1:1-4 INTRODUCTION: 1. The theme of the epistle is given in the words “of the word of life”, meaning “concerning the subject of (Divine) Life”. 2. The one who is Eternal Life personified has been manifested, seen, heard, reported, and shared. 3. The life of God expresses itself in the manifestation of light and love, and these two themes continue throughout the epistle.
1:5-2:2 Christ’s life tells us God is light:
THREE TESTS FOR THOSE WHO CLAIM TO BE LIVING (WALKING) IN THE LIGHT
|First test||Verses 6,7||“If we say we walk in the light”. Those who pass the test do walk in light.|
|Second test||Verses 8,9||“If we say we have no sin”. Those who pass the test confess their sins.|
|Third test||Verses 10- 2:2||“If we say we have not sinned”. Those who pass the test do not deny sinning, and have an Advocate with the Father.|
2:3-11 Christ’s life shows us how to love:
THREE CLAIMS BY THOSE WHO PROFESS TO KNOW THE LOVE OF GOD IN CHRIST
|First claim||Verses 3-5||He that saith “I know Him”. Those who pass the test find God’s love reaches its goal in their hearts, verse 5.|
|Second claim||Verses 6-8||He that saith he abideth in Him. Those who pass this test walk as Christ walked, verse 6.|
|Third claim||Verses 9-11||He that saith he is in the light. Those who pass this test love their brothers, and do not stumble them, verse 10.|
2:12-27 The family of God is addressed according to maturity, after the general statement of verse 12.
THREE STAGES OF MATURITY IN THE FAMILY OF GOD
|Verse 13(a)||First word to fathers|
|Verse 13(b)||First word to young men.|
|Verse 13(c)||First word to infants.|
|Verse 14(a)||Second word to fathers.|
|Verses 14(b)-17||Second word to young men.|
|Verses 18-27||Second word to infants.|
The advice to the infants is so that they may grow into young men, and then into fathers. THE LEADING FEATURES OF SECTION FOUR ARE NOW DEVELOPED IN THE REMAINDER OF THE EPISTLE, SO THAT THIS GROWTH MIGHT TAKE PLACE, HENCE THE FIRST PHRASE OF THE NEXT SECTION IS “LITTLE CHILDREN”, ABIDE IN HIM”, VERSE 28. By little children the apostle means all the children of God, not just the infants. To abide in Him is to rest in what He is, and this is developed in the remainder of the epistle. The leading themes of the address to the infants are enlarged on in the rest of the epistle, and they are as follows:
|1.||Antichrist shall come.|
|2.||Already there are many antichrists.|
|3.||Believers have the Holy Spirit, and know all things.|
|4.||The deceivers deny the Father and the Son.|
|5.||There is the need to abide in Him.|
2:28-3:6 The comings of Christ, past and present, are in contrast to the coming of Antichrist. The apostle does not want to be ashamed when Christ comes, so believers should heed his teaching, and live as Christ lived, so as to be to His praise when He comes again.
THREE DUTIES FOR BELIEVERS SINCE CHRIST HAS MANIFESTED HIMSELF
|First duty||2:29||He is righteous, so believers should be righteous also.|
|Second duty||3:1-3||He is pure, so believers should purify themselves.|
|Third duty||3:4-6||In Him is no sin, so believers should not sin.|
3:7-10(a) Development of the statement “already there are many antichrists”, as stated in 2:18. The mention of the presence of many antichrists leads to the thought of the need to resist their teachings about light and love. Key phrase: “Let no man deceive you”, 3:7. Verses 7-10(a) Righteousness is the manifestation of God as light. Anti-christs deceive about righteousness.
THREE CONTRASTS BETWEEN GOD’S CHILDREN AND THE ANTICHRISTS
|First contrast||Verse 7||The believer is like Christ, the unbeliever is like the Devil.|
|Second contrast||Verses 8 and 9||The Son of God came to destroy the works of the Devil.|
|Third contrast||Verse 10(a)||The believer is a child of God, antichrists are of the Devil.|
Verses 10(b)-24 Verses 10(b)-24 Those who are not righteous cannot love truly. The antichrists deceive about love.
