1 John Introduction
We are in Kikyusa – and to visit our friends at Kirimandagi – teaching and graduate meeting
1 John was written late in the 1st Century (about the same time as the Gospel of John) and is likely from the same hand as that Gospel and 2nd and 3rd John. Most scholars believe that John, the son of Zebedee and brother of James, was the author. 1 John is not a letter but a tract and may have been written as an introduction or a companion of the Gospel according to John. Written from Ephesus (where John, the brother of James, served out his Apostleship,) its primary purpose was to refute an early opponent of Christianity called Gnosticism. Gnosticism was a system of thinking that saw matter as evil and spirit as good. Because of this dualistic understanding, Gnostics believed that Jesus Christ could not have come in the flesh (because flesh is matter and therefore evil.) Because Gnostics denied Jesus’ humanity, they taught that he only “appeared” human and that he was a divine manifestation. Gnostics also believed a special knowledge (gnosis in Greek means knowledge) was needed to attain salvation.
Love of God cannot be divorced from love for each other. Just as Jesus lists the two greatest commandments (love God and love your neighbor) so John teaches “if we say we love God yet hate a brother or sister, we are liars.” (1 John 4:20)
1 John 1
1 John 1:1-4 is a parallel to the prologue to the Gospel of John. “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. We have beheld his glory. (John 1:14). The essential message of 1 John, the message that gets repeated in various ways and styles is very simple: God is light and there is darkness in him. Therefore if we are walking in darkness we don’t get it. The evidence that we children of the light is that we have fellowship with one another – notice that the evidence of belonging to God (being in the light) is a community awareness. We cannot deny that we are sinners – everyone is broken. The difference between the believer and the non believer is this “if we confess our sins, he who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1:9).”