The Books of 1st John, 2nd John, and 3rd John
New International Version 1984 (NIV1984)
(Explanation of verses are taken from
The Life Application Bible version of The Living Bible
By Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.)
Being loved is the most powerful motivation in the world! Our ability to love is often shaped by our experience of love, We usually love others as we have been loved, Some of the greatest statements about God’s loving nature were written by a man who experienced God’s love in a unique way, John,
Jesus’ disciple, expressed his relationship to the Son of God by calling himself “the disciple Jesus loved” (John 21 :20), Although Jesus’ love is clearly communicated in all the Gospels, in John’s Gospel it is a central theme, Because his own experience of Jesus’ love was so strong and personal, John was sensitive to those words and actions of Jesus that illustrated how the One, who is love, loved others,
Jesus knew John fully and loved him fully, He gave John and his brother James the nickname “Sons of Thunder,” perhaps from an occasion when the brothers asked Jesus for permission to “order fire down from heaven” (Luke 9:54) on a village that had refused to welcome Jesus and the disciples,
In this Gospel and his letters, we see the great God of love, while the thunder of God’s justice bursts from the pages of Revelation, Jesus confronts each of us as he confronted John.
We cannot know the depth of his love unless we are willing to face the fact that he knows us completely, Otherwise we are fooled into believing he must love the people we pretend to be, not the sinners we actually are,
John and all the disciples convince us that God is able and willing to accept us as we are, Realizing his love is a great motivator for change, His love is not given in exchange for our efforts: his love frees us to really live,
Have you accepted that love?
Strengths and accomplishments:
Before following Jesus, John was one of John the Baptist’s disciples. He was one of the 12 disciples and, with Peter and James, one of the inner three, closest to Jesus.
He wrote five New Testament books:
the Gospel of John;
1,2, and 3 John;
Weaknesses and mistakes:
Along with James, John had a tendency to outbursts of selfishness and anger. He asked for a special position in Jesus’ kingdom.
Lessons from his life:
Those who realize how much they are loved are able to love much . When God changes a life, he does not take away personality characteristics, but puts them to effective use in his service
Occupation: Fisherman, disciple
Contemporaries: Jesus, Pilate, Herod
7 Dear friends, I am not writing you a new command but an old one, which you have had since the beginning. This old command is the message you have heard. 8 Yet I am writing you a new command; its truth is seen in him and you, because the darkness is passing and the true light is already shining. (1 John 2:7,8),
John’s story is told throughout the Gospels, Acts, and Revelation,
“ A GOOD MAN . . . yes . . . perhaps one of the best who ever lived . . . but just a man,” say many. Others disagree, claiming that he suffered from delusions of grandeur – a “messiah complex.” And the argument continues to rage over Jesus’ true identity. Whoever he was, they all agree that Jesus left his mark on history.
Hearing these discussions, even Christians can begin to wonder and doubt. Is Jesus really God? Did he come to save sinners like us?
First John was written to dispel doubts and to build assurance by presenting a clear picture of Christ. Entering into human history through the incarnation, the Son of God became the very embodiment of God in the flesh – seen, heard, and touched by the author of this epistle, John the apostle. John walked and talked with Jesus, saw him heal, heard him teach, watched him die, met him arisen, and saw him ascend. John knew God – he had lived with him and seen him work.
As the elder statesman in the church, he wrote this letter to his “little children.” In it he presents God as light, as love, and as life. He explains in simple and practical terms what it means to have fellowship with God.
At the same time, false teachers had entered the church, denying the incarnation of Christ. John wrote to correct their serious errors. So John’s letter is a model for us to follow as we combat modern heresies.
John opens this letter by giving his credentials as an eyewitness of the incarnation and by stating his reason for writing (1:1-4). He then presents God as “light,” symbolizing absolute purity and holiness (1:5-7), and explains how believers can walk in God’s light and have fellowship with him (1:8-10) because they have Christ as their advocate (2:1,2). He urges them to obey Christ fully and to love all the members of God’s family (2:3-17). He warns his readers of “antichrists” and the Antichrist who will try to lead them away from the truth (2:18-29).
In the next section, John presents God as love (3:1-4:21). Because God loves us, he calls us his children and makes us like Christ (3:1,2). This truth should motivate us to live in union with Christ (3:3-6). We can be sure that our fellowship with God is genuine when our lives are filled with good works and love for others (3:7-24). Again John warns of false teachers who twist the truth. We should reject these false teachers (4:1-6) as we continue to live in God’s love (4:7-21).
In the last section, John presents God as “life” (5:1-21). God’s life is in his Son. To have life in his Son is to have eternal life.
First John was written to help you know the reality of God in your life, to assure you that you have eternal life through Christ, and to encourage you to have continual fellowship with the God who is light and love. Read of God’s love in this letter and with renewed confidence, pass on his love to others.
To reassure Christians in their faith and to counter false teachings
The apostle John
To Whom Written:
The letter is untitled and was written to no particular church. It was sent as a pastoral letter to several Gentile congregations. It was also written to all believers everywhere.
Probably between A.D. 85 and 90 from Ephesus
John was an older man and perhaps the only surviving apostle at this time. He had not yet been banished to the island of Patmos where he would live in exile. As an eyewitness of Christ, he wrote authoritatively to give this new generation of believers assurance and confidence in God and in their faith.
“I have written this to you who believe in the Son of God so that you may know you have eternal life” (5:13)
John is the apostle of love, and love is mentioned throughout this letter. There are a number of similarities between this letter and John’s Gospel—in vocabulary, style, and main ideas. John uses brief statements and simple words, and he features sharp contrasts—light and darkness, truth and error, God and Satan, life and death, love and hate.
1. God is light (1:1—2:29)
2. God is love (3:1—4:21)
3. God is life (5:1-21) John wrote about the most vital aspects of faith so readers would know Christian truth from error. He emphasizes the basics of faith so we can be confident in our faith. In our dark world, God is light. In our cold world, God brings the warmth of love. In our dying world, God brings life. When we feel a lack of confidence, these truths bring us certainty.
Theme Explanation Importance
Even Christians sin. Sin requires God’s forgiveness and Christ’s death provides it for us. Determining to live according to God’s standards in the bible shows are lives are being transformed.
We cannot deny our sin nature, maintain that we are “above sinning, or minimize the consequences of sin in our relationship with God. We must resist the attraction of sin, yet we must confess when we do sin.
Christ commands us to love others as he did. This love is evidence that we are truly saved. God is the Creator of love; he cares that his children love each other.
Love means putting others first, being unselfish. Love is action—showing others we care—not just saying it. To show love we must give sacrificially of our time and money to meet the needs of others.
Family of God
We become God’s children by believing in Christ. God’s life in us enables us to love our fellow family members.
How we treat others shows who our Father is. Live as a faithful, loving family member.
Truth and Error
Teaching that the body does not matter, false teachers encouraged believers to throw off moral restraints. They also taught that Christ wasn’t really a man and that we must be saved by having some special mystical knowledge. The result was that people became indifferent to sin.
God is truth and light, so the more we get to know him the better we can keep focused on the truth. Don’t be led astray by any teaching that denies Christ’s deity or humanity. Check the message; test the claims.
