Summary: In this introduction to 1 John we learn about John’s Mandate, John’s Message, and John’s motive in writing this letter.


A. Today we begin a series of sermons on the little book of 1 John.

1. All Scripture is God-breathed and is therefore sacred, and powerful.

2. Whenever I begin a new study of a section of God’s Word, I am struck by two very strong emotions.

3. First, I experience a great sense of excitement.

a. We are going into uncharted territory, and there is the hope of discovery.

b. There is the wonderful anticipation of transformation that comes from God.

4. And Second, I experience a great sense of trepidation.

a. This is God’s holy Word.

b. I want to handle it seriously, and correctly.

c. I want to learn and to teach only that which is true.

5. So as we approach 1 John, I do so with these emotions and attitudes and I want to encourage you to do the same.

B. As we get started, I want us to hear the first four verses again, but this time from Peterson’s paraphrase, called The Message.

“From the very first day, we were there, taking it all in – we heard it with our own ears, saw it with our own eyes, verified it with our own hands. The Word of Life appeared right before our eyes; we saw it happen! And now we’re telling you in most sober prose that what we witnessed was, incredibly, this: The infinite Life of God himself took shape before us.

We saw it, we heard it, and now we’re telling you so you can experience it along with us, this experience of communion with the Father and his Son, Jesus Christ. Our motive for writing is simply this: We want you to enjoy this, too. Your joy will double our joy!”

C. These words truly are thrilling words.

1. John has so much to say, and he knows that what he has to say will bring such blessing.

2. Let’s break down this passage into three parts: John’s Mandate, Message and Motive.

I. John’s Mandate

A. It is widely held by most scholars that the Apostle John wrote the book of 1st John while serving the church at Ephesus, somewhere around 85-90 A.D.

1. He wrote this book after he wrote the Gospel of John, but before he wrote Revelation.

2. He not only wrote the letter of 1st John, but he also wrote, 2nd and 3rd John.

3. We don’t know for sure how the three little letters are related to each other, or even if they are related.

4. One suggestion that I think is reasonable, though certainly not provable, is that all three were written at approximately the same time to the same church.

5. Third John was written to a specific leader in that church, Gaius.

6. Second John was a cover letter written to the church itself.

7. And First John is a sermon that accompanied both letters.

B. As I said, there is no way to verify that theory, but we do notice that 1st John is much more like a sermon than a letter.

1. It does not begin like any of John’s other letters, or the other letters of the NT.

2. Usually a 1st Century letter began by identifying the author’s name and then the recipient’s name.

3. That is the case with the letters of 2nd and 3rd John, but not 1st John.

4. In 1st John, the author jumps right into his presentation which is an exhortation from beginning to end.

C. So how does John begin this letter?

1. He begins by discussing his mandate.

2. He tells the reader why he has a right to speak, and therefore, why they should listen.

3. And just what are his credentials? What gives his words a sense of authority?

4. John says that he is a witness.

5. It is his personal experience that he points to rather than his position as an apostle.

D. John says that he has HEARD Christ Jesus.

1. He personally was there to hear all of Jesus’ marvelous teachings.

2. He was there and heard all of Jesus’ incredible claims and promises.

3. John heard Jesus deliver the Sermon on the Mount.

4. Think about Jesus’ many “I AM statements” that John heard. “Before Abraham was, I AM”…“I AM the way and the truth and the life”…“I AM the good shepherd”…“I AM the light of the World”…“I AM the resurrection and the life.”

5. Think of all the parables John heard…The Good Samaritan…The Prodigal Son….The Talents.

6. John heard Jesus promise: “I will be with you always”…”I am going there to prepare a place for you…I will come back and take you to be with me”…”Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you”…”I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand.”

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