“Letters from John”
John, the disciple whom Jesus loved and the last living Apostle, wrote a gospel, 3 letters, and 1 prophetic vision, all included in the Bible. Last year we studied the Gospel at great length. Now we embark on the study of the three letters.
The Gospel of John, according to most scholars, was written between AD 65 & 70, prior to the destruction of Jerusalem by Rome. It was the last of the Gospel accounts to be written:
1. Matthew – about AD 40 – 45
2. Luke – about AD 59 (Acts about AD 62)
3. Mark – about AD 60
John’s 3 letters, on the other hand, were written between AD 85 & 90. This span of time would have witnessed a vast change in the makeup of the Church and the context of ministry related to increasing persecution. The church faced 2 fazes of persecution:
1. From the Resurrection to the destruction of the Temple – Jewish persecution. In their communities they became “persona non grata”.
2. From the destruction of Jerusalem to the time of Emperor Constantine – Roman persecution. (313 AD Edict of Milan legalized Christianity in the Empire)
As John pens his letters it has been almost 20 years since an Apostle has written to the church in general, which is the intention of 1 John.
1 John 1:1-10 First things First!
The first four verses might come across to a 1st time reader as almost frantic. Four times John references what he has seen or looked at. Twice he relates to what he has heard. Twice he declares this witness. ___________________________________________________________
John restates the reality of Jesus Christ because a new threat has grown steadily in opposition to Christianity. Gnosticism. Gnosis – Knowledge (Greek). Starts with the idea that God can be known intellectually. The physical world, including flesh, is separate from God and is damaged.
This began to impact the early Church as false teachers swayed by this philosophy began to infiltrate church meetings. ______________________________________________________ Paul was addressing issues of false doctrine as early as AD51, 1 Timothy 1:3-7
Peter sounded the warning in 2 Peter 2:1-3, (AD 64)
So the meat of John’s introduction is establishing his own testimony that the Lord Jesus, the Word of life, was a man, the Son of Man. John saw Him, heard Him, touched Him and believes that Jesus is, “that eternal life which was with the Father”.
John uses verse 5 to answer the question of that day which is still the question of this day: What does it mean to be a faithful Christian? In the next 35 verses John lays out how the expectations for walking in the light:
1. Imitation of God’s character – 1:5-7 – _________________________________.
2. Dependence upon the cleansing of sin provided by Jesus death – 1:7, 9; 2:1-2 – _________.
3. Obedience to the commands of God – 2:3-11 – ____________________________.
4. Resistance to the lure of the world – 2:15-17 – ______________________________.
5. Discernment and opposition to false teaching – 2:18-27 – ___________________________.
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