A practical epistle promoting consistency in the Christian life based on the love of Christ (2 Co 5:14-17)

THE STRUCTURE OF THE EPISTLE

AUTHOR:The apostle John, author of the Gospel highlighting the Deity of Christ. Shown by this epistle’s style, character and tone. Buttressed by external testimonies from John’s contemporaries. Most notably, Polycarp, a second century bishop who had known John personally when he was a young man.

TIME AND PLACE: Both uncertain. Popularly believed to have been written from Ephesus between 75-95 A.D. The usage of certain Greek words point to an earlier time.  

INTRODUCTION: In this epistle John exhibits a huge concern for the spiritual welfare of the Church. As shown by its structure, 1 John was written to emphasize the differences between what is Godly and what purports to be Godly. The term “antichrist” does not mean “against Christ”, it means “in the stead of Christ”. The enemy that transforms himself (2 Co 11:14, 15) does his most effective work masquerading as a friend (Dan 11:32). 1 John is replete with contrasts between the characteristics of God and the characteristics of the devil. Light vs. Darkness. Good vs. Evil. Truth vs. Lies. Righteousness vs. Sin. Love vs. Hate. The children of God vs. The children of the devil.

   During the early years of the Church there arose numerous sects espousing their own “brand” of Christianity. The apostle combats false doctrine and darkness through teaching, reassurance and exhortation. Specifically, the Gnostics appealed to ignorance and itching ears and made sufficient inroads into the Church to still exist today. Regrettably, some venture to label themselves Gnostic Christians. The term is oxymoronic and self-contradictory.

The following is reprinted by permission from www.GotQuestions.org

Question: “What is Christian Gnosticism?”
Answer:
There is actually no such thing as Christian Gnosticism, because true Christianity and Gnosticism are mutually exclusive systems of belief. The principles of Gnosticism contradict what it means to be a Christian. Therefore, while some forms of Gnosticism may claim to be Christian, they are in fact decidedly non-Christian. Gnosticism was perhaps the most dangerous heresy that threatened the early church during the first three centuries. Influenced by such philosophers as Plato, Gnosticism is based on two false premises. First, it espouses a dualism regarding spirit and matter. Gnostics assert that matter is inherently evil and spirit is good. As a result of this presupposition, Gnostics believe anything done in the body, even the grossest sin, has no meaning because real life exists in the spirit realm only. Second, Gnostics claim to possess an elevated knowledge, a “higher truth” known only to a certain few. Gnosticism comes from the Greek word gnosis which means “to know.” Gnostics claim to possess a higher knowledge, not from the Bible, but acquired on some mystical higher plane of existence. Gnostics see themselves as a privileged class elevated above everybody else by their higher, deeper knowledge of God.
              To discredit the idea of any compatibility between Christianity and Gnosticism, one has only to compare their teachings on the main doctrines of the faith. On the matter of salvation, Gnosticism teaches that salvation is gained through the acquisition of divine knowledge which frees one from the illusions of darkness. Although they claim to follow Jesus Christ and His original teachings, Gnostics contradict Him at every turn. Jesus said nothing about salvation through knowledge, but by faith in Him as Savior from sin. “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith-and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God-not by works, so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9). Furthermore, the salvation Christ offers is free and available to everyone (John 3:16), not just a select few who have acquired a special revelation.
               Christianity asserts that there is one source of Truth and that is the Bible, the inspired, inerrant Word of the living God, the only infallible rule of faith and practice (John 17:17; 2 Timothy 3:15-17; Hebrews 4:12). It is God’s written revelation to mankind and is never superseded by man’s thoughts, ideas, writings, or visions. The Gnostics, on the other hand, use a variety of early heretical writings known as the Gnostic gospels, a collection of forgeries claiming to be “lost books of the Bible.” Thankfully, the early church fathers were nearly unanimous in recognizing these Gnostic scrolls as fraudulent forgeries that espouse false doctrines about Jesus Christ, salvation, God, and every other crucial Christian truth. There are countless contradictions between the Gnostic “gospels” and the Bible. Even when the so-called Christian Gnostics quote from the Bible, they rewrite verses and parts of verses to harmonize with their philosophy, a practice that is strictly forbidden and warned against by Scripture (Deuteronomy 4:2; 12:32; Proverbs 30:6; Revelation 22:18-19).
               The Person of Jesus Christ is another area where Christianity and Gnosticism drastically differ. The Gnostics believe that Jesus’ physical body was not real, but only “seemed” to be physical, and that His spirit descended upon Him at His baptism, but left Him just before His crucifixion. Such views destroy not only the true humanity of Jesus, but also the atonement, for Jesus must not only have been truly God, but also the truly human (and physically real) man who actually suffered and died upon the cross in order to be the acceptable substitutionary sacrifice for sin (Hebrews 2:14-17). The Biblical view of Jesus affirms His complete humanity as well as His full deity.
               Gnosticism is based on a mystical, intuitive, subjective, inward, emotional approach to truth which is not new at all. It is very old, going back in some form to the Garden of Eden, where Satan questioned God and the words He spoke and convinced Adam and Eve to reject them and accept a lie. He does the same thing today as he “prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). He still calls God and the Bible into question and catches in his web those who are either naïve and scripturally uninformed or who are seeking some personal revelation to make them feel special, unique, and superior to others. Let us follow the Apostle Paul who said to “test everything. Hold on to the good” (1 Thessalonians 5:21), and this we do by comparing everything to the Word of God, the only Truth.

