I. AUTHOR – John, one of the twelve.
A. The author does not call himself by name, but speaks in the first person.
· “We write,” 1:4
· “I write,” 2:1
B. The earliest Christian writers after the apostolic period quote this epistle as from the Apostle John.
The virtual unanimous opinion of the early church is that the gospel and epistle were the legacies of John in his old age.
C. Internal evidence is overwhelming that John wrote the epistle.
1.Eyewitness of the Lord, 1:1-3.
2.Many words and phrases nowhere else in the New Testament except in the Gospel of John.
3.Comparisons to gospel of John:
· Jn 1:1 – 1 Jn 1:1
· Jn 16:24 – 1 Jn 1:4
· Jn 14:15 – 1 Jn 2:3
· Jn 17:2 – 1 Jn 2:25
D. External Evidence: From the earliest times the epistle was not only treated as scripture, but as written by John.
1. Cited or alluded to by Polycarp (A.D. 110-50)
2. Cited or alluded to by Hermas (A.D. 115-40)
3. Named as authentic by Irenaeus (A.D. 130-202)
4. Named as authentic by Clement of Alexandria (A.D. 150-215)
5. Cited or alluded to by Tertullian (A.D. 150-220)
6. Named as authentic by Cyril of Jerusalem (A.D. 315-86)
7. Named as authentic by Eusebius (A.D. 325-40)
8. Named as authentic by Jerome (A.D. 340-420)
9. Named as authentic by Augustine (A.D. 400)
10. Named as authentic by all of the canons
· Muratorian (A.D. 170),
· Barococcio (A.D. 206),
· Apostolic (A.D. 300),
· Cheltenham (A.D. 360),
· Athanasuis (A.D. 367)
· except the Marcion (A.D. 140)
11. Named as authentic in the Old Latin (A.D. 200) and Old Syriac (A.D. 400) translations.
12. Named as authentic in all of the councils
· Nicea A.D. (325-40),
· Hippo (392),
· Carthage (397)
· Carthage again (419).
E. Internal Evidence.
1. The writer declares himself to be an eyewitness to Christ (1:1-5).
2. The epistle has an authoritative tone (4:6).
3. The style of writing is close to the Gospel of John.
II. DATE – about A.D. 95 [from Ephesus]
III. KEY VERSES
A. Key verse of John’s Gospel: 20:30,31 — stresses the FACT of the gospel.
B. Key verse o-f John’s Epistle: 5:13 — stresses the ASSURANCE of eternal life.
IV. KEY WORD – “Fellowship
”V. THEME – Fellowship With God Through Christ
A. Gnostic Problem.
1. Preoccupation with deliverance from the flesh – dualistic view of man [matter was evil and spirit was good]
Matter is inherently evil.
2. This view led to speculations about the origin of the material universe. “How could God create it, if it is evil?”
3. The Gnostics (incipient gnosticism) posited a series of “aeons” or emanations from God, each more removed from Him that its predecessors, until one emerged sufficiently remote to create the material world.
B. Problem of 1 John.
1. The problem of 1 John concerns not creation but incarnation.
2. Fundamental to Gnostic thought was that the body was a base prison in which the rational or spiritual part of man was incarcerated, and from which it needed to be released by GNOSIS (knowledge).
3. One of the movements that may lie behind this epistle was that of Cerinthus (a Gnostic).
· Cerinthus taught Jesus was not born of a virgin, i.e., the son of Joseph and Mary.
· Christ descended upon Jesus after his baptism.
· Ultimately Christ departed from Jesus.
· This is the severance of the man Jesus from the divine Christ or spirit.
4. Docetism was also a problem (Christ did not have true human flesh but He was a phantom playing the role of a human).
· Jesus only APPEARED to take human form. The incarnation was, therefore, not a reality. This was an attempt to preserve the deity of Christ at the expense of His humanity.
· This false doctrine has great impact on the death of Christ as a substitute for our sins.
· 1 John 1:1; 4:2, 3.
1. John ministered to churches in Asia Minor (western Turkey).
2. Church fathers such as Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria, Eusebius indicate that John launched an extensive evangelistic ministry throughout Asia Minor while living in Ephesus.
