Note to newcomers to the Bible: This book is a short letter that the Apostle John wrote. It is not the Gospel of John which is the 4th book of the NT. This is near the end of the NT.

Comment on the man John – John was the youngest of the 12 Apostles, perhaps only 19 years of age when he met Jesus. He was also the only Apostle that lived into old age (to write the Book of Revelation on the island of Patmos where he was exiled). While the first 3 Gospels in the NT (Matthew, Mark, Luke) have many of the same teachings of Jesus, John’s Gospel is quite unique, emphasizing the last 7 days of Jesus on earth and focusing on who Jesus claimed to be. John had a special relationship with Jesus as well. While Jesus loves us all, He especially loved John. John was sitting at Jesus’ side at the Last Supper. For me, there is something deeply special about what John writes. I believe it is because I am totally infatuated and in love with Jesus and am thrilled simply about who He is. I think John had this same awe of Jesus. I hope you enjoy 1 John as much as I do.

1 John 1:

v1-4: John wants us to know that he saw with his own eyes all that Jesus did and even physically touched Him. He reveals that Jesus is the Word of God that was always with God then came to earth to give us eternal life. He writes to make the reader’s joy complete.

v5-7: God is light without shadow and if we fellowship with and love one another we, too, are walking in that light.

v8: If anyone claims they have not sinned, they are lying. People are so deceived. Most think they are not bad. Ask 100 people walking down a sidewalk if they are good or bad, I bet 95% will say good. Humanism, which is the base for all public education now, asserts that mankind is basically good (just needs a little tweaking by great “educators”). But if you ask them if they’ve ever lied, stolen (no matter what the value), lusted, coveted, loved something more than God, all except the liars will say “yes.” Well, in God’s Book that makes them a “lying, adulteress, greedy, selfish, thieving idol worshiper” (As Ray Comfort so aptly states). Sadly most of these think (if there is a heaven) that they have done more good than bad, therefore God will let them in. First of all, I doubt whether anyone has actually done more good than bad when you understand how deep the Ten Commandments penetrate our lives. Secondly, salvation is not based on a “weigh scale” of good vs. bad. If we have broken just one of God’s Laws, that makes us a sinner in need of a savior (and there is no one who has broken just one of those laws). Just like my high school students always wanted to know what was on their Final Exam, people of this earth should seek what is on their Final Exam of Life and upon the standard which they will be judged. Most don’t seem interested. That’s scary.

v9: The Good News (this is what the word “Gospel” means) is that God is faithful and righteous to forgive us from all our sins because of Jesus. If Jesus lives in us, that’s what God will see on our Judgment Day….whew! I’m always saddened and amazed about how people can twist the Bible to be a negative thing. It actually contains the best possible news for mankind, but Satan perverts it and those who do not want to serve God will believe the lies (John 7:17).

v10: If we say that we have not sinned, we are calling God a liar because He has said we have all sinned.

1 John 2:

v1-2: Jesus is identified as the only “Advocate” with the Father. He alone plays this role because He Himself is the “propitiation” (satisfaction) for our sins. This Greek word for “advocate” is “paracletos” or one who is called alongside to help, or intercessor (John 14:16). According to these verses and 1 Timothy 2:5 no other person can stand in the gap for us. If someone prays to another name for help or to rid themselves of sin, then they are practicing a man-made tradition rather than grasping and obeying what God Himself has said.

v3-6: If we love (or really know) Jesus we will keep His commandments, and by keeping His Word the love of God is perfected. This revelation that God’s love is perfected within us is also a major theme in 1 John 4. It may be revealing why God made us knowing we would fall. No other part of the Bible tackles this topic. The very question the critics of Christianity use to scoff at the Bible is: “How could a loving Creator allow such evil and failure?” may be answered here. Love must be demonstrated. To say, “I love you” does not mean anything unless it is demonstrated. Whatever or whomever we love in life will be obvious by how we treat that person or thing. The next issue is how deep is that love? If we love only those who love us, what’s so good about that? Even scoundrels do that (Matthew 5:46). Wouldn’t therefore the deepest love extend to the most unlovely or to those who hate us? We, in our fallen sinful state, are the most unlovely and rebellious compared to God’s Holiness, yet He not only says He loves us, but He demonstrated His love by dying for us while we were yet sinners (Romans 5:8). Now it makes sense what John is proclaiming in this chapter as well as in Chapter 4: that God’s love is perfected within us. Our fallen state provided opportunity for God to show the angels (both the fallen ones and the good ones) and humans how deep His love is by His actions, not mere words. This is why it is so exciting to serve Him! We play a most important role in all that God is and has planned (Matthew 10:29-31).

v7-11: I think John is saying that the commandment to love people has been around for centuries before Christ, so it is not something new. It is rooted in the Law from Leviticus 19:18. But now, in Christ, we actually have supernatural power to actually do it on a much more consistent basis. So now if people hate people with this great power available to us, it shows they are still in darkness concerning this life and will not perceive the meaning for their existence.

v14: When faith in God’s Word is in us, we can overcome Satan and his demonic host. So let us all keep reading the Bible!

v15-17: Why should we not love the things of this world? Because the love of the Father is not in them. There are three strongholds from this world identified here:

1) the lust of the flesh, this includes many things, not just sexual desires,
2) the lust of the eyes (the selfish desires to have something), and
3) the boastful pride of life, being proud of whatever.

