Introduction to 1 John
Themes of 1 John:
1. Increase and strengthen fellowship within church.
2. Fellowship is based on and within Jesus Christ.
3. Fellowship is with God, Jesus Christ, and one another.
4. Fellowship will complete the our joy.
5. Help Christians understand the nature of sin.
6. Help Christians identify false teachers
7. Help keep Christians from sinning.
8. Assurance salvation.
Stand firm in the fact that Jesus is the Lord and Savior.
Ephesus: Where John wrote his Gospel and letters
1. A major city in Asia Minor with a very busy seaport.
2. One of the largest and most impressive ancient cities.
3. A city with many temples to Rome gods.
4. Population estimated at 250,000
5. A very diverse population
6. Apostle Paul: A.D. 52 - Acts 18 & 19
7. Priscilla and Aquila: Acts 18:19
The Apostle John as the author of 1 John:
Early church fathers and historians attribute 1 John to the Apostle John. For example Clement of Rome, Irenaeus (A.D. 130-200), Origen (A.D. 255), and Eusebius (A.D.300) all support John as the author. These individuals indicate that John was in Ephesus some time after A.D. 70 when Rome destroyed Jerusalem. They record that John lived a long life, dying “in the 68th year after Jesus' death.” Therefore, John died around A.D. 98-100 and was buried in Ephesus.
1. What do we know about the Apostle John?
a. John was one of the 12 apostles- Matt4:18-22
b. Son of Zebedee Mark 3:17 ; Acts 1:13
c. Disciple whom Jesus loved John 13:23
d. Took care of Jesus' mother, Mary John 19:25
e. Son of Thunder
Extra note for the teachers: After our discussion, question #2 could be omitted, since we will cover this one later in the study.
2. What types of false teachings or distortions about Jesus exist today?
a. “Christians” who do not believe in the miracles and deity of Jesus Christ
b. Charismatic movement- people who place the possession of special or miraculous gifts from the Holy Spirit above work of Jesus Christ
c. See other types in Mike Moss' “Lord, Sometimes I Don't Feel Saved.”
3. Although 1 John is a short book, the book is still well known. What are some of the verses that stand out to you? What are some of your favorite verses from 1 John?
Teachers need to allow class members time read their favorite verse(s) and ask people to explain why this is a favorite. During this time it would be a great opportunity to encourage the class to study the weekly lessons and answer the questions before class. As a teacher, you should be ready to give your favorite scripture from this book too.
4. This book emphasizes Christian fellowship. What does fellowship mean to you? Why is it so difficult to achieve genuine fellowship within the body of Christ?
Try to develop a definition of fellowship from the class discussion of this question. As of yet, do not use 1 John for your definition. We need to have our definition in place and later as we cover fellowship in 1 John, we will discover how well our definition matches John's definition.
Discuss the issues that prevent fellowship and reasons why we make fellowship difficult on one another. Again, we will cover this issue in detail as we discover what John desires for the Lord's body.
5. What is the value for 21st century Christians to study a book that was written about 200 years ago and that was originally read by people who lived under very different circumstances than we do today?
Using the answers to questions 3 & 4 as a backdrop, we will gain a better understanding on the impact of scripture. However, we must encourage one another to read and study scripture because our faith will be strengthen as well as our ability to answer questions for others and ourselves. Although the text is over 2000 years old, the body of Christ is still faced with the same problems as were the 1st century Christians. These problems include, sinfulness, lack of confidence, and false teaching. The “old' text is still as meaningful and robust for contemporary situations and issues as it was 2000 years ago. 1 John will help us avoid the pitfalls of our Christian walk as well as strengthen our faith!
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