3. The design of 1 John was to combat false doctrine (1 Jn 2:18-26; 3:7; 4:1-3; 5:1-6).
4. The false doctrine may have been that of Cerinthus who believed that the Messiah descended on Jesus at His baptism and left Him before His death.
VII. DESTINATION — churches of the provinces of Asia
A. Not addressed to any particular local church, so scholars call it a “general epistle.”
B. 1 John was probably sent first to the churches scattered throughout Asia Minor where John ministered (Re 1:4; chapters 2-3).
VIII. PURPOSE – to give assurance of eternal life to those who believe in Christ (5:13)
A. John also wrote to motivate his readers to cultivate greater fellowship with God [“abide,” “love”].
B. John wrote to help us understand the standards for fellowship with God (1:7,9) [“light”].
· Light helps us to see our sin and what it does to our fellowship with God.
IX. KEY WORDS
· LIGHT – 6 times
· LOVE – 33 times
· LIFE – 15 times
· FELLOWSHIP – 4 times
· KNOW – 38 times
· WORLD – 23 times
A. Simple language but deep truths.
B. Sharp contrasts: 2:4-5; 5:19; 1:5; 3:14; 2:15,22; 4:20.
C. 1 John puts emphasis on incarnation—humanity of Christ. The Gospel of John emphasizes His deity.
D. No Old Testament quotations.
E. Familiar truths repeated and re-emphasized.
F. In the writings of Paul, the doctrine of justification is prominent; in those of John, the doctrine of regeneration is prominent.
G. 1 John is a polemical discourse against heretics, particularly the Gnostics.
H. There is a pastoral element to the book.
I. The structure of 1 John is difficult to outline because transitional verses and paragraphs may be placed with preceding or following verses.
XI. MISCELLANEOUS MATTER
A. Terms of endearment.
· “beloved” (3:2,21; 4:1,7,11)
· “brethren” (2:7; 3:13)
· “little children” (2:1,12,13,18,28; 3:7,18; 4:4; 5:21)
B. Expressions of certainty.
· This is the message (1:5; 3:11)
· This is the promise (2:25)
· This is the record (5:11)
· This is the confidence (5:14)
C. 5 Johns in the New Testament.
· John the Baptist (Lu 7:20)
· John the Apostle (Mt 10:2)
· John Mark (Ac 15:37)
· John (Ac 4:6)
· Father of Peter (Jn 1:42)
D. No formal introduction or conclusion to the epistle.
E. Contains 5 chapters, 105 verses, and 2,523 words in the King James.
XII. THE SANCTUM SANCTORUM OF THE NEW TESTAMENT IS JOHN
· 1 John takes the child of God across the threshold into the fellowship of the Father’s home.
· It is the “Family” epistle — The Family of God.
· “Father” is used 13 times and “little Children” is used 11 times.
I. THE REALITY OF CHRISTIAN FELLOWSHIP, 1:1-4
A. CHRIST MANIFEST—the provision for fellowship, 1:1-2
B. ABIDING – the purpose of fellowship, 1:3
C. JOY – the result of fellowship, 1:4
II. HOW TO FELLOWSHIP WITH A GOD OF LIGHT, 1:5-2:28.
A. FELLOWSHIP WITH THE GOD OF LIGHT, 1:5-10
B. THE BASIS OF FELLOWSHIP, 2:1-2.
C. THE VICTORIOUS CHARACTER OF FELLOWSHIP, 2:3-11
D. THE PERIL TO FELLOWSHIP, 2:12-17.
E. THE ENEMIES TO FELLOWSHIP — SECESSIONISTS, 2:18-29
III. HOW TO FELLOWSHIP WITH A GOD OF LOVE, 3:1-4:21.
A. PORTRAYALS OF FELLOWSHIP, 3:1-18.
1. The love of God for us, 3:1-2
2. Our relation to that love, 3:3-7
3. What fellowship based on love does for believers, 3:8-18
B. THE PRACTICE OF FELLOWSHIP, 3:19-4:21.
1. Proof of love, 3:19-24
2. Tests for fellowship, 4:1-16
3. Brotherly love founded on God’s love, 4:17-21
IV. HOW TO FELLOWSHIP WITH A GOD OF LIFE, 5:1-21.
A. ETERNAL FELLOWSHIP WITH GOD, 5:1-12.
B. PRIVILEGES OF FELLOWSHIP, 5:13-21.