1 John 1:1-2:2
1. To what unique experience in his life is the writer referring in verses 1- 4? How does he describe it? Cf. John 1:14. To what inestimable privilege did it lead him, and why does he want to make it known? Cf. 1 Thess. 3:8, 9.
2. The nature of God determines the conditions of fellowship with him. See verses 6-10. How has he made fellowship with himself possible for sinful man? What is his provision to enable fellowship to be maintained, and to meet failure if it should occur? If man deny in one way or other their need of this provision, what can we conclude concerning them? See verses 6, 8, 10.
Chapter 1:5. ‘light’ used in Scripture in various meanings, as signifying truth, goodness, joy, safety, life; just as ‘darkness’, on the contrary, denotes falsehood, evil, sorrow, peril, death. Here, ‘light’ signifies perfect truth and goodness, without any vestige of evil.
1 John 2:3-27
- 3-11. If a person claims to know God, to abide in Christ and to be in the light, what must be their attitude to: (a) Christ’s word and commandment; (b) the example of Christ’s life on earth; (c) fellow Christians?
- Verses 18-29. Amid false teachers and defection, what three safeguards for continuance in the faith does John give? See especially verses 24 -27. If a professing Christian falls away from the truth, what is proved thereby that, before the falling away, may not have been at all obvious?
- Verses 15-17. With what two agreements does John support the commandment of verse 15? How can this commandment be reconciled with John 3:16?
- Verse 7. Cf. John 13:34, 35; 15:12.
- Verse 8. John calls the old commandment new, both because Jesus Christ, by his teaching and living, has invested the old idea with a richer and deeper meaning, and because experimental Christianity is always new in kind or character.
- Verse 15. ‘The word’: here it denotes human society as an ordered whole, considered both apart from, and in opposition to, God.
1 John 2:28 – 3:10
We enter today the second section of the epistle (see Analysis).
- 2:28-3:3. The apostle, having begun in verse 29 to show that the test of sonship is righteousness of life, is carried away by the marvel of the new birth into a rapturous outburst of wonder and joy. Where does our sonship come from? How does the world regard it? What will be its future glory? How should this affect us now? Cf. Col. 3:4, 5.
- Chapter 3:4-9. These verses resume and expand the truth of 2:29. What five reasons are given to show that sinning is utterly incompatible with being a child of God?
- 2:28. This verse gives clear proof that John, no less than Paul and Peter, believe in the Lord’s second coming. See also 3:2; 4:17.
- 2:29. ‘Born of him’: the first reference to sonship in this latter.
- 3:6, 9. These verses do not mean that a Christian is incapable of sinning, nor that one sin is proof of unregenerate, but that it is impossible for a true child of God to persist in habitual sin.
1 John 3:11 – 4:6
- 3:11-18. By what various arguments does John show, in verses 11-15, that mutual love is the essential mark of the children of God and that hatred is inadmissible? After what manner should we love? See verses 16-18 and cf. John 15:12; Eph. 5:1, 2.
- 3:19-24. A digression on the subject of assurance before God. The apostle first considers the case of a Christian whose heart condemns him. How is such a person to be reassured? See verses 19, 20. Cf. Heb. 6:9, 10. Next the apostle considers the case of a Christian whose heart does not condemned him, because he is practicing all the characteristics of a truly Christian life – obedience, love and faith. What blessings does this man enjoy? See verses 21-24.
- What two tests are given here by which to know whether a prophet is, or is not, speaking by the Spirit of God? See especially 4:2 and 6; see also Note 2 below.
- 3:14. Cf. John 5:24. This gives the practical test of whether a professed faith in Christ is genuine. Cf. Gal. 5:6b; Jas. 2:15-17.
- 4:6. ‘We are of God’: the pronoun ‘we’ in the first half of this verse refers primarily, as in 1:1-3, to John as representing the apostles, while not excluding those who, following after them, base their teaching on the apostolic foundation.
1 John 4:7-5:3
We now begin the third section of the epistle (see Analysis).
- 4:7-10. What arguments are used in verses 7 and 8 to show that true Christians must love one another? In verses 9 and 10 the apostle speaks of the manifestation of God’s love in Christ. How does he describe the gift? What does he say of its purpose? By what means was this purpose achieved, and for whom did God do this?
- 4:11-18. The apostle goes over the same ground as before, but at a higher level. How does he describe here the Christian’s relationship to God? How does he show that no higher or closer relationship can be conceived? Out of the depths of that relationship, the believer bears his testimony through the Spirit (verses 13-16; cf. John 15:26, 27).
- 4:19-5:3. In view of Matt. 22:36, 37, why does not the apostle say in verse 11, ‘Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love God’? Why does John say, ‘We also ought to love one another’? What other test of our love for God is also mentioned?
- 4:17, 18. ‘Because in this world we are like him’: cf. John 3:35 with 16:27. Those who are loved of the Father need not look forward with dread. If we are still afraid, the remedy is to concentrate more on the love of God shown in the cross and the resurrection.
- 5:1. Faith in Jesus as the Christ implies receiving him as such, and to receive him is to be born of God (John 1:12, 13).
1 John 5:4-21
- The apostle has already given a warning against the subtle attraction of the world (see 2:15-17). Now he reveals how the world may be conquered. Who does he say will overcome the world, and by what means? See verses 4-6; see also Note 1 below.
- A faith that can effect such great results must be well attested. What fivefold witness is given in verses 7-11, and what marvelous fact does the witness attest?
- Verses 13-20. There are five great certainties here concerning which John says ‘We know’. What are they? Are you building your life on this foundation?
- Verse 6. This verse probably refers to our Lord’s baptism and death, and not to John 18:34. He came not only to call us to repentance by the witness of his baptism, but also to wash away our sins with his blood. The two sacraments of the Christian church are the standing memorials of these things.
- Verses 9 and 10. God has spoken to man in Jesus with the utmost clarity and finality. He who believes has an inward witness: he who doesn’t believe makes God a liar.
- Verse 16. ‘A sin that leads to death’: I.e. , the deliberate, purposeful choice of darkness in preference to light.
- Verse 21 ‘Idols’: anyone professing to worship God, but who denies that Jesus is the Son of God, is worshipping a false God. ‘Be on your guard against all such idols’ is John’s final word.