Introduction to the Books of the Bible
John's First Letter
BOOK : 1 John
Description : A letter clearly written to believers (see 2:12-14,19; 3:1; 5:13) to encourage them in a variety of ways, and specifically to counter the errors of Gnosticism.
Author: The author is John, son of Zebedee, the apostle and the author of the Gospel of John and Revelation
Date written : Probably somewhere between AD85 and AD95
Chapters : 5
Some Key Verses:
In his instructions to live good lives, John again and again speaks a negative and then a positive . Later on it is the other way round but both approaches show there is a clear way to live as a Christian and there is clear wrong behaviour that reveals those who are not. The positive also reveals a positive consequence for the Christian
1:6,7 If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light , as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin
The consequence: fellowship & purified from sin
1:8,9 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness
The consequence: forgoven & purified from all unrighteousness
2:4,5 The man who says, "I know him," but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him . But if anyone obeys his word , God's love is truly made complete in him
The consequence: God's love will be made complete in us
2:9,10 Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates his brother is still in the darkness. Whoever loves his brother lives in the light, and there is nothing in him to make him stumble
The consequence: we will not stumble
2:17 The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever .
The consequence: has eternal life
2:23 No one who denies the Son has the Father; whoever acknowledges the Son has the Father also.
The consequence: know the Father as well as the Son
3:6 No one who lives in him keeps on sinning . No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him.
The consequence: is able to stop sinning
3:7,8 He who does what is right is righteous , just as he is righteous. He who does what is sinful is of the devil
The consequence: is righteous
3:14,15 We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love our brothers . Anyone who does not love remains in death. Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer
The consequence: have passed from death to life
4:5,6 They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God , and whoever knows God listens to us ;
The consequence: other believers listen to our ministry
4:7,8 Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God . Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love .
The consequence: we know God
4:19,20 We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, "I love God," yet hates his brother, he is a liar.
The consequence: we love
5:10 Anyone who believes in the Son of God has this testimony in his heart . Anyone who does not believe God has made him out to be a liar, because he has not believed the testimony God has given about his Son.
The consequence: we have the truth in us
5:12 He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.
The consequence: we have life
Remember, a wrong way, a right way, and a consequence
The Strength of John's Testimony
Note the language of an eye witness
1:1-4 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard , which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched --this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us . We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard
John's Teaching to Reassure about their Salvation
Reassurance about eternity
1:2 The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us
Reassurance about if we do sin
2:1,2 I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defence--Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.
Reassurance about our destiny and present status, born again
2:24,25,29 See that what you have heard from the beginning remains in you. If it does, you also will remain in the Son and in the Father. And this is what he promised us--even eternal life…… you know that everyone who does what is right has been born of him.
Reassurance about our status, children of God
3:1,2 How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.
Reassurance about our status, made spiritually alive
3:14 We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love our brothers
Reassurance about having a clear conscience
3:19-24 This then is how we know that we belong to the truth, and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence whenever our hearts condemn us. For God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God and receive from him anything we ask, because we obey his commands and do what pleases him. And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us. Those who obey his commands live in him, and he in them. And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us.
Reassurance about the consequences of our belief in Jesus – the indwelling Holy Spirit
4:13-16 We know that we live in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Saviour of the world. If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and he in God. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.
Reassurance about the consequences of our belief in Jesus – born again, new creatures
5:1 Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God
Reassurance about the consequences of our belief in Jesus – eternal life
5:11-13 And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life
The Error of the day, of Gnosticism, to be countered
Towards the end of the first century a heresy appearing in various forms but coming under the general description of ‘Gnosticism' arose. It is clear from John's content that he is countering many of the heresies of Gnosticism of which some were:
John countered these errors by
As we said at the beginning of this page, we believe this letter has vital teachings within it, both for then and for now.
We would encourage you to really take in the information above and then read and reread this letter to see its value.
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