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1 John 1 John

1 John
At a Glance
Author: The apostle John
Audience: Communities in Asia Minor experiencing schisms
Date: AD 85
Type of Literature: A letter
Major Themes: Preserving truth, false teaching, God’s character, Christ’s centrality, and Christian discipleship
Letter Opening — 1:1–4
Walk in God’s Light, Keep God’s Commands — 1:5–2:11
New Status, New Love — 2:12–17
Believing and Living as God’s Children — 2:18–3:24
Test the Spirits — 4:1–6
Love for Another, Love for God — 4:7–5:12
Letter Closing — 5:13–21
About 1 John
God is love! Let these words live within you! The glorious God of love is revealed in John’s three letters. Written by the same John who penned his Gospel, the reader is taken into the Light of God. These beautiful words should be read over and over by every person on earth. God is love, and you can come to him by faith!
Everyone needs assurance from God that they are loved and cherished. The apostle John wrote this letter to assure us of the truths of God’s love and mercy toward us. And when we receive his love, we are free to share it with others. As we love one another, we have the assurance that we are God’s true spiritual children and that God’s love is perfected in us. What joy John’s words bring to our hearts!
Although the author is not named, it was clearly John the beloved who wrote this letter. (Only the New Testament books of Hebrews and 1 John do not directly name their authors.) He once walked on the shore of Lake Galilee—a fisherman, who left all to follow Jesus. And he taught all about life—eternal life, glorious life, abundant life! In Christ we find life, so John will always point us to Christ and our fellowship with him. In fact, John tells us four reasons why he wrote his letters: (1) to bring us into life-union (fellowship) with God (1 John 1:3); (2) that we might experience the fullness of joy (1 John 1:4); (3) that we might not sin (1 John 2:1); (4) that we might have the full assurance of our salvation (1 John 5:13).
The beloved apostle of Jesus reveals to us the revelation knowledge of who Jesus is and who we have become in him. John is the apostle of love. This letter is saturated with the love of God, which has been lavished upon us in Christ. And this love must be seen, made visible as we express his love toward one another. John reinforces this truth: we are to be ministers of love in how we walk in this life, demonstrating truth and kindness to all.
John’s letter will bring a fresh understanding of God to your heart. Let him speak to you through his faithful servant John. Enjoy!
John the beloved wrote his magisterial letter to bring the churches back into unity and clarity of faith, and beckon them to hold fast to the tradition and values they had already committed themselves to in Christ. There were false teachers who had come in and divided the flock with doctrines that diminished the glory of Christ. John’s teachings always take us deeper into the truth and ways of God, and deeper into love for Jesus Christ. Anything that moves the heart away from loving Christ and loving others is to be viewed as suspect and diversionary. We can thank God for John’s three letters to consistently point us back to the Light!
Author and Audience
Although some contest it, there should be little doubt that the apostle John was responsible for writing this letter of passion, probably while he was in Ephesus around AD 85. The opening of the letter itself bears striking similarity to the Gospel that bears his name, extolling the Living Expression of God in almost poetic language. There are at least twelve other passages that have direct connection in both language, style, and scope with the fourth Gospel—showing that the beloved disciple of Jesus was the author of this beloved letter.
Unlike his other two letters, 1 John is not addressed to certain ones but to everyone. No particular audience is addressed in this letter, although there was a community over which John was an overseer in spiritual authority and fatherhood. Many believe John wrote this letter to clarify what he wrote earlier about the truth of Christ and to correct misinterpretations and misapplication of his testimony, especially by false teachers who had infiltrated this community. It was meant to encourage the believers who had been scattered by the Roman War of AD 67–70, and serve to encourage them in their understanding of their faith.
Major Themes
Preserving and Discerning Truth. In John’s Gospel, he wrote his account of Jesus’ life “so that you will fully believe that Jesus is the Anointed One, the Son of God” (20:31). He testified to the same truth in this letter so that those who believed wouldn’t be led astray and would be “assured and know without a doubt that you have eternal life” (5:13). Such assurance and knowledge comes through the truth about Jesus, the Anointed One and Son of God, that John sought to preserve and help believers discern.
John was writing to a community troubled by false teachers who had distorted the truth of the gospel. For John, truth and gospel are equated, for the good news is about the one who was the Truth. So he defined a number of truths that one must believe in order to know eternal life, and encouraged ongoing discernment of the truth. Discernment is a major theme in this letter, and it is the task of the church to test the spirits, to “carefully examine what they say to determine if they are of God” (4:1).
Warning against Antichrists. John warns us that we must set our hearts firmly on the truths of Jesus Christ and his Word as protection from those whom John called antichrists. These people opposed the teachings of Christ, led people astray, and separated from the true community of Christ followers. John refuted antichrists in his day in a number of ways: he appealed to the teachings that had been with the church from the beginning, referenced early confessed creeds, pointed to the teachings and example of Jesus, appealed to the guidance of the Holy Spirit for all truth, and referenced our personal experience with God’s heart through salvation. We guard against false teachers in these last days when we heed John’s warnings and follow his guidance.
The Character of God. One of the more profound unveilings in 1 John is the character of God. Take a look at all we learn about him in John’s Spirit-anointed letter: God is pure light, without a trace of darkness or impurity; faithfully forgives us of our sins, cleansing us from all unrighteousness; the essence of love, for he continually exists being love; the reality of all that is true; and the Father God who saves, having sent his Son into the world as its Savior. Ultimately, everything that is true about God is ours, because we have been born of God and enjoy unbroken fellowship with him.
The Centrality of Christ. It’s only when we properly understand who Jesus Christ is that we can experience the heart of God. A distorted picture of Christ distorts how we live, which is why Christ takes center stage in John’s letter. Every chapter is fixed on him: he is unveiled as the Living Expression of God; he is our atoning sacrifice, the one who shed his blood for our sins; he is our paraclete who advocates before the Father’s throne on our behalf; he is our standard for living, the one in whom we are to actively remain; he will transform us into himself when he appears; he has come in real life flesh, not merely as a spirit-presence; and our new birth depends on believing in him, for he is the center of our believing as much as our faith.
Walking as Disciples of Christ. John’s letter is largely concerned with preserving and discerning the truth about Jesus. Yet truth isn’t only something to know in the head; it’s something that we do with our whole self. John uses the metaphor of “walking” for the kind of life we’re called to live—an image from the Hebrew Scriptures suggesting a manner and style of living that one is fully committed to. We are to walk in the pure light, not the realm of darkness; we are to walk in self-sacrificing love, not hate. Disciples of Christ walk the truth, which manifests itself as love. Of course, we know what love is because of Jesus: “This is how we have discovered love’s reality: Jesus sacrificed his life for us” (3:16). John says the essence of our Christian life is emulating this love, which results in fellowship with God.
1 John
God Is Love

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1 John 1 John: TPT





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