Summary: Introduction to 1 John. (PowerPoint slides to accompany this talk are available on request – email: firstname.lastname@example.org)
• Mrs Fisher the primary school teacher was at home recovering from surgery;
• She heard the letter box bang on the door,
• Then her husband entered the room bringing in the post,
• One of the letters was a get well card from her class which 2nd year class which read;
• “Dear Mrs Fisher, your class wishes you a speedy recovery by a vote of 15-14”.
The object of John’s letter:
• Letters are usually written for a reason;
• And that is true for 1 John.
• John was a fisherman who one day heard Jesus say; ‘follow me’.
• He left his nets and followed Jesus.
• This letter was penned about sixty years after he first heard Jesus say ‘follow me’.
• Written in Ephesus around about A.D. 100.
• The letter contains no opening and no closing greetings.
• But the experts confidently assure us that it was John the apostle who wrote it.
• You can invest in a Bible commentary and read for yourself why!
• The early Church leaders are recorded as saying John wrote this letter.
• i.e. Papias who was Bishop of Hierapolis (near Laodecia) around a.d.125,
• i.e. Irenaeus Bishop of Lyons and Vienne in Southern France around a.d.185
• The letter has no destination;
• We have no clues as to where it was sent.
• But it was written to Churches John knew well;
• He refers to them again and again – in fact 9 times as ‘My dear Children’,
• He refers to them 6 times as ‘Dear friends’ (AV: ‘Beloved’)
• And the writer often uses the person pronoun ‘I’;
• There is a close relationship here, a bond.
• All though this letter was written to counteract certain false teachings;
• Primarily to Christians around about Asia Minor.
• It was a general letter written to groups of Christians everywhere.
• As you read through 1 John,
• It would do us all good to read the whole letter every week during our studies (10 mins max)
• If you do that you will notice that;
• John does not lay out his thoughts in a linear, point by point fashion.
• e.g. the way the Apostle Paul does in his letters and teaching.
• John orchestrates his subjects
• e.g. ‘Love & hate, life & death, light & darkness, truth & error’ like themes in a symphony.
• He begins with a simple proposition then adds a contrasting idea.
• Then he waves in new themes;
• And new contrasts that crescendo and fall in waves.
• Wherever you open his letter you will find some variation of his basic message;
• When you believe the right things about God;
• You will demonstrate that by right living.
(1). Why did he write the letter?
• Answer: If you scan the letter;
• John gives us four reasons why he wrote this first letter.
REASON 1: HE WANTS THE CHRISTIAN’S TO BE SATISFIED:
• Chapter 1 verse 4:
• “We write this to make our joy complete.”
Quote: Warren Wiersbe:
“Fellowship is Christ’s answer to the loneliness of life.
Joy is his answer to the emptiness, the hollowness of life”.
• Although John only once uses the word ‘Joy’ in this letter;
• Joy weaves itself through the entire letter.
• The communist revolutionary Karl Marx wrote:
• “The first requisite for the people’s happiness is the abolition of religion”.
• The apostle John tells us in verse 3 the very opposite is true:
• The first requisite for the people’s happiness is fellowship.
• And he tells us who that fellowship needs to be with;
• “Our fellowship is with God the Father and his Son Jesus Christ”.
• Fellowship with God is not only the privilege of a Christian;
• But it is also the Christian’s source of constant joy!
REASON 2: HE WANTS THE CHRISTIAN’S TO BE SINLESS:
• Chapter 2 verse 1:
• “I write this to you so that you will not sin”.
• Again and again in these early chapters John mentions sin.
• He draws our attention to it because it is sin that breaks that relationship with God;
• And sin which robs us of our joy and fellowship.
• A party of school children were being showed around a hospital;
• And the nurse who was giving them a tour round asked if anyone had any questions;
• One child asked,
• "How come the people who work here are always washing their hands ?"
• The nurse gave the answer;
• "They are ’always washing their hands’ for two reasons.
• First they love health; and second, they hate germs".
John wants every Christian to love God and hate sin.