In my life, I have loved a few things that this world offers. Things that are not necessarily evil in and by themselves such as fishing and sports. But even these things can be a lust, and the more I partook of them, the more I wanted them to please me. Only God can fill this need in me, not things of this world. Do I still fish? Yes, but it no longer rules my heart. I am not under compulsion to fish and get bigger ones each time. Fishing no longer interferes with my walk with God and my calling to serve others. Now the most exciting thing to me is having God do something through me and to know and share His love. It is much more thrilling than scoring the winning goal, catching the biggest bass, or shooting 7 under par. Even if I did those things, how many people will know it years later, or even care? Does it really matter? Do we think that playing on a Super Bowl winning team will count for anything in heaven for eternity? So even the ultimate experience in sports is totally unimportant and irrelevant to to God’s reality, yet these types of things people live for and strive for, and sacrifice for. All athletic accomplishments, be they professional or amateur, will pass away forever. This is not to say that God cannot use sports to teach life’s lessons. I’m sure that the late, great NCAA basketball coach John Wooden could share many a worthwhile story. But if our goal is merely to win, to beat the other person/team, or to be the best ever in a certain field, we’ve missed the point of life.

v18-19: John wrote in his time that antichrists had arisen which marked the beginning of the “last days.” The word “Anti-Christ” in a Biblical sense simply means “in place of Christ.” History tells us that several false teachers attempted to lead people astray in John’s day, and this became evident when they refused to keep company with the Apostles. Cult leaders do the same. They pull away from other leaders and teachers in order to set up their own little kingdom having more control over their people. They have the “Diotrophes Syndrome,” which is described in the next chapter. This refers to a man in John’s day that loved to be first among the brethren and would not agree with John’s teachings (orthodox Christianity or the mainstream of Christian thought).

v22: So an antichrist is anyone who denies the Father and the Son. What this mean is that they make their own rules. Some will even contradict God’s very Word. They have elevated themselves above God in order to lord it over the people, exactly the opposite of what God’s Word tells Christian leaders to do (1 Peter 5:3).

v23: If we have Jesus, we automatically have the Father. Cults never teach this. They refuse to put Jesus on the same level as God. They all deny the Deity of Christ.

v25-29: John warns about false teachers and deceptions that will come. His advice is to “abide in Him.” When Jesus finally appears to us, we need not shrink back away in shame from Him. This is a tough one for me. I’ve often wondered what my reaction would be if Jesus suddenly appeared in front of me. My initial thoughts are always about how much I’ve failed Him, and would shrink away from Him. I hope that I would love Him with my tears of joy. Perhaps His mere presence would have this effect on me.

1 John 3:

v1: Because God loves us so much, He has called us His children. For this reason other people in this world who have not joined His family do not know or receive us. When we walk in God’s Spirit (doing the things His Word tells us to do), people in the world just don’t understand us. They don’t know us because they don’t know God. Some may mock us, others will ignore us, still others may confess that they see good in us, but they do not feel very comfortable around us. I have a non-Christian friend who I invited to be an usher in my wedding. All other participants were strong Christians. Later one day he said to me, “I still don’t know why you hang around me.” He sensed the difference between the true people of God and himself and the people he hangs with. I’m still praying for him and his family. I love him like a brother, but he is not my best friend nor do I hang around with him for long periods. Believers need to be careful who they remain very close to.

v4-10: At first glance, these verses seem to say that a true Christian will not ever sin again. Remember when we interpret the Bible, one big rule is that we look at the whole Book as a context, since there are no contradictions. I think (and hope) what John is saying here is that “practicing sin” is not merely committing a sin or repeating a sin. If God is saying we are condemned to hell if we repeat sins, then we’re ALL in deep trouble. So it most likely means not only repeating it, but justifying it and refusing to try to change so it becomes a sign of your lifestyle. So if we are truly “born of God” we will have some kind of outward indications (attitude/behaviors) of that re-birth. It’s similar to what James stated that “faith without works is dead” (James 2:26).

