This first letter of John’s, written between 85-95 A.D., is one of a few letters by the apostle John. Overall, there are no greetings in this book, so it is unclear as to who this letter is addressed – however, we can safely assume he is addressing Christians, nonetheless. John presents a defensive against false teaching. He does this by instructing truth and righteousness.
John begins the letter by talking about the Word of Life being made to manifest eternal life into God’s people. He also explains, “God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all.” He first addresses an issue in verse 8, where he says, “if we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” He goes on to say, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
Next, John declares that Jesus Christ is our advocate, and that we should keep His commandments. That is, we should love one another, but not the world. We should not love the world, because the spirit of the antichrist dwells in the world. John warns the audience of those who deny the Son, Jesus Christ, and for His people to not be ashamed before Him at His coming.
Now, in chapter three, John puts out a couple ways Christians can classify themselves as children. To be children of God, it is important to be saved, as His people are under the “Spirit of adoption,” according to Romans 8:15. Also, in Romans 8:16, it says “the spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God.” After this, John identifies the children of Satan as those who disobey or transgress the law. It says in verse 8 that those who commit sin are of the devil, since the devil sinned from the beginning. The Father sent the Son to destroy the works of the devil. Now, John speaks again of the children of God and who they are. They are ones who practice righteousness, do not commit sin, and that they love one another.
Next, we learn several valuable things from John. One of them is that if you hate your brother, you’re a murderer – and no murderer has eternal life. In addition, whatever we ask, we shall receive from Him, because of keeping His commandments. We learn in the next chapter that “greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world.” Next, John instructs that love be of God, because God is love. If we love on another, God dwells in us. We learn several other things about love. “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casteth out fear” (4:18a). We learn throughout 1 John that God loved us before we loved Him. Also, that it’s because God loved us that we love Him.
In chapter five, John instructs about faith being so important, that the victory we have being born of God, we use to overcome the world by faith. It is because of our faith in Jesus Christ that we overcome the world. John acknowledges the trinity in verse 7 and 8, before stating that we have life through God’s Son. John then declares why he wrote this letter in verse 13, “that ye may know that ye have eternal life.” He then gives his audience assurance that “if we ask anything according to His Will, He heareth us.”
John then gives his final testimonies and instructions. We can be sure that we are of God, and we know the Son of God is come and given us understanding that we are in Him. He testifies in 5:20b, “this is the true God, and eternal life.” His final warning is to “keep yourselves from idols.” A lot of what John was hitting at is that the world is a slave to evil and wickedness, and that we must remain in Him, if we have hopes of surviving spiritually and being children of God.
Lessons and other notes from John
In the opening words, John states certain facts about Christ that are good to know: He is the eternal God who became a real man through incarnation. John mentions that few have seen Him, heard Him, or touched Him. He explains what God is like, as it pertains to His incarnation as Jesus Christ, that He is light, which means He is holy, true, pure, and glorious. Darkness cannot co-exist with light, so there is no darkness in God. People can enjoy fellowship with God, who is perfectly holy in every way!
John mentions it, so people can know God’s majesty (for John experienced it firsthand and just cannot get enough of it – he’s in so much awe that he talks about it a lot), and that people will stop misunderstanding Jesus as a false one and stop misunderstanding God as a hateful, angry God. God is impressing upon people to live good lives, and loves people much. He gives assurance of forgiveness, and John wants them to know that. John is the best one to give us a great example of who God is, which repeats after Jesus – not because Jesus was unsuccessful, it’s just people didn’t accept Christ very well. However, Jesus was intentional on giving us a good picture of who the Father was, what He was like, etc. so people would quit misunderstanding Him. John continued this, and kept proclaiming God’s Love and Kingdom so that people would understand and know that His Holiness can be imputed upon us and give us a new hope and outlook on a life of love.
The anointing that we have received of Him abides in us! The indwelling Spirit confirms the truth of Christ to us – for we know that the Spirit bears witness of Christ (1 John 5:6). Believers will learn then to reject teaching of the deceivers, and know that they have been taught, therefore, they do not need any new (false) teachers to come and give them anymore teaching (albeit false). He teaches us all things and we don’t have a thing to worry about. John is telling us that all that we need to know is in the writings of the past, and that no further things are necessary to teach us. He believes it is sufficient that the Spirit leads us into all truth as it was said to be doing anyway!
The reality and mystery of deity robed in flesh: This is God incarnate as the person of Jesus Christ – to which, we have fellowship and relationship with the Father. We see in 1 John 1:2 this explained, “For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and shew unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us.”
How to test spirits to see if they are of God:
- Try the spirits whether they are of God
- Know the Spirit of God. Every spirit that confesses Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God
- Every spirit that doesn’t confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is NOT of God!
- He that knows God hears us. He that doesn’t know Him doesn’t hear us
It seems also that there are many evil spirits that attempt to influence us with lies about our faith, and telling us that we aren’t good enough for God. People teach wrongly about Christ, however, we don’t have to worry, because God’s Spirit is in us and will lead us into all truth. God’s People would rather listen to His Truth!
The dividing wall between Jews & Gentiles: The wall of partition has always been the “wall” between Jews and Gentiles – which still ‘seems’ prevalent today. In Christ, however, there is no longer a distinction between Jews and Gentiles, for all who believe are God’s People. All have equal status, and the New Temple is where all of our spirits dwell. It is built around and built into Christ, and therefore, there is no wall to Jesus, even if people define a wall.
What about those false teachers? The false teachers claim that knowledge is all-important, and that behavior doesn’t matter. John, however, contradicts this, point out that sinning breaks God’s Law. If people deliberately sin, they don’t know God, nor do they know Christ who takes away sin. John is not saying that Christians cannot sin; however, they should not sin as they like. There are many failures and mistakes, but sinning habitually should not occur. The behavior of people shows whether they belong to Christ or to the world/evil. You cannot belong to both, because they are opposed to each other. If you are a true Christian, you will have divine power that will fight evil so you don’t sin. Therefore, the admonition given is to stop the sin.
False teachers were everywhere creating problems, and this didn’t help, because people did not feel free to learn. John had to give them plenty of admonition to reject false teachings and know whether the spirits are of God or not. True Christians are self-disciplined (keeping away from sin) and obedient to God’s commands. His way of taking us on a journey to remind us of the love of God through living in the light, knowing the enemies of Christ, living a life of love overall, and the assurance of eternal life helped me a lot to understand the beautiful depth of the Lord’s Love!