- Fellowship. That we might be brought into fellowship with the apostles, and therefore with the Father and Son; “we report to you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ” (1 John 1:3).
- Joy. That we, as a result of this fellowship, would have fullness of joy; “these things write we to you that your joy may be full” (1 John 1:4).
- Holiness. That we might not carry on in a path of sin; “these things I write to you in order that ye may not sin” (1 John 2:1).
- Assurance. That we may know that we have eternal life as a present possession; “these things have I written to you that ye may know that ye have eternal life” (1 John 5:13).
- The claim to fellowship with God tested; “If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth” (1 John 1:6).
- The claim to sinlessness tested; “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” (1 John 1:8).
- The claim to perfect righteousness tested; “If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.” (1 John 1:10).
- The claim to know God tested; “He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.” (1 John 2:4).
- The claim to abiding in Christ tested; “He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.” (1 John 2:6).
- The claim to being in the light tested; “He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in darkness even until now.” (1 John 2:9).
- The claim to love God tested; “If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?” (1 John 4:20).
The word Gnostic comes from the Greek word ‘gnosis’, which means knowledge. The word is used by historians to describe a school of thought. Gnosticism arose from a group of evil workers who claimed to have higher light, special spiritual knowledge, or “secret wisdom”. This movement began in the days of the apostles, and continued into the 5th century. Before John died the seeds of Gnosticism had been sown; perhaps even before Paul's death (1 Tim. 6:20). John’s epistles are written to defend against the inroads of Gnosticism (2 John 1:7,9). Peter warns of their false teaching, and Jude warns of its moral effect on the Christian testimony. Gnosticism is responsible for not just one heresy, but seven or eight. What is it? In this mystical system, the spiritual world was good, and material world was evil. They rejected the incarnation, because it connects the human with the divine. The Gnostics would try to separate “Jesus” from “Christ”, by making Christ an emanation (a shining out from a source) from God that never truly became flesh, or else was united to a mere man named Jesus at his baptism, but returned to God before Jesus’ death on the cross. In doing so, this evil system annulled the incarnation, the atonement, and the resurrection. The doctrine of the New Testament anticipates this irreverent and wicked system of doctrine by stating the simple truth of Christ's Person and work. Church fathers who defended against Gnosticism were Ignatius of Antioch ('Seven Epistles'), and Irenaeus of Lyons ('Against Heresies').Read more…
- Eternal Life: It’s Manifestation and Fellowship (1:1-4)
- Light (1:5 – 2:11)
- Life (2:12 – 4:6)
- Spiritual Growth: Children, Fathers, Young Men (2:12-27)
- Evidence that One is a Child of God (2:29 – 4:6)
- Love (4:7 – 5:3)
- Characteristics of the Children of God (5:4-21)
Eternal Life: It’s Manifestation and Fellowship (1:1-4)
There are several beginnings in scripture. The beginning in John 1:1 is the beginning of anything that had a beginning; what existed at the furthest point in the past, i.e. from eternity. The beginning in Gen. 1:1 is the beginning of the material creation. The beginning in 1 John 1:1 is the beginning of of the manifestation of eternal life in this world, and it corresponds with John 1:14; "the Word became flesh" (however, in the experience of the apostles it was the beginning of the Lord's public ministry). There is also a fourth beginning, mentioned in Rev. 3:14 and Col. 1:18, referring to the beginning of the New Creation.
