1 John Graphics 

Vital statistics

 Purpose: To reassure Christians in their faith an to counter false teachings   
 Author: The apostle John
 Original audience: The letter is untitled and was written to no particular church. It was sent as a a pastoral letter to several Gentile congregations.
 Date written: Probably between A.D. 85 and 90 from Ephesus
 Setting: John was an older man and perhaps the only surviving apostle at this time. He had not yet been banished to the island of Patmos, where he would live in exile. As an eyewitness of Christ, he wrote authoritatively to give this new generation of believers assurance and confidence in God and in their faith.  
 Key verse: "I have written this to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know you have eternal life" (5:13)
 Key people: John, Jesus 
 Special features: John is the apostle of love, and love is mentioned throughout this letter. There are a number of similarities between this letter and John's Gospel - in vocabulary, style, and main ideas. John uses brief statements and simple words, and he features sharp contrasts - light and darkness, truth and error, God and Satan, life and death, and love and hate.  

The Choices in John’s First Letter

1:5–7; 2:9–11
Keeping God’s commandments
Not keeping God’s commandments
A new commandment
The old commandment
We love God
We love the world
The Antichrist
2:18, 22
2:20–21; 4:1–3
Child of God
Child of the devil
3:13–15; 5:11–12
3:15–17; 4:20–21
Spirits confessing Christ
Spirits not confessing Christ
We are of God
We are not of God
Word in life study Bible . 1997, c1996 (electronic ed.) (Gn 1.1). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

The Quality of Love

The Source of Love
The Effect of Love
God personifies love (4:8, 16)
We reflect God’s love in the world (4:7)
God loved us (4:19)
We love God; our fear is gone; we keep His commands (4:18, 19; 5:3)
God gave His Son for us (4:9, 10)
We give our substance for others (3:17; 4:11)
Christ laid down His life for us (3:16)
We lay down our lives for others (3:16)
New Geneva study Bible. 1997, c1995 (electronic ed.) (1 Jn 4.13). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

A Book of Contrasts

    One of the distinct features of John's willing style was his habit of noting both sides of a conflict. He wrote to show the difference between real Christianity and anything else. Here are some of his favorites contrasts. 

 Contrast between  Passage
  1.  Light and darkness
  2. The new commandment and the old commandment
  3. Loving the Father and loving the world
  4. Christ and Antichrist
  5. Truth and lies
  6. Children of God and children of the devil
  7. Eternal life and eternal death
  8. Love and hatred
  9. True prophecy and false prophecy 
  10. Love and fear
  11. Having life and hot having life
  •  1:5
  • 2:7, 8
  • 2:15, 16
  • 2:18, 22
  • 2:20, 21
  • 3:1-10
  • 3:14
  • 3:15, 16
  • 4:1-3
  • 4:18, 19
  • 5:11, 12

The Blueprint

 1. God is light (1:1-2:29)

 2. God is love (3:1-4:21)

 3. God is life (5:1-21) 

  John wrote about the most vital aspects of faith so that his readers would know Christian truth from error. He emphasizes the basic of faith so that we can be confident in our faith. In our dark world, God is light. In our cold world, God brings the warmth of love. In our dying world, God brings life. When we lack confidence, these truths bring us certainty.    

John counters false teachings 

John counters two major threads in the false teaching of the heretics in this letter.

  •  1:6, 8, 10
  •  They denied the reality of sin. John says that if we continue in sin, we can't claim to belong to God. If we say we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and refusing to live according to the truth.
  •  2:22; 4:1-3
  •  They denied that Jesus was the Messiah - God in the flesh. John said that if we believe that Jesus was God incarnate and trust him for our salvation, we are children of God.

First John Overview