Teaching and Study Notes...

First Letter of John

A Breakdown of Scripture

Prologue 1:1-5

Walking in God's light: 1:1-2:14

Apostolic Christianity: 1:1-4

The tests of true christianity: 1:5-2:27

The test of obedience - 1:5-2:17

First presentation of the two tests: 1:6-2:27

These are tests of the claim to have union ('koinonia' - 'fellowship') with God:

The ethical love and christological theses.

First Test - The ethical (love) test - 1:6 - 2:17

The Apostle argures that walking in the light is the true sign of Union ('koinonia' - 'fellowship') with God/

This is the first refutation of the two series of lies.

God is light - the necessity of a believer walking in the light: 1:6-2:11

Response to the claim to have union with God who is light: 1:6-2:2

First claim - we have union with him and test: 1:6-7

Second claim and refutation: 1:8-9

Third claim and refutation: 1:10-2:2

Christ is our advocate: 2:1-2

Response to the claims to know, abide, be in the light: 2:3-11

Formula of reassuring test: 2:3

Fourth claim and test: 2:4-5

Fifth claim and test: 2:6

The old commandment which is new: 2:7-8

Sixth claim and test: 2:9-11

Preliminary appeal: 2:12-14

Admonition false love: 2:15-17

Practising God's truth: 2:15-3:10; 4:16

The test of truth: 2:18-27

The christological test - 2:18 - 27

Faith in Jesus Christ as the test of the claim to have fellowship with God

Refutation of the second lie

Second presentation of the two tests: 2:28-4:6

The new life of the children of God: 2:28-4:12

The life free from Sin: 2:28-3:10

Living in God's love: 3:11-24; 4:7-21

The ethical test: 2:28-3:24

Doing righteousness {= love of the brethren}: The sign by which we may know we are born of God

Acting righteously is the test of abiding in him: 2:28-29

Sanctification {separation from the corruption of the world}

The test of the claim to being sons and daughters of God: 3:1-3

The incompatibility of sin and righteousness: 3:4-10

The life that is love: 3:11-18

The incompatibility of love and hate: 3:11-18

The life of assurance: 3:19-24

The grounds for confidence before God: 3:19-24

Emphasising the connection between the two tests: 3:22-24

The christological test: 4:1-6

The life in God's family: 4:1-12

The spirit of God confesses that Christ Jesus has come in the flesh

stressing the inseparable relation between the two tests - Love based on faith in the revelation of love

Seventh claim and test: 4:7-21

God's love is the source of love for one another: 4:7-12

The proof of knowing God and being born of God: 4:7-21

The spirit is the source of love for one another: 4:13-16a

Love excludes fear: 4:13-21

Christian Certainty: 4:13-5:12

Abiding in love is the ground of confidence before God: 4:16b-21

Sharing God's victory: 5:1-21

Love is founded on truth: Faith is the foundation of love: 5:1-12

Those who believe are begotten of God and love one another: 5:1-3

Victory over the world: 5:4-5

The witness to the son is the witness to eternal life: 5:6-12

Conclusion: 5:13-21

PostScript: 5:13-21

To reestablish confidence: 5:13-15

Prayer for those sinning: 5:16-17

God and the problem of sin: 5:18-20

Final exhortation: 5:21

Notes to the Letter

Jerome tells us in Jerome on Galatians V1.10 quoted by Plummer p. xxxv - that when the aged apostle became so weak

that he could no longer preach, he used to be carried into the congregation at Ephesus and content himself with a

word of exhortation 'little children' he would always say, 'love one another'. And when his hearers grew tired of

this message and asked him why he so frequently repeated it, he responded 'because it is enough.'

Early patristics writings suggest that the letters are not addressed to those who have caused the difficulties

{i.e. trouble}. The general consencus of scholars is that the letter is of a circular nature, it is unaddressed,

without the usual characteristic style which opens most letters, see Paul's letter to the Romans and the opening of

the letter to 1 & 2 Corinthians. The letter was probably sent from Ephesus to the congregations of Asia Minor

toward the end of the first century.

When we study Galatians 2:9 we are able to see that John remained in Jerusalem for some time as one of the pillars of the church.

He appears to have been present at the council of Jerusalem in Acts 15:22. Irenaeus a disciple of John's disciple Polycarp,

tells us that the apostle continued in the church at Ephesus until the times of Trajan 98-117 AD.

Each of the three letters (1 - 3 John) deal with a challenge to the teaching or authority which had rise

within the churches in Asia. They are pastoral in nature and are directed to those Christians who had remained faithful to

strengthen their faith and reinforce their loyalty during crisis.

All five books -

were written in the province of Asia during the last decade of first century AD or first decade of second century AD

i.e. within a period of twenty years. Internal evidence supported by external sources enable us to have a

relatively clear understanding of what was taking place culturally within general society and religious practice,

thus causing the books to be written.