The term "eternal life" is commonly translated “everlasting life” or “life eternal”. The term is used in two different ways in scripture. In the Old Testament (e.g. Psa. 133:3; Dan. 12:2), and in the synoptic gospels (e.g. Mark 10:30), eternal life refers to the Millennial kingdom. But in the other New Testament books, and especially John's writings, "eternal life" refers to a life we can possess now. The word “eternal” does not define the duration of the life, but it defines the character of the life; "the things which are not seen are eternal" (2 Cor. 4:18). It couldn’t be the idea of "living forever" because eternal life pertains to believers, and even the unsaved live forever in eternal fire. What is implied in "eternal life" is a lifestyle characterized by love and light, and by communion with the Father and the Son by the Holy Spirit; "And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent" (John 17:3). Eternal life is the highest character of life that one can ever know, because it is the same life that the Father and Son enjoy together (1 John 1:3), and which had existed from eternity to eternity (John 1:2). In 1 John we find that Christ Himself personally is that eternal life! He is the perfect expression of that life; the Word of Life. In His ineffable grace, God purposed in His eternal counsels that the fellowship of the Father and the Son would be shared with the sons of men! Read John 14:18-20. We are brought into this fellowship through the gift of eternal life. It is the greatest blessing that God can bestow on man, as it is the very same life of Christ! This eternal life, which He shares with others, is "in His Son" (1 John 5:11) meaning you can't have it apart from Him, and that "he that hath the Son hath life" (1 John 5:12).3Read more…
Light (1:5 – 2:11)
God’s Nature and Our Fellowship in It (1:5-7)
Restorative Forgiveness (1:8 – 2:2)
“The righteous” and “propitiation” (1 John 2:1, 2) intimate to us the double character of perfectness – actual state, and work – of Christ, as the basis on which advocacy is carried on to restore the soul. If any man sin, there is an unchangeable and accepted righteousness in Christ, and a perfect work which has been presented to God for our sins, and indeed in view of the whole world. So that neither the ground of our acceptance nor the putting away of our sins are in question for our access to God. – J.N. Darby
Knowing God: Love and Obedience (2:3-11)
Life (2:12 – 4:6)
Spiritual Growth: Children, Fathers, Young Men (2:12-27)
Little Children (v.12)
Young Men (v.13b)
Fathers (v.14a)1 John 2:14
Young Men (vv.14b-17)
Little Children (vv.18-27)
The Anointing (Unction) of the Spirit (1 John 2:20; 27; 2 Cor. 1:21). The anointing or unction of the Spirit is the ability of the Spirit of God in the believer to give power and intelligence. This is necessary for service, for worship, for direction, and for discernment. When the Spirit of God comes to indwell a person, no matter how young or inexperienced they are, they receive Divine help to discern between truth and error; "ye have not need that any one should teach you; but as the same unction teaches you as to all things" (1 John 2:27). This follows what Jesus taught about "the Comforter, the Holy Spirit... he shall teach you all things, and will bring to your remembrance all the things which I have said to you" (John 14:26). It is by one Spirit that we have access to the Father in prayer (Eph. 2:18). Furthermore, the Spirit is like a "fountain of living water" inside a believer, "springing up" in the enjoyment of eternal life (John 4:14), enabling us to worship the Father (Phil. 3:3). The Spirit is also like "rivers of living water" flowing out to this world with the refreshing testimony of Christ (John 7:38). In Romans we read that the believer has deliverance from sin through the power of the indwelling Spirit (Rom. 8:2). We also find that the sons of God "are led by the Spirit of God", who guides and direct our steps (Rom. 8:14). In 1 Corinthians we read that the indwelling Spirit is the power for ministry in every member of the body of Christ, enabling each one to do his or her service for the Lord (1 Cor. 12:7-11). It is the Spirit of God that strengthens us daily in the inner man (Eph. 3:16). We could summarize the anointing of the Spirit as that which enables the believer to live for God.
The Whole Family (v.28)
Evidence that One is a Child of God (2:29 – 4:6)
Three Assurances of Salvation
- John 2:29 – practice righteousness
- John 3:14 – love the brethren
- John 3:24 – the Spirit indwells
The Children of God Practice Righteousness (2:29 – 3:10)
2 Beloved, now are we children of God, and what we shall be has not yet been manifested; we know that if it is manifested we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. v.2 Although it doesn’t appear so now, we are the children of God. When the Lord appears that will be manifested, and we will be totally like Him. There is a measure of Christ-likeness in us now, but the beauty of it is not apparent. Then the transformation will be complete. Not only physically (Phil. 3:21) but morally!
3 And every one that has this hope in him purifies himself, even as “he” is pure. v.3 Seeing that we will be like Christ then, we ought to be like Him now!
4 Every one that practises sin practises also lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness. v.4 The introduction of the expression “transgression” in some translations gives totally the wrong idea. You don’t need to have a law in order to have sin (Rom. 5:15). We are not under law, but we are not free to be lawless. We are responsible to obey God as subject to Him (1 Cor. 8:20). Sin is “lawlessness”, or living according to our own will without reference to God or anyone else. Antichrist is the epitome of this; the “man of sin”, the “lawless one” (2 Thess. 2). Christ is the total opposite; “I delight to do thy will O my God” (Psa. 40:7-8), which follows in v.5. “Practice” implies a general course of things, like a doctor practices medicine.
