The unfolding of your words gives light.

Signs of Life
An Exposition of the Book of 1 Johna
What was from the beginning , what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what d e 2 we have looked at and touched with our hands , concerning the Word of Life — and the life was manifested, and we have seen and testify and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was 3 with the Father and was manifested to us— what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you f also, so that you too may have fellowship with us ; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, 4 g and with His Son Jesus Christ. These things we write, so that our joy may be made complete .
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Like the book of Hebrews, the three epistles of John do not have an ascribed author. John Piper, in his series of sermons on this book (found at www.desiringgod.org), points out that there are three good reasons to believe it was written by the apostle John. • The early Christian fathers attest to John's authorship (Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian). • The writer identifies himself as one of the witnesses to Jesus' life. • The letter bears the style and vocabulary of the apostle John.
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1:1 What was from the beginning. John starts this letter like he starts the Gospel that bears his name: at the beginning. Humor aside, you cannot escape the direct allusion to the start of the book of Genesis. Genesis assumes the preexistence of God and begins by identifying him as Creator of heaven and earth. John assumes the preexistence of the Lord Jesus and gives historical evidence of the same. c 1:1 we. Note all the plural pronouns used in this first chapter. John and his brother James, along with Peter, experienced things the other disciples did not. The "we" here refers to a circle as small as these three, but no larger than the 12. Peter uses similar words:
For we did not follow cleverly devised tails when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty. For when He received honor and glory from God the Father, such an utterance as this was made to Him by the Majestic Glory, "This is My beloved Son with whom I am well-pleased"—and we ourselves heard this utterance made from heaven when we are with Him on the holy mountain. (2 Peter 1:16-18)
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1:1 what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands. These parallel verbs (heard, seen, looked, touched) all point to the physical existence of what ever it is "we" (presumably the apostles) have experienced. This is the first indication in this late first century letter that John was doing battle theologically with Gnosticism. Gnosticism taught that matter is evil and, therefore, Messiah could not have possessed a physical body. John's testimony lends his credibility as one who personally experienced the Lord Jesus with his senses. e 1:1 concerning the Word of Life. Here is another clue to the authorship of this letter. As in the Gospel of John, Jesus is identified as "the word." This time, however, John calls Jesus "the Word of Life." The word translated life (zoe, life that transcends mere existence) is used 10 times in this letter. It is used 32 times in the Gospel. It stands in contrast to another word for life (bios, physical life and its trappings) used twice in this letter. f 1:3 so that you too may have fellowship with us. The word fellowship means "something shared in common." We fellowship when we use the same currency. We fellowship when we speak the same language. The fellowship of which John speaks here is much more powerful. It is the fellowship of experiencing the Lord Jesus Christ. After inviting him to find physical proof of the resurrection, the Lord Jesus said to a convinced Thomas, "Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed" (John 20:29). g 1:4 These things we write, so that our joy may be made complete. John, whose brother James had died for being part of this fellowship, tells us of the complete apostolic delight that comes when more people come into the fellowship. This is not an exclusive group. We come into this fellowship by faith today are the blessed ones, having experienced the Lord Jesus, whom having not seen, we love.
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This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you , that God is Light, and b 6 in Him there is no darkness at all . If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the c 7 darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth ; but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the d Light, we have fellowship with one another , and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all e 8 f 9 sin . If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us . If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all g 10 unrighteousness . If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in h a us .
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1:5 This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you. Despite many claims to the contrary, and the apostles did not create the Christian gospel nor has it evolved through the centuries. John and the other apostles were disciples of Christ. As disciples, the message they carried was given to them by Jesus himself. b 1:5 God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. This is not a statement about God's essence. John did not say that light is God any more than he said in 1 John 4:8 that love is God. John is pointing out the moral impeccability of God. What follows is logical. Those who claim to be this God's followers should look like him. c 1:6 If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. Hypocrisy was not unknown to John. He was one of 11 men fooled for nearly 3 years by Judas, who walked in darkness while he claimed fellowship among the saints. Some would say that John is very "black and white." That would be accurate, but a better metaphor would be to say that John is very "light and dark." There is no wiggle room when it comes to fellowship with God. Either you share his salvation or you do not. It is biblical to classify people as "saved" or "unsaved," but we are in error to classify people as saved because they claim to be saved. John is saying that any legitimate claim to fellowship with Christ will be backed up by a fitting lifestyle. d 1:7 if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another. This phrase describes both horizontal and vertical fellowship. Put simply, you cannot walk in fellowship with God if you are not in fellowship with his people and you cannot walk in fellowship with his people if you are not in fellowship with God. e 1:7 the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. The present tense of "cleanses" allows for translation of "keeps on cleansing." The thought of being cleansed by blood is a repulsive picture if you do not understand ceremonial cleansing. The book of Leviticus details God's prescribed method for cleansing lepers. The walking death that was leprosy rendered its victims completely cut off from the fellowship of the tabernacle. They were required to live in isolation until such a time as they could be pronounced "clean." Blood sacrifices were required before fellowship could be restored. Cleansing from sin certainly fits us for a heaven, but John is talking about fellowship on earth. f 1:8 If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. This is the third of five conditional or "if" clauses in this chapter (verses six, seven, eight, nine and ten). Verse six defined liars as those who say they fellowship with Christ while they walk in the darkness. This verse categorizes the self-righteous among the deceived. g 1:9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If you profess fellowship while you walk in darkness you are a liar. If you think you have no need of rescue you are deceived. Here is the next conditional clause: if you call sin what God calls it (homologeo, “to say the same thing”), you are cleansed of your sin. The word "forgive" is the word Paul used in 1 Corinthians 7 of a man "putting away" or "divorcing" his wife. So here is the picture: People who deceive others and deceive themselves about the presence of sin stay married to their sin. Those who call sin what it is "get a divorce." Since people who confess such things obviously have no righteousness of their own, 2 Corinthians 5:21 reminds us that the one who knew no sin became sin for us so that in him we might become God's righteousness. Second Peter 3:18 tells us that Christ died for sins, "the righteous for the unrighteous" to bring us to God. h 1:10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us. This is the last conditional clause. It is bad enough to lie to others with your lifestyle or deceive yourself with untrue thoughts, but to deny personal acts of sin is to call God a liar. This text
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My little children , I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin . And if anyone d e 2 sins, we have an Advocate with the Father , Jesus Christ the righteous ; and He Himself is f g h the propitiation for our sins ; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world . leaves us standing condemned in the bright light of God's revelation. John's words leave us no "wiggle room," but they do show where the hope is found. a 1:5-10 John will repeatedly draw clear lines between the saved and the unsaved in this letter. Here are the first lines he draws: 1. The saved walk in the light while the unsaved walk in darkness. 2. The unsaved do not have fellowship with the saved. 3. The saved see and confess sins while the unsaved hide from the truth about themselves.
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2:1 My little children. This term of endearment used often by John may be another hint of his advanced age at the time this was written, but it also shows his position as their spiritual father. The Lord Jesus used the same term when he told the disciples of his imminent departure (John 13:33). The apostle Paul used it to address a group of struggling believers (Galatians 4:19) with whom he was "again in labor." John used the term seven times in this letter (2:1; 2:12; 2:28; 3:7; 3:18; 4:4; 5:21). c 2:1 I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. It is very easy to adopt a lazy attitude toward sin when you misunderstand grace. Jesus did not die so we could violate the law of God with impunity. John is teaching in this letter that Jesus died to make us different. If truths like this disturb your mind with thoughts of your own sin and your own unworthiness, John's letter is bringing you to the place you need to be. People who know Jesus died to make them different, but who often find themselves sinning need a good lawyer. Read on for the comfort. d 2:1 if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father. The concept of an "advocate" is not something John is introducing here. Even the pagans thought they needed superior beings to represent them before their deities. The Old Testament shows a number of holy men who took the role of advocate/priest and interceded for the people of God. Abraham (Genesis 18:22-33), Moses (Exodus 33:12-17) and Aaron (Leviticus 9:1-24) played this role. e 2:1 Jesus Christ the righteous. Do you get the picture? This is the unified message of the apostles. The righteousness we need to enter the presence of God is an alien righteousness. It is a God-righteousness. Only in Christ can we become the righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5:21). f 2:2 He Himself is the propitiation for our sins. Now we learn on what basis our Advocate can be our Advocate. It is not simply his righteous life, but his satisfying death that brings sinners near the throne. His righteousness becomes ours only because his death satisfies God's righteous demands on us. The word "propitiation" is used in its various forms several places in Scripture (Luke 18:13, Romans 3:25; Hebrews 2:17, 9:5, 1 John 2:2 and 4:10). Among the pagans the word carried the idea of appeasing the wrath of the gods. John, however, likely referred to the equivalent word in Hebrew Scriptures: atonement. Certainly Old Testament sacrifices never satisfied the wrath of God. The Tabernacle system was given by God as the only safe way to interact with him in this world. The sacrifices were, however, earthly illustrations of the ultimate satisfying sacrifice: God the Son bearing the sins of the world. g 2:2 not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world. This verse highlights a truth that stretches through the entire Bible: the people rescued by the work of Christ on the cross will represent every people group in the world. There is no room for racism in the body of Christ. Every sinner, regardless of ethnicity, who turns to Christ for forgiveness will be taken into the ark of safety. Revelation 5:9 reinforces the universal scope of the death of Christ. It says, "Worthy are You to take the book and to break its seal; for You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation." h 2:1-2 This text humbles us because it reveals the reason Jesus died. We can squabble over the question "For whom did Christ die?" Thinking the focus of the cross was on us. Truth be told, Christ died for the Father. He died because the father's righteous character demanded it. Here are the humbling truths of this text: 1. We are little children in need of correction, protection and instruction.
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By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments . The one who says, "I have come to know Him," and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the b 5 c truth is not in him ; but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected d 6 By this we know that we are in Him : the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in e the same manner as He walked . 7 Beloved, I am not writing a new commandment to you, but an old commandment which you f g 8 have had from the beginning ; the old commandment is the word which you have heard . On the h a other hand, I am writing a new commandment to you , which is true in Him and in you , because 2. We are sinners in desperate need of legal representation before a righteous God. 3. Our ethnic, national or spiritual heritage will not gain us a standing before God.
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2:3 By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments. John is countering the Gnostic claim to hold the secrets of knowing God. John's response is very meat-and-potatoes. The NASB properly translates this perfect tense verb: "we have come to know him." The idea is that we have come to know him and still do. Most believers eventually struggle with the assurance of their own salvation. They wonder: Am I really saved? The answer to that question must go beyond identifying the day and the hour of a profession of faith in Christ. Assurance of salvation does not come from making a profession of faith. Assurance of salvation is given to those who keep the commandments. Assurance of salvation is given to those who have come to know God and still know him. b 2:4 The one who says, "I have come to know Him," and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. John recorded the Lord Jesus calling Satan a liar in John 8:44. Disobedient people should not say they know God, because legitimate children resemble their father. c 2:5 whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected. The word "perfected" could be translated "stands completed." As Deuteronomy 6 reveals, the driving force behind commandment-keeping is love. Obedience reveals maturity of love. d 2:5 By this we know that we are in Him. Notice the change of language here. John has talked about walking in the light. He has talked about being forgiven. He is talked about knowing God. Now he transitions to be "in" Christ. James Montgomery Boice points out in his commentary on this text that love is the way others know we are Christians as well as the way we know we are Christians. e 2:6 the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked. John recorded the words of the Lord Jesus in the 15th chapter of his gospel, pointing to fruit as evidence of abiding in the Vine (John 15:1-11). The Gnostics were evidently good at making flash-in-the-pan statements. Evidence of knowing God, however, is demonstrated by a walk, not a run. If anyone knew how Jesus walked it was John. The Lord Jesus is the only man ever to completely keep the law of Moses. He is our righteous standard. John urges us to watch how people walk as evidence that they are "in" Christ. f 2:7 Beloved, I am not writing a new commandment to you, but an old commandment which you have had from the beginning. What is "the beginning"? Certainly words change meaning based on context, but this is the word John used in the very first verse of his gospel and this very letter. The recipients of this letter had never existed as Jews or as disciples of Christ without the command to love one another. g 2:7 the old commandment is the word which you have heard. Leviticus 19:18 contains the command, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” h 2:8 On the other hand, I am writing a new commandment to you. The Lord Jesus said:
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. (John 13:34)

