Today we are begin our new, 12 week study on the letter of 1John. This morning I want to:
1. Give some background on John. Who was he and what did he do?
2. Go into some detail on 1John. Why was it written? What was the purpose of the letter and is it still applicable to us today?
3. Wrap up the lesson with a sneak peek of the upcoming lessons.
Point #1. John…the artist formerly known as John, son of Zebedee.
18 While walking by the
Jesus, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords who has ruled heaven and earth for all eternity past, God Himself, has stepped down into humanity, divided human history, set aside His kingdom to bring salvation to the world.
Here we see Jesus as He begins His ministry and one of the first things He does is to gather a posse, call His peeps to Himself, those men who will work side by side with Him over the next 3 years, who will learn from Him, and who will serve as the foundation for spreading the gospel to the world. It’s interesting that Jesus does not go to the temple to call His disciples. He doesn’t go to the colleges or the seminaries. Jesus doesn’t choose the rich, the righteous, or the religious. Instead He heads to the sea.
In 4:18-20 we see that Jesus has already called Andrew and Peter and in 21-22 He calls James and John to follow Him as well. These guys are real salt of the earth fellows sort of like the crew of the deadliest catch on steroids. They are lean, tan, their skin is like leather, and they chew a lot of skoal (much like the women who come from Sevier county). These guys are uneducated, blue collar, hard working men who smell like a Captain D’s on a hot summer day with a broken air conditioner but they are trustworthy, dependable, and hardworking. They have seen many storms, faced many trials, and they are just the men Jesus needs.
We don’t know too much about John first because John is not the hero of our Bibles, Jesus is, and so we learn about John through references either as he interacts or participates in the life and ministry of Jesus and the gospel. We know that John had a brother James, that he was a fisherman, and that his dad’s name was Zebedee and that is pretty much it.
John was one of the first disciples to be called to Jesus and was part of Jesus' small group or inner 3 comprised of Peter, James, and John himself. Could you imagine being apart of this small group?
"Ok, John, did you read your Bible this week?...asked Jesus.
"Ye......no, no I didn't! Oh, you already know don't you! Why even ask?"
Talk about accountability and spiritual growth! John had an up close and very personal relationship with Jesus and had a special part in the ministry of Jesus. Here are just a few key events and miracles in the life and work of Jesus where John either took part or was present as part of the inner circle of Jesus:
John was present at the transfiguration of Jesus (Matt. 17:1-2; Mark 9:2; Luke 9:28-29).
He was at the house of Jairus when Jesus raised the girl from the dead (Mark 5:37; Luke 8:51).
John went into the garden with Jesus before His arrest and Jesus asked Him to pray (Matt. 26:37; Mark 14:33).
John specifically asked Jesus when He would come back (Mark 13:3-4).
John prepared the Passover meal at the last supper (Luke 28:8).
Jesus names John one of the "sons of thunder" (Mark 3:17).
John asked Jesus to be in a position of glory (Mark 10:35-40).
John asked Jesus if he should call for fire to come down and destroy (Luke 9:54).
John is probably the one called, "the disciple Jesus loved" (John 13:23).
John was at the foot of the cross at the crucifixion (John 19:26-27).
John raced to the tomb upon hearing that the body of Jesus was gone (John 28:8).
In Acts we see John ministering with Peter in the temple and arrested in Acts 4:1-3 for preaching Jesus and the resurrection.
We also see John as bold in his witness of Jesus (Acts 4:19-20) arrested (Acts 5:17-18) and in Galatians he is called one of the "Pillars" of the church (2:9).
These references tell us that John was a devoted follower of Jesus who had a very personal and up close relationship with Jesus and was daily involved in the intricacies of the ministry of Jesus. John heard Jesus preach, teach, and had intimate conversations with Jesus. John saw the miracles of Jesus, the healing of the lame, blind, mute, sick, and John saw Jesus raise the daughter of Jarius from the dead. John was devastated when he saw Jesus beaten, bloodied, mocked, and crucified and John was forever changed when he personally saw the empty tomb and the risen Jesus who ascended into heaven. So when we read 1 John 1-4 [link] we can believe John because his testimony is true as it is based on his eye witness and personal testimony.
