DATE: circa 90 AD
1 John: Tradition strongly supports that John spent his old age in Ephesus. Lack of personal references in this letter indicates that it was written to Christians all over Asia Minor.
John wrote to address the heresy of Gnosticism. Gnosticism does not deal with sin, only ignorance. Gnosticism holds that matter is evil and that overcoming that evil through knowledge. Gnosticism crept into the early Christian church with the false teaching of:
- knowledge is superior to virtue,
- only a select few can understand Scripture,
- evil in the world precludes God’s being the only Creator,
- deity cannot unite itself with anything material such as a body (Docetism), and
- there is no resurrection of the flesh.
John wrote to believers who were dear to him and called them his “little children.” He wrote in concern for their spiritual welfare and presented many of his teachings through contrast, including
- light vs. darkness (1 John 1:6-7; 2:8-11),
- love of world vs. love of God (1 John 2:15-17),
- children of God vs. children of the devil (1 John 3:4-10),
- the Spirit of God vs. the spirit of Antichrist (1 John 4:1-3), and
- love vs. hate (1 John 4:7-12, 16-21).
John wrote about knowing (38 times some form of “know” is used) to give assurance to the children of God (“children” used 12 times) of God’s love (“love” used 33 times).
OUTLINE OF 1 JOHN
I. Introduction: The Purpose of the Letter, 1:1-4
II. Conditions for Fellowship, 1:5-2:2
A. Conformity to a Standard, 1:5-7
B. Confession of Sin, 1:8-2:2
III. Conduct in Fellowship, 2:3-27
A. The Character of Our Conduct–Imitation, 2:3-11
B. The Commandment for Our Conduct– Separation, 2:12-17
C. The Creed for Our Conduct–Affirmation, 2:18-27
IV. Characteristics of Fellowship, 2:28-3:24
A. In Relation to Our Prospect: Purity, 2:28-3:3
B. In Relation to Our Position: Righteousness and Brotherly Love, 3:4-18
C. In Relation to Our Prayers: Answers, 3:19-24
V. Cautions of Fellowship, 4:1-21
A. Concerning False, Lying Spirits, 4:1-6
B. Concerning a True, Loving Spirit, 4:7-21
1. The ground of brotherly love, 4:7-10
2. The glories of love, 4:11-21
VI. Consequences of Fellowship, 5:1-21
A. Love for the Brethren, 5:1-3
B. Victory over the World, 5:4-5
C. Verification of Christ’s Credentials, 5:6-12
D. Assurance of Eternal Life, 5:13
E. Guidance in Prayer, 5:14-17
F. Freedom from Habitual Sin, 5:18-21
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