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Purpose of The Book of 1 John:
False teachers were trying to mislead the first-century Christians by denying, among many things, the true humanity of Jesus Christ. The view that Jesus was not truly human was a belief of false teachers called Gnostics. There are two passages in which the false teachers are specifically rejected (1 John 2:18 and 1 John 4:1-6). The Gnostics also claimed superior knowledge of the truth. But nine times John describes what it means to know the truth (2:3, 2:5, 3:16, 3:19, 3:24, 4:2, 4:6, 4:13, 5:2).
Summary of The Book of 1 John:
This epistle is a discourse upon the principles of Christianity, in doctrine and practice. The design appears to be to refute and guard against erroneous and unholy tenets, principles, and practices, especially such as would lower the Godhead of Christ, and the reality and power of his sufferings and death, as an atoning sacrifice; and against the assertion that believers being saved by grace, are not required to obey the commandments. While the Gospel of John was written to prove that Jesus was God, 1 John was written to prove Jesus was a real human too. John was also encouraging his readers in the truth and life of Christ. John had two main purposes in mind: 1) to expose false teachers and 2) to give believers assurance of their salvation. In keeping with his purpose to combat the Gnostic false teachers (who taught that the spirit is entirely good and flesh or matter is entirely evil), John struck at their lack of morality. By giving his eyewitness testimony to the incarnation, he wanted to confirm his readers’ belief in the incarnate Christ.
Author and Dates of The Book of 1 John:
The author of the Gospel of John is the same John who wrote 1 John, 2 John, and 3 John. There is hardly a new thought in 1 John that is not already found in the Gospel of John. There is similarity between these two in vocabulary, syntax, style, and ideas. The author of 1 John is John son of Zebedee-the apostle and the author of the Gospel of John and the book of Revelation. He was a first cousin of Jesus. The letter is difficult to date with certainty. But, it was probably written around AD 90.
In light of John’s substantial ministry in Ephesus, the epistles were probably written to churches located in or around Asia Minor. 1 John mentions no addressee and contains no specific greetings or thanksgivings that usually are found in first century letters. However, we may infer from John’s frequent reference to “my dear children” that he is addressing first or second generation Christians. Also, the lack of direct quotes form the OT seems to point to a predominantly Gentile audience rather than Jewish Christians.
Outline of The Book of 1 John:
Themes of The Book of 1 John:
The major theme in 1 John is “Light and Darkness.” In view of the “light and darkness” teaching in 1 John, we can say that the “new age” has started as night is yielding to day and light is subduing darkness. The Gnostics of the time taught that light and darkness were two equal forces. But in John’s letter, “light” is the “world of God”- the redeemed world, and darkness is the “world” - the world of humans who lie in the realm of the evil one (1 John 5:19). But the light is already and presently overcoming the darkness and will be complete when Jesus returns. The world of darkness, which is in rebellion toward God, is being subdued by the world of light that is the ransomed people of God.
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