Tod Kennedy, July-August, 2010
This is not a detailed study of 1 John. It only highlights a few points of emphasis and explanation for our Christian way of life study. We have looked at 1 John 1 in more detail because it teaches the foundations for our faith and practice—the person and work of Jesus Christ and fellowship with God. Since we did that in class I will only list the points of emphasis for that chapter and then give more explanation for chapters 2-5.
I John Chapter Titles
- Christology, God’s nature, fellowship
- Knowing God, worldliness, antichrists
- God’s seed (nature) cannot sin
- Test spirits, God is love, abide
- Victory, assurance, prayer, sin
1 John 1 points of emphasis
- Christ always existed with God the Father and so always was and always is God. He is eternal (1 John 1:1).
- Jesus Christ became true humanity and the apostles saw him, heard him speak, and touched him (1 John 1:1-3). Therefore any claim that Jesus was only a spirit and not a real man (gnosticism) was false (1 John 1:1-3).
- That Jesus is both God and man (Christology and hypostatic union) is foundational for fellowship with the Father and Son, and with believers (1 John 1:3).
- Knowing and passing on these truths brings joy (1 John 1:4).
- God is light (perfectly holy, righteous, and just) and to have fellowship with God a believer must walk or live in this same light which is to live a life without sin. A believer may claim to walk in the light when he is not doing so 1 John 1:5, 6, 8,10).
- When a believer confesses (`omologew homolegeo) the sin, God forgives the sin and cleanses from all unrighteousness. He restores the believer to fellowship (1 John 1:9).
- “If” in verses 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 indicate 3rd class conditions (ean ean + subjunctive mood=3rd class if=a general condition or a future probable condition). It means if one thing happens then another thing will happen. See Matthew 15:14 and John 14:3 for illustrations.
1 John 2 points of explanation
- Jesus Christ is our defense attorney before the Father when we sin (1 John 2:1-2). Advocate (NASB) is the Greek word parakletos, one called to one’s aid, a legal assistant, an intercessor. Jesus, because of his successful substitution for our sins is our defense attorney. He is the propitiation for the sins of the whole world (unlimited atonement). Propitiation, Greek hilasmos (also 1 John 4:10), a sin offering. This word is related to the Greek word hilasterion found in Romans 3:25 and Hebrews 9:5, and also in the LXX translation of the Hebrew Bible in Leviticus 16:2 and Exodus 25:17 “mercy seat” where the blood was applied on the day of atonement, Hebrew kapporeth propitiatory, cover over sin. When a believer sins, that sin was covered by Jesus’ death for all of us. He now defends us against accusation by the enemy.
- Keeping God’s word demonstrates God’s kind of love in a believer (1 John 2:3-5). We know at this time that we really have known (in the sense of close and thorough knowledge) Jesus Christ if we now keep his commandments. Good fellowship brings about a thorough knowledge of the character and personality of another and so we want to please that one. You cannot fake this as verse 4 says. The topic here is not whether one is a believer or not. It refers to good fellowship and camaraderie.
- We are not to love the world in the sense that it holds our attentions and loyalty (1 John 2:15-17). The Greek words for love are agapao and agape, the love that emphasizes sacrifice, responsibility, protection, and spiritual welfare. See 1 Corinthians 13:4-7. John contrasts loving the world and all that is in it above loving our heavenly Father. Placing supreme value on the world instead of our heavenly Father is not only wrong, it is loving something that is only temporary. One who loves the Father will do his will and that kind of life and ir’s production lasts forever.
- One who denies that Jesus is the Christ is against Christ (1 John 2:22). The antichrist philosophy begins with denying that Jesus is Messiah God. This is a denial of Jesus, who is undiminished deity and true humanity in one person forever (Hypostatic Union).
1 John 3 points of explanation
- The Father calls us his children (1 John 3:1-2). John addresses his audience as beloved and we. This indicates again that his audience is believers. We are called children of the father (God the father). The word for children is teknon which refers a child, one who is a descendent, youngsters, or offspring. We are now our heavenly father’s children. As children we need training. The world does not know us in the sense of understanding us. We are related to God with a different character, lifestyle, and purpose. Someday we shall be just like Jesus Christ. Consider 2 Corinthians 5:17 where as new creatures in Christ we have a new relationship with God, a new kind of life (eternal life in quality and length), a new capacity to know, grow, fellowship with, serve God, and a new means of living.
- The new nature, God’s seed, cannot sin. If we sin it is from the old Adam nature (1 John 3:4-10). John writes to spiritual children (teknon). This section of 1 John presents a wonderful truth, but it is often missed. The simple point is that we, believers in Christ, are new creations in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17) and are the offspring of God (seed, 1 John 3:9). Ultimately, all sin comes from Satan, the first sinner. All righteousness is comes from God. From that perspective we are like our sinless parent, and so when we live from our new creation position we cannot and do not sin. Personal sin comes from the Adam man or the old man under the domination of the sinful nature. Recall that every believer is also called or has the new man (Ephesians 4:24), new creation (2 Corinthians 5:217, Galatians 6:15), partakers of the divine nature (2 Peter 1.4), and God’s seed remains in us (1 John 3.9).This develops into the “Christ formed in you” of Galatians 4.19 and the “put on the Lord Jesus Christ” man of Romans 13.14. Alternative interpretations include taking “does not sin” and “cannot sin” as progressive present tenses meaning continually sin, or meaning that the person is really not a believer. Neither of these fits the context of John’s writings nor other New Testament teachings. Also compare Romans 6-8.