God is in control of heaven and earth. Because his Word is true, we can have assurance of eternal life and victory over sin. By faith we can be certain of our eternal destiny with him.
Assurance of our relationship with God is a promise, but it is also a way of life. We build our confidence by trusting in God’s Word and in Christ’s provision for our sin.
A Book of Contrasts
One of the distinct features of John’s writing style was his habit of noting both sides of a conflict. He wrote to show the difference between real Christianity and anything else. Here are some of his favorite contrasts.
Contrast between: Passage
Light and darkness 1:5
The new rule and the old commandment 2:7,8
Loving God and loving the world 2:15,16
Christ and Antichrist 2:18
Truth and falsehood 2:20,21
Child of God and child of Satan 3:1-10
Eternal life and eternal death 3:14
Love and hatred 3:15,16
True teaching and false teaching 4:1-3
Love and fear 4:18,19
Having life and not having life 5:11,12
John Counters False Teachings
John counters two major strands in the false teachings of the heretics in this epistle:
1. They denied the reality of sin. John says that if we continue in sin, we can’t claim to belong to God. If we say we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and refusing to accept the truth. 1:6,8
2. They denied that Jesus was the Messiah—God in the flesh. John said that if we believe that Jesus was God incarnate and trust him for our salvation, we are children of God. 2:22; 4:1-3
Most of the eyewitnesses to Jesus’ ministry had died by the time John composed this epistle. Some of the second or third-generation Christians began to have doubts about what they had been taught about Jesus. Some Christians with a Greek background had a hard time believing that Jesus was human as well as divine, because in Platonic thought, the spirit was all-important. The body was only a prison from which one desired to escape. Heresies developed from a uniting of this kind of Platonic thought and Christianity.
A particularly widespread false teaching, later called Docetism (from a Greek word meaning “to seem”) held that Jesus was actually a spirit who only appeared to have a body. In reality he cast no shadow and left no footprints; he was God, but not man. Another heretical teaching, related to Gnosticism (from a Greek word meaning “knowledge”), held that all physical matter was evil, the spirit was good, and only the intellectually enlightened could enjoy the benefits of religion. Both groups found it hard to believe in a Savior who was fully human.
Through the centuries, many heretics have denied that Jesus was both God and man. In John’s day people had trouble believing he was man; today more people have problems seeing him as God. But Jesus’ divine-human nature is the pivotal issue of Christianity. Before you accept what religious teachers say about any topic, listen carefully to what they believe about Jesus. To deny either his divinity or his humanity is to consider him less than Christ, the Savior.
New International Version 1984 (NIV1984)
The Word of Life
1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life.
2 The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us.
3 We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ.
4 We write this to make our joy complete.
Walking in the Light
5 This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.
6 If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth.
7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.
8 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.
9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
10 If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives.
Explanation of 1 John
1:1 First John was written by John, one of Jesus’ original 12 disciples. He was the “disciple Jesus loved” (John 21:20) and, along with Peter and James, had a special relationship with Jesus.
This letter was probably written between AD. 85-90 from Ephesus, before John’s exile to the island of Patmos (see Revelation 1:9 Jerusalem had been destroyed in AD. 70, and Christians were scattered throughout the empire. By the time John wrote this epistle, Christianity had been around for more than a generation. It had faced and survived severe persecution. The main problem confronting the church at this time was seduction:
Many believers were conforming to the world’s standards, failing to stand up for Christ, and compromising their faith. False teachers were plentiful, and they accelerated the church’s downward slide ,away from the Christian faith.
John wrote this letter to put believers back on track, to show the difference between light and darkness, and to encourage the church to grow in genuine love for God and for each other. He also wrote to assure true believers that they possessed eternal life and to help them know their faith was genuine-so they could enjoy all the benefits of being God’s children, For more about John, see his Profile in John 13.
1:1-5 John opens his first letter to the churches much as he, opened his Gospel, emphasizing that Christ is eternal, that God I came into the world as a man, that he, John, was an eyewitness to Jesus’ life, and that Jesus brings light and life,
1:3 As an eyewitness to Jesus’ ministry, John was qualified to teach the truth about him. The readers of this letter had not seen and heard Jesus themselves, but they could trust that what John wrote was accurate, We are like those second- and third generation Christians, Though we have not personally seen, heard, or touched Jesus, we have the New Testament record of his eyewitnesses, and we can trust that they spoke the truth about him,
1:3,4 There are three steps to true Christian fellowship. First, it is grounded in the testimony of the Word of God. Without this underlying strength, togetherness is impossible. Second, it is mutual, depending on the unity of believers. Third, it is daily renewed through the Holy Spirit. True fellowship combines the social and the spiritual, and it is made possible only by a living relationship with Christ.
1:5,6 Light represents what is good, pure, true, holy, and reliable. Darkness represents sin and evil. To say “God is light” means that God is perfectly holy and true, and that he alone can guide us out of the darkness of sin. Light is also related to truth, in that it exposes whatever exists, whether it is good or bad. In the dark, good and evil look alike; in the light, they can be clearly distinguished. Just as darkness cannot exist in the presence of light, sin cannot exist in the presence of a holy God, If we want to have a relationship with God, we must put aside our sinful ways of living. To claim that relationship but live for ourselves is hypocrisy. Christ will expose and judge such deceit.
1:6 False teachers who thought the body was evil or worthless had one of two approaches to behavior: either they insisted on denying bodily desires through rigid discipline, or they approved of gratifying every physical lust because the body was going to be destroyed anyway, Obviously the second approach was more popular! Here John exposes the error in both these approaches.
Faith is not real unless it results in changed lives and good works, and people cannot be true believers if they continue living in sin. The body itself is not evil, for Jesus himself had a human body.
1:7 How does Jesus’ blood cleanse us from every sin? In Old Testament times, believers symbolically transferred their sins to the head of an animal, which they then sacrificed (see a description of this ceremony in Leviticus 4). The animal died in their place, ridding them of sin and allowing them to continue living in God’s favor. This ceremony taught important truths about sin and forgiveness, but it did not actually remove sin. Real cleansing from sin came with Jesus, the “Lamb of God who takes away the world’s sin” (John 1 :29). Sin, by its very nature, brings death–that is a fact as certain as the law of gravity. Jesus did not die for his own sins; he had none. Instead, by a transaction we may never fully understand, he died for the sins of the world. When we identify ourselves with him, his death becomes ours. We discover that he has already paid the penalty for our sins; his blood has cleansed us. Just as he rose from the grave, we rise to a new life of fellowship with him (Romans 6:4).
1:8 John here attacks more false teaching. Some were saying they had no natural tendency toward sin, that their sinful nature had been eliminated, and that they were now incapable of sinning. This is at best self-deception, at worst a lie. They refused to take sin seriously. They wanted to be considered Christians, but they saw no need to confess their sins and repent. The blood of Jesus did not mean much to them, because they didn’t think they needed it. Instead of repenting and being cleansed by Christ’s blood, they were introducing impurity into the circle of believers. In this life, no Christian will ever be beyond sinning, so no one should dare let down his guard.
