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An overview of 1 John
A survey of 1 John

This morning I am going to lead you on a tour of I John. My intent is to point out to you some of the famous verses of 1 John while highlighting some of the major themes of 1 John-- all with the goal of seeing you "go further" on your own.

Introductory comments

-1 John would have been written between 80-95 AD
-The early church Fathers testify that John lived and wrote this book while in Ephesus (before his exile to the island of Patmos)
-The John in question is the disciple John (brother to James, an eye witness to the life, ministry, death, and resurrected person of Jesus, one of the inner circle of 3, author of the Gospel of John, 1-3 John, and Revelation, known as the beloved disciple, the only one not to die as a martyr
-The letter of 1 John has a hard structure to discern. Many commentators describe it as "spiral" as the course of thought does not move from point to point in a straight line. Rather, 1 John moves like a winding staircase- always revolving around the same centre, always recurring to the same topics.
-Structural similarities and themes exist between 1 John and the Gospel of John (so check out John)

John gives a few stated reasons for writing 1 John, one of which was to refute and expose some false teachers who were infiltrating, deceiving, and destabilizing the church.

In 1 John 2:26 we read "I am writing these things to you about those who are trying to lead you astray."

John and the church's opponents

They held some sort of deficient view of Jesus (downplaying and denying the humanity of Christ. Some asserted that Jesus had no material body, it just appeared that he did).

John's response: Jesus was and is fully man and fully God. Beginning with his assertion that John had seen Jesus with his own eyes and touched him with his own hands, John proceeds from there.


Another major reason for John writing 1 John was that he might encourage the believers as it regarded the assurance of their salvation.

1 John 5:13 says "I write these things to you believe in the name of the Son of God so that yo may know that you have eternal life."

APPLICATION: WONDERING WHAT THE KEYS ARE TO HAVING A GREAT ASSURANCE OF FAITH? Check out 1 John and note what John highlights is important in a Christians life.

READ 1 John 1-2:3


1 John 1:8-9 " If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness."

1 John 2:1-3 "My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense -Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. 2 He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world."

1 John 3:1 " How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!"

1 John 4:9-10 "This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins."

1 John 5:3 "This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome,"

1 John 5:20 "We know also that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true. And we are in him who is true-even in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life."


Marks of a follower of Christ, Sin, Jesus- his identity and work on our behalf, Love, Staying true to Christ, Identifying and resisting false teaching

3 themes that caught my attention this week (you should note that all the themes overlap/intertwine, interlace, and build upon each other. To separate them is an artificial act)

I. The theme of sin

This theme caught my attention because its not a very popular subject. More than most of the other epistles in the NT, John talks a lot about sin, in fact, in every chapter of 1 John he brings it up.

Sin is our chief problem. Sin is why there is a Hell. Sin separates us from God. Sin affects us all. We are all sinners.

A walk thru

-In terms of an image for sin, John speaks of "darkness" contrasting this against righteousness, purity, and holiness; using the image of light 1:5
-One of the critical things John says is this: "If we claim to be without sin or claim that we have not sinned, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us, furthermore we are in effect calling God a liar" 1:8,10
-Lying is a sin. A big lie is to deny that Jesus is the Christ/Messiah 2:22
-To break any of God's laws is sin. This is why sin is called lawlessness 3:4 All wrongdoing is sin . 5:17-Jesus came to take away our sin 3:5
-Jesus was and is sinless 3:5-In Christ, we are purified from all sin 1:7
-If we confess our sins, Jesus will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness 1:9
-The most awesome news in the world is that as Christians, when we do sin, Jesus speaks in our defense to the Father 2:2
-On the cross Jesus took the punishment we deserve for our sins 2:3
-The greatest expression of God's love for us is that He sent His Son Jesus to die on the cross for us and to take the punishment that we deserve for our sins. 4:9-10.-Jesus' sacrifice on the cross was sufficient for our sins and the sins of the whole world 2:3.
-To hate another person is sin 2:9 "Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates his brother is still in darkness" see also 4:19-21
-On a number of occasions Satan, being called the evil one is referenced in 1 John. He is identified as one who encourages sinful behavior 2:13, 14
-John identifies a number of temptations to sin that we face- temptations that come from within "The lust of the eyes and the boasting of what we have and do or are about to do." 2:16
-A mark of a true follower of Christ is to try and stop from sinning/breaking God's laws 3:6
-John wrote 1 John to keep us from sinning. Hence our goal is to live a holy life. 2:1
-Not caring about whether one is sinning or not, and persisting in sin is evidence that one is a child of the devil 3:8-10
-Because of Jesus and his work on the cross for us we are not to have any fear of the Day of Judgment -- which is coming because of sin. 4:17-18
-When we see or hear of a brother/sister sinning, we should pray for them 5:16
-Another great benefit we have in Christ: God keeps us safe, the Evil One cannot harm us 5:18

APPLICATION: It is a dreadful thing to die in your sins. If you have not turned to Christ for the forgiveness of sins and peace with God-- what is holding you back? We are all sinners. The wages of sin is death and judgment in Hell. God has made a way for us to be reconciled to Him and forgiven of our sins: His gift is Christ and his death on the cross

II. JESUS- His person, work, and critical beliefs we are to have about Him

As noted earlier, John's opponents, were somehow undermining the person and work of Christ, hence John reminds his readings that he was an actual eye witness of the person and work of Christ and had an intimate knowledge of Jesus.