The command was not new because it was presented repeatedly in Torah’s exhortations to show hospitality and care for outsiders. It was new because some in the first century had reduced the command to love neighbors to a very territorial love. The new command was in reality the original interpretation of the old command. A father might exhort his children: “I am giving you a new commandment, that you clean out the mess under your bed. This is really not a new command,
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the darkness is passing away and the true Light is already shining . The one who says he is in c 10 the Light and yet hates his brother is in the darkness until now . The one who loves his brother d 11 abides in the Light and there is no cause for stumbling in him . But the one who hates his e brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness , and does not know where he is going f g because the darkness has blinded his eyes . 12 I am writing to you, little children, because your sins have been forgiven you for His name's h 13 a sake . I am writing to you, fathers, because you know Him who has been from the beginning . I because I have always told you to keep your room clean. You assumed I meant surface cleaning, but I am telling you that “clean” means everything.” a 2:8 which is true in Him and in you. “True” in its various forms is a favorite word of John. It means “genuine” or “unhidden.” The keeping of the love commandment was shown genuine in the Lord Jesus and, John was convinced, in the recipients of this letter. b 2:8 the darkness is passing away and the true Light is already shining. John uses the same light/darkness metaphor he did in chapter one and that Jesus used in John 9 after giving sight to a blind man. c 2:9 The one who says he is in the Light and yet hates his brother is in the darkness until now. The way you treat others reveals what is your relationship with God. d 2:10 The one who loves his brother abides in the Light and there is no cause for stumbling in him. Lovers of others do not make it easy for others to sin (stumble). This truth is played out in the discussion of meat sacrificed to idols in 1 Corinthians 8. Those who love others often must deny themselves things they have rights to enjoy for a greater cause: the spiritual wellbeing of another believer. e 2:11 the one who hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness. That is not to say that real believers always act in love. It is to say that those who are not characterized by love cannot claim any relationship to those who live in the light. f 2:11 does not know where he is going because the darkness has blinded his eyes. You might not consider it a profound statement that the difference between sighted people and blind people is the ability to see. However, take the analogy a step further: the difference between sighted people and blind people is knowing what sight is. Do the blind know they are blind if all they have known is blindness? Spiritual blindness is only remedied with the help of those who can see. g 2:3-11 It may seem that, within the boundaries of what is called Christianity, we are given a choice between two extremes. On one hand there are those who seem to live for an "experience" with God. Their religious gatherings appear shallow and the excitement apparently wanes between feverish times of corporate worship. On the other extreme we observe a version of Christianity that seems like an academic exercise. Connecting with God means little more than grasping a new concept about God. These extremes were apparently no different in John's day. Consider what John offers as evidence of knowing God: 1. People who know God do what he says. When you approach the Bible believing you are reading the very word of God, you take it as a call to obedience instead of an interesting novel. 2. People who know God display long-term change. Anyone can be a Judas. Anyone can look good in the short term. Not everyone is the apostle John, walking with Christ ended during until the end. 3. People who know God love others. We will certainly see that Christianity has a nonnegotiable doctrinal standard as we work through this epistle. But most people see your love for them long before they hear of your love for God.
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2:12 I am writing to you, little children, because your sins have been forgiven you for His name's sake. The word translated “little children” is teknion, the word he uses frequently in 1 John. It is always used as a term of endearment in the New Testament (John 13:33; Galatians 4:19). John pauses his letter at this point to directly address the different recipients of his letter. He does well to define his purpose lest any reader miss it. John also gave such a statement at the end of his gospel, saying, “…these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in his name” (John 20:31). Now
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am writing to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one . I have written to you, c 14 children, because you know the Father . I have written to you, fathers, because you know Him d who has been from the beginning . I have written to you, young men, because you are strong, e f and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one . 15 g h Do not love the world nor the things in the world . If anyone loves the world, the love of the a 16 b c Father is not in him . For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes

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the purpose is different. These students have believed. He writes these “little children” because their sins are forgiven. He is likely using “little children” as a general address to the whole bunch. He then divides them into categories by age. See also 1 John 2:26 and 5:13. a 2:13 I am writing to you, fathers, because you know Him who has been from the beginning. The first age category addressed is the oldest group in the church. Their responsibility to heed John’s words comes from their knowledge of the Lord Jesus, the one “who has been from the beginning.” Their years in the faith are their contribution to the assembly. b 2:13 I am writing to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one. The picture of a young warrior is here. c 2:13 I have written to you, children, because you know the Father. The time John uses the word paidion for children. This word is distinct from his usual teknion because it is generally used generically to indicate a young child. It is used of an infant (John 16:21), a toddler (Matthew 2:11), a young child and even by Jesus in addressing the frustrated fishermen/disciples (John 21:5). Here it is likely young people in the church—even younger children—who are addressed. If you accept my divisions of age, John is saying that young children can know God and should pay attention to biblical teaching. d 2:14 I have written to you, fathers, because you know Him who has been from the beginning. Note the repeated statement reinforcing the earlier one. e 2:14 I have written to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one. There are three reasons given for this last address: The strength of the young men, the presence of the word of God abiding in them and their standing as overcomers of the evil one. f 2:12-14 John did not simply write this letter to the congregation as a whole. A careful reading in the churches would have communicated that the old man thought everyone had an important role to play in the church. The inspired letter still speaks to all of us today. Consider the applications to each group: 1. The entire assembly (" little children") of believers stands in a position of forgiveness and should display a hunger to learn about it. Remember that John had already sketched out some of the important distinctions between those were forgiven and those who are not. 2. Older saints must use their years of knowledge to the benefit of the assembly. They know the father. They are the fathers. Retirement from serving the Lord is not an option left open to believers. 3. Younger saints must use their energy to fight the battles of the church. Specifically this challenge is to young men. In Israel the warriors were those young men over the age of 20. Take note: The battles are the difficult tasks of ministry and spiritual warfare, not squabbles with other believers. 4. Children must participate and learn in the assembly. This letter was written to them, not to their parents alone. Children do not have a “Junior Holy Spirit.”
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2:15 Do not love the world. What you refuse to love is as much a test of your relationship with God as what you do love. As David cried, “Do not I hate those who hate you, O Lord?” (Psalm 139:21), perfect love presupposes perfect hatred. Here is an instance in Scripture where the word "world" does not mean the inhabited earth. The word kosmos is not used in the same way as it is in John 3:16. Here it speaks of the evil world system, a product of the curse. This does not contradict the command to love our enemies but, reinforces the commands to be set apart from worldliness. h 2:15 nor the things in the world. It is not just the world itself that lures us astray, but the things (as he is about to list them) that define the sinful condition of the world.
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and the boastful pride of life , is not from the Father, but is from the world . The world is passing f g h away, and also its lusts ; but the one who does the will of God lives forever . 18 i a Children, it is the last hour ; and just as you heard that antichrist is coming , even now many b c 19 d antichrists have appeared ; from this we know that it is the last hour . They went out from us ,