1:8-10 The false teachers taught not only that they had no sin in them (1:8), but also that no matter what they did they would not sin (1:10). This is a lie. They forgot one basic truth: we are sinners by nature and by practice. At conversion all our sins are forgiven–past, present, and future. Yet even after we become Christians, we still sin and must confess. This kind of confession is not to gain God’s acceptance, but to remove the barrier to fellowship that our sin has put between us and him. It is difficult, however, for many people to admit their faults and shortcomings, even to God. It takes humility and honesty to recognize our weaknesses, and most of us would rather pretend we are strong. But we need not fear revealing our sins to God–he knows them already. He will not push us away, no matter what we’ve done. Instead he will push away the sins and draw us to himself.
1:9 Confession is supposed to free us to enjoy fellowship with Christ. It should ease our consciences and lighten our cares. But some Christians do not understand how it works. They feel so guilty that they confess the same sins over and over, and then wonder if they might have forgotten something. Other Christians believe God forgives them when they confess, but if they died with unconfessed sins, they would be forever lost. These Christians do not understand that God wants to forgive us. He allowed his beloved Son to die just so he could pardon us. When we come to Christ, he forgives all the sins we have committed or will ever commit. We don’t need to confess the same sins all over again, and we don’t need to fear that he will cast us out if we don’t keep our slate perfectly clear at all moments. Of course, we want to continue to confess our sins, but not because we think failure to do so will make us lose our salvation. Our hope in Christ is secure. Instead, we confess our sins so we can enjoy maximum fellowship and joy with him. True confession also involves a commitment not to continue in sin. We are not genuinely confessing our sins before God if we plan to commit the sin again and just want temporary forgiveness. We must pray for strength to defeat the temptation the next time it appears.
New International Version 1984 (NIV1984)
1 My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense —Jesus Christ, the Righteous One.
2 He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.
3 We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands.
4 The man who says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him.
5 But if anyone obeys his word, God’s love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him:
6 Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.
7 Dear friends, I am not writing you a new command but an old one, which you have had since the beginning. This old command is the message you have heard.
8 Yet I am writing you a new command; its truth is seen in him and you, because the darkness is passing and the true light is already shining.
9 Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates his brother is still in the darkness.
10 Whoever loves his brother lives in the light, and there is nothing in him to make him stumble.
11 But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness; he does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded him.
12 I write to you, dear children,
because your sins have been forgiven on account of his name.
13 I write to you, fathers,
because you have known him who is from the beginning.
I write to you, young men,
because you have overcome the evil one.
I write to you, dear children,
because you have known the Father.
14 I write to you, fathers,
because you have known him who is from the beginning.
I write to you, young men,
because you are strong,
and the word of God lives in you,
and you have overcome the evil one.
Do Not Love the World
15 Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
16 For everything in the world—the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does—comes not from the Father but from the world.
17 The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.
Warning Against Antichrists
18 Dear children, this is the last hour; and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come. This is how we know it is the last hour.
19 They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us.
20 But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth.
21 I do not write to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it and because no lie comes from the truth.
22 Who is the liar? It is the man who denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a man is the antichrist—he denies the Father and the Son.
23 No one who denies the Son has the Father; whoever acknowledges the Son has the Father also.
24 See that what you have heard from the beginning remains in you. If it does, you also will remain in the Son and in the Father.
25 And this is what he promised us—even eternal life.
26 I am writing these things to you about those who are trying to lead you astray.
27 As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit—just as it has taught you, remain in him.
Children of God
28 And now, dear children, continue in him, so that when he appears we may be confident and unashamed before him at his coming.
29 If you know that he is righteous, you know that everyone who does what is right has been born of him.
Explanation of 1 John
2:1 John uses the address “little children” in a warm, fatherly way He is not talking down to his readers but is showing affection for them. John, by now a very old man, had spent almost all his life in ministry, and many of his readers were indeed his spiritual children.
2:1,2 To people who are feeling guilty and condemned, John offers reassurance. They know they have sinned, and Satan (called “the Accuser of our brothers” in Revelation 12:10) is demanding the death penalty. When you feel this way, don’t give up hope–the best defense attorney in the universe is pleading your case. Jesus Christ, your advocate, is the Judge’s Son. He has already suffered your penalty in your place. You can’t be tried again for a case that is no longer on the docket. United with Jesus, you are as safe as he is. Don’t be afraid to ask him to plead your case–he has already won it (see Romans 8:33, 34; Hebrews 7:24, 25).
2:2 We sometimes have a difficult time forgiving someone who wrongs us. Imagine how hard it would be to tell everyone we are willing to forgive no matter what they do. This is what God has done in Jesus. No one, no matter what they have done, is beyond hope of forgiveness. All we have to do is turn to Jesus and commit our hearts to him.
2:3-6 How can you be sure you belong to Christ? This passage gives two ways to know: a Christian should do what Christ tells him to do and live as Christ wants him to live. And what does Christ tell us to do? John answers in 3:23: “Believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another.” True Christian faith results in loving behavior; that is why John says our behavior can assure us that we are Christ’s,
2:6 Living as Christ did doesn’t mean choosing twelve disciples, performing great miracles, or being crucified. We cannot merely copy Christ’s life, because much of it had to with his identity as God’s Son, his special role in dying for sin, and the cultural context of the first-century Roman world, To live today as Christ did in the first century, we must follow his example of complete obedience to God and loving service to people,
2:7,8 The commandment to love is both old and new. It is old because it comes from the Old Testament (Leviticus 19: 18), but it is new because Jesus interpreted it in a radically new way (John13:34, 35), In the Christian church, love goes beyond respect to self sacrifice and servanthood (John 15: 13), In fact, it can be defined as “selfless giving,” It reaches beyond friends to enemies and persecutors (Matthew 5:43-48), Love should be the unifying force and the identifying mark of the Christian community, It is the key to walking in the light, because we cannot grow spiritually while we hate others A growing relationship with God results in growing relationships with others,
2:9-11 Does this mean if you dislike anyone you aren’t a Christian? These verses are not talking about disliking a disagreeable Christian brother, There will always be people we will not like as well as others, John’s words focus on the attitude that causes us to ignore or despise others, to treat them as irritants, competitors, or enemies. Fortunately, Christian love is not a feeling but a choice. We can choose to be concerned with people’s well-being and treat them with respect, whether or not we feel affection toward them. If we choose to love others, God will give us the necessary strength and will show us how to express our love.
2:12,13 John was writing to believers of all ages, his “little children,” who had experienced forgiveness through Jesus. The older men were mature in the faith and had a long-standing relationship with Christ. The younger men had struggled with Satan’s temptations and had won. The boys and girls had learned about Christ and were just beginning their spiritual journey. In each stage of life, God’s Word is relevant. Each stage of life builds upon the other. As children learn about Christ, they grow in their ability to win battles with temptation. As young adults move from victory to victory, they grow in their relationship with Christ. Older adults, having known Christ for years, have developed the wisdom needed to teach young people and start the cycle all over again. Is your Christian growth appropriate for your stage in life?
2:15,16 Some people think worldliness has to do with external behavior–the people we associate with, the places we go, the activities in which we participate. This is not entirely accurate, for worldliness begins in the heart. It is characterized by these three attitudes:
(1) lust–preoccupation with gratifying physical desires;
(2) materialism-craving and accumulating things, and
(3) pride-obsession with one’s status or importance.
