1st John – The Love Letter
Bible Background: We don’t know details about the origin of 1,2, or 3 John. The writer might be the person who wrote the Gospel of John; or is at least well-acquainted with that Gospel. Themes that match between this letter and the Gospel: Jesus as “the Word of Life”; walking in the light vs. living in the darkness; abiding in Christ; loving one another. The writer addresses his readers as “little children”-in a close, caring sense; and shares the conviction that Jesus really did take on our flesh and blood.
Digging Deeper into 1 John 1:1-4
1. Unlike most of Paul’s “letters”, this short book doesn’t start off like a letter. The ‘recipients’ and the ‘writer’ are not identified. The message starts out much like the Gospel of John does: “from the beginning”, and “the Word who is life”. It’s more like a sermon than a letter!
2. There’s a strong point made that the Christian faith-while very personal-is not private. The writer is teaching us that the purpose of faith in Jesus is to share the life and spread the joy we have in Christ!
3. The Greek word used in these opening verses is koinonia, a word that means fellowship! Think of what fellowship might look like: Belonging? Including others? Caring and being cared for? Friendship? Connectedness? Think of how urgently we need these in these times! How can we enjoy and invite others into Christian fellowship?
4. The fellowship idea goes in two directions: We have friendship with God through our Lord Jesus Christ; we have friendship with each other because we all belong to Christ. The writer is urging us to tend to both sets of relationships!
5. The words we use in the Order of Confession (LBW) start with the statement: “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, God who is faithful and just will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” This is straight from 1 John 1:8-9 and reminds us of how scripture inspires the language of worship! More importantly, it reminds us that when we’re honest with God and with ourselves, forgiveness is possible! Grace happens!
For next week, read 1 John 1–2. (First John, chapters 1 through 2….a bit tricky!)