1 John 4 points of emphasis
- Those who deny that Jesus is Messiah Christ in the flesh are false prophets and false spirits (1 John 4:1-3). John again brings up the controversy put forward by false prophets motivated by demons. They claim that Jesus is not God. Believers are to apply a test to the doctrine of Jesus Christ. The demons, through false prophets, deny the deity and humanity of Jesus Christ. These are ones who are of the anti-Christ faction. John’s points include: we are to be careful to think biblically about what we see and hear; and we must never waver from the doctrine of the hypostatic union—Jesus Christ is undiminished deity and true humanity in one person forever. Christology, as John emphasized in chapter one is foundational to our Christian lives.
- God first loved us, and we are to love God and other believers (1 John 4:7-21). We are continuing to learn that godly love (that which God produces in the believer through the Holy Spirit) is a mark of a believer and a responsibility of a believer. When John, in this section, says “does not know God” (1 John 4:8) he is not saying that one is not “born of God.” Note what is not said in verse 8 compared to verse 7. Intimate fellowship “know God” is the meaning of verse 8. God initiated this love; it was sacrificial; it was known by God sending His Son (1 John 4:9-10, 19). Our responsibility to also love is in verse 11. No has seen God because he is spirit, yet his existence and character become evident by our godly love for others (1 John 4:12-14). Biblical Christology (“confess that Jesus is the Son of God”) is inseparable from abiding in God (meno, to remain, to continue, and in John’s context to remain in fellowship with God) and experiencing and expressing godly love (1 John 4:15-17). One who is experiencing and expressing godly love is under God’s direction and so will not fear the judgment seat of Christ (1 John 4:18). Furthermore, love of God and hate of a spiritual brother are not compatible. The conclusion is that if one loves God he should also love his spiritual brother (1 John 4:20-21).
1 John 5 points of emphasis
- More about love for God and love for believers (1 John 5:1-3). These verses summarize John’s argument about love and the believer. Verse 1a refers to the gaining of eternal life by faith. Everyone believing (articular present active participle used as the subject of the sentence; indicates a faith person) that Jesus is the Christ (hypostatic union) is born of God (perfect passive indicative, predicate nominative making a statement about the subject). That one is a Christian. Verses 1b-3 refer to the Christian life. Love for the Father—the Greek text has “the one who gave birth”—and God’s children go hand in hand with obeying his word. Disobedience of God’s word is incompatible with love for God. The text: everyone loving (agapaw, articular present active participle used as the subject) the one who gave birth (refers to God the father) loves (agapaw, present active indicative) the one born from him. Love for God and doing God’s word produces love for God’s children (teknon, God’s spiritual children, believers). Again, I suggest comparing doing God’s word with Romans 6 where knowing, believing, and applying God’s word are considered a team.
- Faith and victory (1 John 5:4-5). Where verse 1a presents faith at the point of eternal salvation, verses 4-5 continue John’s teaching about the faith person operating in the Christian life. Verse 4 “is born” (articular perfect passive participle used as the subject) refers to a believer, and he overcomes (present active indicative of nikao, probably customary present) the world in his experience. He pleases God. Recall 1 John 2:15-15. How does he overcome the world? He overcomes the world by faith. Faith describes and clarifies “the victory.” Verse 5 summarizes Christian life victory: the one overcoming (articular present active participle use as a predicate nominative explaining “who”) the world is the one believing (articular present active participle, used as the subject) that Jesus is the Son of God. The Christian that defeats the world system, the one who experiences Christian victory, is the one who has his Christology correct and faithfully focuses his attention on Jesus, the Son of God.
- Faith in God’s son brings eternal life and God wants everyone who believes in his Son to know that he possesses eternal life (1 John 5:10-13). We have taught this many times. In verse 10, points to remember are the phrases “the one who believes” and “the one who does not believe.” Both are articular present active participles used as subjects; they are descriptive presents. The object is the Son of God and God’s testimony about his Son. The person who believes in the son has (present active indicative) the testimony in himself. What is the testimony? The testimony is about God’s Son. Verses 11-12 expand on what the testimony is. God gave eternal life; this life is in God’s Son; whoever has the Son has eternal life. It is a gift. The life is in God’s Son—in no one else or in no other place. In verse 13, John writes so that his readers, those who believe (articular present active participle, dative in simple apposition to “you”) in the name of the Son of God, may know (the verb oida in the perfect tense is used with a present tense meaning) for certain that they do possess (present active indicative of echo) eternal life. No question or uncertainty. If one believes in the name of God’s Son that person possesses eternal life. The name identifies the person. John continues to emphasize the God-Man, Jesus the Christ, the Son of God. This teaches assurance of salvation for every believer.
- Prayer should be according to God’s will (1 John 5:14-15).
- Sin in the life of a believer can be disastrous (1 John 5:16-18).