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2:15 If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. John makes a play on words here. Remember how he earlier used our love for God and others as a test of genuine faith. The "world" and God stand at opposite poles competing for our affection. You cannot face both directions. Genuine faith is displayed by what you love as much as by what you refuse to love. If you do not love God and his people you love the world and vice versa. As Jesus said, "No man can serve two masters." Following the statement about the world, John summarizes “all that is in the world” with three was people sinfully interact with the world system. b 2:16 the lust of the flesh. Your flesh is not necessarily sinful, but the term usually refers to the sinful part of being human. It is not the flesh itself but the lust of the flesh (cf. James 1:14) that is the source of the evil spoken of here. Paul said that no good thing dwelt in his flesh (Romans 7:19). The lust of the flesh is sinfully craving what feels good. Fleshly sins satisfy some physical want. David’s sin with Bathsheba is an example of wanting fleshly satisfaction to the disregard of God’s laws. But this goes beyond sexual sin. Gluttony, sloth and outbursts of anger fall into the same category. c 2:16 the lust of the eyes. This is sinfully craving what looks good. Materialism is another name for the lust of the eyes. Achan serves as an example of someone who saw something he wanted and wanted nothing to stand between him and what he wanted in that tent. Our land of vast prosperity makes us especially prone to this sin. The growing gambling industry of our day appeals to the lust of the eyes, also known as greed or covetousness. d 2:16 the boastful pride of life. This is sinfully craving what makes you look good. This led to the downfall of Lucifer. The advertising world knows very well that it can persuade people to buy products that will attract attention to them. People spend more money on things that make them attractive to others than they do on things that serve others. From craving powerful positions to dressing immodestly, prideful worldliness moves us to work hard to get attention. e 2:16 is not from the Father, but is from the world. The difference should be obvious. f 2:17 The world is passing away, and also its lusts. All the things for which men work and fight and die will die with them. The world is “passing away,” a polite way we say “dying.” g 2:17 the one who does the will of God lives forever. There are things for which we can live that will last forever. Doing God’s will in this world is very different than living for “all that is in the world.” Matthew 6:19-21 describes these things as “treasures in heaven.” h 2:15-17 John has just finished telling young men that they have overcome the evil one. With that militant thought he transitions into the enemies of those who are part of “the fellowship of the light.” If you want to know if you are “worldly,” ask yourself questions like these: 1. What do I hate? 2. What is my passion? 3. Why did I buy that? 4. Why am I wearing this? 5. Who are my closest friends? 6. What do I want the very most?
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2:18 Children, it is the last hour. The term "last hour" is unique to this verse (used twice). Jesus did use the phrase "last day" several times in reference to the ultimate resurrection (John 6:39, 40, 44, 54; 12:48). Peter spoke of the "last time" and the "last times" (using two different "time" words, 1 Peter 1:5, 20). Consider some of the New Testament texts that tell us the last days began in the first century (emphasis added):
But this is what was spoken of through the prophet Joel: “AND IT SHALL BE IN THE LAST DAYS,” God says, “THAT I WILL POUR FORTH OF MY SPIRIT ON ALL MANKIND; AND YOUR SONS AND YOUR DAUGHTERS SHALL PROPHESY, AND YOUR YOUNG MEN SHALL SEE VISIONS, AND YOUR OLD MEN SHALL DREAM DREAMS.” (Acts 2:16-17) The Epistle of 1 John Steven Svendsen, Sr.

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but they were not really of us ; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us ; but g 20 they went out, so that it would be shown that they all are not of us . But you have an anointing

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Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come. (1 Corinthians 10:11) God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world. (Hebrews 1:1-2) Otherwise, He would have needed to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now once at the consummation of the ages He has been manifested to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. (Hebrews 9:26) For He was foreknown before the foundation of the world, but has appeared in these last times for the sake of you. (1 Peter 1:20)

The word "last" (eschatos), when used with a time word ("hour," "day," "time") is looking ahead to the end of time as we know it. We get our word “eschatology” (the theological study of last things) from this word. The bottom line is that we are living in the end times. But wait... those end times were already upon the church when John wrote this letter. It is accurate to say we are living in the last days. It is not accurate to say we know the return of Christ is soon. Only God knows that. a 2:18 you heard that antichrist is coming. Where did they hear that? While John is the only New Testament writer who uses the term "antichrist," the Lord Jesus said there would be "false Christs" (Matthew 24:24). Of course "antichrist" simply means "against Christ." The Master spoke of a plurality of false messiahs and so does John. b 2:18 even now many antichrists have appeared. John had his run-ins with false teachers, particularly with Gnostics. c 2:18 from this we know that it is the last hour. There are a number of things in this letter that John says we can “know,” using one of his favorite words for knowing: ginosko. • We can know God (2:3, 5, 13). • We can know it is the last hour (2:18). • We can know who is born of God (2:29). • We can know what love is (3:16). • We can know we are of the truth (3:19). • We can know his Spirit lives in us (3:24). • We can know if the Spirit is speaking through a prophet (4:2). • We can know the difference between the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error (4:6). • We can know if we abide in him and he in us (4:13). • We can know if we love God's children (5:2). d 2:19 They went out from us. Some of the most dangerous false teachers are those who have made or still make a profession of faith in Christ. e 2:19 they were not really of us. John is not suggesting these people lost their salvation, but that they never had it. It is a disturbing truth that there will always be counterfeit believers inside the professing church. f 2:19 if they had been of us, they would have remained with us. You may have heard pastors quote this verse when people left their church to go somewhere else. This letter was not written in a day when every town had a smorgasbord of Christian assemblies to choose from. To remove yourself or to be removed from a first century church was to turn your back on God. g 2:19 they went out, so that it would be shown that they all are not of us. John did not take joy in this kind of division any more than Paul, who said that "factions" were necessary (1 Corinthians 11:19). To borrow a metaphor from a parable of Jesus, pigs and sons cannot coexist indefinitely. You can trace the origins of most “Christian” cults back to an influential leader in the church drawing people away from orthodoxy.
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from the Holy One , and you all know . I have not written to you because you do not know the c d 22 truth , but because you do know it, and because no lie is of the truth . Who is the liar but the e one who denies that Jesus is the Christ ? This is the antichrist, the one who denies the Father f 23 g and the Son . Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father ; the one who confesses the h 24 i Son has the Father also . As for you, let that abide in you which you heard from the beginning . If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, you also will abide in the Son and in the j k Father .

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2:20 you have an anointing from the Holy One. This word is used of smearing oil or unguent, but figuratively of the presence of the Holy Spirit (See David’s experience of the presence of God after he was anointed king in 1 Samuel 16). The Gnostics were known for promoting supposed deeper experiences with God than others. They pictured themselves an exclusive club with an inside track to knowing God. The word for anointing (chrisma) is also related to the word for Messiah (Christos). b 2:20 you all know. The Gnostics did not have a corner on experiencing God. They thought they had the secret gnosis (knowledge). John points out that every person with the Holy Spirit can “know” the truth, using the simple word for knowledge. c 2:21 I have not written to you because you do not know the truth. John is not writing to give the believers new information but to reinforce what they already knew. This is why it is so important in our day of “cut-and-paste” religions for us the teach theology in our church. d 2:21 because you do know it, and because no lie is of the truth. Again the emphasis is on sticking to the changeless message. e 2:22 Who is the liar but the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ. One way to identify the cults of the first century was their denial of the physical identity of Messiah. “Liar” is a strong word, but it accurately describes someone who abandons the truth about Messiah. Just as someone who claims to know God without keeping the commandments is a liar (2:4), those with Christ-denying theology are liars. f 2:22 This is the antichrist, the one who denies the Father and the Son. As John will point out, the persons of the Trinity cannot be isolated from one another. Each is worthy of worship. g 2:23 Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father. Some people do not mind talking about God but get uncomfortable when the focus is on the Lord Jesus. As the Master himself pointed out in John 5:23, “He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him.” h 2:23 the one who confesses the Son has the Father also. No one comes to the Father except through the Son. It is not possible to give the Son too much glory. i 2:24 As for you, let that abide in you which you heard from the beginning. There is a body of truth Christians believe. Knowing God is is not a subjective experience unique to each individual, but a consistent encounter in keeping with revealed truth. j 2:24 If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, you also will abide in the Son and in the Father. When that body of truth is in us we remain connected to the Source of that truth. k 2:18-24 John obviously considered the deception of his day worthy of a fight. When people are not discerning, antichrists can become very attractive. Look back over these verses and notice the weapons you have as a believer to keep you from being deceived. Here are the steps this text calls us to take to avoid deception: 1. Be alert because you know you are living in the last days. The Lord Jesus warned us. The apostle Paul warned us. Peter warned us. Now John has warned us. 2. Watch yourself because you have seen people fall away. You are not immune from getting sucked into false teaching. 3. Meditate continually on God’s word. God’s word is hidden in your heart keeps you from sin. Compare the things you hear with the Scripture you have studied or committed to memory.
The Epistle of 1 John Steven Svendsen, Sr.

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This is the promise which He Himself made to us: eternal life . 26 b 27 These things I have written to you concerning those who are trying to deceive you . As for c you, the anointing which you received from Him abides in you , and you have no need for anyone d e to teach you ; but as His anointing teaches you about all things, and is true and is not a lie , and f just as it has taught you, you abide in Him . 28 g Now, little children, abide in Him , so that when He appears, we may have confidence and h 29 not shrink away from Him in shame at His coming . If you know that He is righteous, you know i j that everyone also who practices righteousness is born of Him . k a See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us , that we would be called children of b c God ; and such we are . For this reason the world does not know us, because it did not know
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2:25 This is the promise which He Himself made to us: eternal life. This statement is similar to John’s record of Jesus’ words recorded in John 3:36: “He who believes in the Son has eternal life.” Peter speaks of this inheritance as something that is:
…imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. (1 Peter 1:3-5)

Eternal life is not something you hope for in the future but something you can possess now. The promise of eternal life is like an inheritance that is in your name but not yet in your hands. b 2:26 These things I have written to you concerning those who are trying to deceive you. See also 1 John 2:12-14 and 5:13. Part of the deception is convincing people that they are not being deceived. c 2:27 As for you, the anointing which you received from Him abides in you. This is the same word that was used of the anointing in verse 20 (chrisma). The word for Messiah means the same in Old or New Testament language: “anointed one.” With all the talk of false messiahs in this chapter, perhaps John wishes to assure the people that they have the real thing. d 2:27 you have no need for anyone to teach you. John is not saying believers should avoid teachers. He assumes they will have teachers. What he is saying is that individual believers are capable of discerning Truth without the special experiences about which the Gnostics boasted. e 2:27 as His anointing teaches you about all things, and is true and is not a lie. We have found Truth in Christ. f 2:27 just as it has taught you, you abide in Him. We know where to stand because of established Truth, not because of subjective or mystical whims. g 2:28 Now, little children, abide in Him. Notice that we had a statement of fact in the previous verse (“you abide in him”) and a command in this one (“abide in him”). This is like the biblical teaching that God’s people are preserved at the same time as they persevere. h 2:28 so that when He appears, we may have confidence and not shrink away from Him in shame at His coming. Preparing for the return of Christ certainly includes surrendering to his rule, but it also includes remaining in the Truth he has delivered. i 2:29 If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone also who practices righteousness is born of Him. Righteousness that is not our own is a requirement for eternal life (Deuteronomy 30; 1 Corinthians 6:9; 2 Corinthians 5:21). This is another reminder that our theology is displayed by our lifestyle. j 2:25-29 It is easy to look around and wonder if we really are any different from the world. Unbelievers point to the scandalous behavior of Christian leaders as evidence that there really is no difference found in Christ. What do you have as a disciple of Christ that others do not? Take comfort in these things that show you to be in a position of God’s favor (though undeserved): 1. Eternal life 2. The anointing 3. Truth 4. A Dwelling Place 5. Confidence in the Future
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3:1 See. John is about to say something worthy of note. He does not say, “listen.” He says, “Look.” He does not simply want us to hear about the hope stored up for us. He wants us to envision what lies ahead.
The Epistle of 1 John Steven Svendsen, Sr.