Chapter 1:1 - John immediately establishes the authority of this epistle.

       - “from the beginning” = Gr. “ap arches” same as Jn 8:44. 9 times in 1 John. In this case it refers to the Lord’s ministry (since Jn 1:35, 36).

       - “we” - The apostles. To validate the witness (2 Co 13:1 from Deu 19:15). The witness is plural. It is absolutely NOT an indication of multiple authors for this epistle. John begins to use “I” in chapter 2.

       - “…heard…seen…looked upon (Gr. “theaomai” = “regarded with admiration”)…handled” = Witnessed in every sense. Jn 15:27

       - “Word of life” - See Jn 1:4

2 - Not only a witness to the Word, but to the life itself!

       - “manifested” - by the resurrection

       - “shew” = Gr. “apangello” = “report”

       - “eternal life” - 6 times in 1 John.

3 - The purpose of the writing. Fellowship (Gr. “koinonia”). See 1 Co 1:9

       - Fellowship is a bond for a united purpose. Here, it is a relationship of faith which connects true Christians to God and to all other true believers. The one who is in fellowship with God, is in fellowship with all others who are truly in fellowship with Him. It is a spiritual bond that far transcends social interaction. Fellowship is not “hanging out together”, even with other Christians. Fellowship does not require physical proximity or interaction. “Koinonia” is translated “communion” 4 times in the KJV. 1 Co 10:16 (twice), 2 Co 6:14, 13:14

4 - “full” = “fulfilled”  See Jn 15:11; 16:24; 17:13

5 - “This then” = “And this”

       - “message” = Gr. “angelia” Only here and 3:11 = “proclamation”

       - “of” = “from”   “light” = Gr. “phos” = Absolute, unsourced light.

6 - “say…walk”, “lie…do” - Word and deed cannot be separated if we have fellowship.

7 - “he” should be “He” in reference to the Father (see 2:6)

       - “in” = Gr. “en” = “abides in”

       - “cleanseth” – Ongoing cleansing.

       - “one with another” = “with one another” - The operative phrase of fellowship. Here used for fellowship with the Father and Son, not fellow believers.

       - “Jesus Christ” - The text reads “Jesus” (The incarnate Christ)

       - “sin” = Gr. “hamartia” = “failure to hit the mark”

8 - “If we say…” - All have sinned. All sin. 1Ki 8:46  Pr 20:9  Ecc 7:20  Ro 3:23 Jas 3:2

       - “deceive ourselves” - Not from the enemy, but from pride. One who is without sin must not only be immune to the devil but also has no need for grace.

9 - “If…” - A conditional statement.

       - “confess” = Gr. “homologeo” = “concede”, “profess”. To declare oneself guilty.

       - “faithful and just” - God is true to Himself. He is immutable. His word is as just in pardon as it is in punishment. John 3:16 and Romans 8:1 are not applied randomly or with respect of persons. When we fulfill the “if”, God must supply the “then”.

       - “forgive…” - Step 1 of 2. Atonement and reconciliation to remove guilt and provide peace for us.

       - “cleanse…” - Step 2. To prevent sin from having a place in our hearts. The memory that we have sinned should remain lest we ever say that we have not sinned (v. 10).

        - “unrighteousness” = Gr. “planao” = “that which leads astray”

                    See 2 Chr 7:12-14  Isa 43:25, 26 (“for Mine own sake”)

10 - “sinned” - “gone or done wrong” See Jer 2:35

            - “liar” = Gr. “pseustes” = one who falsifies, misleads, or misrepresents

                             See 5:10

       - “not in us” - See v.8. God is His word. His Word is truth. Jesus Christ is the Word.

      TEACHER’S NOTE: To understand the full impact of this verse, read Jn 8:44.

Chapter 2:1 - “little children” - A fatherly, pastoral term of endearment reflecting John’s stature in the early church. Used 7 times in this epistle.

       - “sin not” - Can only refer to habitual sin. It would otherwise contradict 1:8. This is the mark.

       - “And…” - When we miss the mark.

       - “advocate” = Gr. “parakletos” same as “Comforter” in Jn 14:16

              Read Ro 5:1-9 Jesus Christ as advocate/defense attorney.

       - “the righteous” - Read Ro 8:1-10

2 - The advocate, the righteous one is also the propitiation. Gr. “hilasmos” Only here and 4:10. Ro 3:25 in different form.

Propitiation

 - Includes 2 things: expiation and atonement. Does 2 things. Appeases the wrath of God and reconciles us to God. God Himself provided the only means of propitiation. That is the significance of the propitiation. There is no other means or method for man. Jesus’ propitiation on the cross is the only thing that can turn away God’s divine condemnation of sin. God’s righteous anger needed to be appeased before sin could be forgiven, and God in his love sent his Son (who offered himself willingly) to satisfy God’s holy anger against sin.