When the serpent tempted Eve (Genesis 3:6), he tempted her in these areas.
Also, when the devil tempted Jesus in the wilderness, these were his three areas of attack (see Matthew 4:1-11). By contrast, God values self-control, a spirit of generosity, and humble service. It is possible to avoid “worldly pleasures” while still harboring worldly attitudes in one’s heart.
It is also possible, like Jesus, to love sinners and spend time with them while maintaining the values of God’s Kingdom. What values are most important to you?
Do your actions reflect the world’s values or God’s values?
Will you fail like Eve did or be victorious like Jesus was?
2:17 When our attachment to things is strong, it’s hard to believe that the things we want will one day pass away. It may be even harder to believe that the person who does the will of God will live forever. But this was John’s conviction based on the facts of Jesus’ life, death, resurrection, and the promises he made. Knowing that this evil world and its sin will end gives us courage to continue doing God’s will.
2:18-21 John is talking about the “last days,” the time between Christ’s first and second comings. The first-century readers of 1 John lived in the last days, and so do we. During this time, “antichrists” (false teachers who pretend to be Christians and lure weak members away from Christ) will appear. Finally, just before the world ends, one great Antichrist will arise (Revelation 13; 19:20; 20:10). We do not need to fear these evil people, however. The Holy Spirit shows us their errors, so we are not deceived. However, we must teach the Word of God clearly and carefully to the peripheral, weak members among us so they won’t fall prey to these teachers “who come disguised as harmless sheep, but are wolves” (Matthew 7:15).
2:19 The antichrists were not total strangers to the church; they once belonged to it, but they did not continue. John does not say why they left; it is clear that their reasons for joining in the first place were wrong. Today many people are “Christians” for less than the best reasons. Perhaps going to church is a family tradition. Maybe they like the social and business contacts they make there. Or possibly going to church is a long-standing habit, and they have never stopped to ask themselves why they do it.
What is your main reason for being a Christian? Unless it is a Christ-centered reason, you may not really belong. You don’t have to settle for less than the best. You can become personally acquainted with Jesus Christ and become a loyal, trustworthy follower.
2:20 When you become a Christian you receive the Holy Spirit. One way the Holy Spirit helps the believer and the church is by communicating truth. Jesus is the Truth (John 14:6), and the Holy Spirit guides believers to him (John 16:13). People who are against Christ are also against truth, and the Holy Spirit is not working in their lives. But people who are led by the Spirit are continually growing in their experience of Jesus’ truth (see 2:27).
2:23 Apparently the “antichrists” in John’s day were attempting to be loyal to God while denying and opposing Christ. This, John firmly said, is impossible. Since Jesus is God’s Son and his Messiah, to deny him is to reject God’s way of revealing himself to the world. A person who accepts Christ as God’s Son, however, accepts God the Father at the same time. The two are one and cannot be separated. Many cultists today call themselves Christians but deny that Jesus is divine. We must expose these heresies and oppose such teachings so the weak believers among us do not succumb to their teachings.
2:24 These Christians had heard the gospel, very likely from John himself. They knew that Christ was God’s Son, that he died for our sins and was raised to give us new life, and that he would return and establish his kingdom in its fullness, but now they were being infiltrated by teachers who denied these basic doctrines of the Christian faith, and some of the believers were in danger of succumbing to false arguments. John encouraged them to hold on to the Christian truth they heard at the beginning of their walk with Christ. It is important to grow in our knowledge of the Lord, to deepen our understanding through careful study, and to teach these truths to others, But no matter how much we learn, we must never abandon the basic truths about Jesus. Jesus will always be God’s Son, and his sacrifice for our sins is permanent. No truth will ever contradict these teachings in the Bible.
2:26,27 Christ promised to send the Holy Spirit to teach his followers and remind them of all that Jesus had taught (John 14:26), As a result, Christians have the Holy Spirit within them to keep them from going astray, In addition, they have the God-inspired Scriptures, against which they can test questionable teachings. Let the Holy Spirit help you discern truth from error. For more about who the Holy Spirit is and what he does, see the notes on John 3:6; Acts 1:5; and Ephesians 1:14,
2:27 Christ lives in us, and we also live in Christ. This means we place our total trust in him and live as he wants us to live, It implies a personal, life-giving relationship, John uses the same idea in John 15:5, where he speaks of Christ as the Vine and his followers as the branches (see also 3:24; 4:15),
2:28,29 The visible proof of being a Christian is right behavior, Many people do some good things but don’t have faith in Jesus Christ. Others claim to have faith but rarely produce good works, A deficit in either faith or right behavior is cause for shame when Christ returns, Because true faith always results in good works, those who claim to have faith and who consistently live rightly are true believers, Good works cannot produce salvation (see Ephesians 2:8, 9), but they are necessary proof that true faith has actually occurred (James 2:14-17)
New International Version 1984 (NIV1984)
1 How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.
2 Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.
3 Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure.
4 Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness.
5 But you know that he appeared so that he might take away our sins. And in him is no sin.
6 No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him.
7 Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. He who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous.
8 He who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work.
9 No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God.
10 This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God; nor is anyone who does not love his brother.
Love One Another
11 This is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another.
12 Do not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own actions were evil and his brother’s were righteous.
13 Do not be surprised, my brothers, if the world hates you.
14 We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love our brothers. Anyone who does not love remains in death.
15 Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life in him.
16 This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.
17 If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him?
18 Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.
19 This then is how we know that we belong to the truth, and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence
20 whenever our hearts condemn us. For God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything.
21 Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God
22 and receive from him anything we ask, because we obey his commands and do what pleases him.
23 And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us.
24 Those who obey his commands live in him, and he in them. And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us.
Explanation of 1 John
3:1,2 Verse 1 tells us who we are–members of God’s family.
Verse 2 tells us who we are becoming–reflections of God. The rest of the chapter tells us what we take with us as we grow to resemble God:
(1) victory over sin (3:4-9);
(2) love for the brothers (3:10-18); and
(3) confidence before God (3:19-24).
3:1 As believers, our self-worth is based on the fact that God loves us and calls us his children. We are his children now, not just sometime in the distant future. Knowing that we are his children encourages us to live as Jesus did. For other references on being part of God’s family, see Romans 8:14–17; Galatians 3:26,27; 4:6,7.
3:2 The Christian life is a process of becoming more and more “Christlike (see Romans 8:29). This process will not be complete until we see him face to face (1 Corinthians 13:12; Philippians 3:21), but knowing that it is our ultimate goal should motivate us to live more and more like Christ each day.
3:4 There is a difference between committing a sin and remaining in sin. Even the most faithful believers sometimes commit sins, but they do not cherish a particular sin and choose to commit it. A believer who commits a sin repents, confesses, and is forgiven. A person who remains in sin, by contrast, is not sorry for what he is doing. Thus he never confesses and never receives forgiveness. Such a person is against God, no matter what religious claims he makes.
3:5 Under the Old Testament sacrificial system, a lamb without blemish was offered as a sacrifice for sin. Jesus is “the Lamb of God who takes away the world’s sin” (John 1 :29). Because he lived a perfect life and sacrificed himself for our sins, we can be completely forgiven (1 John 2:2). We can look back to his death for us and know we need never suffer eternal death (1 Peter 1: 18–20).
