1 John


1 John is a unique book. It does not seem to be a letter because it omits all the natural characteristics of a letter. 1 John does not have an author stated, recipients, salutation, thanksgiving section, closing section, nor greeting section. No characteristics of a letter are found in 1 John. But John repeatedly calls the readers of this treatise, “my little children.” This treatise was to be read by other people, but John avoids writing in the form of the letter.

Gnosticism was a large problem for Christians toward the end of the first century. Gnostic means knowledge. The Gnostics taught that they held special divine knowledge and only through them could a person come to truly know God and be complete. John writes this letter to fight this false teaching. Thirty-two times John says the word “know.” The Gnostics claim to have knowledge, but John is going to give the readers true knowledge of God.

What We Know (1:1-10)

  • Because we have heard, seen, observed, and touched the Word of Life (1-4). John begins by teaching what he had the apostles knew. They knew Jesus because they had heard him, seen him with their own eyes, observed his actions, and touched him with their hands. Jesus came in the flesh and John gives his testimony to this fact. The way to have fellowship with God was to have fellowship with the apostles and their teachings, not the teachings of the Gnostics.

Written: that your joy may be complete (1:4). Throughout this treatise, John is going to explain the reason for the points he makes. John tells them that Jesus did come in the flesh so that their joy would be complete by believing the truth.

  • God is light and there is absolutely no darkness in Him (5-10). What the apostles knew what that God is light. There is no evil with God and neither can be with the followers of God. (1) If we say we have fellowship with God but walk in darkness, we are lying and are not practicing the truth (1:6). (2) If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us (1:8). (3) If we say we have not sinned, we make God a liar and the word of God is not in us (1:10). We cannot say that we are in a right relationship with God and violate God’s laws (walk in darkness). We cannot say that our sins do not affect us.

Written: that you may not sin (2:1). The purpose for telling the readers that God is light and that there is no darkness in him at all is so that we will not sin. We are not in fellowship with God if we practice sin. These things were written so that we would not sin. If we do sin, Jesus is the sacrifice of atonement for our sins.

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