      God’s holiness and justice does not allow Him to tolerate sin without inflicting punishment. His patience allows Him not to inflict punishment immediately (Ex 34:5-7). Hence, the salvation plan. God looked forward to the cross of Christ where the full payment for the guilt of sin would be made, where Christ would die in the place of sinners. Those who reject Christ as their Savior and refuse to believe in Him have no hope of salvation. They can only look forward to facing the wrath of God that they have stored up for the coming day of judgment (Romans 2:5). There is no other propitiation or sacrifice that can be made for their sins.

      Atonement requires an action on the part of one making an atonement, whereas the idea of propitiation requires no such action. Atonement requires making up for something. For example, a criminal could make atonement. The judge would make propitiation. Serving a sentence for a crime could constitute atonement but would leave a criminal record. Expiation would expunge the record.

       Expiation literally means to make pious and implies either the removal or cleansing of sin. “Expiation” has no reference to quenching God’s righteous anger. The difference is that the object of expiation is sin, not God. One propitiates a person, and one expiates a problem. Christ's death was therefore both an expiation and a propitiation. By expiating (removing the problem of) sin God was made propitious (favorable) to us.

      Propitiation completely restores a relationship. One may atone for something and be forgiven for something without the relationship being restored to its original state. The memory remains. Note “remember” in Isa 43:25, Jer 31:31-34 (Heb 8:12), Heb 10:12-17. It is not about being forgetful, it is not “calling to mind”.

      Although the words are sometimes used interchangeably as synonyms, for our Biblical understanding, the differences are significant.

       - “the whole world” - All of mankind. “Whosoever”.

3 - “know” - To know the Lord is to be subject to Him. IMPORTANT: The verse does not say that only those who know Him will keep His commandments. See Ro 2:13-15, Mark 10:17-21

      - The 2nd “know” is perfect tense indicating a completed action with an ongoing result. Also true in v.4. See Jn 3:15, 16 (“believeth”)

      - “keep” = Gr. “tereo” = “guard from loss or harm”, “to watch carefully”, “to observe” as something that is treasured.

      - “commandments” = Gr. “entole” 7 times in 1 John = “order”, “charge”, “precept”, “injunction”

        “keep His commandments” - Habitual obedience, born of reverence, to the whole of God’s word. It cannot refer to perfect obedience and exceeds the Ten Commandments of Ex. 20. God’s commandments are not limited to the Mosaic law. The N.T. (including this epistle) contains commandments. See Ps 1:2 and 1 Jn 5:2, 3 to understand the significance. Love and fellowship are the cornerstones of 1 John.

4 - As always, truth is more readily revealed by actions than by words.

      - “liar” - A demonic characteristic. See Rev 21:8

5 - “perfected” = Gr. “teleioo” = “consummated”

      - “in” = “within” i.e, abiding

6 - “as he”, in reference to Jesus occ. 6 times (# of man) in this epistle

7, 8 - “no new…a new” - The concept is not new, the statement of it is new.

         (7) - God is unchanging. His Word is unchanging.

         (8) - “true” = Gr. “alethes” = In opposition to what is false. Darkness and light are contrasted in this verse.

              - “in… you” – Truth/Word/God abiding.

              - “is past” = “passes away”

              - “now” = Gr. “ede” = “already”

9-11 - Light vs. Darkness. A central concept of the epistle.

         (9) - “now” - As the light shines forth. A commandment is not kept. See Jn 13:34, 35

        (10) - “occasion of stumbling” = Gr. “skandalon” = “impediment”, “trap”, “snare”

        (11) - To abide in darkness is to walk in darkness without direction. This is blindness due to total darkness. There is only Loving or hating, Light or darkness, no “gray” areas. There will be continual stumbling for such people.

12-14 - “little children” (Gr. “teknion = infants), “fathers”, “young men”, “little children” (Gr. “paidion” =young children), “fathers”, “young men”

                                 TEACHER’S NOTE: The designations “fathers’ and “young men” are not gender restricted.

              -  Deliberately NOT in natural chronological sequence. The designations are based on spiritual maturity. The newly saved are born again as spiritual infants regardless of natural age. This parallels the exchange between Jesus and Peter in John 21:15-18 where the instructions were, in sequence, to feed the lambs, the adult sheep and the collective flock. The second layer of understanding is added from Heb 5:12-14. The little children (immature Christians) drink milk. The fathers (wise ones) can handle strong meat. The young men abide in the Word (bread) Read the words of THE WORD in Jn 6:32-51. Their strength sustains the Church (body) and allows it to grow as the old pass away and new grow to adulthood. The “young men” teach and do the ministry that operates the Church. This is the essence and objective of fellowship.

              - John switches from “write” (1 John) to “wrote” (“have written” (v.13c)) (The Gospel according to John, Note “the beginning”)).

        (12) - “are forgiven” = Gr. “aphiemi” = “sent away”, “dismissed” The initial action for all who are newly saved.

        (13, 14) - The fathers provide wisdom, instruction, admonition and examples.

                         - “have known” - Twice for emphasis. Present perfect/aorist tense. “You once knew and continue to know.”