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Him . Beloved , now we are children of God , and it has not appeared as yet what we will be . h i We know that when He appears , we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is . 3 j k And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure .
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3:1 how great a love the Father has bestowed on us. The vision is not just of the work God did in his people, but the love that drew salvation’s plan. b 3:1 that we would be called children of God. There are two ways you can look at this phrase: One is to behold the love that allows us to be known by everyone as “children of God,” i.e., people call us the children of God. The other, and more likely view is to behold the love that makes us “called children,” i.e, God has called us to be his children (Romans 8:30). c 3:1 and such we are. We possess an identity as the children of God right now. d 3:1 For this reason the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Jesus taught that there is a radical and essential difference between those who are the children of God and those who are not. We are like him. This is why the world treats us like it treated him (John 15:18; 17:14-15). e 3:2 Beloved. This term of endearment is used most frequently in a family relationship such as a father addressing his child or a leader his spiritual children (see Matthew 3:17; 12:18; 17:5; 1 Corinthians 4:17). John uses it seven times addressing the recipients of this letter (2:7; 3:2; 3:21; 4:1; 4:7; 4:11). f 3:2 now we are children of God. This restates “and such we are,” but makes a another conclusion. The first conclusion of being his children was that the world does not know us. Now he says it also means we have a big change to look forward to. g 3:2 it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We do not have enough knowledge to describe our future state, but as children of God we do have a prospect for change. First Corinthians 15:42-49. h 3:2 We know that when He appears. Because we are children of God we have a confidence that his “appearing,” i.e., his return will bring the change we need (1 Corinthians 15:50-57). i 3:2 we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is. There are at least two ways to understand this statement. It could mean that our family resemblance will become evident when we see our Master face to face. We would realize, then, that we are already like him. Another possibility is that, when he appears, a transformation will occur to make us like him. John likely intended to imply both. Certainly John did not believe in entire sanctification. We are not like Jesus yet. He said people who think they have no sin are liars (1 John 1:8), but he did believe the world would see Jesus in us (1 John 3:1). j 3:3 everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure. The word "pure" here has a deeper meaning than "kept from sin." It is the word (a form of "to make holy" or "to sanctify") that was used of setting oneself a part for special purposes such as temple rituals or service to God (John 11:55; Acts 21:24; 1 Peter 1:22). This is progressive sanctification. If the driving force of a genuine believer is to please God, the visible goal is to become like the holy Son of God. First Corinthians 3:18 says: But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit. k 3:1-3 The people of the world may lack the eyes to see what the people of God see, but they still have eyes to see the things of the world. The difference is the way we diagnose what we see. For instance, anyone can observe when an individual is angry. The difference between the believer and the unbeliever is in identifying the cause and remedy for that anger. Likewise, in this text we will make application to the person suffering from an identity crisis, possibly undergoing persecution. The world says the person is suffering from low self-esteem and needs to think more highly of him or herself. Believers see the same downtrodden individual and call attention to the things John is saying here. What to remember when you are suffering from what the world calls “low self-esteem”: 1. You are loved. 2. You are part of a family. 3. You have a future. 4. You have a life-consuming task.
The Epistle of 1 John Steven Svendsen, Sr.

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Everyone who practices sin also practices lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness . You know b c 6 that He appeared in order to take away sins ; and in Him there is no sin . No one who abides in d e 7 Him sins ; no one who sins has seen Him or knows Him . Little children, make sure no one f g 8 deceives you ; the one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous ; the h i one who practices sin is of the devil ; for the devil has sinned from the beginning . The Son of j 9 God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil . No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of k 10 l God . By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious : anyone who does m n o not practice righteousness is not of God , nor the one who does not love his brother .

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3:4 Everyone who practices sin also practices lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness. This is put simply. Since the law of God reveals the character of God, sin is any attitude or behavior outside the boundaries of God's character. b 3:5 You know that He appeared in order to take away sins. When people talk about the difference Jesus made in their life, those who speak factually will have to admit that the difference he made caused them to sin less frequently. c 3:5 in Him there is no sin. He is impeccable. He is the pattern. d 3:6 No one who abides in Him sins. The Lord Jesus called himself the Vine and his disciples the branches (John 15). You cannot live in persistent sin when your source of life is sinless. e 3:6 no one who sins has seen Him or knows Him. John is not talking about a salvation that is on-again off-again and depends on the individual. He is saying that real believers have experienced a transformation that shows up. f 3:7 Little children, make sure no one deceives you. John would not have to make this statement if it were not possible for believers to be deceived. g 3:7 the one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous. Lest John be misunderstood, he gives the positive end of his contention here. Not only do sinners live in sin, but those who have been made righteous live righteously. h 3:8 the one who practices sin is of the devil. Here he says the same thing in a different way. Sin and lawlessness are marks of the devil and his children. i 3:8 the devil has sinned from the beginning. The word "beginning" varies in meaning based on context. This does not mean the devil was not created. It means he has been sinning for a long time. j 3:8 The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil. The practical end of the work Jesus did on the cross is not the presence of sinners in heaven but the banishment of sin from the universe. k 3:9 No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. Biological children bear the genetic marks of their parents. Regenerate people increasingly look like their heavenly Father. l 3:10 By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious. Unregenerate people increasingly look like their diabolical father. m 3:10 anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God. No matter what people claim with their lips, they identify themselves by their lives. n 3:10 nor the one who does not love his brother. Lovelessness is one distinguishing feature of the devil's children. o 3:4-10 There are some important contrasts in this section that will help you avoid deception. 1. The practice of sin and lawlessness are contrasted with the practice of righteousness. 2. The Son of God is contrasted with the devil. 3. The children of God are contrasted with the children of the devil. There is a clear contrast between the children of God in the children of the devil when the two are living side by side.
The Epistle of 1 John Steven Svendsen, Sr.

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For this is the message which you have heard from the beginning , that we should love c 12 d e one another ; not as Cain , who was of the evil one and slew his brother . And for what reason f g h did he slay him ? Because his deeds were evil, and his brother's were righteous .

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3:11 For this is the message which you have heard. The word translated "message" is only used here and in 1 John 1:5. It comes from the word normally translated "angel." It is closely related to the common biblical word for “promise.” Marketers, politicians and others who wish to persuade people are urged to "stay on message." John's message here is the heart of all Christian behavior. b 3:11 from the beginning. The word "beginning" is used in a variety of ways in the New Testament. John himself uses it to speak of the beginning of everything (John 1:1), the beginning of Jesus' miracles (John 2:11), the beginning of the devil's shenanigans (John 8:44) and the beginning of Jesus' connection with his disciples (John 15:27). Now John continues the thoughts about love he began in verse 10 by saying that his readers have known about Christian love from the "beginning" of their exposure to the Christian message. c 3:11 that we should love one another. Our English translations cannot do justice to the word "that" used here. A better translation would be "in order that." Here is the difference. As it stands, it appears John is simply reviewing the message, which is: "love one another." I am contending that John is saying this (paraphrased): "The powerful message you have always heard is what makes you love one another." The distinction is between a motivational message and a powerful message. Which one do you think the gospel is? d 3:12 not as Cain. How would you like to go down in history as the personification of hate and the illustration of the devil himself? When you study Genesis chapter 4 you must not overlook the fact that God himself warned Cain of the danger he was in. e 3:12 who was of the evil one and slew his brother. Rather than teach us what love is, John teaches us what love is not. The word “slew” may reveal more of the Genesis 4 story than we already know. The Genesis account does not tell us how Cain killed able. For all we know he used a club. The word used in Genesis 4 is used regularly of people killing people. However, the Holy Spirit moved John (2 Peter 1:21) to use a strong word in this verse which normally means "to butcher" or "to slaughter." Based on what we know of Cain's attitude, perhaps he was saying to God what my Greek professor, Arthur Walton, suggested: "You want a blood sacrifice? Here's your blood sacrifice." f 3:12 And for what reason did he slay him. We speak of senseless crimes when we cannot explain them. Cain’s actions may have been senseless but they were not without a driving force. Most first century believers surely knew some martyrs. Why do enemies of the gospel kill messengers of the gospel? We may uncover any number of reasons, but one is revealed at the end of this verse. g 3:12 Because his deeds were evil, and his brother's were righteous. By God's grace Abel shone so brightly that it violated Cain's dark space (John 3:19-20). When you live a life that pleases God you make others look bad. You might even lose your life over it. h 3:11-12 This text is an illustration of the previous one. Verses four through ten talked about the acts that reveal us as children of God or children of the devil. Here Cain and Abel are a "living" illustration of a child of God and a child of the devil. This text calls the child of God to be a lover of others. Love must be your primary human focus because: 1. Its message is repeated so often. Certainly some Christians have distorted the biblical concept of love, that you cannot get away from the centrality of love in the New Testament. 2. Its message changes us. Those who have been loved do more than follow rules. They start loving people. We love because he first loved us. 3. Its alternative is destructive. John is very "black and white." Non-lovers are like Cain and the devil. 4. Its impact forces people to act. When the Lord Jesus said he came to, “…SET A MAN AGAINST HIS FATHER, AND A DAUGHTER AGAINST HER MOTHER, AND A DAUGHTER-IN-LAW AGAINST HER MOTHER-IN-LAW” (Matthew 10:35), he was not
The Epistle of 1 John Steven Svendsen, Sr.

