What does it say?

John’s first epistle focuses on God’s love and our need to reflect that love. John is both tender and strong as he writes to his children in the faith. He is probably the only of the original twelve apostles still alive at this time.

John contends that God is light and sent his only Son as the Light of the world. As his followers we should walk in his light (1Jo 1). To know God is to obey him, understanding that sin is no longer inevitable (1Jo 2). As others, John also sums up our faith as loving God and others (1Jo 3). Anyone with genuine faith loves others as God loves us. Love can be falsified; genuine biblical love reflects God’s love, who not only loves but is love (1Jo 4).This loving relationship is the basis for our confidence in the eternal life we have received in the prayers that we ask of God (1Jo 5).

What does it mean?

John’s distinctive style reflects his Gospel speaking of the Word and the beginning. This “love letter,” has a pointed purpose. By late first century certain heretics are propagating a philosophy called Gnosticism. Once professing faith, they have withdrawn and seek to influence immature believers. They consider themselves intellectuals possessing superior knowledge of God. Influenced by Greek philosophy, they make a complete distinction between things spiritual (pure) and things material (evil), also denying the human nature of Jesus Christ as being only an illusion. They affirm that Christ could never have died. In practice, Gnosticism promotes immortality. Nothing material has power over the purity of the spirit and therefore nothing they do physically can tarnish the purity of their spirit.

Rather than enter into a point-by-point debate, John’s approach is to take them back to the beginning and the Word made flesh. If God did not become man in human form, there is no faith and no salvation from sin. If one sins habitually and deliberately, this is evidence of not being a true believer. God is light and calls us to walk in light and to love him and others. The human being is a unity of body, soul and spirit, just as God is Father, Son and Spirit and cannot be compartmentalized.

How will I respond?

Am I guilty of compartmentalizing my life in order to excuse sin? Or does my life reflect God by being a life of integrity, the same in all phases of life? What should change in my life because of what I read in 1 John?