                         - The young men are the strength, lifeline, protectors and examples.

                         - “have overcome” - Twice for emphasis. Present perfect/aorist tense. Jn 16:33

                         - “have written” = “wrote”  See vv. 7, 8. The message from the Gospel of John is being re-written in 1 John.

15 - Jn 17:14-16   Col 3:2

16 - “All” – The operative word for this verse.

       - “…lust…lust…pride…” - All 3 in Gen 3:6. See Jas 4:1-4

               Lust is the root which produces covetousness which is idolatry. Col 3:5

17 - Temporal vs. Eternal. Corruptible vs. Incorruptible.

18 - “little children” = Gr. “paidion” (young ones) as v.13

       - “last time” = “last hour”

       - “antichrist” - See 2 Th 2:3-9  Jn 5:43

       - “are there” = “have arisen”

       - “whereby” = “whence” The presence signifies the beginning of the endtimes.

19 - “from” = Gr. “ek” = “out of the midst of”  See Satan’s place of origin Eze 28:13-17

       - “went out” - Separation instead of fellowship.  Jude 17-19

       - “made manifest” - See 1 Co 11:18,19

20 - “But” should be “And”

       - “unction” = Gr. “chrisma” Only here and v. 27 translated “anointing”

       - “all things” - Obviously, not all facts and knowledge. It refers to what is essential to salvation. (“All knowledge” cannot save anyway (1 Co 13:2)). See Jn 14:26, 16:12, 13.

              Within the context of this epistle devoted to contrasts it specifically refers to discernment (see 4:1). Those who cannot discern truth vs. error, Christ vs. antichrist, do not walk in the light. 2 Th 2:10-13.

21 - Once again, not new concepts, but a new level of understanding. A move from “milk” to “strong meat”.  Heb 5:12 - 6:3

22 - “a liar” should be “the liar”     “but” = “except”

       - “He is…” - Understand “many” in v. 18

23 - Jn 10:30. A favorite tactic of the enemy, primarily through religions, is to profess acceptance of the Father while denying the deity of Christ (the subject of John’s Gospel).

24 - “continue” = “remain”, “abide”   Hold fast to the truth. Gal 1:6-9

25 - “promise” = Gr. “epangelia” Only used once by John = “divinely assured blessing”

26 - “These things” - Specifically, vv. 20-25

       - “seduce” = Gr. “planao” = “deceive”, “lead astray”, “cause to roam”

27 - “no need…” - See “all things” v.20. NOT an excuse to ignore Bible study (Hos 4:6a, 2 Pe 1:3-11). John himself is teaching in this epistle. We must acquire knowledge to receive wisdom (the application of knowledge). Note the words of Paul, a well-educated man in Gal 1:11-20. Note Jas 1:5-8. It is the Spirit which guides into all truth.

28 - Again, a fatherly reminder to remain steadfast (abide).

       - “confidence” = Gr. “parrhesia” = “assurance”

       - “ashamed” = Gr. “aischuno” = Literally, “dis-graced”   See  Lk 9:25,26

29 - “born” = “begotten”

       - There is no righteousness apart from Christ Who is righteousness. 1 Co 1:30, 31 and Ro 8:4-10.

Chapter 3:1 - “bestowed” = “given”   Jn 3:16 (gave)   Ro 5:6-8

2 - “Beloved” = Gr. “agapetos” - The term used of the Lord by the Father in every Gospel except John.  Mt 3:17, Mk 1:11, Luke 3:22

       - “sons of God” - Gal 4:4-7

       - “not yet appear…” - 1 Co 15:44-55

       - “see Him…” - 1 Co 13:12 (“For now…then…now…then…”)   Jn 14:20, 21

3 - “in” = “upon”, i.e., “fixed on”

     - “purifieth himself” - A reflexive statement. See Heb 9:22 “almost”. Some things are purified by fire or water. We are purified by our hope (“assurance”) when we choose to accept God’s gift and to be driven by our hope thereby allowing ourselves to be cleansed. Compare the robe-washing in Rev 7:14 where the action results from the choice.

4 - “Whosoever” = “Everyone who”

       - “committeth sin” - See “doeth righteousness” in 2:29.

       - “sin is…” - See Ro 4:15

5 - “our” - Omit    Jn 1:29   Heb 4:14, 15

6 - “sinneth” - Again, habitual practice is indicated.

7, 8 - “let no man deceive you” - A powerful Scriptural warning of what will (not might) come. Occ. 6 (# of man) times in several forms. Here, Mt 24:4, Mk 13:5, 1 Co 3:18, Eph 5:6, 2 Th 2:3

          - “doeth” - Mt 7:21

       (8) - The children of disobedience - Eph 2:2, 5:6 (again)   Col 3:6

9 - “seed remaineth” - Those born of God have righteousness as an inherited trait. “His seed” is His only begotten Son, Who remaineth (“abideth”).

10 - How to tell them apart. By their fruit AND their treatment of others. Jn 15:10-17.

11 - “from the beginning” - See 1:5-7  1 Th 4:9

12 - “of” = Gr. “ek” = “out of the midst of”, i.e., “begotten of”

       - “that” should be “the”

       - “slew” = Gr. “sphazo” = “slaughtered” Used only by John. Here and 8 times in Revelation.