THREE THINGS CHRISTIAN LOVE SHOWS
|First thing||Verses 10(b)-12||The one who loves is righteous in practice, verse 12.|
|Second thing||Verses 13 and 14||The one who loves has passed from death to life, verse 14.|
|Third thing||Verses 15-24||The one who loves dwells in God, and He in him, verse 24.|
4:1-6 Believers have the Holy Spirit, and know all things, as stated in 2:20. The mention of the Spirit in verse 3:24 builds on the third theme of the address to the infants, namely the fact they have an unction (anointing) from the Holy One, and know all things; that is, they can distinguish between truth and error without false teachers helping them. The anti-christs are exposed by the Spirit. SECTION 8 IS A PARENTHESIS The anointing of the Spirit enables believers to respond to false prophets.
THREE ABILITIES BELIEVERS HAVE BECAUSE THEY HAVE THE SPIRIT
|First ability||Verses 1-3||The Spirit enables the believer to confess Christ, verse 2.|
|Second ability||Verses 4-5||The Spirit enables the believer to overcome the false prophets.|
|Third ability||Verse 6||The believer is able to respond to the teaching of the apostles.|
4:7-21 Return to the subject of love from 3:24, after the parenthesis of 4:1-6.
THREE EXHORTATIONS TO LOVE AND THE REASONS BEHIND THEM
|First exhortation||Verses 7 and 8||Exhortation to love, because God is love, verse 7.|
|Second exhortation||Verses 9-14||Exhortation to love, because God sent His Son, verse 10.|
|Third exhortation||Verses 15-21||Exhortation to love, because God first loved us, verse 19.|
Section 10 leads on from the idea of confession of Jesus as the Son of God in 4:15, a confession which the anti-christs are not prepared to make.
5:1-5 THREE RESULTS OF BELIEVING THE TESTIMONY OF THE APOSTLES The anti-christs neither believe nor confess.
|First result||Verse 1(a)||It results in the new birth.|
|Second result||Verses 1(b)-3||It results in love to all others who are born of God.|
|Third result||Verses 4 and 5||It results in victory over the world.|
5:6 THE THREEFOLD TESTIMONY ON EARTH The anti-christs reject this testimony
|First testimony on earth||Verse 6||The water of His baptism.|
|Second testimony on earth||Verse 6||The blood of His cross.|
|Third testimony on earth||Verse 6||The Spirit that came on Him at His baptism, and on believers after His cross.|
5:7-12 THE THREEFOLD TESTIMONY IN HEAVEN The anti-christs are not in touch with heaven.
|First testimony in heaven||Verse 7||By the Father|
|Second testimony in heaven||Verse 7||By the Word|
|Third testimony in heaven||Verse 7||By the Holy Spirit|
Verses 9-12 detail positive and negative responses to this testimony. SECTION 13
5:13-17 THREEFOLD KNOWLEDGE OF THOSE WHO CONFESS THE FATHER AND THE SON The anti-christs deny the Father and the Son.
|First thing known||Verse 13||They know they have eternal life.|
|Second thing known||Verses 14 and 15(a)||They know God hears them.|
|Third thing known||Verses 15(b)-17||They know He will answer intelligent prayers.|
5:18-21 THREE THINGS OF WHICH THE CHILDREN OF GOD ARE AWARE The anti-christs have not the knowledge of God through His Son.
|First thing||Verse 18||We know that believers have a nature that does not sin.|
|Second thing||Verse 19||We know that there is a difference between believers and the world.|
|Third thing||Verse 20||We know the Son of God came to give us understanding.|
The epistle ends with a solemn warning to avoid anything that detracts from the knowledge of God. The best way to avoid harmful things is to concentrate on the things of eternal life as expressed in Christ, for eternal life enables us to know God increasingly well.