Year of the Bible – 1 John 1:1-3

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. . . but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus in not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world.
– 1 John 4:3

1 John 1:1-3 John vs. 13 (2 John vs. 1-13)

These letters of the Apostle John are very short, but they are letters warning of the encroachment of a new false teaching, a heresy, that would infect the church like cancer infects the body. Christians were to be wary of it and not lose their faith. Gnostics had a false understanding of good and evil. They denied the incarnation of Christ and misunderstood Law and Gospel. John proved from Jesus’ nature and person that Gnosticism was false and dangerous. The Gnostics did not believe that the suffering and death of Christ actually brought about our forgiveness. John said: He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world. (I John 2:2)

The Gnostics taught that the Christian life was not important, that the sinful nature was unredeemable. John said: This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did. (2:6) We are to love our brother, hate the world, beware of antichrists, do what is right. John understood that all Christians sin. But continuing in sin, when we know better, is dangerous and a sign of unbelief: The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work. No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God. (3:8, 9) This victory over the world was not accomplished by human might and effort, but by faith in the Word of God: This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God. (5:4, 5) John also wanted to emphasize that Jesus was not just a person who was present in the world a long time ago. Jesus was and is still present with us—but how? This is the one who came by water and blood—Jesus Christ. He did not come by water only, but by water and blood…anyone who believes in the Son of God has this testimony in his heart. (5:6, 10) The verb “comes” is a “durative present” – meaning, still comes.

He is always present, even now, in Baptism and the Lord’s Supper. In the following epistles John urges his believer-children to continue in their love and to watch out for false teachers, deceivers who do not acknowledge Jesus coming into the world in the flesh. If someone comes and does not have all the doctrines of Christ, they are not to be given reception or welcome (fellowship). (II John 1:8-11) This principle of fellowship is further explained in III John.

1 – 3 John Questions:
  1. What heresy was the Apostle John warning against?
  2. Explain some of the basic beliefs of this heresy.
  3. What proofs does John say will mark or identify the Christian from those who only “claim” to be Christians?
  4. Do Christians, sincere Christians, stop sinning?
  5. How does Jesus come to us today?
  6. What responsibility do we Christians have towards those who try and have fellowship with us – when in fact they do not believe and teach the same things?
  7. Why?
© John W. Fiene | Artwork by Brian McFarland