13 - “Marvel not…” - EXPECT SPIRITUAL WARFARE!  See Jn 3:19  Eph 6:12  1 Pe 4:12

14 - Another contrast. “passed from” = “departed from” See Jn 5:24

15 - “murderer” = Gr. “anthropoktonos” = “manslayer” Only here and Jn 8:44

       - “no” = “not any”

       - abiding” - The present tense is critical. A “murderer” (Moses, David and Paul qualify) is not beyond salvation, but at the time of the slaying, v.14 applies.

16 - “Hereby” = “In this”

       - “perceive we” = “we know”

       - “and…” - See Jn 15:13

       - “for the brethren” - A critical qualifying phrase.

17 - “good” = “goods” Jas 4:17

       - “bowels of compassion” = “sympathy”

       - “dwelleth” = “abide”

18 - Mt 21:28-31   Jas 2:17, 18

19-22 - Understood through 2:28 and James 4:6.

      (19, 20) - “assure” = Gr. “peitho” = “persuade”. Those who truly know the Lord recognize their unworthiness for salvation (Isa 6:1-8, 1Ti 1:15) and, with a push from the enemy, may experience moments of inadequacy or shame in their Christian walk. If unchecked, the result is discouragement instead of peace.  In v. 20 John reminds us that the God who knows everything about us has sufficient grace to outweigh our shame. He counts us His children and He doesn’t make mistakes. When we look inwardly at our deceitful, wicked hearts we may forget that the Knower of hearts has counted us worthy (Jer 17:9, 10). 

      (21) - “if our heart condemn us not” - We have looked to God instead of to ourselves and placed our confidence in Him (Phil 1:6).

      (22) - “ask…receive” because we “keep…do”

23, 24 - “Spirit” should be “spirit” - This refers to the new nature. Not the Holy Spirit, but the result of the action of the Holy Spirit. UNDERSTAND Jn 3:6    2 Co 5:16, 17.

       - “hath given” should be “gave”. The past tense points to the action instead of the indwelling.

Chapter 4:1 - “try” = Gr. “dokimazo” = “test”, “prove”. All things are tested by God’s Word.

       - Why? “because…false prophets” - The “wolf in sheep’s clothing” is not outwardly discerned. He looks like the Lamb, but is unable to disguise what he is internally: A wolf. As we will see in vv.2-3, if we belong to the Shepherd, we will know the false prophet by what he speaks and doesn’t speak. See Jn 10:4 AND Rev 13:11.

2, 3How? “confesseth” vs. “confesseth not”

       - “that” - Omit        “is come” = “to have come”

       - “have heard” - Mt 24:3-5, 21-27

          Rev. Victor H. Ernest, a Baptist pastor who came out of spiritism to Christ, relates how the above test was the clinching factor that led to his conversion. Reared in a non-Christian atmosphere, he regularly attended séances. Then he came across a Bible verse, “Believe not every spirit, but try the spirits.” He read that the true Spirit would confess that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. So he decided to try the spirits at the next séance, though he wasn’t sure how he would go about it. To his surprise, the control spirit at the very next meeting announced that he would answer questions. This had never happened before. Each person would be allowed three questions.

          Ernest directed his first question to the control spirit. “Do you believe that Jesus was the Son of God?” Smoothly came the answer that, of course, Jesus was the Son of God, and that we should believe what the Bible teaches. Never had Ernest heard a spirit affirm this, rather usually that Jesus was some great medium or a Palestinian teacher.

          Before long the trumpet was back to him. This time Ernest falteringly asked, “Do you believe that Jesus is the Savior of the world?” Immediately, almost before the question was finished, the answer came, rebuking Ernest for his doubt, then quoting authentic-sounding verses about believing.

          When the trumpet returned for the final question, Ernest asked, “Spirit, you believe that Jesus is the Son of God, that He is the Savior of the world – do you believe that Jesus died on the cross and shed His blood for the remission of sin?”

          The medium, in deep trance, was hurled off his chair to the floor to lie groaning until revived. Ernest never went to another séance. He had tested the spirit to find it counterfeit. Searching God’s Word, he came to know Christ. (Victor Ernest, I Talked With Spirits, 1970, Tyndale House Publishers, ISBN, 0842315500, 9780842315500).

The spirit of antichrist may speak of God and Jesus in glowing terms to deceive  BUT CANNOT acknowledge the Advent, Ministry and Resurrection of Christ.

4 - “little children” = Gr. “teknion” - a term of endearment

                      1 Sa 17:45-47  2 Ki 6:16  Eph 6:10-13   Jn 16:33

5, 6 - “of the world” vs. “of God”   1 Co 2:11-16

       - “truth” vs. “error” - The fundamental division of the universe. All that is not truth is error. Our character is driven by one or the other. UNDERSTAND 2 Th 2:11, 12.

     (6) - The “Ye” beginning v.4 and the “They” starting v.5 now turns to “We” in fellowship.