3:8,9 We all have areas where temptation is strong and habits are hard to conquer. These weaknesses give Satan a foothold, so we must deal with them. If we are struggling with a particular sin, however, these verses are not directed at us, even if for the time we seem to “keep on sinning.” John is not talking about people whose victories are still incomplete; he is talking about people who make a practice of sinning and look for ways to justify it.
Three steps are necessary to find victory over prevailing sin:
(1) one must seek the power of the Holy Spirit and the Word of God on a daily basis;
(2) one must flee lustful desires; and
(3) one needs the help of the body of Christ–accountability to others and the prayers of others.
3:9 We are born again when the Holy Spirit lives in us and gives us Jesus’ new life. Being born again is more than a fresh start; it is a rebirth, receiving a new family name based on Christ’s death for us. God forgives us and totally accepts us. The Holy Spirit gives us new minds and hearts, lives in us, and begins helping us be like Christ. Our perspective changes too. We have a new mind which is to be renewed day by day by the Holy Spirit (see Romans 12:2; Ephesians 4:22-24). So we must begin to think and act differently.
See John 3:1-21 for more on being born again.
3:12,13 Cain killed his brother, Abel, when God accepted Abel’s offering and not Cain’s (Genesis 4:1-16). Abel’s offering showed that Cain was not giving his best to God, and Cain’s jealous anger drove him to murder. People who live good lives expose and shame those who don’t. If we live for God, the world will often hate us because we make them painfully aware of their immoral way of living.
3:15 John echoes Jesus’ words that one who hates another person is a murderer at heart (Matthew 5:21, 22). Christianity is a religion of the heart; outward compliance alone is not enough. Bitterness against someone who has wronged you is an evil cancer within you and will eventually destroy you. Don’t let a “root of bitterness” (Hebrews 12: 15) grow in you or your church.
3:16 Real love is an action, not a feeling. It produces selfless, sacrificial giving. The greatest act of love anyone can do is to give himself or herself for others. How can we lay down our lives? Sometimes it is easier to say we’ll die for others than to truly live for them, which involves putting others’ desires first. Jesus taught this same principle of love in John 15: 13.
3:17,18 These verses give an example of how to lay down our lives for others. Christians must show their love, and one way to do that is to provide money to help meet others’ needs. This is strikingly similar to James’ teaching (James 2:14-17). How clearly do your actions say you really love others? Are you as generous as you should be with your money, possessions, and time?
3:19,20 Many are afraid they don’t love others as they should. They feel guilty because they think they are not ready or they are unable to show proper love. Their conscience bothers them. John had these people in mind when he wrote this letter. How do we escape the gnawing accusations of our conscience? Not by loving them or rationalizing our behavior, but by right actions, says John. If we still feel guilty, we should remind ourselves that God knows our hearts as well as our actions. If we are in Christ, he will not condemn us (Romans 8:1; Hebrews 9:14, 15). So if you are living for the Lord but feel you are not “good enough,” remind yourself that God is greater than your conscience. He knows you belong to him, so you can know it too.
3:21,22 If your conscience is genuinely clear, you can come to God without fear, confident that your requests will be heard. John reaffirms Jesus’ promise, “Ask, and you will be given what you ask for” (Matthew 7:7; see also Matthew 21:22; John 9:31; 15:7). You will receive if you obey, because when you obey, you ask in line with God’s will. Of course this does not mean you can have anything you want, like instant riches. If you are truly seeking God’s will, there are some things you do not request.
3:23 In the Bible, a person’s name stands for his character. It represents who he really is. We are to believe not only in Jesus’ words, but also in his very person as the Son of God. Moreover, to believe “in his name” means to pattern your life after Christ’s, to become more like him by uniting yourself with him.
New International Version 1984 (NIV1984)
Test the Spirits
1 Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.
2 This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God,
3 but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world.
4 You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.
5 They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them.
6 We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we recognize the Spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood.
God’s Love and Ours
7 Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.
8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.
9 This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.
10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.
11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
12 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.
13 We know that we live in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit.
14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world.
15 If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and he in God.
16 And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him.
17 In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like him.
18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
19 We love because he first loved us.
20 If anyone says, “I love God,” yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen.
21 And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother.
Explanation of 1 John
4:1, 2 There are many ways to test teachers to see if their message is truly from God. One is to check their words with what God says in the Bible. Other tests include their commitment to the body of believers (2:19), their lifestyle (3:23, 24), and the fruit of their ministry (4:6). But the most important test of all, says John, is what they believe about Christ. Do they teach that Jesus is fully God and fully man? Our world is filled with voices claiming to speak for God. Give them these tests to see it they are indeed speaking God’s truth.
4:1-3 Some people believe everything they read or hear. Unfortunately, many things printed and taught are not true. Christians should have faith, but they should not be gullible. Verify every message you hear, even if the person who brings it says it’s from God. If the message is truly from God, it will be consistent with Christ’s teachings.
4:3 The Antichrist will be a person who epitomizes all that is evil, and he will be readily received by an evil world. He is more fully described in 2 Thessalonians 2:3-12 and Revelation 13.
4:4 It is easy to be frightened by the wickedness we see all around us. Evil is obviously much stronger than we are. John assures us, however, that God is stronger yet. He will conquer all evil–and his Spirit lives in our hearts!
4:6 False teachers are popular with the world because, like the false prophets of the Old Testament, they tell people what they want to hear. John warns that Christians who faithfully teach God’s Word will not win any popularity contests in the world. People don’t want to hear their sins denounced; they don’t want to listen to demands that they change their lives.
4:7 Everyone believes love is important, but we usually think of it as a feeling. In reality, love is a choice and an action, as 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 shows. God is the source of our love: he loved us enough to sacrifice his son for us. Jesus is our example of what it means to love; everything he did in life and death was supremely loving. The Holy Spirit gives us the power to love. God’s love always involves a choice and an action, and our love should be like his. How well is your love for God displayed, in the choices you make and the actions you take?
4:8 John said, “God is love, “not love is God.” Our world, with its shallow and selfish view of love, has turned these words around and contaminated our understanding of love. The world thinks love is what makes you feel good, and it is willing to sacrifice moral principles and others’ rights in order to obtain such “love. But that isn’t real love; it is love’s exact opposite–selfishness. We cannot apply to God the view of love propagated by an evil world. Our definition of love must come from God who is holy, just, and perfect. We must learn to love like God does.
4:9,10 Love explains:
(1) why God creates—because he loves, he creates people to love;
(2) why God cares–because he loves them, he cares for sinful people;
(3) why we are free to choose–he wants a loving response from us;
(4) why Christ died–his love for us caused him to seek a solution to the problem of sin; and
(5) why we receive eternal life–his love expresses itself to us forever.
4:10 Nothing sinful or evil can exist in God’s presence. He is absolute goodness. He cannot overlook, condone, or excuse sin as if it never happened. He loves us, but his love does not make him morally lax. If we trust in Jesus, however, we do not have to bear the penalty for our sins (1 Peter 2:24). We can be acquitted (Romans 5:18).
