1 John 1 — The Word of Life, Walking in the Light
1 John 2:1-14 — Christ Our Advocate, The New Commandment
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Let the Word evoke words. May your life encourage lives.
One Reply to “Nov 15 — 1 John 1-3”
Many evangelists point new converts to John’s Gospel as a place to start…it’s straightforward and speaks to a broad audience. John’s letters also provide strong support for us as we attempt to lead as many people as possible to Christ.
John begins by saying, “we have heard…we have seen…we have touched…we proclaim…we write this to make our joy complete” (1 John 1:1-4). John speaks on behalf of all of the apostles and sets the stage for his words to encourage fellowship with Christ. Fellowship is important and something we must all pay attention to when using the word “church.” John immediately separates those who are true and those who are liars in a manner that seems obvious, but in light of the impact of Gnosticism (see below) on the early church, we have a better understanding of this simple truth: “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us” (1:8).
John changes his writing from “we” to include several first person statements in chapter 2, “I write this to you” (2:1). John writes to the newest Christians, “dear children” and to “fathers” and “young men” in an effort to encourage a broad audience. Such words of encouragement! “your sins have been forgiven on account of his name” (2:12) and “because you are strong, and the word of God lives in you, and you have overcome the evil one” (2:14). With this great assurance, we are strengthened in our walk, in our fellowship with one another, for we acknowledge “the world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever” (2:17).
Chapter 3 includes six “this is” assertions that provide great support for our faith (more in chapters 4 & 5). Such great, simple theology is wrapped up in these statements, this is:
– “…the message you heard” (3:10)
– “…the message you heard from the beginning” (3:11)
– “…how we know what love is” (3:16)
– “…how we know that we belong to the truth and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence” (3:19)
– “…his command” (3:23)
– “…how we know that he lives in us” (3:24)
Lord, I thank you for clarity and simple truths to help guide us in the complex and difficult world. As we are tossed about by the latest trends and desires, help us to refer to these words for comfort and strength.
One of the heresies faced by the early church was Gnosticism. John’s letters provide us we arguments for Christ and specifically against Gnosticism, though we are able to use his words for a broader array of attacks. I added an extract from the NIV Study Bible because it’s difficult to appreciate these types of beliefs, at least from my perspective.
NIV Study Bible Notes on 1 John (pp 2122-2123):
Gnosticism’s central teaching was that spirit is good and matter is evil. Here are five important errors:
1. The human body, which is matter, is therefore evil. It is to be contrasted with God, who is wholly spirit and therefore good.
2. Salvation is the escape from the body, achieved not by faith in Christ but by special knowledge (the Greek word for “knowledge” is gnosis, hence Gnosticism).
3. Christ’s true humanity was denied in two ways:
a. Some said that Christ only “seemed” to have a body and
b. Others said that the divine Christ joined the man Jesus at baptism and left him before he died
4. Some said that since the body was considered evil, it was to be treated harshly
5. Paradoxically, this dualism sometimes also led to licentiousness since matter was considered evil, breaking God’s law was of no moral consequence.