             -  “heareth” - Jn 8:42, 43

7, 8 - “love” vs. “loveth not” - Defined in v. 8. God IS love. Substituting “God” for “love” (“charity” = Gr. “agape” = Love based on principle, not feeling) in 1 Co 13 alters nothing.

    (7) - Let us love (“agapao”) because love comes from God, the Source.  Jas 1:17, 18.

               Our love is begotten of God’s love.

    (8) - Because God is love, we can’t have one without the other.

9 - How do we know God loves us? - See Jn 3:16, 17:22, 23

       - How do we know He still loves us? - Ro 8:35-39

   IMPORTANT: “toward” = “in” (Gr. “en”) - The manifestation of God’s love is within us. His love is manifested in our love for one another. Read the words of Jesus in Jn 13:34, 35.

           - “live through him” - Jn 11:25, 26

10 - Our ability to love comes from God loving us. He is the source and our love is a reflection of His Love.

11 - “so loved” - The least we can do is love another in the face of the magnitude of God’s love.

12 - As always, we are the branches which bear the fruit, the evidence of our connection to the Vine (Jn 15:1-9). The unseen God (Ex 33:17-23) is manifested through us through Christ and thus, His love is made perfect. 1 Pe 1:7-9.

The objective of love is love.

13 - God (spirit) has given us (flesh) a way to commune (fellowship) with Him. See Gal 5:17 to understand the problem remedied by the Holy Spirit (the presence, power and consciousness of God abiding within (indwelling) us.

14 - Returns to the affirmation (“testify”) of 1:1-5. This time specifically regarding salvation.

15 - The oneness of Father and Son. Jn 17:10, 21-23

       - “confess” - See Mt 16:16.

16 - “believed” = “trusted in”  See Ps 91:1

17 - Combine with v.12 where God’s love is perfected. Here our love is perfected.

       - “boldness” - See 2:28 “confidence”, also referring to the end times.   Mt 10:17-20

18 - “perfect” = Gr. “teleios” = the end state of something which has been initiated.

       - “torment” = Gr. “kolasis” = “punishment”    See Rev 21:8

       - “feareth” - lacking the confidence of v.17.

        TEACHER’S NOTE: The first human emotion in Scripture is fear (Gen 3:10). Fear is a sign of us separating from God. This is overcome by faith in God.

                      Jos 1:9  Ps 23:4  2 Ti 1:7,8

19 - Omit “Him”. A summary verse for this chapter. See vv.7-11

20 - “liar” - The statement CANNOT be true. See vv.11,12.

          Our relationship with God will be reflected in our treatment of people. The concept is put forth in Gen 9:6.

21 - Jn 15:12

Chapter 5:1 - “believeth…and loveth” - See Jas 2:19

       - “Jesus” = Gr. “Ieosus” - The One Who humbled Himself to die on the cross.

       - “Christ” = Gr. “Christos” = “Anointed One”, “Messiah”

       - “God” = Gr. “Theos” = The Father

       - “also…” - To love Christ is to love all others who love Him.

2, 3 - “By” = “In”

       - “love …and keep (do)”

       - Keeping His commandments is a result of His love. See Ro 5:5  Ps 119:97, 119, 163

       - “grievous” = Gr. “barus” = “burdensome”    Mt 11:29, 30

      TEACHER’S NOTE: The Ten Commandments of Ex 20:1-17 set minimum standards for human interaction. They constitute “Do no harm.”

                                                                          See Ac 10:38  2 Co 9:8   Eph 2:10  2 Ti 2:21  3 John 11

4, 5 - “For” = “Because”

        - “victory” - Over death

        - The world is overcome by faith.  Ro 1:16-18   1 Co 15:54-58

6 - “water” - His baptism when witness was given by the Voice and by the Spirit.  Jn 1:31-34

       - “blood” 2nd occ. = “in the blood” - As a Jew under the law.

       - “the Spirit is truth”  just as God is love.   See Jn 14:16

7, 8 - NOTE: None of the words between “heaven” and “the Spirit” appears in any manuscript before the 16th century.

       - “in” = Gr. “eis” = at a common meeting point (Jesus Christ).  See Col 1:17, 3:10, 11

9 - “the witness of God is greater” - See Heb 6:13 AND Jn 4:40-42

10 - Jn 5:22-27. See 1:10 - To deny the need for, or the means of, salvation is to make a liar of the “unlying God” (Titus 1:1, 2).

       - “record…gave” = “witness…hath witnessed”

11 - The Word in one verse. “hath given” = “gave”  Jn 1:4   Ro 6:23

12 - “hath” vs. “hath not” No 3rd condition.

13 - “have written” = “wrote”    Past tense points to the Gospel of John

       - “and…may” = “even unto you that” - Written to and for believers of God’s witness.

14 - “ask” = Gr.”aiteo” = ask for something to be given (not done)

       - “according to His will” - The context for all promises regarding prayer.

15 - The assurance (“confidence”) of v.14 allows us to “know” that we have our petitions (Gr. “deeis” - some special object addressing necessity or personal need).  See Jas 4:3

16 - “his brother” - Context for this verse.

       - “sin” (1st occ.) should be “sinning”

       - “life” - The object of the prayer.  See Jas 5:15, 16.