1 John

2 John

3 John

The Gospel of John

The fourth Gospel (the book of Acts of the Apostles)

These writings raise question which are of importance for -

Christian faith

Christian practice

Christian assurance

The validity of Christian experience

The relation of inspiration to authority

The proper attitude to those who hold convictions different to your own

The meaning of love

Warnings - against those who make claims which are not justified by the facts

1 John 1:6 - if we say

1 John 1:8 - if we say

1 John 2:4 - he who says

1 John 2:6 - he who says

1 John 4:20 - if anyone says

What was the problem

A special knowledge of the love of God and a peculiarly intimate relationship with him which has set them

above the common distinctions between good and evil and therefore above the demands of Christian ethics.

The denial that Jesus was the Christ (1 John 2:22), Christians who denied the incarnation, (1 John 4:22),

these were Christians who had formerly been members of the church, but had gone away and withdrawn from Christian

fellowship to start a new movement of their own (1 John 2:19).

This was a belief system which taught that 'Salvation; was by knowledge devoid of moral concern

The denial that Jesus had not come in the flesh was a form of docetism

A general denial of the reality of Christ's human nature or to be more precise the theory that Christ had adopted

only the outward appearance of human form, a shallow disguise used to accommodate his divine nature.

It nourished a spirituality which was held materials in contempt

The moral laxity stigmatised an indifference to the practical demands of the law of love.

Cerinthus, taught

That Jesus was merely human

That after his baptism there descended into him from the supreme power; 'Christ in the form of a dove'

That he 'proclaimed' the 'unknown father' and 'performed miracles'

That finally Christ withdrew from Jesus

Cerinthus, denied that Jesus came in the flesh

because he denied that the human Jesus could in anyway be identified with the divine Christ.

Some questions to ask about the text you are reading

What type of text is it?

Where can I find more information about the text?

Who wrote the text?

Who was the intended reader – ie., Who is the writer speaking to [is it an individual or a group of people?

What is the point that the author is making ie., what is the purpose of the text?

How was the text transmitted to others?

When was the text written?

Where was the text written ie., what is the cultural background of the text?

Would their cultural experience or background have helped or hindered their understanding of this text?

Specific question about the text.

Is the statement or text you are reading simply a ‘fact’?

Is it simply written in the first person, for example how is the text being presented to you as you read it?

Is the text informing you of a point of information or simply causing you to stop and think?

Is the text a statement which questions the readers spiritual position?

Is the text part of a larger context and if so what is being said?

Is the text bringing clarity to a previous text?

Is the text a statement by the author which continues from a previous chapter?

Is the text a statement which has relevance today, if so, in what way and can the text be applied within my own cultural understanding?

Would members of non-Christian groups have had access to this text?

Would members of other religious groups (ie., Pharisees / Sadducees or Zealots etc) have had access to this text?

Ask yourself, would any other individuals or grouof individuals have been expected to read or have had opportunity to read this text? Ie., would it have been a private document?

In the light of these questions:

Is your new understanding about this text: for example, about the way this text would have been interpreted by the original reader?

About the way they would have understood the text?


There is a great difference between interpreting a text and that of understanding a text: it is important to note that incorrect interpretation will give an incorrect understanding and a misguided view of scriptural integrity leading to incorrect spiritual lifestyle. Discuss the importance of correct interpretation of text.

Ask yourself how the reader would have reacted to the text?

Put yourself in the position of the original reader, how would you have reacted to the text.

What does the text say to you personally?

Ask yourself, what practical application does this text have in relation to my personal spiritual life, or the life of my church group?

Are there any other questions that you personally could ask about this text and what it is saying?

Ask yourself if questions like this are important to the individual reader and the ministry of the church today?

Christian Biblical Scriptures

Billy Bray, a famous Cornish Evangelist speaking of his conversion tells us that he "... shouted for Joy. I Praised God with my whole heart for what he had done for a poor sinner like me; for I could say, The Lord hath pardoned all my sins. I think this was in November, 1823, but what day I do not know. I remember this that everything looked new to me, the people, the fields, the cattle, the trees. I was like a man in a new world... ... they said I was a mad man but they meant I was a glad man, and glory be to God! I have been glad ever since." - Bray, B., (1962), Billy Bray The Kings Son, The Epworth Press, City Road London E.C.1, Pages 19-20

Lee Strobel explains that 'Zechariah 2:10-13 predicts a time when "many nations will be joined with the Lord" and become his people. The New Testament authors certainly believed that Jesus fulfilled this prophecy... ...The inclusiveness of Jesus' ministry, his teachings and the outreach of his church are evidence that salvation comes through faith, not cultural pedigree. Although this concept may have shocked many who adhered to Jewish tradition, it gave hope to people who had never experienced hope.' - Strobel, L., (1984), The Case for Christ Study Bible: Investigating the Evidence for Belief, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, USA., page 1290

Lee Strobel tells us that "...This central message of the bible portrays Jesus and our redemption through his blood. Finally once and for all, he dealt with the issues of our guilt, our loneliness and ore alienation from God. Through his atoning death and ressurection, he opened up heaven for everyone who follows him.' - Strobel, L., (1984), The Case for Christ Study Bible: Investigating the Evidence for Belief, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, USA., page 1464.