Short Info For The First Epistle of John

1st John Inductive Study Guide for Small Group Church Discussion

1st John Inductive Study Guide for Small Group Church Discussion

  • Ch 1 summary: Don’t get fooled. Christ is real. Forget about false philosophies that encourage sin. Renounce them, come back to God.
  • Epistle Theme: Real saving faith is in the Christ we have told you about from the beginning. Follow him in your teachings and in your holy daily life.
  • Recepients: A circular letter to the churches in Asia Minor, around Ephesus
  • Place of writing: Ephesus
  • Author: John the Apostle
  • Date: 90-95AD

Study through vv 1 John 2: 1-8
What do the first two verses reveal about God’s attitude toward our sins, in light of Ch 1?

Verses summary: False teachings about the harmlessness of sins are wrong because they distort God’s Word. Jesus is the atoning sacrifice for our sins. He is the one who defends us from judgment.

Q1: What is the flow of events in vv3-6? How do they describe a real Christian life?

Knowledge of God–>Obedience–>God’s love is complete–>Christ-likeness. It’s not only about “knowing” about Christ, it is about living as He did: loving others, building up his church. That’s real knowledge of God.
Ongoing moral obedience is the first test of spiritual integrity (present continuous live, walk, v6)

Q2: What is the old commandment-new commandment idea in vv 7-8,?

In v. 3, Obedience to Godly life as a well-known Hebrew idea, Love God and your neighbor. It’s “renewed” as Believe in Jesus–>Live Ethically–>Love fellow believers. Living in the light is “Love one another as I have loved you” John 13:34. It is new in Christ, who fulfills the demands of the Law, and sets people for a life in faith that produces faithfulness because people now do it out of Love for God, not so they would earn salvation.

Q3: What does “darkness” and “true light” refer to in v. 8, knowing that enlightenment is what Gnostics were after?

Darkness is the state in which a person knows stuff about Jesus, but that knowledge doesn’t affect his life. This is no knowledge at all, no enlightenment of any sort. Regardless of religiosity, if there is no love for God and love for the fellow believer, people still live in darkness, in ignorance of the real life in Christ.

But now that Christ has been revealed, he shines into this darkness where people are stuck in their own loveless ways, and draws them out into the light, which is a fellowship with God and fellow believers. These are enlightened people.


Analysis of vv 9-17: What is the meaning of v. 10 in light of vv. 9-11 (note the hate-love-hate chiasm)?

Verses summary: Besides the ethical life test (if you sin you’re still in darkness), the issue of love for the fellow believer is another test for genuine faith. There’s just no going around this strong point that John is making about church life. It seems that love is actually a stronger test than ethics, because if there is hatred instead of love, there will be sinfulness instead of holy living. There is no gray zones in the spiritual world. If you are not with me, you are against me (Lk 11:23)


Q1: vv. 12-14 contain three parallel “I write to you because” sentences. How do you see this passage in light of vv 15-16?

v12: forgiveness; v. 13 know-defeat-know; v 14: know-godly-overcome. Forgiveness springs from knowledge of God which results in strong Godly life, victorious over Satan. John sets the stage for what comes in vv15-16 by calling up on the entire community, saying Hey, all of you here, listen up, you all need to hear what I have to say because you all are forgiven through the effective life-changing and salvific knowledge of Christ. The words that follow dont exclude anyone based on age or spiritual maturity. The advice is applicable to everybody.

Q2: What “love of this world” means in v 15-17? How did you get to that answer?

In light of the problems John writes against (false teachings about Jesus not being human, about the dualistic life with sin and prayers), the love of this world for John is all the things that people want to keep doing in their lives and think up all kinds of theories and philosophies so they can keep their old way of life without rejecting Christianity altogether.

Things like spontaneous marriage and divorce just as a legalistic framework for sex, rejecting marriage altogether and going after temple prostitutes, looking down at people who are less fortunate than us, holding grudges “because it’s the right thing to do” are all things that manifest the darkness of the soul.

Q3: Make a personal reflection of these verses, write down what God has revealed to you.

There isn’t much room for debate: true Christians are characterized by love for God, and love for people in general. They don’t look for ways to justify their shortcomings, but when they realize they still hold something dark in their lives, they go to God and ask for forgiveness. 

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