       - “a” Omit

       - “sin unto death” - A reference to habits, not individual acts.  See 1 Co 11:29, 30   Note “wages” in Ro 6:23.

17 - “All” - No qualifiers. Absolute.

       - “unrighteousness” = Gr. “adikia” = “wrongdoing”

18 - “sinneth not” - Does not continue in sin.

        - “keepeth” = Gr. “tereo” = “guards”, “sets a watch over”, “protects from injury or loss”

       - “wicked one” = Gr. “poneros” = “one with evil intent”

       - “toucheth” = Gr. “haptomai” = “touches” or “attaches oneself to”

19 - “And we (also) know” the “world” is connected to “wickedness”.

              Jn 14:30   2 Co 4:4

20 - “is come” = Gr. “heko” = is still present

       - “understanding” (Gr. “dianoia”) is given, not obtained. See 1 Co 1:30 “wisdom”

       - “Him That is true” = The Father  Jn 14:7

       - “This” - The Father: Source of life (Jn 5:26), manifested in The Son (Jn 1:2) and given to us.

21 - “keep” = “guard”

       - “idols” - ANYTHING we prioritize ahead of God. ANYTHING we look to apart from God.  1 Co 8:4

THE STRUCTURE OF THE EPISTLE

AUTHOR: The apostle John, author of the Gospel highlighting the Deity of Christ. Shown by this epistle’s style, character and tone. Buttressed by external testimonies from the early church “fathers”.

TIME AND PLACE: Both uncertain. Popularly believed to have been written from John’s home city of Ephesus.  

INTRODUCTION: The principal topics of 2 John are love, truth and vigilance against false doctrine. The epistle begins with a 3 verse benediction, ends with a 2 verse salutation and contains words of warning and admonition in the middle. The tone is, as in 1 John, pastoral/parental. It is this personal aspect that may shed light on the historical question as to the identity of the “elect lady” and her “children”. Is it a church and its members, or a mother and her natural children? The answer has no impact on the intrinsic value of the teaching set forth in this brief epistle but two simple things stand out:

  1. The Greek “kuria” translated “lady”, is also a proper name, “Kyria”.
  2. More importantly, since 3 John is addressed to “Gaius”, an individual, why would 2 John, with the same structure, be different?

Chapter 1:1 - “elder” - A reference to John’s age, not office.

     - “lady” - Gr. “kuria” fem. of “kurios”. Here it is a proper name. The Biblical baby name Kyria is Greek in origin and its meaning is noble lady. Cp. 3 Jn 1 “wellbeloved Gaius”.

     - “in the truth” - Not “truly”, but “in the truth of the Gospel” abiding within John (1 Jn 2:4).

     - “not I only…also all they…” - Just as there is a communion of faith, there is a communion of love. Faith is in God. Love is God. Love is the objective of faith.

2 - The “I” and “they” of v.1 become “us”.

     - “for truth’s sake” - Truth for truth’s sake: God=Love=His Word=Truth. God is self-existent, therefore truth is self-existent.

     - “shall be” – Not a wish for the future, but assurance of its fulfillment. 1 Co 13:13.

3 - “Grace… mercy… peace” - The fulfillment referenced in v.2. The order is significant.

          - GRACE - Extended to man by God to survive sin (Ro 6:23).

          - MERCY - Extended to the surviving man by God to relieve guilt and its misery.

          - PEACE - The resulting sum of God’s grace and mercy.

     - “…Father…Son…” - Points to the origin from which the indwelling of the Spirit results. Understand Jn 14:16, 17.

     - “in truth and love” - Where grace, mercy and peace are found. Jn 1:16, 17

4 - “greatly” - See 3 Jn 3, the only other time John uses this word (Gr. “lian” = “exceedingly”, to the highest degree.

     - “in truth” – Not simply as good citizens, but in accordance with God’s Word. The verse indicates that John was referring to having encountered the children at another place and time.

     - “have” – Omit

5,6 - See 1 Jn 2:7, 8. John wants his words to be received as they are delivered: in love. He does not want his words of admonition to be taken as disapproval or rebuke. They are intended as loving instruction from an “elder”. Understand Gal 6:1.

     - “a new commandment” - “I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know”

     - “one another” - Words of fellowship to counter division or discord.

NOTE: At this point, the intent, tone and wording are so similar to 1 John that to write this epistle to a general audience would be redundant. 2 John and 3 John are personal letters written by an aging apostle concerned that saints of God may gradually drift away from “the foundation” (1 Co 3:10, 11).

7 - “For” - John gives the reason for the exhortation to walk in love and truth.

     - “deceivers” = Gr. “planos” = They who lead astray or cause to wander - See 2 Co 11:13-15 and 1 Jn 4:1-3. Specifically, enemies masquerading as friends. Refer to 1 John 2:19 “from us”. The perfect tense in 1 John 4:1 indicates “from the evil one”. This verse refers to those likely to have personal contact.

   IMPORTANT: “is come” = “is coming”. See Rev 1:4. This refers to the second coming. In 1 Jn 4:2, 3 it is perfect tense referencing the first coming.

