Five of the books of the New Testament
have traditionally been attributed to the apostle John, the son of Zebedee and
brother of James. The gospel of John; 1, 2, 3 John; and Revelation. Most of the
early church fathers claimed these books as written by John and the earliest
copies have John listed in the title.
The works of John are connected by common
themes and vocabulary. For example, there is a common emphasis on love,
remaining in Christ, and the Light. Some have suggested that as much as 80
percent of the verses in 1 John reflect themes and ideas found in the gospel of
John. There are also connections between 2 and 3 John. Take for instance the
word “antichrist” found in these two books. The Greek word used for
“antichrist” is only in these two books of the New Testament. Beyond that they
also have similarities in structure, content, and the vocabulary used.
1 John was written by a man who had
followed Jesus most of his adult life. As a young and brash man, he wanted to
call down fire from heaven to destroy a whole town for rejecting Jesus (Luke
9:54) but with time and experience, he learned to live and love like Jesus. Now
an old man, John being led by the Holy Spirit, writes these powerful letters
(1, 2, and 3 John) helping us learn how to live for and love like Jesus.
This letter was written for a group of
Christians who are troubled by false teachers whose behavior clearly showed
them to be false disciples. John demonstrates for us how concern for correct
doctrine, Christlike behavior, and love for God and others creates an
environment where genuine fellowship can exist. He also shows us the importance
of testing everything taught to us by comparing it to the revealed word of God.
Apparently, these false teachers were denying that Jesus had come in the flesh
(1 John 2:22; 4:1-2). They were boasting about being without sin (1 John 1:8,
10) and knew God even though their behavior proved otherwise (1 John 4:20).
- Jeff Arnette preaches for the Central Haywood church of Christ, Clyde, NC. He may be contacted through the congregation's website: https://centralhaywoodcoc.com/