1st John: Fellowship
Basis of fellowship, Behavior of fellowship.
Background: From Ephesus, the elderly Apostle John writes to the churches of Asia Minor around 90 AD Theme: Fellowship between believers and God Outline: The Basis and Behavior of Fellowship Key Verse: "We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ.' (I John 1:3, NIV)
The Apostle John wrote this letter to the churches of Asia Minor (modern Turkey) about 60 years after he witnessed the death of Jesus and his resurrection appearances. He probably wrote the Gospel of John earlier, and the Book of Revelation a few years later. By this time he is the last of the original twelve disciples remaining alive. See the Biography of the Apostle John.
Two purposes of this book are to warn against false teachers and to encourage the believer to practice faith and brotherly love.
Gnosticism (verse 2:4) was a common heresy which claimed a secret and superior knowledge. This knowledge was only revealed to the teachers, and was not written in the Scriptures. According to this (and Eastern religions such as Buddism and Hinduism), the body is evil but the spirit is good. Only beliefs matter, not the actions, since beliefs are 'spirit' but actions are physical or 'body'. Another heresy, Docetism (4:2) , taught that Christ was only an appearance. Christ as the divine God did not come or die in the flesh. Rather, people thought they saw Jesus Christ, but Christ was an illusion. A similar belief, Cerinthianism, is much like some modern cults. According to this heresy, the Spirit (Christ) came upon Jesus (man) at baptism, and Spirit (Christ) departed before Jesus (man) died. The orthodox or Biblical view is that Jesus Christ was born fully man and fully God, and that as man and God, he died on the cross for our sins.
In general, these false teachers were all Antinomian, a word meaning 'against law'. They would preach only 'Liberty and not Law'. They taught that what is done in the body does not matter, since the body is evil anyway. Only 'spiritual' things matter. While we must be careful to understand our Christian liberty, John clearly teaches that the believer acts like Jesus, and is to obey the commands of Jesus. Things done in the body matter, and are a clear indication of whether someone is spiritual and knows God.
The following table shows the five chapters with their themes. There is a separate web page commentary for each chapter.
The Basis of Fellowship
The Behavior of Fellowship
Updated March 2012
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