4:12 Some people love to be with others. They befriend strangers easily and always are surrounded by many friends. Other people are shy or reserved. They have a few friends, but they are uncomfortable talking with people they don’t know or mingling in crowds. Shy people don’t need to become extroverts in order to love others. John isn’t telling us how many people to love, but how much to love the people we already know. Our job is to faithfully love the people God has given us to love, whether there are two or two hundred of them. If God sees we are ready to love others, he will bring them to us. No matter how shy we are, we don’t need to be afraid of the love commandment. God never leads us beyond the sufficiency of his strength.
4:13 When we become Christians, we receive the Holy Spirit. God’s presence in our lives is a proof that we really belong to him and gives us the power to love (Romans 5:5; 8:9; 2 Corinthians 1:22). Rely on that power as you reach out to others. If you lack assurance of your salvation, listen to the Holy Spirit within you (see also Romans 8:16).
4:17 The day of judgment is that final day when we will appear before Christ and be held accountable for our lives. With God living in us through Christ, we have no reason to fear this day, because we have been saved from punishment. Instead, we can look forward to the judgment, because it will mean the end of sin and the beginning of a face-to-face relationship with Jesus Christ.
4:18 If we ever fall prey to fear of eternity, heaven, or God’s judgment, we can remind ourselves of God’s love. We know he loves us perfectly (Romans 8:38, 39). We can resolve our fears first by focusing on his immeasurable love for us, then by allowing him to love others through us. We can be confident if in this life we have learned to be more like Jesus.
4:19 God’s love is the source of all human love, and it spreads like fire. In loving his children, he kindles a flame in their hearts. In turn, they love others, who are warmed by God’s love through them.
4:20,21 It is easy to say we love God when it doesn’t cost us anything more than weekly attendance at religious services. But the real test of our love for God is how we treat the people right in front of us–our family members and fellow believers. We cannot truly love God while neglecting to love those who are created in his image,
New International Version 1984 (NIV1984)
Faith in the Son of God
1 Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves the father loves his child as well.
2 This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands.
3 This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, 4 for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.
5 Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.
6 This is the one who came by water and blood —Jesus Christ. He did not come by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth.
7 For there are three that testify:
8 the Spirit, the water and the blood; and the three are in agreement.
9 We accept man’s testimony, but God’s testimony is greater because it is the testimony of God, which he has given about his Son.
10 Anyone who believes in the Son of God has this testimony in his heart. Anyone who does not believe God has made him out to be a liar, because he has not believed the testimony God has given about his Son.
11 And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.
12 He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.
13 I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.
14 This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.
15 And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.
16 If anyone sees his brother commit a sin that does not lead to death, he should pray and God will give him life. I refer to those whose sin does not lead to death. There is a sin that leads to death. I am not saying that he should pray about that.
17 All wrongdoing is sin, and there is sin that does not lead to death.
18 We know that anyone born of God does not continue to sin; the one who was born of God keeps him safe, and the evil one cannot harm him.
19 We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one.
20 We know also that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true. And we are in him who is true—even in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life.
21 Dear children, keep yourselves from idols.
Explanation of 1 John
5:1,2 When we become Christians, we become part of God’s family, with fellow believers as our brothers and sisters. It is God who determines who the other family members are, not us. We are simply called to accept and love them. How well do you treat your fellow members in the family of God?
5:3,4 Jesus never promised that obeying him would be easy. Hard work, however, can be rewarding if we value its results. Another way of translating the last half of verse 3 is this: “His commands are not burdensome.” The hard work and self discipline of serving Christ is no burden to those who love him and if our load starts to feel heavy, we can always trust Christ to help us bear it.
5:6-8 The phrase, “a voice from heaven” is a paraphrase of “he . . . came by water and blood”. This expression may refer to Jesus’ baptism and Jesus’ crucifixion. At this time, there was a false teaching in circulation which said that Jesus was God only between his baptism and his death–that is, he was born merely human until he was baptized, at which time “the Christ” then descended upon him, but then later left him before his death on the cross. But if Jesus died only as a man, he could not have taken upon himself the sins of the world, and Christianity would be an empty religion. Only an act of God could take away the punishment we deserve for our sins.
5:9 In the Gospels, God twice clearly declared that Jesus is his Son, once at Jesus’ baptism (Matthew 3:16,17), and once at his transfiguration (Matthew 17:5).
5:12 Whoever believes in God’s Son has eternal life. He is all you need. You don’t need to wait, because eternal life begins today.
You don’t need to work for it, because it is already yours. You don’t need to worry, because you have been given eternal life by God himself, and it is guaranteed.
5:13 Some people hope they will be given eternal life. John says we can know we have it. Our certainty is based on God’s promise that he has given us eternal life through his Son. This is true whether you feel close to God or distant from him. Eternal life is not based on feelings, but on facts. You can know you have eternal life if you believe God’s truth. If you lack assurance as to whether you are a Christian, ask yourself if you have honestly committed your life to him as your Savior and Lord. If so, you know by faith that you are indeed a child of God.
5:14,15 The emphasis here is on God’s will, not our will. When we communicate with God, we don’t demand what we want, rather we discuss with him what he wants for us. If we align our prayers to his will, he will listen; and we can be certain that if he listens, he will give us a definite answer. Start praying with confidence!
5:16,17 Commentators differ widely in their thoughts about what this sin is, and whether the death it causes is physical or spiritual. Paul wrote that some Christians had died because they took communion “in an unworthy manner” (1 Corinthians 11:27-30), and Ananias and Sapphira were struck dead when they lied to God (Acts 5:1-11). Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit results in spiritual death (Mark 3:29), and the book of Hebrews describes the spiritual death of the person who turns against Christ (Hebrews 6:4-6). John was probably thinking of the people who had left the Christian fellowship and joined the “antichrists.” By rejecting the only way of salvation, these people were putting themselves out of reach of prayer. In most cases, however, even if we know what the “sin which ends in death” is, we have no sure way of knowing if a certain person has committed it. Therefore we should continue praying for our loved ones and Christian brothers and sisters, leaving the judging up to God. Note that John says, “there is no use praying for him,” rather than “You cannot pray about that.” He recognized the lack of certainty.
5:18,19 Christians commit sins, of course, but they ask God to forgive them and then they continue serving him. God has freed them from their slavery to Satan, and he keeps them safe from Satan’s continued attacks. The rest of the world does not have the Christian’s freedom to obey God. Unless they come to Christ in faith, they have no choice but to obey Satan. There is no middle ground; people either belong to God and obey him, or they live under Satan’s control.
5:21 This verse is also translated, “Keep yourself from idols.” An idol is anything that substitutes for the true faith, anything that robs Christ of his full deity and humanity, any human idea that claims to be more authoritative than the Bible, anything that replaces God as the center of our lives.
5:21 What we think about Jesus Christ is central to our teaching, preaching, and living. Jesus is the God-man, fully God and fully human at the same time. He came to earth to die in our place for our sins. Through faith in him, we can have eternal life and the power to do his will.
What is your answer to the most important question you could ever be asked–who is Jesus Christ?
The Book of
TRUTH and love are frequently discussed in our world, but seldom practiced.
