At risk of stating the obvious, the book of first John was written by John. This is John, one of the sons of Zebedee. His brother was James. Jesus called John and James the sons of thunder. Why do you suppose Jesus called them that? (Thundering voices? Could burp real loud? Was their dad a large thundering man?)
John authored the 4th gospel and in the book of John we see John put forth a high view of God. He writes of God, high and holy, the beginning and the end. He is light and love. He is the way, the truth and the life. Then John introduces Jesus. He is the lamb who takes away the sins of the world. Then he wrote that Jesus is God. He who has seen the son has seen the Father. John also authored these 3 small epistles and the book of Revelation. As we study through first John you'll hear some phrases and language that remind you of the book of John.
While we don't really know
what year John wrote this epistle. It's
pretty much a given that he was an older man.
He had been around a while. He
was probably old enough to be the last living apostle, outliving Paul and then
Peter. Some of the early church fathers
spoke of John and indicated that he lived in
When John wrote this letter it doesn't appear that he was writing to any particular church or group of people. It is a general epistle. If you look in your study bible to determine what this letter is about you mind find a variety of answers. Some say it is about relationships; some say an abiding relationship with God; others say it is a warning about false teachers. In reality, all of these are true. John had a relationship with Jesus Christ. He walked with him, talked with him, asked him questions. He was near when Jesus was nailed to the cross. He saw the empty tomb. He spoke with the resurrected Jesus.
As John saw that he was the last to be able to offer first hand testimony of the ministry of Jesus Christ, others needed to know that they too could have a relationship with Jesus. That relationship would transform a life. That relationship would change you from the inside out. That relationship is to be first and foremost in our lives. From that relationship we become a child of God. Suddenly we have a family like never before. We have a relationship with our brothers and sisters in Christ.
Then, what we'll see is John drawing a clear distinction between light and dark. If you love Jesus you walk in the light. If you walk in the light you do certain things in your life. If these things aren't present, you aren't in the light. There are no gray areas John. There's no warm and squishy, "Gee I just don't want to make you feel bad" statements with John.
So I'd summarize the book of 1 John this way: If you love Jesus you have an ever abiding relationship that never stops growing, that brings you to an abiding love for your brothers and sisters and fellow man and it gives you a clear view of truth. We might say things are very black and white. John will say things are very light and dark, holy or profane. We'll see that the important things in life are not the things we see. But it's found in the truth and the light of Jesus Christ. The world offers the lusts of the flesh. These are the things that our sinful nature find pleasing to the eye. And can offer pleasure for a season.
John is going to put forth the important things. This is the wisdom of an older man saying, life is short. It vanishes like a vapor. The things that matter are beyond our eyes and feelings. It's not money, power, career or even family. Our first love must be in God. And that relationship is born out of His provision made for us through sacrifice of Jesus on the cross.
The knowledge of a holy God, of our sin against Him, of His provision for that sin, all serve to calibrate our hearts and eyes and our life to spiritual things. Suddenly the things of the world seem so small. We have new eyes and a new perspective.