Summary: Bible Study
F I R S T E P I S T L E O F J O H N - CHAPTER 1
Scofield says that this First Epistle of John is a family letter from the Father to His "little children" who are in the world. A tender word is used for "children" (from Gk, teknia), a diminutive meaning "little children, born-ones" as e.g. the Scottish "bairns". It is the most intimate of the inspired writings. Johns Gospel leads us across the threshold of the Father’s house; his First Epistle makes us at home there.
Sin, which alienated us from the Father, has been dealt with at the Cross, now sins resulting from the Christians walk in the world must be addressed. The difference is in our relationship to the Father. We are now His "little children" whom He is teaching and training. We need our feet washed, because we have been running in the dirt and the mud of this world. So we are told: "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" I John 1:9
The event which created the need for this letter was the secession of people from the apostolic fellowship. The purpose of this letter is immediately announced "That you may have fellowship with us". On the principle that the seceders doctrine must have been opposite to the aged Apostle, we can gather the general nature of their doctrine from the epistle itself:
1. From the immense stress laid, in some fifteen different ways, upon the peril of tolerating sin in the Christian life, it is clear that the seceders treated sin lightly.
2. A similar concentration of emphasis falls upon the need for loyalty and love for one another (twelve times).
3. On no less than twenty-three occasions John refers to Jesus as the Christ the Son of God, come in the flesh, by water and blood. The issue, plainly, is the identification of the man Jesus as the Son of God, or God in the flesh.
4. In the epistle’s 105 verses, the two words for "knowing" occur forty times. This indicates that the ethical and doctrinal errors which had divided the Churches had intellectual, philosophical roots. To John, it is not WHAT you know it is WHO you know. Our safety and security do not lie in "what" we know, but in that we "know" Jesus as our Lord and Savior.
As the Church moved out of its Judaist homeland into the gentile world, she came face to face with a strange amalgam of high thinking, unbridled imagination, and a philosophy known to us as "Gnosticism". Gnosticism contrived to combine superstition, philosophical analysis, fantasy, some eastern mysticism and a considerable power of speculation to produce it’s wild, fanatical, and sometimes obscene cult.
1. The term "Gnostic" indicates the emphasis is laid upon knowledge (gnosis) of the universe, God, or the soul. To the Gnostic salvation comes by knowledge, which is more important than virtue.
2. The fundamental Gnostic insight is dualistic. Everything material is naturally and essentially evil; everything spiritual is naturally and essentially good. That is why the Gnostic could not connect Jesus the man with Christ the Son of God.
3. Intellectual pride made Gnosticism intensely individualistic, possessing little sense of social obligation, they were "loveless to the core" (Robert Law). They gave no heed to love, caring not for the widow, the orphan, or the afflicted, neither for those who are in bonds nor for those who are released from bonds, neither for the hungry nor for the thirsty. John’s reply to this attitude is brusque: "He that loveth not knoweth not"
4. Morally, one reaction to dualism was to discipline and abuse the evil body to save the soul (compare Col 2:20 and I Tim 4:3); the other was to treat all deeds done in and with the body as irrelevant to spiritual welfare. Some Gnostics argued that the enlightened must know all things, even "the depths of Satan" Rev 2:24).
The close relation of Gnosticism to modern day Christian Science is obvious.
CHAPTER ONE - VERSES 1 THRU 3:
I/ Life’s Source - Vs 1 "That which was from the beginning"
It is a large part of the Bible’s message that life originates in God. In Genesis, God breathed into man’s nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living being. God said to Moses "I AM" indicating that He is a living God, in contrast to the dumb and lifeless idols of the heathen. Jesus said in John 5:26 "For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself". John said "God gave us eternal life and this life is in his Son, He who has the Son has life" I John 5:11,12.