Summary: Intro to 1st John

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The Truth About Jesus Christ

1st John 1:1-4

Jeff Hughes

I. Introduction

a. It is widely held by most scholars that the Apostle John wrote the book of 1st John while pastoring the church at Ephesus, somewhere around 85 to 90 AD, before he wrote Revelation and Second and third John, but after he wrote the Gospel of John.

i. The Gospel of John is distinct from the other three gospels. The other three closely mirror one another, while John gives us another insight into the Lord and His earthly ministry.

b. He was the only apostle present at the Lord’s death. While on the cross, Jesus gave John care for His mother, Mary (John 19:26-27)

i. John was one of the inner circle, w/ Peter and his brother James, that saw the Lord transfigured

ii. John was the only Apostle not martyred for his faith. Church tradition holds that John was dunked in boiling oil by the Roman emperor, but did not die, and was then exiled to the island of Patmos.

II. Overview

a. The book of 1st John deals mainly with the heresy of Gnosticism, which was gaining a foothold in the early church toward the end of the first century.

i. Some basic beliefs of gnosticism include:

1. God did not create the “evil” physical world, a distant emanation of him did.

2. Jesus was a phantom that did not have a body of flesh.

3. Gnosticism was further developed by Arias, who started the Arian heresy.

4. Arias denied the deity of Christ, claiming Jesus was a created being. This belief is still with us today in the JW’s.

ii. John’s purpose in writing was to bolster the beliefs of the churches, and the younger believers who were second or third generation Christians by now, by emphasizing the deity of Jesus, to combat these heresies.

III. Study

a. Read through all 4 Verses (1 John 1:1-4)

b. The Word (1 John 1:1)

i. That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life—

ii. Beginning – Greek word arche, meaning origin, or ruler, which speaking about Christ is both. This word speaks about Christ’s eternal existence and deity. It is used extensively in John’s writings, i.e. John 1:1 – In the beginning (arche) was the Word, the Word was with God, and the Word was God, also Revelation 1:8 - I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning (arche) and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty. Also, it is used twice in Revelation 22:13 - I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning (arche) and the end, the first (arche) and the last.

iii. Heard and seen – John was a witness to Christ’s ministry

iv. Looked upon – They saw Christ’s ministry on earth.

v. Our hands have handled – Upon His resurrection, Christ encouraged the Apostles and those gathered with them to tough Him in his resurrected state, that they might know that it was really Jesus raised from the dead, and not just a Spirit, like the Gnostics were teaching.

vi. The Word (Greek - Logos) of life – Jesus. He is the embodiment of God’s Word. (John 1:1-2)

c. The Witness (1 John 1:2)

i. The life was manifested – ties into the Word in verse 1, as in John 1:14 - And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. John is re-iterating that Christ came in the flesh.

ii. Seen and bear witness – John is explaining that what they saw and heard concerning Christ was not made up, but that they are credible witnesses. Like Peter in 2nd Peter 1:16 - For we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty.

iii. That eternal life – John declares Jesus as eternal (John 1:1)

iv. Which was with the Father – In the beginning (John 1:2)

v. And was manifested to us – Once more, John declares Jesus came in the flesh.

d. The Fellowhip (1 John 1:3)

i. That which we have seen and heard we declare to you – About Jesus, His life, teachings, death, and resurrection – John wants them know about it.

ii. That you may have fellowship (Gr – koinonia, meaning oneness, common, or communion) with us – John is drawing a distinction here between the gospel that he and the other apostles brought and the Gnostic heresy that was creeping in.

iii. Truly our fellowship is with the Father and His Son Jesus Christ – John is affirming the authenticity of the gospel and their beliefs, that came from Jesus.

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