John the Apostle wrote this letter in order to reassure Christians in their faith and to counter false teaching.

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Chapters

1, 2, 3, 4, 5

Author and Date

The apostle John wrote this letter probably between 85 A.D. and 90 A.D. from the city of Ephesus in Asia Minor.

Blueprint

The first epistle of John is generally divided up into three parts:

  • God is light (1:1 - 2:27)
  • God is love (2:28 - 4:21)
  • God is life (5:1-21)

John wrote about the most vital aspects of faith so that readers would know Christian truth from error. He emphasizes the basics of faith so that we can be confident in our faith. In our dark world, God is light. In our cold world, God brings the warmth of love. In our dying world, God brings life. When we lack confidence, these truths bring us certainty.

Themes

Major themes contained in first John include:

Sin

Even Christians sin. Sin requires God's forgiveness, and Christ's death provides it for us. Determining to live according to God's standards in the Bible shows that our lives are being transformed. We cannot deny our sin nature, maintain that we are "above" sinning, or minimize the consequences of sin in our relationship with God. We must resist the attraction of sin, yet we must confess when we do sin.

Love

Christ commands us to love others as he loved us. This love is evidence that we are truly saved. God is the Creator of love; he cares that his children love each other. Love means putting others first and being unselfish. Love is action - showing others we care - not just saying it. To show love we must give sacrificially of our time and money to meet the needs of others.

Family of God

We become God's children by believing in Christ. God's life in us enables us to love our fellow family members. The way we treat others shows who our Father is. We should live as a faithful, loving member of God's family.

Truth and Error

Teaching that the physical body does not matter, false teachers encouraged believers to throw off moral restraints. They also taught that Christ wasn't really a man and that we must be saved by having some special mystical knowledge. The result was that people became indifferent to sin. God is truth and light, so the more we get to know him the better we can keep focused on the truth. Don't be led astray by any teaching that denies Christ's deity or humanity. Check the message; test the claims.

Assurance

God is in control of heaven and earth. Because his word is true, we can have assurance of eternal life and victory over sin. By faith we can be certain of our eternal destiny with him. Assurance of our relationship with God is a promise, but it is also a way of life. We build our confidence by trusting in God's word and in Christ's provision for our sin.

References

Life Application Bible - New International Version. Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. and Zondervan Publishing House, 1989. "Tyndale New Testament Commentaries." Stott, John. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1988.

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