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Do not be surprised, brethren, if the world hates you . We know that we have passed out b c d of death into life , because we love the brethren . He who does not love abides in death . 15 e Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer ; and you know that no murderer has eternal life f 16 g abiding in him . We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us ; and we ought to lay

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encouraging dysfunctional homes. He was pointing out what happened everywhere love incarnate showed up. People either hated him or responded to his love.
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3:13 Do not be surprised, brethren, if the world hates you. In John 15:18-19, Jesus said:
If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you.

Those of us who share Abel's faith should not be shocked when we get Cain's affection. The Lord Jesus used the same words translated "Do not be surprised," or "Marvel not," as recorded by John in John 3:7 (“Do not be amazed that I said to you, 'You must be born again.'”) and John 5:28 (“Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs will hear His voice…”). b 3:14 We know that we have passed out of death into life. The words "passed out of death into life" are the precise words Jesus used within John 5:24:
Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.

Every other time the word translated "passed" is used in the New Testament, it is used of going from one geographic location to another. This is an important picture that is often overlooked. If you were once dead but no longer so, your resurrection did not happen as a result of your efforts. Genuine believers have experienced a very real change in location. Ephesians 2 gives us the same picture. c 3:14 because we love the brethren. It would be easy to say that John's means of identifying true believers is too simplistic. Part of our trouble is that we judge the Christian faith based on what we know of it rather than by what it was intended to be. Even pagans are capable of loving each other. John is writing within the context of those who claim to know Christ. Within that group God sorts out the genuine from among the fake based on love. In John 13:34-35, Jesus said,
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.

For now it is enough for John to say the love of the brothers displays genuine faith. He will soon tell us what that love looks like. d 3:14 He who does not love abides in death. The life of the “dead” is a life without love. e 3:15 Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer. This is no stretch. Remember that the Lord Jesus identified sins of the heart in Matthew five. He equated anger with murder (Matthew 5:21-22) and lust with adultery (Matthew 5:27-28). f 3:15 and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. Paul's inspired letters had been circulated and read by the time John wrote this letter. John had certainly read the scathing statements of 1 Corinthians 6:9-10:
Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor violators, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God.

Murders did not make this particular list, but the point is that your behavior displays what is really going on inside your heart. None, by the way, can say Paul was soft on the sin of murder (Romans 1:28-32). g 3:16 We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us. The heavenly template for love is the laying down of a life. John is about to point out that you would never lay down your life for your brother if you aren't prepared to lay down a few dollars for him. In John 10:17-18, Jesus said:
The Epistle of 1 John Steven Svendsen, Sr.

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down our lives for the brethren . But whoever has the world's goods , and sees his brother in c d 18 need and closes his heart against him , how does the love of God abide in him ? Little children, e 19 let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth . We will know by this that we are 20 f of the truth, and will assure our heart before Him in whatever our heart condemns us ; for God is g 21 greater than our heart and knows all things . Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we h 22 have confidence before God ; and whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His i a commandments and do the things that are pleasing in His sight .

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For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down My life so that it may take it again. No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This commandment I received from My Father.
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3:16 and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. In John 15:13, Jesus used the same kind of language when he said, "Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.” b 3:17 But whoever has the world's goods. The word "goods" comes from one of the New Testament words meaning "life." John uses two of those words. The first one (zoe) is discussed in my note on 1 John 1:1. Here in 3:17 John uses the word bios, used only here and in 2:16. It is the kind of life that lasts only until death. It is the kind of “life” the poor widow of Mark 12:44 put into the collection. It is the kind of "life" that chokes out the seed of the word, as recorded in Luke 8:14. It is the kind of "life" the prodigal son’s brother accused him of wasting on prostitutes (Luke 15:30). c 3:17 and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him. The closing of the heart, or the "bowels," is sadly picturesque. The picture John likely wished to convey was the closing of all emotion toward those in need so their pain can never touch you. d 3:17 how does the love of God abide in him. The implied answer is, "It doesn't." e 3:18 Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth. Speaking of your love and demonstrating it are two very different things. "Deed and truth" love is what moved early Christians to sell themselves into slavery to reach slaves. It is what moves people to give up the safety and prosperity of home to carry the gospel into places that are unsafe and impoverished. On a much smaller scale, this love is what makes siblings share their toys to bring joy to another child, makes spouses go the extra mile to make home a good place to be and makes church members inconvenience themselves to make the church an oasis of refuge and instruction. f 3:19-20 We will know by this that we are of the truth, and will assure our heart before Him in whatever our heart condemns us. What is "this"? It must be important because it is how we know we are of the truth. Here we do not find the common New Testament word for "condemn." It combines the word "to know" (a word used earlier in verse 19) with the prefix meaning "down." The only other time the word is used in the New Testament other than here and 1 John 3:21 is Galatians 2:11, where Paul said he confronted Peter because Peter "stood condemned." Our English translations are somewhat confusing, but the end of verse 20 helps us understand what John is saying. g 3:20 for God is greater than our heart and knows all things. I believe there is a helpful connection between the word "condemns" and the word "knows." As I already mentioned, the condemnation mentioned above is a kind of knowing. I believe John is pointing out that God is the ultimate judge of our hearts. When we are in violation of God's commands e.g. "love one another," that knowledge weighs us down. A person with a biblically trained conscience feels guilty when he knows he has been unloving. That is the irony of this verse. Having a heart that is sensitive enough to condemn us when we are out of line should be a comfort. Unbelievers have no such condemnation. h 3:21 Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God. If our hearts do condemn us, we have confirmation that we are his children in need of correction. If our hearts do not condemn us (as those who are already assured that we are “of the truth,” v.19), we have a clear conscience before God that we are doing what pleases him. i 3:22 and whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do the things that are pleasing in His sight. Notice how prayer and obedience are connected.
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This is His commandment, that we believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love b 24 one another, just as He commanded us . The one who keeps His commandments abides in c d Him, and He in him . We know by this that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us . Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God , 2 because many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of
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When you begin to desire what God desires, you begin getting what you ask in prayer (Psalm 37:4). This obedience is summed up in love, as Jesus said in John 15:16-17: You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you. This I command you, that you love one another. a 3:13-22 John is not done with the issue of love in this letter. He does give a summary, however, in these few verses, of the way love should look in the family of God. 1. Get your loving from the people of God, not from the people of this world. 2. Sacrifice yourself for others, not expecting them to sacrifice for you. 3. Find assurance of your salvation in the loving change God brought you, not in what you claim to believe.
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3:23 This is His commandment, that we believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as He commanded us. John keeps returning to the “commandment.” He told us that commandment-keeping is the way we know that we know God (2:3-6). He spoke of a “new” commandment that is actually “old” (2:7-8). In case some readers have not guessed, here John leaves no doubt about the “commandment,” which is actually a compound commandment. To believe in Jesus and to love others is effectively the same as the Godward and manward responsibilities Jesus identified as the “great commandments.” c 3:24 The one who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him. The word translated “abides” is used regularly by John. In his gospel, it is used of: • The Holy Spirit “remaining” on Jesus (1:33) • Some of John’s disciples asking where Jesus was “staying” (1:38) • The wrath of God that “abides” on those who do not obey the Son (3:36) • The food that “endures” to eternal life (6:27). The picture, then, is of something that comes to stay. That is why in this letter John uses the word of: • Those who claim to “abide” in God (2:6) • The word of God that “abides” in young men (2:14) • The one who does the will of God and “lives” forever (2:17) • Those who demonstrated a counterfeit faith, or they would have “remained” with the believers (2:19) • The anointing that “abides” in believers at the same time those believers “abide” in him (2:27). Therefore, the demonstration that we are staying in Christ and that he is staying in us is the keeping of his commandments. d 3:24 We know by this that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us. Some would consider this bit of evidence a very personal and subjective one—kind of like having your own little private experience with God the Holy Spirit. In truth, John is telling us that there are measurable, objective signs that the Spirit is inside us: keeping commandments, loving others and maintaining theological purity. e 4:1 Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God. John ended chapter 3 speaking of the evidence for the presence of the Holy Spirit in an individual. In starting chapter four he might as well have said, “And speaking of spirits…” In verse one John uses the word that is used of the Holy Spirit to refer to a different kind of spirit. Here a little biblical anthropology and demonology is in order so we understand what “spirits” John is talking about. People have spirits and demons are spirits. Rather than identify John’s teaching as one or the other I will take the position that John is not trying to make a distinction.
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God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God ; and every b c spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God ; this is the spirit of the antichrist , of which you d 4 have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world. You are from God, little children, First, man is a dichotomy, a two-part creature. He has a material part and an immaterial part. This is demonstrated in Genesis 1:26 and 2:7. Man is dust with the image of God breathed into him. The immaterial part of man is not only immortal, he or she is capable of worship—of finding great delight in God and the things God made. As a being with a “spirit,” man is distinguished from animals (Hebrews 12:23). Second, demons are fallen “spirits” (Revelation 16:13-14; 18:2) or angels, under the direction of Satan (Matthew 12:24; 25:41; Ephesians 6:11-12). They do not have bodies, though they apparently crave embodiment (Matthew 12:43-45; Mark 5:12). One of the functions of these spirits is the promotion of false teaching:
But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons, (1 Timothy 4:1)

