To the Christians in the City of Ephesus
First John was written by John, one of Jesus’ original 12 disciples. He was probably “the disciple Jesus loved” (John 21:20), and along with Peter and James, he had a special relationship with Jesus.
He was noted for his gentleness and his graciousness and his goodness. He became a man who was characterized by such an outstanding devotion and love for the Lord Jesus that all his life he was singled out as the apostle of love.
As an eyewitness to Jesus’ ministry, John was qualified to teach the truth about him.
The letter known as 1 John was sent to a group of believers in Ephesus. Many within their community had abandoned the original faith in Jesus as the Messiah.
Despite their denial that Jesus had come in the flesh, their immoral lives and their lack of practical love, they still claimed that they belonged to God. They asserted they had a special source of spiritual insight, and that the rest of the group didn’t know the truth as they did. They made their rejection of the original teaching about Jesus emphatic by leaving the community of those who still held to it. Those left behind were deeply shaken, uncertain about everything they’d been taught.
The main problem confronting the church at this time was declining commitment: Many believers were conforming to the world’s standards, failing to stand up for Christ and compromising their faith.
False teachers were plentiful, and they were accelerating the church’s downward slide away from the Christian faith.
First John was written to dispel doubts a by presenting a clear picture of Christ.
First John tackles a strange heresy that claimed Jesus had been on earth only in spirit, not in body. John wrote that he knew Jesus personally.
John stresses the importance of fellowshipping with fellow Christians and the acknowledgement and confession of sins.
John defines some of the main traits of true Christians: keeping the commandments and not loving the world.
If someone says they’re living in God’s light but they really hate a fellow Christian, then they’re actually in the dark and stumbling around blind.
If you love the world, you do not love God.
Do not love the world or the things in the world. The love of the Father is not in those who love the world; for all that is in the world—the desire of the flesh, the desire of the eyes, the pride in riches—comes not from the Father but from the world. (1 John 2:15-16)
John calls out love of money—”pride in riches”—as a bad thing. He equates it with loving the world.
While the elder is specific about which people deserve to get it. The elder isn’t advocating for general charity for all who are in need. He only calls out “brothers and sisters” as the folks deserving of generosity. But not just anyone who believes in Christ will do.
Do not receive into the house or welcome anyone who comes to you and does not bring this teaching; for to welcome is to participate in the evil deeds of such a person. (2 John 1:10-11)
The elder’s hospitality only applies to Christians.
Believers are “children of God.”
You know you’re alive when you love other people.
It is not enough to just say we love others; we have to prove it with our actions.
John gives warnings against false ministers and tells how to detect them.
He tells how to determine if someone has the love of God and how to demonstrate the love of God.
The test involves making sure these people and ideas center on the fact that Jesus came “in the flesh.” That just means that it’s important to believe Jesus was a human being.
The speaker tells the audience that they should love each other because “God is love.” If you have love in your heart then you’re living how God wants you to.
The speaker says that God loved the world so very much that he sent Jesus. Jesus gave up his life so that people could have a sin-free relationship with God.
Believe that God sent Jesus to save the whole world.
Love your fellow Christians.
He finishes off the chapter by saying that if you go around saying that you love God but you’re hating on other Christians, then you’re just a liar.
John encourages us to overcome the evils of the world (society) through faith, love and obedience and overcome trials through the power of God. He concludes with a warning against idolatry.
Anyone who believes that Jesus is the Messiah is a child of God.