschatology and everything between revolves around this Word of Life. The Greek has a definite article before beginning, which carries an important theological implication. John is not talking about “a” beginning, but about the cosmic beginning.
But though he is speaking in big cosmological/philosophical terms (i.e. arche, logos, zoe), he is standing up as a witness (more on that in later verses) to having heard, seen, beheld, and touched this Word of Life. He states that the “we” (he and the other apostles/witnesses) had indeed heard and seen the Word of Life.
The tense and mood here are helpful in that John is emphatic that this has taken place, not that it is something that might take place, or that he is opining for. While the “hearing” and “seeing” are in the perfect tense, the “looking upon” and the “handling” are in the aorist tense. This strengthens John’s evidence in emphasizing both a punctiliar aspect to these events, while simultaneously pointing towards the ongoing nature of the Apostles’ relationship with the Word of Life. The tense also keeps these verbs from being so broad as to remain in the realm of theoretical pipe dreams. John is standing up as a witness to cosmological events which were experienced by tangible––and indeed ongoing––interaction with a person: this Word of Life.