5 And ye know that “he” has been manifested that he might take away our sins; and in him sin is not. v.5 There are teo
6 Whoever abides in him, does not sin: whoever sins, has not seen him or known him. v.6 How do we not sin? Abide in communion with Him (John 15). This is characteristic; one who shares the life of Christ has a life that does not sin.
7 Children, let no man lead you astray; he that practises righteousness is righteous, even as “he” is righteous. 8 He that practises sin is of the devil; for from the beginning the devil sins. To this end the Son of God has been manifested, that he might undo the works of the devil. v.8 “From the beginning” – from the very first time we are introduced to the serpent.
The Children of God Love One Another (3:11-23)
The Children of God Have the Indwelling Spirit (3:24 – 4:6)
Love (4:7 – 5:3)
Characteristics of the Children of God (5:4-21)
When the spear pierced the side of a dead Christ, both blood and water flowed out. Blood speaks of the judicial cleansing from the guilt of sin. Water speaks of the moral cleansing from the defilement of sin. Not only has the work of Christ justified us (blood) but it has also cleansed us (water) in God’s sight, in the sight of others, and in my own sight. e.g. this is how Peter could say in his Pentecostal sermon, "whom ye (Israel) have denied". Peter was clean in his own sight as well as others. It says that Christ came "by water and by blood", that is for the purpose of effecting moral and judicial cleansing (sanctification and justification).5 The Spirit of God bears witness to that. John emphasizes "not by water only". It was not the Lord's purpose in coming only to cleanse His people from moral defilement, but also to give God a righteous basis to declare us judicially "just" in His sight (Rom. 3:26). One who is only morally cleansed is not a finished product. There are many religions in the world that profess to be able to wash with water; that is, to produce a holy life. These religions are unable to wash with water, but one thing they cannot even attempt to do is wash with blood. They cannot even grasp how the guilt of sin can be put away, and how a sinner can be justified in God’s sight. Christ came, not by water only, but by water and blood. It is a distinctive characteristic of Christianity. In 1 John 5 the water is mentioned before the blood because that is the order in which they are applied to a believer. We must be born again first, then we believe on the only-begotten Son for eternal life. Even in Old Testament typology, the sons of Aaron were washed with water first, then sprinkled with blood (Lev. 8). But in John 19:34 the blood is mentioned before water because that was the order they came out in historically, and the order which has God's interests first, before man's need. The Spirit bears witness (1 John 5:6) and makes both things good to the believing soul, so that all three agree in one!
- The Apostle is like an analytical chemist, but of a spiritual order. He is resolving things into their primitive elements and he is showing us what are the essential properties of those elements. He is not asking us to think of all the combinations and mixtures in which the elements are found in the ordinary way. – Hole, F.B. Overcoming. Scripture Truth Vol. 29, 1937, page 260
- Another thing to be remarked is this, that all John’s statements are absolute. He never modifies them by bringing in the difficulties or hindrances that we may have in the body. “He that is born of God,” he says in chapter 3, “does not commit sin.” He is speaking there according to the very essence of the nature. The divine nature cannot sin. It is not a question of progress or degree, but “he cannot sin because he is born of God.” “He that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not,” chap. 5. The wicked one touches the Christian often; but he never can touch the divine life: and John always states it in its own proper absoluteness, according to the truth itself. – Darby, J.N. Notes on the First Epistle of John. Collected Writings, vol. 28, p. 214
- A deeper blessing it is impossible for God to bestow or for man to receive; for it is exactly what characterised the Lord Himself, Who is the eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested unto us. Only Christ could be said to be that life; we as believers are not, but we have it in Him; and as by faith alone it is received, so in faith it is exercised, sustained, and strengthened. - Kelly, W. Exposition of the Gospel of John.
- This falling away of individuals later progressed into “the last days”, wherein widespread false profession and blatant denial of the Lordship of Christ came in (2 Tim. 3:1-9; 4:3; 2 Pet. 3:3).
- We are cleansed by the water of death (sanctification), and we are also cleansed by blood (justification). - Darby, J.N. Notes on the First Epistle of John.