All the Bible, Every Book: 1 John
Fellowship with God
And these things we write to you that your joy may be full (1 John 1:4).
The nine General Epistles point to the person and work of the resurrected Christ. They encourage Christians to cling to Him and exhort them to serve Him faithfully because He is the only source of life. Written primarily to persecuted Jewish Christians, the truths apply to every believer from every culture and in every age of church history.
John was with the apostles who were in Jerusalem (Acts 8:14), and Paul calls him one of the pillars of the church (Galatians 2:9). And then, for decades he’s not mentioned. Early Christian tradition tells us he left Jerusalem just before its destruction in A.D. 70 and headquartered in and around Ephesus. In his later years he wrote the Gospel of John and three epistles, probably as he was serving in Ephesus.
False teachers were confusing the churches John oversaw by saying that Christ only seemed to have a human body. Not only were they denying the Incarnation, but they were claiming to have secret knowledge about God that made them a kind of spiritual elite. Some of the most talented brethren left these fledgling churches to form new communities that denied the reality of Christ’s humanity (4:2) and taught an “advanced” spirituality that promised to take its initiates beyond sin (1:8).
John responds as a father protecting his “little children.” What they must know is that these new teachings are not only wrong, but they will steal the greatest joy any believer will ever know—the joy of life in the family of God.
The theme of First John is fellowship—that experience of intimacy with Christ and His people only available to those who belong to Him and only experienced by those who walk in His light and love. The passion of John is, “don’t lose it by listening to these lying teachers.”
1 John: Don’t lose the joy of fellowship!
Both the Gospel of John and 1 John address the subject of eternal life. John wrote his Gospel so that people “may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have eternal life” (John 20:31) He wrote his First Epistle so that Christians “may have fellowship” with the apostles, with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ” (1 John 1:3).