Author: 1, 2, and 3 John have from earliest times been  attributed to the apostle John, who also wrote the Gospel of John. The content,  style, and vocabulary seem to warrant the conclusion that these three epistles  were addressed to the same readers as the Gospel of John.

Date of  Writing: The Book of 1 John was likely written between A.D.  85-95.

Purpose of Writing: The Book of 1 John seems to  be a summary that assumes the readers’ knowledge of the gospel as written by  John and offers certainty for their faith in Christ. The first epistle indicates  that the readers were confronted with the error of gnosticism, which became a  more serious problem in the second century. As a philosophy of religion it held  that matter is evil and spirit is good. The solution to the tension between  these two was knowledge, or gnosis, through which man rose from the mundane to  the spiritual. In the gospel message, this led to two false theories concerning  the person of Christ, Docetism—regarding the human Jesus as a ghost—and  Cerinthianism—making Jesus a dual personality, at times human and at times  divine. The key purpose of 1 John is to set boundaries on the content of faith  and to give believers assurance of their salvation.

Key Verses:  1 John 1:9,  “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins  and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

1 John 3:6,  “No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has  either seen him or known him.”

1 John 4:4,  “You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is  in you is greater than the one who is in the world.”

1 John 5:13, “I write these  things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know  that you have eternal life.”

The key word is “knowledge,” with its  related words, occurring at least 13 times in the Book of 1  John.

Brief Summary: False spiritual teachers were a  big problem in the early church. Because there was not a complete New Testament  that believers could refer to, many churches fell prey to pretenders who taught  their own ideas and advanced themselves as leaders. John wrote this letter to  set the record straight on some important issues, particularly concerning the  identity of Jesus Christ.

Because John’s letter was about the basics of  faith in Christ, it helped his readers reflect honestly on their faith. It  helped them answer the question, Are we true believers? John told them that they  could tell by looking at their actions. If they loved one another, that was  evidence of God’s presence in their lives. But if they bickered and fought all  the time or were selfish and did not look out for one another, they were  betraying that they, in fact, did not know God.

That did not mean they  had to be perfect. In fact, John also recognized that believing involved  admitting our sins and seeking God’s forgiveness. Depending on God for cleansing  from guilt, along with admitting our wrongs against others and making amends,  was another important part of getting to know God.

Connections:  One of the most often-quoted passages regarding sin is found in 1 John 2:16. In this  passage, John describes the three aspects of sin that recall the first and most  earth-shattering temptations in all of Scripture. The first sin—the disobedience  of Eve—was the result of her yielding to the same three temptations as we find  in Genesis 3:6:  the lust of the flesh (“good for food”); the lust of the eyes (“pleasing to the  eye”); and the pride of life (“desirable for gaining  wisdom”).

Practical Application: The Book of 1 John is  a book of love and joy. It explains the fellowship we have with others and with  Jesus Christ. It differentiates between happiness, which is temporary and  fleeting, and true joy, which 1 John tells us how to achieve. If we take the  words written by John and we apply them to our daily lives, the true love,  commitment, fellowship, and joy we long for will be ours.

The apostle  John knew Christ well. He is telling us that we can all have that close,  intimate relationship with Jesus Christ. We have the witness of men who had  direct and personal contact with Him. The Gospel writers present their solidly  based testimony on a historical reality. Now, how does that apply to our lives?  It explains to us that Jesus came here as the Son of God to create a union with  us based on His grace, mercy, love, and acceptance. So many times people think  Jesus is off in some faraway place and that He doesn’t really concern Himself  with our daily struggles, issues, and concerns. But John is telling us that  Jesus is right here with us in both the simple, mundane parts of our lives and  in the complex, soul-wrenching parts as well. John testifies as a witness of his  personal experiences that God became flesh and lived among men. That means  Christ came here to live with us and He still lives with us. As He walked the  earth alongside John, so does He walk through each and every day with us. We  need to apply this truth to our lives and live as if Jesus were standing right  next to us every second of the day. If we put this truth into practice, Christ  will add holiness to our lives, making us more and more like Him.