A. Introductory Questions Author The author of 1 John is anonymous (HCSB p 2292). Possibly a member of the Johannine community, “may have been one of the later editors of the Gospel (of John) rather than the apostle John himself.” (Powell p 510) Date 90 – 100 CE but an exact date can not be given (HCSB p 2292, Powell p 511). Audience A network of churches (Powell p 511) that formed a community (HCSB p2292). Genre Though labeled a letter, 1 John does not have the standard opening or closing for a letter (HCSB p2292, Powell p509). It can be a theological treatise or tract (Powell p509) or a homily or essay to address a specific problem (HCSB – 2292).
B. Outline Diagram and Summaries
Warnings against false teaching Do not love the world or things of the world but do the will of the father (2:15-17). Beware the antichrist who has gone out from our community and denies that Jesus is the Christ (2:18-25). You are anointed by God and that anointing helps you know what is true and what is a lie, so abide in Him (2:26-27). Marks of community life Love one another and not be like those who hate (3:11-12). If you have the means help a brother or sister (3:17). Let us love in action not just speech so everyone will know we are from the truth (3:18-19). All who obey God’s commandments abide in God and God in them (3:23-24). Testing the spirits DO not simply believe someone but test their words for many false prophets are in the world, every spirit that confesses Jesus is of God and all others are not (4:1-3). Those in the community are of God and those who aren’t are of the world, those in the community listen to God (4:4-6). Love as essential test Love one another to show we are part of God because love is from God and whoever does not love doesn’t know God (4:7-8). We love because God loved us (4:9-12). Whoever says I love God yet hates their brother is a liar and does not abide in love (4:20). Obedience to commandments We love God’s children when we obey the commandments, for this is love of God. (5:2-3). When we are born of God we conquer the world, and this is through believing Jesus is God’s Son (5:4-5)
C. Interpretive Issues 1 John gives us several either or choices and doesn’t leave room for any nuance or wiggle room. These dualisms in 1 John are light or darkness (1:5-7; 2:8-9), truth or falsehood (1:6;2:4,21,27; 4:6), church or world (2:15; 3:1, 13; 4:3-5; 5:19), life or death (3:14), love or hate (4:20), children of God or children of the devil (3:8-10)(Powell p518). These dualisms are sharply opposed and there is no in-between. It is always either or and never both and and that is an issue with our Lutheran theology which is big on both and.
D. Ministerial Application 1 John exhorts the reader to love one another, saying this command 6 times. One another in the Johannine community is brothers and sisters of the community, and at Treehouse we love each other by being there in times of joy and sorrow. We are the family we have selected and always have each other’s backs. This is seen through support we give each other, through rides shared and meals together. Love is an action we live out to all members of the community.