Book of the Week 62: I John

Greek Name: IOANNOU A

Human Author: John (the Apostle)                                    

OT or NT: New Testament

Number of Chapters: 5

Basic Facts

  1. The book of I John is the sixty-second book of the Bible.

  2. In terms of literary genre, I John is classified as an epistle, or letter.

  3. The Greek name for the book of I John is IOANNOU A, which means “of John – one.”

  4. This letter is similar in vocabulary and style to the Gospel of John.

  5. John emphasizes the virtue of love as the supreme trait of God’s character.

Story of the Book

John opens his letter by stating that he is writing to his audience so that their joy may be complete, and he proclaims himself to be an eye witness of the eternal life that has been revealed in Jesus Christ (I John 1:1-4). John proclaims Jesus Christ as the light, and the one who forgives and cleanses those who confess their sins (I John 1:5-10). John proclaims Jesus as the righteous one who is the propitiation for the sins of all who believe, and then calls his audience to a life of love (I John 2:1-11). John then applies his call to love to different groups of people including children, fathers, and young men, warning them not to love the world (I John 2:12-17). John warns of many antichrists who are already in the world, commanding his audience to remain loyal to Jesus and not to be deceived (I John 2:18-27). He further calls his audience to abide in Christ, and to demonstrate their love for God by loving one another and not making a practice of sin (I John 2:28-3:17). Since Christ laid down His life for believers, believers should also lay down their lives for Christ (I John 3:18-24). John calls his audience to test the spirits in order to discern those who are from God from those who are false (I John 4:1-6). John again calls his audience to love one another, and to abide in Christ through the Holy Spirit, proclaiming Christ as the savior. Anyone who claims to abide in Christ must love his brother (I John 4:7-20). John proclaims that it is those who love God by faith and abide in Him who overcome the world and have eternal life in the Son (I John 5:1-12).

Jesus Revealed in I John

I John reveals Jesus as the righteous one who is faithful and just to forgive all the sins and cleanse sinners from all unrighteousness (I John 1:9). John reveals that the nature of God is love by Biblical definition (I John 4:7-8). The love of God demands that He is faithful to His Covenant promises to His people, while the justice and holiness of God demands that He not let sin go unpunished (Genesis 2:16-17; Deuteronomy 32:4; Romans 6:23). Since God’s character demands punishment for sin and faithfulness to His Covenant promises, the only way for sinners to be forgiven is for someone else to bear the punishment for our sins. Since Jesus Christ has borne the punishment for our sins on the cross, through His atoning work on the cross we can receive forgiveness of our sins through the blood of Christ. Therefore, if we confess our sins, through the atoning work of Jesus Christ God is able to be both faithful and just in order to forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness (I John 1:9). Just as Jesus has given His life for us as believers, we too aught to lay down our lives in service to Christ (I John 3:18-24).

The way in which believers can lay down their lives in service to Christ is through abiding in Christ by the Holy Spirit, by loving one another as brothers and sisters in Christ, and through proclaiming the good news of the gospel (I John 4:7-20).