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This is where testing “spirits” comes in. Some human spirits worship created things rather than the Creator (Romans 1:25), behavior motivated by demonic spirits (1 Corinthians 10:20). The testing of spirits is used to determine at what altar prophets worship. The word “test” means “to discern” or “to examine.” It is used of: • Determining the weather forecast (Luke 12:56) • Judging right from wrong (Romans 2:18; 12:2; 14:22) • Those who will hold the office of deacon (1 Timothy 3:10) So then, this is an instance where we are commanded to judge people. Beneath the attractive outward appearance and methodology of every prophet is a spirit with a message that is either from God or it is not, a delight that is either in the Creator or the creation. In the context of first century battles for the truth, John lays out a doctrinal test and a behavioral test. a 4:2 spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God. John is giving us the other side of identifying genuine believers. He rightly emphasized “faith that works” just like James, but did not want to overlook the importance of the content of that faith. Real believers love, but real believers also believe. In other words, there is a body of truth to which the faithful must subscribe. Genuine Christians may disagree in some doctrinal matters within the boundaries of orthodoxy, but the identity and mission of Jesus Christ is not negotiable. To “confess” is to “say the same thing.” In other words, just as sinners find forgiveness when they “confess” their sins, genuine believers properly identify or “confess” Christ. b 4:3 every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. In John’s day, Gnosticism was an aberration of Christianity that believed, among other things, that matter was evil. While these teachings might not seem to promote a delight in the creation over the Creator, they actually precipitated a humanistic club that admitted only the elite who claimed to have arrived at a higher, “enlightened” plane. Gnostics did not acknowledge the New Testament doctrine of the incarnation. They believed that Jesus was just a man who took on a form of divinity as one of a number of “salvific” figures in history. This is more than a heady matter to be debated in a seminary classroom. A Savior without flesh could not bear sin in his body. The Gnostic denial of the humanity of Christ is no different than the cults of our day that otherwise discount the centrality of Christ’s work on the cross and his nature as fully man and fully God. Consequently, a “loving Gnostic” is just as lost as a “hateful Christian.” c 4:3 this is the spirit of the antichrist. First century believers did expect a “man of sin” to come on the world scene and cause unprecedented trouble for God’s covenant people. Many see that fulfillment in Emperor Nero. Identifying the individual antichrist goes beyond John’s purposes here. He is saying that the driving force behind antichrist was already present and was worth warning the people of God about. d 3:23-4:3 People are quick to point out Jesus admonition, “Judge not” but not so quick to make a “judgment” about the different kinds of judging. We are commanded to use God’s judgments rather than our own and the area of false teaching is one of those areas. 1. Make judgments based on whether or not the commandments of God are being kept. 2. Make judgments based on the theological accuracy of teachers.
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and have overcome them ; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world . 5 c d They are from the world; therefore they speak as from the world , and the world listens to them . 6 e We are from God; he who knows God listens to us ; he who is not from God does not listen to f g h us . By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error .

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4:4 You are from God, little children, and have overcome them. John has certainly not been easy on those who may have made a false profession of faith. However, he is quick to bring comfort to those whom he is persuaded have genuine faith. His encouragement is twofold: First, the original readers of this letter get comfort from John that he is persuaded of the genuineness of their faith. Second, John says that the victory already belongs to his faithful readers. This victory is not over the people of the world, but the false prophets of the world. As the next phrase points out, however, credit for the victory belongs to the Lord of hosts. b 4:4 because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world. We are easily intimidated by beautiful and powerful people. John has spoken of the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit in those who keep the commandments of God as proof that God has given them a position in Christ far greater than the best positions in this world. Here is a parallel between the indwelling of the Spirit and the indwelling “spirit” of the world. Remember, this is the world that hates the spiritual descendents of Abel (3:13), but even death cannot take away our identity. Always remember that God and Satan are not equal and opposite counterparts because God has no counterpart. c 4:5 They are from the world; therefore they speak as from the world. As John has already pointed out, you can tell a false prophet in part by his message. d 4:5 and the world listens to them. Your unbelieving friends are not duped by false teachers because they are less than intelligent. They are duped because they are tuned to the same frequency as the false teachers. e 4:6 We are from God; he who knows God listens to us. Here again John is using similar language to that of his gospel. You will not only become like the prophets you listen to, you will listen to the prophets who are most like you.
My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand. John 10:27-29
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4:6 he who is not from God does not listen to us. This goes without saying. Unbelievers have no appetite for spiritual truth. g 4:6 By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error. Now John gives us one more way to recognize false teachers. This is a question of epistemology. What is your authority? The false teachers of John’s day had no time for the Word of God. h 4:4-6 John is not urging us to hate unbelievers in this text but he is calling us to take note of the radical differences between us. 1. We win. They lose. This is not a reason for pride, but the beautiful and articulate people of this world are part of a doomed race. Be careful what people you value. We all like to associate ourselves with winners when our own efforts have nothing to do with their winning. Romans 8:37 declares the people of God as “more than conquerors.” That victory, however, like the one in Revelation 19, is about rejoicing in the work of God rather than the work of man. 2. We have the Holy Spirit. They have doctrines of demons. Once again it should be emphasized that we know we have the Holy Spirit based on observable data (otherloving and commandment-keeping) rather than by subjective feelings. 3. We listen to the truth. They listen to lies. We all have those we respect because of their education or experience or even their beauty. What we value is shown in what makes us listen. John is saying that believers value truth and accordingly pay attention.
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Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God ; and everyone who loves is born of b 8 c 9 God and knows God . The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love . By this d the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so e 10 that we might live through Him . In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and f g 11 sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins . Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to h 12 i love one another . No one has seen God at any time; if we love one another, God abides in us , j 13 and His love is perfected in us . By this we know that we abide in Him and He in us, because He

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4:7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God. Why the big deal about love? God welcomes strangers. So should we. God rescues prisoners. So should we. God loves enemies. So should we. b 4:7 and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. Once again love is the identifying factor in the children of God. As Jesus said in John 13:35, "By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another." Here regeneration and knowing God are used synonymously. c 4:8 The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love. Is love all he is? No. He is completely love, but he is more than that. To use a negative example, it would be accurate to describe Satan as completely evil. However, that does not mean that Satan does not possess other characteristics (like sneakiness and intelligence). John already told us that God is light (1:5; see also Deuteronomy 6:4; 2 Chronicles 30:9; Job 36:5, 26; Psalm 46:1; 47:7; 50:6; 59:9; 59:17; 62:7, 8; 73:26; 74:12; 84:11; 99:9; 116:5; Isaiah 12:2; Nahum 1:2; John 3:33; 4:24; 2 Corinthians 1:18; Hebrews 12:29). We can argue persuasively from Scripture that God’s primary attribute is his holiness and that his holiness sets him apart as the one with the right to sovereign rule. But how does he demonstrate that rule? He does it in loving acts that spring from his loving character. God is not a schizophrenic being whose love is in conflict with his wrath. The love of God need not restrain the wrath of God. John says God is love because his essential character makes contact with us in his love. To say that God is love is not to say that love is all God is or that sometimes his love keeps him from displaying some of his more dangerous attributes. He was just as loving when he destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah as he was when he spared Lot and his daughters. To say that God is love is to say that God is intensely relational. He shows himself when He reaches out to us and when we reach out to others. Do not think you can rightly relate to God in the absence of relationships. d 4:9 By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world. Notice that the NASB says that the love of God was shown “in” us rather than “toward” or “among” us. Certainly his love was shown toward us as well as among us. The reason I prefer the “in” translation is because that is the common meaning of the Greek word en and because John is pointing out the way indwelling love is displayed. e 4:9 so that we might live through Him. We live through God. This does not simply mean that we exist or survive through him. It means that the abundant life is to be found only in him (John 10:10; 1 John 1:2; 3:14). The love of God shown to us through Christ does more than rescue us from judgment. It turns “diers” into livers. It turns haters into lovers. This is the only way to live in this world. f 4:10 In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son. Here is the giving that demonstrates love (Romans 5:8). g 4:10 to be the propitiation for our sins. This describes the love of the Father. His wrath had to be satisfied, but nothing we could do could bring that about. Jesus did die for his people, but in a very real sense he died for his Father. h 4:11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. We have the pattern. i 4:12 No one has seen God at any time; if we love one another, God abides in us. John says this in his Gospel (John 1:18). Near the end of Jesus’ ministry, Phillip asked Jesus to show the Father to the disciples. Jesus replied, "He who has seen Me has seen the Father" (John 14:9). j 4:12 and His love is perfected in us. Maturity in love reveals where God lives. See also 1 John 2:5 and 4:17-18.
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has given us of His Spirit . We have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son to be the b c Savior of the world . 15 d 16 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God . We e have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us . God is love, and the one f 17 who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him . By this, love is perfected with us, so g that we may have confidence in the day of judgment ; because as He is, so also are we in this h 18 i world . There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear , because fear involves j 19 punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love . We love, because He first loved k 20 a us . If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar ; for the one who does not

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4:13 By this we know that we abide in Him and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit. As we already learned, they are practical ways to discern the presence of the Holy Spirit in an individual's life. b 4:14 We have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son to be the Savior of the world. John already included himself in the "we" who personally and physically encountered the Lord Jesus Christ (1 John 1:1-3). Is he still around? John believed so. c 4:7-14 Why is love so important to God? Notice what real love does in this world: 1. It separates those who know God from those who do not. This has always been the way God’s people were identified. Statements of faith are not useless, but they can be deceiving. 2. It shows God to the world. God is not all love, but seeing real love in action is the best view of God mortals can get. 3. It proves to the world that Jesus saves people. Salvation is more than a deliverance from hell. It is deliverance from selfish living.
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4:15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. Note the mutual habitation here. Those who confess Christ have a union that permits the very presence of God to dwell in them and permits them to have a position “in” God. Jesus used similar language in John 17:20-21. e 4:16 We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. John has established that the foundation and pattern for our love is God’s love. f 4:16 God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. Here is another evidence of the mutual habitation mentioned in the last verse. In addition to confessing Christ, those who abide in love abide in God (and he in them). g 4:17 By this, love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment. The means by which love is perfected is more than just doing occasional loving acts, but abiding in love. h 4:17 because as He is, so also are we in this world. This is a profound statement. It says that the people of God are his ambassadors, living out his character in the world. For instance, obedience to the Ten Commandments displays the character of God to the world. i 4:18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear. This is a description of the way God’s love is shown. It is not the kind of love that worries about what others will think or what consequences loving acts will bring. Peter touches on this when he urges wives to live under the authority of their husbands “without being frightened by any fear” (1 Peter 3:6). Paul speaks of the freedom from fear that comes with going from slavery to sonship (Romans 8:15). John’s treatment of the subject leaves room for the prospect of fear when we are counting the cost of loving others. Fear may be present in the life of a believer but it cannot stay for long in the presence of mature love. God’s kind of love cannot coexist with fear anymore than Christ could coexist with demons (similar ”casting out” language used of demons in the gospels). j 4:18 because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love. You could say, “fear has punishment.” The word “punishment” is the common word for temporal or eternal judgment. k 4:19 We love, because He first loved us. Some translations add “him” after “we love.” But the reading of the NASB better fits the context. All genuine love we can show springs from God’s love for us.
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love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen . And this c commandment we have from Him, that the one who loves God should love his brother also . Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and whoever loves the Father d 2 loves the child born of Him . By this we know that we love the children of God, when we e 3 love God and observe His commandments . For this is the love of God, that we keep His f 4 commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome . For whatever is born of God g h overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith .

