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A faith that overcomes the world 1 john 5 4 wnw 7 2 08

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  • Introduction: The reality of Jesus Christ (1:1-4)
  • I. The Tests of Fellowship: God is Light (1:5-2:29)
    • A. The test of obedience (1:5-2:6)
    • B. The test of love (2:7-17)
    • C. The test of truth (2:18-29)
  • II. The Tests of Sonship: God Is Love (3-5)
    • A. The test of obedience (3:1-24)
    • B. The test of love (4:1-21)
    • C. The test of truth (5:1-21)

First John is built around the repetition of the three main themes: light vs. darkness, love vs. hatred, and truth vs. error. These three "strands" weave in and out of the letter, making it difficult to construct a simple outline. The above outline is based on the main lessons of each section, although the careful student will see that the three themes intermingle. In these days when many Christians think they have fellowship with God but do not, and when many religious people think they are true sons of God but are not, it is important that we apply these tests and examine our own lives carefully.


I. Author

The Spirit used the Apostle John to give us the Gospel of John, three epistles, and the Book of the Revelation. These three works complement each other and give to us a full picture of the Christian life.

The Gospel of John The Epistles of John The Revelation of John
Emphasis on salvation Emphasis on sanctification Emphasis on glorification
Past history Present experience Future hope
Christ died for us Christ lives in us Christ comes for us
The Word made flesh The Word made real in us The Word conquering

II. Aim

John stated five purposes for the writing of his first epistle:


A. That we might have fellowship (1:3).

"Fellowship" is the key theme of the first two chapters (see 1:3, 6-7). Fellowship has to do with our communion with Christ, not our union with Christ, which is sonship. Our daily fellowship changes; our sonship remains the same.


B. That we might have joy (1:4).

The word "joy" is used only here, but the blessing of joy is seen throughout the entire letter. Joy is the result of a close fellowship with Christ.


C. That we might not sin (2:1-2).

The penalty of sin is taken care of when the sinner trusts Christ, but the power of sin over the daily life is another matter. First John explains how we may have victory over sin and how to get forgiveness when we do sin.


D. That we might overcome error (2:26).

John was facing the false teaching of his day just as we face false teachers today (2 Peter 2). The false teachers in John's day were claiming: (1) that matter was evil, therefore Christ did not come in the flesh; (2) that Christ only appeared to be a real man; (3) that knowledge of truth is more important than living the truth; and (4) that only a "spiritual few" could understand spiritual truths. As you read 1 John, you will see that John emphasizes: (1) that matter is not evil, but man's nature is sinful; (2) that Jesus Christ had a real body and experienced a real death; (3) that it is not enough "to say" what we believe, we must practice it; and (4) all Christians have an unction from God and can know His truth.


E. That we might have assurance (5:13).

In his Gospel, John tells us how to be saved (John 20:31), but in this epistle, he tells us how to be sure we are saved. The letter is a series of "tests" that Christians may use to examine their fellowship (chaps. 1-2) and their sonship (chaps. 3-5). Note that the emphasis in chapters 3-5 is on being born of God (3:9; 4:7; 5:1, 4, 18).

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