Point#2 The purpose behind the letter
John loved Jesus very much and he was a fully devoted, zealous, bold follower of Jesus. As a fisherman who lived by the
Each of the 5 books written by John were specific and with purpose. While the gospel of John was written to show us the divinity of Jesus and to show us how we might be saved from our sins and live eternally with King Jesus, John 3:16, the book of 1 John shows us how to have assurance of that very salvation (1 John 5:13).
1John was written to give us assurance of salvation, to defend the gospel, and to elaborate on the new command Jesus gave us in John 13:34.
1. Christian Assurance – 1 John was written to bring each of us to an absolute assurance of salvation in Jesus and to lead us into a deeper understanding and a bold confidence of what we already possess…our salvation through Jesus!
The question is…how do I know that I am really saved? In a world where almost nothing is certain, where there is so much information, how can you really know anything for certain?
John writes to us that even though times are uncertain and there is a world full of information and misinformation we can be certain of our salvation. At the very end of the letter we learn the primary purpose… 1 John 5:13 13I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life
Throughout the letter John continually tells us that we can or already know about our assurance (2:5, 2:13, 2:20, 2:21, 3:2, 3:14, 3:19, 3:24, 4:4, 4:13, 5:2, 5:18,19,20) he reminds us that we know, we know, we know!
2. A Defense of the Gospel – There are many perspectives, opinions, ideas, theologies, philosophies, when it comes to Jesus, salvation, morality, heaven, hell, and judgment. John was responding to false teaching about Jesus and false teaching about how we as the church, as Christians should live our lives. People were teaching many things that did not jive with scripture such as the body is bad but the spirit is good. Therefore when you are saved it is your spirit that is saved and your body remains evil which they used as a license to sin. This also lead to a false view of Jesus as many who adopted this teaching began to deny that Jesus appeared in a physical body, because to do so for them would mean that He was not sinless as their teaching said the body is evil.
John brings everything back into sharp, laser focus by pointing to Jesus as the only way to salvation and by stating that our morality is evidence of our salvation.
3. Elaboration on a new command – In John 13:34 Jesus has just finished the Passover meal with His disciples and He gives them a new command to follow:
34A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.
For thousands of years the law has gone unchanged and now God, the eternal law and the eternal law giver is giving these guys and us a new command. You would think that all ears would be open, all eyes fixed on Jesus, pen in hand taking notes, “Ok Jesus you want us to love one another right? How does that work? What does that look like? How do we walk in that?”
Yet instead their minds are on Jesus leaving and they glaze over this new command (John 13:36, 14:5). So through the Holy Spirit John elaborates on Jesus’ new command for us to love one another in 1 John. Here are just a few examples in the letter (2:5, 2:15, 3:10, 3:11, 3:14, 3:18, 4:7, 4:11, and 4:21).
As Christians our lives are to be marked with a heart of love and a life of service as we live extravagantly in Jesus and give generously of our time, treasure, and talents. Our goal is to get to give not to get to get.
1 John is a letter written to believers, to us, to the church. It is a reaction to false teaching, false teaching as to what it means to be a Christian, false teaching of who Jesus is, and false teaching as to how we are to live our lives. 1 John is the antidote to heresy, it is the answer to anyone who declares they are sinless, and to anyone who claims salvation by any other means apart from Jesus or any addition to the work Jesus did on the cross.
Point#3 – Sneak Peek of Upcoming Lessons
Here are some of the items we will discuss over the next 12 weeks as we go through the book/letter of 1 John:
June 29 - Dear John - Intro
July 6 - Happy! Happy! Joy! Joy!
July 13 - Livin' in the Spotlight
July 20 - Your Brother from Another Mother
July 27 - Too Much Junk in Your Trunk?
Aug 3 - Tricked, Hoodwinked & Duped
Aug 10 - Who's Your Daddy?
Aug 17 - Love from Above
Aug 24 - Light, Done Right!
Aug 31 - God is Luv
Sep 7 - Freedom Time
Sep 14 - The REAL 4-1-1 - Outro
I hope you enjoy this new study of 1 John as much as I have enjoyed studying it over the past several weeks in preparation for this series. Feel free to comment or to ask questions.