Keys to John's presentation of Christ:

Jesus fully man, fully God. Belief in Jesus as the Son of God, as Messiah, as the only Savior and Lord is absolutely essential to salvation and the forgiveness of sins.

A walk thru

-Jesus is called the Word of life 1:1
-He came from the Father 1:3
-He appeared in the flesh 1:2
-Jesus is and was sinless 3:5
-He is eternal life. 1:2. Eternal life is found in Christ alone. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life 5:12; 2:25. Reminds me of John 14:6 "WAY, TRUTH, LIFE". See also John 17:1-3 for a definition of eternal life.
-The greatest expression of God's love for us is that he sent His Son as an atoning/propitiatory sacrifice for our sins. 4:10 God did this so that we might have eternal life.
-He is the Son of God. Repeatedly John declares Jesus as the Son of God.

Jesus: Son of God

-speaking of his unique relationship with the Father
-As the Son, He reveals the Father
-As the Son, He mediates salvation and peace with the Father
-In calling himself the Son of God and claiming that God was his Father, Jesus made himself equal with God (John 5:18) Hence, to declare Jesus as the Son of God was to declare Jesus as equal with the Father and hence equal with God *** based on the self testimony of Jesus.

A critical belief is to believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that he was fully man and is fully God. 5:1-12 As to highlight the point that Jesus is God, the second last verse of 1 John says of Jesus "He is the true God and eternal life" 5:20

-Jesus came to destroy the devil's work 3:8
-His blood, shed for us, purifies us from all sin 1:7
-Jesus is the one alone who can forgive us of our sins-- received by us confessing them and putting our faith in him 1:9
-When we sin, He speaks to the Father in our defense 2:1
-He is the atoning/propitiatory sacrifice for our sins and more than that, His work on the cross (taking the punishment that we deserve) is sufficient for the whole world (if they would come to him in faith and repentance) 2:2
-We are to walk as Jesus did 2:6
-To deny that Jesus is the Christ/Messiah is sin. Such a person is an antichrist 2:22
-The command of God is this: To believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us. 3:23**** Reminds me of John 6:28-29 which says; "Then they asked him, "What must we do to do the works God requires?" Jesus answered, "The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent."
-Acknowledging that Jesus came in the flesh is an important belief 4:2**
-If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the son of God, God lives in him and he in God 4:14-15
-Our calling is to remain in Christ. 2:24. 28
-Jesus is coming back. When he does we shall see him as he is 3:2. Hence we purify ourselves and seek to obey His commands 3:3

APPLICATION: IF YOU HAVEN'T ALREADY, PUT YOUR FAITH IN CHRIST AS SAVIOR AND LORD. GO TO HIM TO SALVATION, FORGIVENESS, AND ETERNAL LIFE. STAY TRUE TO HIM. Further: Do not waver in your belief in Jesus: fully God, fully man, the only Savior, returning King.


Interlaced between the themes of sin and the person and work of Christ is the call to Love-- to love our fellow man, to love God. Further to this, God's unmerited and undeserved love for us is spoken of -- it being the ultimate motivator for our serving and obeying God.

Love is to be a defining mark a follower of Christ.

Love in 1 John

-God is love 4:16
-If you say you are a follower of Jesus, loving each other is a mark/identifier of being a follower of Christ 2:10; 4:7
-The love we have for others comes from God. 4:19
-It is incompatible to say "I love God" and hate another person 4:20-21
-We are to love one another-- taking care to not being like Cain 3:11-15. Over and over we told to love one another
-Our love is to be demonstrated by action 3:18
-We are not to love the World- for it and its desires are passing away. 2:15-17
-God's love for us is so amazing --see in us being called his children (such is through Christ) 3:1
-The ultimate expression of God's love for us is Jesus laying down his life for us 3:16 We are to emulate this love of Christ 3:17
-In terms of us knowing God, He is the one that took the initiative. "This is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for ours sins" 4:10
-Our realization and appropriation of God's love in a relationship with Christ, takes away all fear of the judgment to come. 4:17-18. "There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ" Romans 8:1
-Proof of our loving God is to a. Love others b. Obey God's commands 5:1-3

Let us pray