From politicians to salesmen, people conveniently ignore or conceal facts and use words to enhance positions or sell products. Perjury is common, and integrity and credibility are endangered species. It is not surprising that we have to “swear” to tell the truth.
And what about love? Our world is filled with its words-popular songs, greeting cards, media counselors, and romantic novels shower us with notions and dreams of ethereal, idyllic relationships and feelings. Real love, however, is scarce–selfless giving, caring, sharing, and even dying if need be. We yearn to love and be loved, but see few living examples of real love.
Christ is the antithesis of society’s prevailing values–falsehood, and self-centeredness–for he is truth and love in person. Therefore, all who claim loyalty to him must be committed to these ideals, following and living the truth, and acting with love toward one another.
The apostle John had seen truth and love firsthand–he had been with Jesus. So affected was this disciple that all of his writings (the Gospel of John, the letters of 1, 2, and 3 John, and the book of Revelation) are filled with. this theme–truth and love are vital to the Christian and are inseparable in the Christian life.
Second John, his brief letter to a dear friend, is no different. John says to follow the truth and obey God (1:4), watch out for false leaders (1:7), and love God and each other (1:6).
Second John will take just a few minutes to read, but its message should last a lifetime. As you reflect on these few paragraphs penned by the wise and aged follower of Christ, recommit yourself to being a person of truth, of love, and of obedience to the Lord.
To emphasize the. basics of following Christ–truth and, love–and to warn against false teachers
The apostle John
TO WHOM WRITTEN:
To a woman called “Cyria” or “the elect lady” and her household. Some think that the greeting refers instead to a local church.
About the same time as I John, around A,D. 90, from Ephesus
Evidently this woman and her family were involved in one of the churches which John was overseeing–they had developed a strong friendship. John was warning her of the false teachers which were becoming prevalent in some of the churches.
“If we love God, we will do what he tells us to. And he has told us from the very firs! to love each other” (1:6):
John, Cyria and her children
1. Watch out for false teachers (1:1-11)
2. John’s final words (1:12, 13)
False teachers were a dangerous problem for the church to which John was writing. His warning against giving hospitality to false teachers may sound harsh and unloving to many today. Yet these men were teaching heresy that could seriously harm many believers–for eternity.
THEME EXPLANATION IMPORTANCE
Truth Following God’s Word, the bible, is essential to Christian living, because God is truth. Christ’s true followers consistently obey his truth. To be loyal to Christ’s teaching we must seek to know the Bible, but never twist its message to our own needs or purposes, nor encourage who misuse it.
Love Christ’s command is for Christians to love one another. This is the basic ingredient of true Christianity. To obey Christ fully, we must believe his command to love others. Helping, giving, and meeting needs put love into practice.
False Leaders We must be wary of religious leaders who are not true to Christ’s teaching. We should not give them a platform to spread false teaching. Don’t encourage those who are contrary to Christ. Politely remove yourself from association with false leaders. Be aware of what’s being taught in the church.
The Book of 2nd John
New International Version 1984 (NIV1984)
1 The elder,
To the chosen lady and her children, whom I love in the truth —and not I only, but also all who know the truth
2 because of the truth, which lives in us and will be with us forever:
3 Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and from Jesus Christ, the Father’s Son, will be with us in truth and love.
4 It has given me great joy to find some of your children walking in the truth, just as the Father commanded us.
5 And now, dear lady, I am not writing you a new command but one we have had from the beginning. I ask that we love one another.
6 And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love.
7 Many deceivers, who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh, have gone out into the world. Any such person is the deceiver and the antichrist.
8 Watch out that you do not lose what you have worked for, but that you may be rewarded fully.
9 Anyone who runs ahead and does not continue in the teaching of Christ does not have God; whoever continues in the teaching has both the Father and the Son.
10 If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not take him into your house or welcome him.
11 Anyone who welcomes him shares in his wicked work.
12 I have much to write to you, but I do not want to use paper and ink. Instead, I hope to visit you and talk with you face to face, so that our joy may be complete.
13 The children of your chosen sister send their greetings.
Explanation of 2nd John:
1:1 John was one of Jesus’ 12 disciples and the writer of the Gospel of John, three epistles, and the book of Revelation. For more information about him, see his Profile in John 13. This letter was written shortly after 1 John to warn about false teachers. The salutation is literally translated, “To the chosen lady and her children.” Although some think this letter was written to a specific woman, it may also refer to a church whose identity is no longer known.
1;2 The “Truth” is the truth about Jesus Christ, as opposed to the lies of the false teachers (see 1 John 2:21-23).
1:5,6 The love Christians should have for one another is a recurrent New Testament theme. Yet love for one’s neighbor is an old command first appearing in the third book of Moses (Leviticus 19:18). We can show love in many ways:
by avoiding prejudice and discrimination,
by accepting people,
and refusing to judge,
But just knowing God’s command is not enough. We must put it into practice, (See also Matthew 22:37-39 and 1 John 2:7,8,)
1:7 In John’s day, many false teachers taught that spirit was good and matter was evil. Therefore, they reasoned that Jesus could not have been both God and man, In strong terms, John warned against this kind of teaching, There are still many false teachers who promote an understanding of Jesus that is not biblical. They are dangerous because they twist the truth and undermine the foundations of Christian faith, They may use the right words but change the meanings. The way your teachers live shows a lot about what they believe about Christ. For more on testing teachers, see 1 John 4:1.
1:8 The prize and full reward to which John refers is not salvation but the rewards of loyal service. All who value the truth and persistently hold to it will win their “full reward from the Lord.” Those who live for themselves and justify it by teaching false doctrines will lose that reward (see Matthew 7:21-23).
1:10 John instructed the believers not to give hospitality to false teachers. They were to do nothing that would encourage the heretics in their propagation of falsehood. In addition, if believers invited them in, it would show they were approving of what the false teachers said and did. It may seem rude to turn people away, even if they are teaching heresy, but how much better to be faithful to God than merely courteous to people! John is not condemning hospitality to unbelievers, but rather the supporting of those who are dedicated to opposing the true teachings of God. Note that John adds that a person who supports a false teacher in any way shares that teacher’s wicked work.
1:13 False teaching is serious business, and we dare not overlook it. It is so serious that John wrote this letter especially to warn against it. There are so many false teachings in our world today that we might be tempted to take them lightly. Instead, we should realize the dangers they pose and actively refuse to give heresies any foothold.
The Book of 3rd John
When company arrives at the door, with them comes the promise of soiled floors, dirty dishes, altered schedules, personal expense, and inconvenience. From sharing a meal to providing a bed, hospitality costs. . . in time, energy, and money. But how we treat others reflects our true values. Do we see people as objects or inconveniences, or as unique creations of a loving God? And which is more important to God, a person or a carpet? Perhaps the most effective way to demonstrate God’s values and Christ’s love to others is to invite and welcome guests into our homes. For Gaius, hospitality was a habit, and his reputation for friendship and generosity, especially to “traveling teachers and missionaries”(1:5) had spread. To affirm and thank him for his Christian lifestyle, and to encourage him in his faith, John wrote this personal note.
John’s format for this epistle centers around three men:
Gaius, the example of one who follows Christ and loves others(1:1-8);
Diotrephes, the self-proclaimed church leader who does not reflect God’s values (1:9-11);
and Demetrius, who also follows the truth (1:12).