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4:20 If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar. That is because God’s love is more than something we accept and give back to him in return. b 4:20 for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen. We personally experience the image of God in the person of other people. That is why we are to love our neighbors as we love ourselves. That is why Jesus said, “to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me” (Matthew 25:40). Neighbor-loving is more a matter of encounter than geography. When you see someone in need you should see Jesus. c 4:21 And this commandment we have from Him, that the one who loves God should love his brother also. Will Rogers said he never met a man he didn’t like. Someone might say, “Will Rogers never met my boss.” But the truth is that we can love even unlovely people on the basis of our love for God. Our choices must be governed by truth rather than feelings. d 5:1 Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and whoever loves the Father loves the child born of Him. This statement takes us beyond general loving toward everyone to specific love for those who are also born of God. As Paul told the Galatians (6:10), “So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith.” e 5:2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and observe His commandments. How can you know if you are a loving person? If you love God enough to want to please him you can love others enough to share with them and inconvenience yourself for them. f 5:3 For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome. As the Lord Jesus said, “My yoke is easy and my burden is light.” g 5:4 whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. The word “overcome” used twice here is the verb form of “victory.” We have been talking almost exclusively about love. Why the sudden transition to faith? No transition. John said in 4:16 that we have come to believe (verb form of “faith”) this love and in 5:1 that whoever believes (verb form of “faith”) the truth about Messiah has become part of this loving family. Here is John’s message: The “faith” lived out in obedience to God displayed by loving others is the way this short-lived world and its passing desires (see 2:17) will be conquered. h 4:15-5:4 We live in a fear-filled, power-hungry world, but the world of the first recipients of this letter was no different. The sons of Adam wish to dominate others in a variety of ways and many succeed. With the powers of personal magnetism, money and might the lords of our age dominate the earthly scene. On a much smaller level people manipulate family members and work associates to get what they consider an advantage. Even some Christians teach their children that they way to get along in this world is to beat others to the punch. God has a better way that we would do well to imitate. The world that we are not to love (2:16) is a world that needs conquering. But the weapons of our warfare are stronger than man’s fleshly ones. How does the love described here to impact the world? 1. It shows God to our world. This is pre-evangelism. We are not to do good things to manipulate people into joining us. You do no represent the standards of your family when you are outside your home to get people to want to move in with you. You do it because you love the family and all it represents. 2. It conquers fear. This stands in stark contrast to the ways of worldly power-seekers. Have you ever met people—even parents—whose goal it was to get others to be afraid of them? That is what terrorists do. Loving others moves you to leave your comfort zone
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Who is the one who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of a 6 b God ? This is the One who came by water and blood , Jesus Christ; not with the water only, but c 7 with the water and with the blood. It is the Spirit who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth . For d 8 there are three that testify : the Spirit and the water and the blood; and the three are in 9 e agreement. If we receive the testimony of men, the testimony of God is greater ; for the f 10 testimony of God is this, that He has testified concerning His Son . The one who believes in the g Son of God has the testimony in himself ; the one who does not believe God has made Him a h 11 liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has given concerning His Son . And

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and follow Christ to the ends of the earth without concern over what men can think or do (Psalm 27). 3. It spreads the “faith.” There is an evangelistic side to demonstrating the love of Christ. The gates of hell will not withstand the full frontal assault of the Church (see Matthew 16:13-20), but our fierce weapon is the loving proclamation and application of the gospel.
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5:5 Who is the one who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God. How is it that believers vanquish the world? This statement supports the one in the previous verse. The “world” will be conquered by body of believers—those who have properly identified and pledged their allegiance to God the Son. All that is of the world (2:17) meets its demise among those who get a different kind of life. b 5:6 This is the One who came by water and blood. Jesus came by water when he was born (John 3:1-5). He “came” by water when he was baptized (Matthew 3:11-16). Jesus “came” by blood when he was crucified (John 12:27). The testimony is both to the humanity (attention Gnostics: physical birth and death) and to the deity of Christ. c 5:6 It is the Spirit who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth. The concept of testimony is an important one in Scripture because it displays the justice of God. God commanded his people:
A single witness shall not rise up against a man on account of any iniquity or any sin which he has committed; on the evidence of two or three witnesses a matter shall be confirmed. Deuteronomy 19:15

Truth must be verified by two or three witnesses. This principle is demonstrated repeatedly throughout Scripture. It is the way God judged Cain (Genesis 4), the way God judged Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 18:22-25), the way David judged Ziba and Mephibosheth (2 Samuel 16:1-4; 19:24-30), the way Solomon judged between the two prostitutes (1 Kings 3:16-28), the way Joseph judged Mary (Matthew 1:18-25), the way Jesus “judged” the woman taken in adultery (John 8:1-11), the way sinners in the church are to be judged (Matthew 18:15-20), the way the resurrection of Christ is confirmed (1 Corinthians 15:1-8) and in this text it is the way John argued for the deity of Christ (see also Matthew 3:16-17). d 5:7 For there are three that testify. Not just two witnesses, but three identify Jesus as the Son of God. The King James Version and a few other translations of the Bible have additional words here that make a Trinitarian statement. Most likely that was a late addition to the text seeking to clarify a doctrine that needs no clarification. e 5:9 If we receive the testimony of men, the testimony of God is greater. We do rightly receive the testimony of men when what they have to say can be supported by evidence. Another word for evidence is “witnesses.” People speak and, based on our epistemology (what we consider authoritative) we decide whether or not we believe what they are saying. Is God more believable? f 5:9 the testimony of God is this, that He has testified concerning His Son. Consider the words that came from heaven when Jesus was baptized (Matthew 3:16-17). g 5:10 The one who believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself. Believers, John says, receive an “anointing” (2:27), the abiding presence of the Holy Spirit. This person is a living witness to the truth about Jesus. h 5:10 the one who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has given concerning His Son. Rejecting Christianity is not deciding you do not like those Christians or their way of life. It is calling God a liar. The weight of evidence (three witnesses) support his testimony. Notice that “the testimony” with a definite article
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the testimony is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son . He who has b c the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life . 13 d These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God , so that you e 14 f may know that you have eternal life . This is the confidence which we have before Him , that, if g 15 we ask anything according to His will, He hears us . And if we know that He hears us in h a whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him .

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occurs six times in these few verses (9-11). This is like listening to a case with overwhelming evidence and on a whim siding with one who has no evidence. a 5:11 And the testimony is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. To believe the testimony of God about his Son is to have the Son. To have the Son is to have life. b 5:12 He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life. Notice the definite article in front of both uses of “life” here. It is not that unbelievers have no type of existence (see my comments on 1 John 1:1). It is that they do not have the life that is found in Jesus Christ. c 5:5-12 There is nothing wrong with asking, “How do we know this is true?” This is the testimony. Will you believe it? Rather than presenting detailed arguments, John gives us propositional truth about the claims of Christ and effectively calls us to believe it or reject it. We are left with no middle ground. Here are the profound truths upon which you must stake your eternal destiny: 1. This faith overcomes the world system. 2. God is trustworthy. 3. There is only one way to have a life.
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5:13 These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God. This is one indicator that 1 John was written after John’s gospel. His stated purpose for writing his gospel (John 20:31) was: “…so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.” Now he writes to those who have been persuaded. e 5:13 so that you may know that you have eternal life. John already included his purpose for this letter (2:12-14, 26). This phrase supports those. He wrote because his primary audience already had a position in Christ and needed to know what that means. This letter has read like an owner’s manual written for someone who has just been given a new car. There is evidently a distinction to be made between possessing eternal life and knowing that you have eternal life. f 5:14 This is the confidence which we have before Him. The word “confidence” describes the demeanor of one who has nothing to hide, who does not fear public scrutiny. As the writer of Hebrews points out repeatedly, we have a High Priest. In addition to John’s uses elsewhere in this letter (2:28; 3:21; 4:17), it is used of speaking plainly (Mark 8:31-32), of doing something publicly (John 7:4), of displaying unusual confidence in the face of danger (Acts 4:13) and of approaching God with confidence (Hebrews 4:16). g 5:14 that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. He hears us when we ask according to his will. Not only does he have good hearing, he is interested in listening. We have heard stories of believers in the past calling on God to do great things and having their desires satisfied. That is what we want. But there is a greater want shown here that is the great qualifier of all praying. Even the Son of God prayed “according to his will” as Matthew records,
And He went a little beyond them, and fell on His face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will.” Matthew 26:39