8 - “Look to” = Gr. “blepo” = “Closely examine” in the sense of mental vision. To perceive with the eyes would be “horao”.

     - “yourselves” - The elect lady and her children.

    NOTE: The “we” before “lose” and the “we” before “receive” should be “ye” as in the texts. John would not be individually impacted. He includes himself regarding “the things we have wrought”. THIS IS NOT A REFERENCE TO HUMAN WORKS! It addresses the truth and love from sound doctrine and teaching through John to the elect lady to her children, i.e.  the disciples emanating from apostles and teachers. This verse is an admonition about false teachers leading disciples astray. This would constitute lost “reward” (Gr. “misthos” often translated “wages”) in the sense of the “fruits of labor” for apostles and teachers. Understand Jn 17:12.

9 - “transgresseth” = Gr. “proago” = “goeth before” - A reference to false teachers professing “higher teaching”, as the Gnostics did. They did not and could not “abide” in the doctrine of Christ since they claimed something superior.

     - “both Father and Son” - Jn 10:30

10, 11 - “any” - The reference remains false teachers, not guests or visitors in general (See Gal 6:10). The manifestation of love is limited by truth and should not be extended to the enemies of truth. See 1 Jn 2:15.

  NOTE: We are to love and pray for our enemies but understand Ro 12:9 and Esther 3:2. Fellowship should not be feigned when it does not exist. There is no fellowship between darkness and light. See 2 Co 6:14-18  Eph 5:6-11  1 Jn 1:5-7

    - “bid him God speed” = Gr. “chairein” = “Say Hail!" - Those teaching false doctrine should not be greeted nor entertained as the brethren (See 2 Co 13:12). To wish them well validates their credibility and makes us promoters of their evil deeds (“is partaker” = “partaketh” = Gr. “koinoneo” = “shares”).

12 - “face to face” = “mouth to mouth”  - A pointedly personal figure of speech. Intensely personal things are best discussed in person with the eye contact, nuances and inflection not possible with mere written words. For example, even in this electronic age, a marriage proposal by text message would be highly unusual.

     - “our” = “your”

     - “full” – See 1 Jn 1:4

13 - “Amen” - Omit

THE STRUCTURE OF THE EPISTLE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SUMMARY: The similarities to 2 John serve to highlight the differences. In 2 John the focus was warning against false teachers. In 3 John Gaius is exhorted to guard the atmosphere surrounding the teachers of sound doctrine. 2nd and 3rd John are examples of individual pastoral counseling to those in leadership. The specific naming of two other individuals in 3rd John leaves no doubt as to the message: “Continue the good work, but look out for this.”

Chapter 1:1 - Same opening as 2 John 1. “in truth”, not “truly”.

2 - “wish” = “pray”

     - “above all things” = “in every respect”

     - “as thy soul…” - The prayer is for Gaius’ physical well-being. See 1 Th 5:23.

3 - “rejoiced greatly” See 2 Jn 2

     - “the brethren” should be “brethren” - The itinerant teachers/evangelists of vv.6, 7

     - “testified” - John is joyful for the good reports which align with his own assessment of Gaius.

4 - A worthy testimony for any pastor/apostle/teacher. Many of the travelling teachers may have been evangelized/trained through John’s ministerial work.

5, 6 - The exhortation to continue his faithful service.

     - “to strangers” - Foundational to Christian doctrine.

               Mt 5:46-48; 25:34-46     Lk 6:31-36; Lk 10:25-37

7 - “went forth” - As Jesus sent forth his disciples/apostles. Luke 9:1-6

          These teachers were not salaried. They were dependent on the hospitality of those like Gaius for food and lodging.

     - “taking  nothing…” - To avoid any appearance of “selling” the Gospel.

         See Paul’s words 1 Co 9:1-19

8 - “fellowhelpers” = Gr. “sunergos” translated “labourers together” in 1 Co 3:9. All ministry workers are co-workers with one another. The hospitality and encouragement is essential to the ministry of truth. Understand 1 Co 12:13-30

9 - “I wrote” - Not specified, but the context suggests that it was not disseminated according to John’s wishes. See 1 Th 5:27.

     - “Diotrephes” - Nothing known about him beyond this epistle.

     - “have the preeminence” = “to be first”

     - “receiveth us not” = “does not recognize our authority”. This is not earthly authority. This is the exousia granted to the servants of God. What God ordains (sets in place) is not subject to man’s approval. See Gal 1:1.

10 - “remember” = “bring to remembrance” (for the entire church)

     - “prating” = Gr. “phluareo” Only occ. = “babbling”, “chattering idly”, “talking nonsense”

     - “malicious” - With evil intent.

     - “neither…” - John deflects any notion that he’s in a personal fight for leadership. Diotrephes rejected the brethren as well as rejecting John. He stymied and cast out those offering support to the missionaries and had sufficient power and influence to excommunicate some of them.

11 - “follow” = “imitate”

12 - “men and…truth itself” – The testimony (reputation) aligns with the words and deeds (character). See Lk 2:52.

13, 14 - “shortly” = “immediately”

     - “salute”, “Greet” - Same Greek word (“aspazomai”)

     - “by name” - Mutual friends sending and receiving John’s message.