The epistles make it clear that the author was writing to believers (2:12-14, 19, 3:1, 5:13). Early Christian sources tell us that John spent most of his latter years in Ephesus and that the epistle was read in the province of Asia. Since the epistles make no mention of specific locations or names, it is probable that the epistles were meant to circulate among the believers in Asia.
Probably between 85 to 95 A.D.
1. The author states in four places the purpose of his epistle. Try to locate them and record them below.
1:4; 2:1; 2:26; 5:13
2. Go through the epistles and record the false teachings and the actions of these teachers.
They denied that Jesus was the Christ (2:22, 5:1, 5). They denied that Jesus Christ had come in the flesh (4:3;
To combat these deceptive teachings, the apostle once again proclaimed the word of eternal life to the believers and urged them to remain in the Son and in the Father. He taught them to live a life of fellowship with God that is marked by obedience to God and love for one another. By knowing what it means to be the true children of God, they would be able to discern and guard against the spirit of falsehood. In
1. The style of
2. The author often drew distinctions of sharp contrasts in
“But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin” (
Although it is difficult to identify a discernible structure in this epistle because of its unique literary style, try to go through the entire book and record a heading for each of the section divisions in chart A.
Our Savior Jesus Christ
The writer of the epistles places utmost importance on faith in Jesus as the Christ, the Son of God (4:15, 5:1). Against the beliefs of the false teachers, the author stresses the important fact that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh. Every spirit that does not acknowledge this truth is the spirit of the antichrist (4:3;
A believer, who has been born of God, keeps God’s commandments and walks as Jesus did (1:7, 2:3-6, 29). He does not sin but practices what is right and good (3:6-10;
The righteous life of a believer is rooted in love. God is love (4:8, 16) and love is of God (4:7). He demonstrated His love by giving us His Son (4:9, 10). If we live in God and He lives in us, we will love one another (4:11, 12, 16, 19). The author makes numerous references to the “new command” given by our Lord to love one another as He had loved us (see Jn 13:34). Loving our brothers whom we can see is the way we show our love for God whom we cannot see (4:20, 5:1). Whoever does not love his brothers walks in darkness and still remains in death (2:9-11, 3:14, 15).
Although the word “fellowship” appears only four times in
In the epistles, we see a recurring contrast between the truth and lies. God is true (5:20), and His Spirit is truth (2:27, 5:6). It is through Jesus Christ that we may know and live in Him who is true (5:20). We are to remain in God through His anointing, which is true and not a lie (2:27). Those who obey God’s commandments are walking in the truth (2:4;
The word “know” appears more than thirty times in the epistles. According to John, true knowledge is a mark of believers. This knowledge refers to the knowledge of God (2:13, 14, 5:20), which is not based on mere claims but on actions (2:4, 4:7, 8). The knowledge according to the epistles also has to do with understanding the things of God (5:20). Believers know the truth through the anointing (2:20,21;
not sin (5:18).
The coming of the antichrist is a sign of the end time. Seeing the appearance of many antichrists, the author reminds us that the last hour has come (2:18, 4:3). These false teachers are liars and deceivers who try to lead the believers astray (2:22,26;
In an age of apostasy and disbelief, we need to be aware of the deception of false teachings. The apostle teaches us to not believe in every spirit but to test the spirits, whether they are of God (4:1). The spirit that denies Jesus’ saving works and refuses to obey the teachings of the apostles is from the devil. It claims to know God but does not live according to God’s word. How then can we guard against the works of the devil in the end times? We must believe in Jesus Christ, who gives us eternal life, enables us to overcome the world, and protects us from the evil one. We must remain in fellowship with Jesus Christ. Such fellowship is not just confession of our faith but obedience to the Lord’s commands. The three epistles help us examine ourselves to see if we actually practice purity and love. We can know that we are true children of God only if we imitate Christ in our daily lives.
Map & Chart
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