John encouraged Gaius to practice hospitality, cling to the truth, and do what is right. Although this is a personal letter, we can apply its lessons to our lives. As you read 3 John, with which man do you identify? Are you a Gaius, generously giving to others? A Demetrius, loving the truth? Or a Diotrephes, looking out for yourself? Determine to reflect Christ’s values in your relationships, opening your home and touching others with his love.
To commend Gaius for his hospitality and to encourage him in his Christian life
The apostle John
TO WHOM WRIITEN:
Gaius, a prominent Christian in one of the churches known to John
About A.D. 90, from Ephesus
Church leaders traveled from town to town helping to establish new congregations. They depended on the hospitality of fellow believers, Gaius was one who welcomed them into his home.
“Dear friend, you are doing a good work for God in taking care of the traveling teachers and missionaries who are passing through” (1:5).
John, Gaius, Diotrephes, Demetrius .
1. God’s children live by the standards of the gospel (1:1-12)
2. John’s final words (1:13-15)
John wrote to commend Gaius who was taking care of traveling teachers and missionaries and to warn against people like Diotrephes, who are proud and refuse to listen to spiritual leaders in authority. If we are to live in the truth of the gospel, we must look for ways to support pastors, Christian workers, and missionaries today. All Christians should work together to support God’s work, both at home and around the world.
THEME EXPLANATION IMPORTANCE
Hospitality John wrote to encourage those who were kind to others. Genuine hospitality for traveling Christian workers was needed then and is still important. Faithful Christian teachers and missionaries need our support. Whenever you can extend hospitality to others, it will make you a partner in their ministry.
Pride Diotrephes not only refused to offer hospitality, but he set himself up as a church boss. Pride disqualified him as a real leader. Christian leaders must shun pride and its effects on them. Be careful not to misuse your position of leadership.
Faithfulness Gaius and Demetrius were commended for their faithful work in the church. They were held up as examples of faithful, selfless servants. Don’t take for granted Christian workers who serve faithfully. Be sure to encourage them so they won’t grow weary of serving.
New International Version 1984 (NIV1984)
1 The elder,
To my dear friend Gaius, whom I love in the truth.
2 Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well.
3 It gave me great joy to have some brothers come and tell about your faithfulness to the truth and how you continue to walk in the truth.
4 I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.
5 Dear friend, you are faithful in what you are doing for the brothers, even though they are strangers to you.
6 They have told the church about your love. You will do well to send them on their way in a manner worthy of God.
7 It was for the sake of the Name that they went out, receiving no help from the pagans.
8 We ought therefore to show hospitality to such men so that we may work together for the truth.
9 I wrote to the church, but Diotrephes, who loves to be first, will have nothing to do with us.
10 So if I come, I will call attention to what he is doing, gossiping maliciously about us. Not satisfied with that, he refuses to welcome the brothers. He also stops those who want to do so and puts them out of the church.
11 Dear friend, do not imitate what is evil but what is good. Anyone who does what is good is from God. Anyone who does what is evil has not seen God.
12 Demetrius is well spoken of by everyone —and even by the truth itself. We also speak well of him, and you know that our testimony is true.
13 I have much to write you, but I do not want to do so with pen and ink.
14 I hope to see you soon, and we will talk face to face.
Peace to you. The friends here send their greetings. Greet the friends there by name.
Explanation of 3rd John:
1:1 This letter gives us an important glimpse into the life of the early church, Third John, addressed to Gaius, is about the need for hospitality to traveling preachers and other believers. It also warns against a would-be church dictator.
1:1 We have no further information about Gaius, but he is someone John loved dearly, Perhaps he had shared his home and hospitality with John at some time during John’s travels. If so, John would have appreciated his actions, because traveling preachers depended on hospitality to survive (see Matthew 10:11-16).
1:2 John was concerned for Gaius’ physical and spiritual well-being. This was in direct contrast to the popular heresy of the day that taught the separation of spirit and matter and despised the physical side of life. Still today, many people fall into this way of thinking, This non-Christian attitude logically leads to one of two responses: neglect of the body and physical health, or indulgence of the body’s sinful desires. God is concerned for both your body and your soul. As responsible Christians, we should neither neglect nor indulge ourselves, but care for our physical needs and discipline our bodies so we are at our best for God’s service,
1:4 John says “my children” because, as a result of his preaching, he was the spiritual father of many, including Gaius.
1:5 In the church’s early days, traveling prophets, evangelists, and teachers were helped on their way by people like Gaius who housed and fed them. Hospitality is a lost art in many churches today, We would do well to invite more people for meals–fellow church members, young people, traveling missionaries, those in need, visitors. This is an active and much-appreciated way to show your love. In fact it is probably more important today, Because of our individualistic, self-centered society, there are many lonely people who wonder if anyone cares whether they live or die. If you find such a lonely person, show him or her that you care!
1:7 The traveling missionaries neither asked for, nor accepted, anything from non-Christians, because they didn’t want anyone questioning their motives for preaching, God’s true preachers did not preach in order to make money, but out of love for God, It is the church’s responsibility to care for Christian workers; this should never be left to non-believers (see 2 Corinthians 12:13),
1:7 When you help someone who is spreading the gospel, you are in a very real way a partner in the ministry. This is the other side of the principle in 2 John 1:10 (see the note there). Not everyone should go to the mission field: those who work for Christ at home are vital to the ministry of those who go and need support. We can support missionaries by praying for them and by giving them our money, hospitality, and time.
1:9 This letter to which John refers was neither 1 or 2 John, but another letter that has not been found or no longer exists.
1:9,10 All we know about Diotrephes is that he wanted to control the church. John denounces
(1) his refusal to listen to other spiritual leaders,
(2) his slander of the leaders,
(3) his bad example in refusing to welcome any gospel teachers, and
(4) his attempt to excommunicate those who opposed his leadership.
Sins such as pride, jealousy, and slander are still present in the church, and when a leader makes a habit of encouraging sin and discouraging godly actions, he must be stopped, If no one speaks up, great harm can come to the church. We must confront sin in the church. If we try to avoid it, it will continue to grow. Some leaders misuse the Old Testament idea of “opposing God’s anointed”, but such use is false because that injunction applied to the prophet, not to every church leader. A true Christian leader is a servant, not an dictator.
1:12 We know nothing about Demetrius except that he probably carried this letter from John to Gaius, The book of Acts mentions an Ephesian silversmith named Demetrius who opposed Paul (Acts 19:24), but this is probably another man. In contrast to the corrupt Diotrephes, Demetrius had a high regard for truth. John personified truth as a witness to Demetrius’ character and teaching. In other words, if truth itself could speak, it would speak on Demetrius’ behalf. When Demetrius arrived, Gaius would have certainly opened his home to him.
1:15 Whereas 2 John emphasized the need to refuse hospitality to false teachers, 3 John urges continued hospitality to those who teach the truth. Hospitality is a strong sign of support for people and their work. It means giving them of your means so their stay will be comfortable and their work and travel easier. Actively look for creative ways to show hospitality to God’s workers. It may be in the form of a letter of encouragement, a “care” package, financial support, an open home, or prayer.