Summary of 1 John
The book of 1 John is a series of General Letters to the believers of Christ. The purpose of the letters were to combat false teachings.
In Chapters 1-2: John reassures believers explaining, “…God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5). He explained that if sins were confessed, those sinners would be made whole.
In chapters 3-5: John teaches about the love of God and that through His love He sent Jesus, to Atone for the sins of the world. John urges Christians to live by faith. Those who love God, will keep His commandments and those who keep His commandments will overcome the world!
1 John 5: Saints are Born of God
John explains that all Saints are born of God and that those who love God; “…keep his commandments…” (1 John 5:3) For those same people who love God and who keep the commandments of God; “…overcometh the world…” (1 John 5:4) Jesus Christ overcame the world, and we can too! For not only by water; “…but by water and blood.” (1 John 5:5) did Jesus Christ sacrifice Himself for us, setting the example.
By the Spirit we may know the truth of things, for the “…witness of God is greater…” (1 John 5:9) John goes on to explain the purpose of what Jesus Christ did for us; “…God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son, hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.” (1 John 5:11-12)
John explains that those who have faith in God and in His Son Jesus Christ will have confidence’ “…that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he will hear us; And if we know that he hear us whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.” (1 John 5:14-15) In other words, God will answer our prayers according to His own will. This can be likened to a little child attempting to touch a hot stove. Obviously the parent says not to, because it’ll burn them! However, as little children in the eyes of God, we often want something, but God repeatedly says no. Why? Because He knows best and does not want us to be burned!
1 John 4: God is Love
John warns the believers of Christ to “…believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.” (1 John 4:1) During John’s time there were many false prophets and he warned that there would be many more in the future, even into our own times. We need to pray always and ask God what we should believe or not believe.
John explains that if we are following God and His commandments we will know whether a messenger is of God or of the devil. Those who follow the things of the world, will hear and respond to a message that is geared towards the desires of the world. The things of God may be hard for lovers of the world to understand or accept;
“Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world. They are of the world: therefore speak they of the world, and the world heareth them. We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error.” (1 John 4:4-6)
John encourages us to love our neighbors as Jesus commanded, for if we love one another we will feel the Love of God and His Son Jesus Christ; “…let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.” (1 John 4:7-9)
Those who say they love God, but not their fellow man are hypocrites; “If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.” (1 John 4:20-21)
1 John 3: We Shall be Like Christ
John opens with a very powerful explanation of the Love of God, more specifically the love that God has for us; “…what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the Sons of God… now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.” (1 John 3:1-3) Isn’t this powerful? We are literally God’s offspring, making us the sons and daughters of the God the Eternal Father! John explains that when we see Him, we shall be LIKE HIM! After all we were made in His image. This means that we have UNLIMIMITED potential!
John also explains that; “Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin…” (1 John 3:9) Therefore little children cannot sin. This means that little children do not need to be baptized, for baptism is for the remission of sins.
As followers of Christ we will often be ridiculed, but John says; “Marvel not, my brethren, If the world hate you.” (1 John 3:13) It is inevitable, if you are following Jesus Christ, the world WILL hate you. If we follow God and His commandments then “…whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight.” (1 John 3:22) Beyond loving Jesus Christ, we also need to love our fellow man, this combined with the keeping of the commandments will ensure that we have His spirit with us always.
1 John 2: Christ is our Advocate
John explains that Jesus Christ died for our sins and that if we wish to known God, we must follow His commandments. Those who say; “…I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.” (1 John 2:4) Essentially John is saying that those who say they have accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior, but do not walk after His ways is a liar. In order to know God or to know His Son Jesus Christ and truly accept Him in your heart… WE MUST FOLLOW HIS COMMANDMENTS. If we love Him, we will follow Him.
“…whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God… He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also to walk, even as he walked.” (1 John 2:5-6) Again, we see that saying is different than doing. If we accept Jesus Christ, we must show it through actions. Salvation is FREE, but it is up to us to accept this FREE gift. Accepting the FREE gift means following Jesus Christ.
John writes to everyone who has overcome the wicked one [the devil] and has followed after Jesus Christ. John warns; “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.” (1 John 2:15-16) John instructs us to love not the things of the world, but does that mean we can’t enjoy some worldly things? I would venture to say that while we are living in this world, it is OK to enjoy worldly things. However, we must have our main focus on the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Is it ok to have money? Yes. Is it ok to have a nice house or car? Yes. It is only when the love of the worldly things takes away from the love of our Savior or away from the love of our neighbors and family. What matters most is that when we pass on from this life into the next we leave behind good memories with those we loved, we take with us knowledge and experience and nothing else.
1 John 1: We Follow God by Obedience to His Law
John writes a general letter to all the believers of Christ and explains that we must be obedient to God and His commandments. For; “…God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.” (1 John 1:5) Therefore our purpose to become like Him means that we need to also be filled with the light and rid ourselves of the darkness. John explains that “If we say we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we life, and do not the truth.” (1 john 1:6) Because of this we must not be hypocrites and instead practice what we preach. If we follow Jesus Christ and say we follow Him, WE MUST FOLLOW HIM! For “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:8-9)
Essentially, we need to confess our sins and admit that we have and/or are currently sinning. We are not perfect, and therefore will make mistakes that are contrary to the commandments of God. If we work hard to rid ourselves of our sins by confessing them and promising to no longer participate in those sins, God is merciful and just to forgive us. Just like Salvation is a FREE gift we must still accept the gift. Unfortunately many believe that these gifts come FREE without any stipulations, but the truth is not so… we have to do our part in order to receive these wonderful gifts from God.