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Series Theme: FRAMEWORKS: The First Letter of John

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Frameworks: 1 John 1 & Intro


(The objective of these ‘Frameworks' is to provide an easy-to-read layout of the text in order then to use these individual verses for verse-by-verse study or meditation. To focus each verse we have also added in italic a simple comment of what is happening)


INTRODUCTION TO 1 John  (scroll down to chapter 1)


Why Read 1 John: Well, John's first letter is some of the most compact and specific teaching in the New Testament. For example, and examination of specific word uses shows the things on John's heart in these five short chapters:

- the name ‘ Jesus' occurs 15 times (the salvation reminder)
- the word ‘ God' occurs 44 times (the submitting to God focus)
- love occurs 27 times (the heart of our lives)
- by contrast ‘ sin' occurs 20 times (that now rejected from our lives)
- ‘ world' occurs 16 times (meaning the way of godless unbelieving humanity opposed to us)
- ‘ life' occurs 12 times (more than material existence)
- ‘ brother' occurs 12 times (emphasizing our duties to the family of God)
- and ‘ children' occurs 14 times (reminding us of our divine relationship)


As we say, realizing there are only five very short chapters in this letter, we can see the thrust (and narrowness) of his teaching.


Trying to summarize John's key teaching we might encapsulate it in “God is love, God loves us, so we love one another. He who loves will not carry on sinning.”

The last point needs clarification. He does not say we will never sin (in fact he makes specific pastoral provision for the occasional times when we do fail – 1 Jn 2:1) but that ongoing sin will NOT a part of the life of the child.


In order to emphasise and pick out particularly important teachings and see the flow of his teaching, we have underlined parts of a number of verses which, we suggest, warrant further meditation.



FRAMEWORKS: 1 John 1: Incarnation Life & Light


v.1-4 The Incarnation of the Word of Life
v.5-10 Light and Darkness, Sin and Forgiveness


[Chapter Synopsis: The opening chapter is a powerful testimony of the author, of a witness who knew Jesus personally. He knew Jesus came to bring light to people because God is light, and His light showed us up for what we were before we came to Christ. The way to unity with God is confession of that state and receiving God's forgiveness and a new life.]



v.1-4 The Incarnation of the Word of Life


v.1 (a powerful testimony with echoes of Jn 1:1,14 – the Word, the communication of God, His Son) 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.

v.2 (with echoes of Jn 1:4,14 – the Word was the being expressing eternal 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.

v.3 (again personal testimony – it's all about Jesus, the Son of God) We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ.

v.4 (he writes to confirm God's activity) We write this to make our [your] joy complete.


[Passage Synopsis: An amazingly powerful four verses with so many reflections from Jn 1 that there can be little doubt that the author is author of both Gospel and letter. His language is that of a personal witness who was there with Jesus.]



v.5-10 Light and Darkness, Sin and Forgiveness


v.5 (again echoes of Jn 1:4,59. Everything about God is light - everything in all creation is revealed in Him, in His goodness, nothing dark or evil) This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.

v.6 (the Gospel is all about being reconciled to God, being related to Him [see Jn 1:14] and being able to fellowship and interact with Him. If we say that, we can't walk in darkness, allowing anything wrong in our lives ) If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth.

v.7 (but if we live in His light we are revealed to one another to be able to fellowship with one another, Jesus' blood cleaning us from all sin) 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.

v.8 (if our starting point had been we had no sin, we deceived ourselves) If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.

v.9 (the path to reconciliation was confession, receiving forgiveness and being cleansed from any sort of wrong) If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

v.10 (if we started out saying we didn't need that, we kidded ourselves and make God out to be a liar.) If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.


[ Passage Synopsis: This short opening chapter is dynamic with so many echoes of John's Gospel, chapter 1. The thrust that John now brings is that he is a witness who saw and heard everything with Jesus so he knows it's all true. [indeed we might ask why skeptics think John might write in this way if it wasn't true.] The fundamental starting point, he maintains, is that God is the source of all light and therefore of all life [imagine a world existing in total darkness – it can't]. But more than physical light and darkness there is underlying imagery of good and evil and so if we say we live in the light of God's total goodness there is no room whatsoever in our lives for any darkness or evil. Before we came to Christ, if we denied we had darkness in us, we were deluded and made God out to be mistaken about us, but the door to entering into this life of light, was acknowledgement of our state, confessing it and receiving God's forgiveness and cleansing from the wrong things that had been in our lives previously.]


Continue to Chapter 2