Earlier he also taught his disciples to pray the same way saying,
Pray, then, in this way: “Our Father who is in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come, Your will be done, On earth as it is in heaven…” Matthew 6:9-10
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5:15 And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him. Does this mean that real believers get whatever they want in prayer? Remember where this starts. This passage is not about getting what you want with God but about rightly relating to his Son (verse 13). One of the benefits to rightly relating to the Son is access to the Father.
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If anyone sees his brother committing a sin not leading to death , he shall ask and God e f will for him give life to those who commit sin not leading to death . There is a sin leading to g 17 a death; I do not say that he should make request for this . All unrighteousness is sin , and there b c is a sin not leading to death .
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5:13-15 If you have come to believe, you rightly relate to the Son of God. Here is why you may walk in confidence in that relationship: 1. Because you possess eternal life right now. You need not fear the prospect of the return of Christ because your hope is in his work for you. 2. Because God listens to you when your desires match. 3. Because God answers your prayers. This is rarely the working of a miracle but the providence of God in displaying his control over his world. He has determined to work through the prayers of his people.
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5:16 If anyone sees his brother. The word “brother” may mean a brother in the faith or one’s fellow-man. Like “neighbor,” the issue is encounter. Just as we should act when we see a brother with material needs (1 John 3:17), we also have responsibilities when we see a brother in sin. c 5:16 committing a sin not leading to death. The death spoken of here may mean physical death, but we should remember that John is contrasting this death with life that is much more than physical. There are three primary kinds of death mention in the Bible: • Physical death • Spiritual death • Eternal death d 5:16 he shall ask. There are a number of things for which we know should pray. Remember that John just said that God hears us if we pray according to his will. Here is one thing in God’s will: praying for sinning brothers. e 5:16 and God will for him give life. The words “for him” indicate that God is giving life to one for another. In other words, God grants the sinner life because of an intercessor. John’s challenge looks a lot like the prayer of Jesus (remembering that John himself was present):
Jesus spoke these things; and lifting up His eyes to heaven, He said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify Your Son, that the Son may glorify You, even as You gave Him authority over all flesh, that to all whom You have given Him, He may give eternal life. This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.” John 17:1-3

The prayer of Moses in Exodus 33 served a similar purpose following the golden calf incident. This is the word “life” that means more than physical existence. This is the life found in the Son of God (5:11-12). f 5:16 to those who commit sin not leading to death. What does John mean by “a sin leading to death”? Several options have been put forward: • It is the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit about which Jesus spoke in Matthew 12:31-32; Mark 3:22-30, a sin that will never be forgiven. Those who identify the sin leading to death with the “unpardonable sin” overlook the fact that the intercessor is not praying for forgiveness but life. • It is a civil crime for which the death penalty has been prescribed. This may have happened in the first century but does not fit the context of this letter. • It is a level of sin (“mortal sin”) considered particularly heinous by the Roman Catholic Church because it was committed after baptism. This view finds no basis in Scripture. • It is sin from which a person does not repent before they meet physical death because of an act of physical judgment. Examples in the Bible are Achan, Ananias and Sapphira, and those mentioned in 1 Corinthians 11:30 who flippantly approached the Lord’s Table. This view has the most merit biblically, but resolving this question is a very small part of this study. g 5:16 There is a sin leading to death; I do not say that he should make request for this. Why would the word of God ever urge us to stop praying for someone? Perhaps because they have died? Certainly we know that death is sin’s wages (Romans 3:23). James points out that caving in to desire ultimately brings death (James 1:14-15) and that turning sinners from their ways rescues them from death (James 5:19-20). I do not think there is a point before death at
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We know that no one who is born of God sins ; but He who was born of God keeps him , f 19 and the evil one does not touch him . We know that we are of God, and that the whole world lies g 20 a in the power of the evil one . And we know that the Son of God has come , and has given us which any of us are qualified to say that a sinner has gone too far. We should pray and urge sinners to run to the fellowship of 1 John 1:7 and the forgiveness of 1 John 1:9. a 5:17 All unrighteousness is sin. You can accurately say that we are not qualified to determine which sins are worse than others because sin is anything contrary to the character of God. John is telling us that there are lots of ways to sin. He is also saying that certain sins have greater consequences. Some people call things sin that are not and others define sin in terms that permit “any behavior that does not hurt anyone.” Another way to phrase this would be to say, “Anything that is not righteous is sinful.” That forces us to ask, “How do we know what righteousness is?” John already told us: b 5:17 and there is a sin not leading to death. Or you could leave off the indefinite article and say, “there is sin not leading to death.” Don’t go around assuming that most people die because of judgment and don’t sit around waiting for people who sin to die as did the residents of Malta in Acts 28:1-6. c 5:16-17 As already demonstrated, commentators are all over the place in their attempts to understand this passage. Regardless of how you understand the difficult part of this text, the challenge for believers who read these words is in the way we deal with sin in the lives of others. 1. Remember you are your brother’s keeper. If you love your brother you will seek to meet his physical and his spiritual needs. 2. Practice praying for sinners. This hurts more than giving away money and requires love and discipline, but God commands it. 3. Recognize the deadliness of sin. We do not make judgment calls on sins that lead to death, but you should remember that God hates sin.
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5:18 We know that no one who is born of God sins. Or, “no one who is born of God is sinning,” i.e., making a career out of sinning. John’s point here is that there has been a rescue. Reading this verse out of context has led to some odd teachings about “entire sanctification.” John did say he had written this so that his readers would not sin (2:1) and then he went ahead with the assumption that they would sin and need a good lawyer (2:2). Those who claim that it is possible to escape external and internal acts of sin in this life overlook John’s definition of sin as “all unrighteousness” (5:17) and the truth that forgiveness cleanses sinners from “all unrighteousness” (1:9). e 5:18 but He who was born of God keeps him. This is likely a play on words, as John distinguishes those who are “born of God” from the “one who is born of God.” Translations using newer manuscripts (like the KJV) say something like: “he who was born of God keeps himself,” demonstrating that real saints persevere. This is theologically accurate, but is likely not the way this text should be understood. The older manuscripts that are the basis for the NASB and the ESV show that this phrase is a reference to Jesus (note the editorial capitalization in the NASB). In other words, the Son of God keeps his people from lives of sin and from the evil one. f 5:18 and the evil one does not touch him. The position of a child of God is secure, as as the words of John’s gospel also said:
My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand. I and the Father are one. John 10:27-30

The word “touch” is used frequently of Jesus touching those he healed as well as people reaching out to touch Jesus’ garments for healing. Paul even uses it of a man touching a woman improperly (1 Corinthians 7:1). The important thing to remember is that this word means more than a casual touch. The evil one cannot have close contact with the child of God. g 5:19 We know that we are of God, and that the whole world lies in the power of the evil one. Jesus taught his disciples to pray, “Deliver us from the evil one.” John tells us we have been delivered but others have not. This truth should not bring the secure child of God to a place of pride but to an attitude of humble thankfulness and a somber recognition of the battle he is in. We live in a sin-cursed world that is under the influence of of the evil one.
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understanding so that we may know Him who is true ; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son c d Jesus Christ . This is the true God and eternal life . 21 e f Little children, guard yourselves from idols .

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5:20 And we know that the Son of God has come. This kind of knowledge is factual or intuitive knowledge and will be distinguished from personal or experiential knowledge in the next phrase. John has used this “knowledge” word repeatedly in this letter to tell us that we have: • enlightenment that comes from the Holy Spirit (2:20) • confidence in the truth about Messiah (2:21) • knowledge that the Savior is righteous (2:29) • a vision of the kind of love the Father has poured out on us (3:1) • foresight into our future condition when Jesus returns (3:2) • knowledge of why Jesus came (3:5) • assurance of our salvation (3:14) • knowledge that murderers do not possess “life” (3:15) • knowledge that believers do have “life” (5:13) • knowledge that God answers prayers according to his will (5:15) • observation that a brother has not committed sin that leads to death (5:16) • knowledge that those born of God do not continue in sin (5:18) • knowledge of the difference between the saved and the lost (5:19) b 5:20 and has given us understanding so that we may know Him who is true. John uses a different word for “knowing” him who is true than he used in the first phrase. This is a personal or experiential knowledge that is used of knowing things intimately or of knowing God himself. John uses this word in this letter to describe: • knowing God (2:3, 4, 13, 14; 3:6; 4:6, 7; 5:20) • knowing that we are saved (2:5; 3:19; 3:24; 4:13) • knowing that it is the last time (2:18) • knowing that “righteous” people are born of God (2:29) • not knowing God (3:1; 4:8) • not knowing God’s children (3:1) • knowing the love of God (3:16; 4:16) • God knows all things (3:20) • knowing the Spirit of God (4:2) • knowing that we love the children of God (5:2) c 5:20 and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is a statement of fact that sets believers apart from unbelievers. We are positionally in Christ, as Paul says:
But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. Ephesians 2:4-7
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5:20 This is the true God and eternal life. True, true, true; the word occurs three times in this one verse. You need not point out what is true unless you are exposed to what is false. John has spent this entire letter drawing those lines clearly and now he is summing up. You either believe the truth or you believe the lie. You either have eternal life or you have merely biological life. You either worship the true God or you worship a false God. e 5:21 Little children, guard yourselves from idols. This may seem an abrupt shift and an abrupt ending to this letter, but John is intentional here. Knowing all about the reason the Son of God came and knowing the immense gulf that exists between the rescued and the damned, John reminds us not to forsake our one-and-only. Following a hope-inspiring statement about temptation, the apostle Paul gave the same warning to the Corinthian church when he said, “Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry” (1 Corinthians 10:14). Just as all unrighteousness is sin, so that which is not true is false. f 5:18-21 John has been refreshingly black-and-white throughout his letter and he does not disappoint us at the end. The faith of first century believers was under attack and they needed encouragement to persevere. Our faith is no different even though the attacks go by different
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names. With the spirit of antichrist present, observe what this passage says makes you confident that Truth is found in Messiah Jesus rather than substitutes: 1. He has given his people a new worldview. 2. He has given his people protection from the evil one. 3. He has given his people intuitive knowledge to guard against what is false. 4. He has given his people intimate knowledge to guard against what is false. 5. He has given his people a position in Christ. 6. He has given his people eternal life.

©Rice Lake Baptist Church, 104 East Barker Street, Rice Lake, Wisconsin, 54868 – http://www.ricelakebaptist.org – 715.234.1966 Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way and that you do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction. Scripture quotations taken from the New American Standard Bible , Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.
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