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Bible Commentaries

The Bible Study New Testament

1 John

- 1 John

by Rhoderick D. Ice


The history of John, the son of Zebedee, is given in the introduction to the Gospel of John. No one knows for sure when this Letter was written, but it is likely that John wrote his Gospel, 1, 2, 3 John, and Revelation, all in the last decade of the first century.

The apostles both believed and taught that Christ was both God and man, both divine and human! Two lines of false thinking grew out of distorting this fact. Some of the false teachers, finding that Messiah was called in the Jewish Scriptures (Old Testament), God, and the Son of God, decided it was impossible that he could become a human being with a body like ours. They declared the divinity of Christ, but denied he came in human form. Therefore, they said, Christ only seemed to have a body, only seemed to suffer and die, and that he really did none of the things mentioned in the Gospels. MacKnight says: “By pretending that Christ suffered death only in appearance, the Docetae endeavored to avoid the ignominy of the crucifixion of their Master, and to free themselves from that obligation to suffer for their religion, which was laid on them both by Christ’s precept and example.” John makes it plain that those who deny the reality of Christ’s humanity are motivated by the spirit of the Enemy of Christ (Antichrist)! See 1 John 4:2-3.

Others of the false teachers believed all that was said about Jesus in the Gospels, but denied his divinity. They could not believe the Son of God could experience the things which happened to Jesus. Therefore they denied the virgin birth and said Jesus was completely human. They said that after his baptism, the Christ descended on him in the form of a dove and stayed with him during the work of his public ministry. Then, they said, the Christ left him, and Jesus suffered, died, was raised from death. But, they said, the Christ was not involved in this, since He is Spirit. John deals with the divinity of Christ (1 John 2:22) who is Jesus, and that Christ came through the blood of his death as well as the water of his baptism (1 John 5:6; 2 John 1:7).

These Letters of John, then, deal with the pre-existence of Jesus, the incarnation (becoming human), the real existence in human form, the actual death of Jesus the Christ in which his blood was poured out. Also, John deals with the theme of LOVE. Paul has shown us that the entire Christian life is meaningless without the reality of love! (See 1 Cor. ch 13.) John goes deep into the nature of love and shows that to the degree that we love, we are like God who is love! This is in direct contrast to the false teachers, who taught and practiced a loveless intellectualism (1 John 2:7-9; 1 John 3:10-18.)

John deals with three distortions of truth; (1) “If we can never be completely free from the act of sin in this life, why try to be holy?” (2) “Can one who is already a Christian be forgiven if he sins?” Some were saying that the only forgiveness was in the act of new birth (John 3:5), therefore they delayed their act of new birth until they had reached the point of death. (3) “If we can be forgiven every sin through Christ-on-the-cross, why not go ahead and sin, since forgiveness comes so easy?” These, then, are all topics which John deals with in this Letter.