A STUDY OF THE FIRST ESPISTLE OF THE APOSTLE JOHN
The Author: The Epistles of John were written by the Apostle John. There are three epistles in this series. John also wrote the Gospel of John and the book of Revelation. These three epistles (letters) complement each other and give us a full picture of the Christian life.
The Gospel of John Christ died for us
The Epistles of John Christ lives in us
The Revelation of John Christ comes for us
Emphasis on Salvation The Word made flesh
Emphasis on Sanctification The Word made real in us
Emphasis on Glorification The Word conquering
Aim: John stated five purposes for the writing of his first epistle:
A. That we might have fellowship, 1:3.
“Fellowship” is the key theme of the first two chapters (see 1:3, 6–7). Fellowship has to do with our communion with Christ, not our union with Christ, which is sonship. Our daily fellowship changes; our sonship remains the same.
B. That we might have joy, 1:4.
The word “joy” is used only here, but the blessing of joy is seen throughout the entire letter. Joy is the result of a close fellowship with Christ.
C. That we might not sin, 2:1–2.
The penalty of sin is taken care of when the sinner trusts Christ, but the power of sin over the daily life is another matter. First John explains how we may have victory over sin and how to get forgiveness when we do sin.
D. That we might overcome error, 2:26.
John was facing the false teaching of his day just as we face false teachers today, 2 Peter 2. The false teachers in John’s day were claiming…
1. that matter was evil, therefore Christ did not come in the flesh;
2. that Christ only appeared to be a real man;
3. that knowledge of truth is more important than living the truth; and
4. that only a “spiritual few” could understand spiritual truths.
As you read 1 John, you will see that John emphasizes:
(1) that matter is not evil, but man’s nature is sinful;
(2) that Jesus Christ had a real body and experienced a real death;
(3) that it is not enough “to say” what we believe, we must practice it; and
(4) All Christians have an unction (anointing) from God and can know His truth.
E. That we might have assurance, 5:13.
a. In his Gospel, John tells us how to be saved (John 20:31).
b. But in this epistle, he tells us how to be sure we are saved.
F. The letter is a series of “tests” that Christians may use to examine…
a. Their fellowship (chaps. 1–2).
b. Their sonship (chaps. 3–5).
G. Note that the emphasis in chapters 3–5 is on being born of God (3:9; 4:7; 5:1, 4, 18).