True believers will certainly have some strongholds of sin that cause them to stumble easily, but they know those things are wrong and they ask God to forgive them and He does. How many times does God forgive us for the same thing? At one point, Peter thought there was a limit to the number of times he should forgive another and suggested to Jesus that it was 7 times. But Jesus said 70 times 7 (Matthew 18:21-22), meaning there is no end because that is how many times God forgives us for all we’ve done. Whew! If we have trouble forgiving others, it may be because we do not yet realize how much we have been forgiven. Once we get that reality check, our heart changes toward others in a big way. Paul, in Romans 7:14 – 8:1 makes it clear that he did morally wrong things as a believer, and we certainly maintain that he is saved and was a true child of God.  

v15: There is no justification for us to hate someone. Hate their deeds, yes. We must separate the sin from the sinner. Only God in us can enable us to do that. We don’t strive within ourselves to pull that off. It won’t work. Rely on His grace to us.

v16-18: By loving Jesus and having His love flow through us, we can do great deeds that will count for eternity.

v20: Our heart may still condemn us for what we have thought or done in the past, but this says that God is greater than our hearts and He will NOT condemn us.

v21-23: If we experience the above things with God, then we will have confidence that our prayers will be answered by Him. His rules are simple and brief, yet oh so powerful:

#1 Love Jesus with everything ya got and
#2 love others.

Believe or not, these two rules satisfy the entire Old Testament Laws (Matthew 22:36-40). Life is simple and good, but the power and deceitfulness of sin makes it tough.

1 John 4 – Test the Spirits

v1-3: Yet another warning of deception coming into the world just after Jesus’ ministry was completed. Demon spirits speak through various people at various times, therefore people should not be readily believed but tested by true believers. The idea of Jesus coming in the flesh during the early church was combating gnosticism which, among many erroneous things, asserted that Jesus was merely a spirit or ghost rather than having a physical body. Gnosticism was one of the earliest deceptions attacking the church, and John says to ask the suspected false prophet (or teacher) whether or not Jesus came in the flesh. For us today, many more deceptive doctrines have attacked God’s revealed truth from the Bible. Therefore it behooves us to ask penetrating questions to people who we might suspect have off-the-wall beliefs. As I have stated before, all cults will deny that Jesus Christ was God in the flesh when He walked this earth. I would say there are a few fundamental truths from the Holy Scriptures that serve as a template to see whether or not someone is of the True Spirit:

* Inspiration of Scripture
* Deity, virgin birth, death, and bodily resurrection of Jesus
* Salvation by grace alone through the shed blood of Jesus Christ on the cross
* The physical return of Jesus Christ
* The existence of Heaven and the Lake of Fire where the “second death” occurs.

A quick practical modern-day example: If the Lord moves you to talk with a Jehovah’s Witness (and this is a big IF), do not allow them to dictate the conversion but refer them to the first chapter of Hebrews where God clearly states that no angel of His ever became His Son. JWs believe that Jesus was Michael the archangel come in the flesh. I advise you not to engage them further but to plead with them in love to contemplate that chapter after they leave. This is one quick way to “test the spirits” in today’s world because if you do not ask the right questions, the JWs will seem to have good doctrine due to some correct beliefs about the Bible.

v4: “Greater is He who is in you that he who is in the world.” This is a comforting and confidence-building revelation to us. God, who is in us, is far greater than the devil who runs this world. Since God has defeated Satan through Jesus Christ, so can we as long as we stay in tight relationship with Him and know where the power comes from (and it ain’t us).

v5-6: Non-Christians speak from the world viewpoint and the world listens to them. The world does not listen to us. Ever notice on TV talk shows that the moderators always give a good listen to people who don’t know Jesus, and when they actually do get a true believer on the show, and IF the believer speaks the truth about Jesus, the same moderators don’t respond with the same smile? This is the Spirit of God vs. the spirit of this world. I recall an old Phil Donahue show when he had a few Christians on. They started to sing “Amazing Grace” and the audience joined in. It was beautiful! Suddenly, when the lyrics sang, “saved a wretch like me,” Donahue rudely interrupted and stopped the singing. Being clearly bothered by what was happening he said, “I’m sorry, but I am NOT a wretch!” Once again, the Truth vs this world doing battle. Sin has power to deceive people into thinking that they are not too bad, but they NEVER compare themselves to Jesus. Even when Jesus was addressed as “good teacher,” He told the person, “Only God is good” (Luke 18:19). It was His polite way of saying, “Do you really have any idea to whom you are addressing?”

7-10: Again the emphasis is on loving people. If we do not love others, than God is not in us. A person can go to a church every Sunday and still not have the true God in their heart. There must be a surrendering point where the person asks Christ to forgive all their sin, and ask Him to take over their lives (Matthew 10:38-39 and John 3:3:3-6).

v10 & v19: We did not love God first, then He in return loved us. No, when we did NOT love Him He came and died in our place (took our punishment). So we in no way earned His favor. This is truly what unconditional love is about (Romans 5:6-8).

v18: “…perfect love casts out fear.” When we meet Jesus, because we love Him more than all else, we will run into His arms without fear of punishment. We also can witness to the unsaved more easily and naturally because the fear of man is defeated by love. Wow and whew!

v20: If someone claims to love God yet hates his brother (fellow human) he is a liar. Many people like to rationalize their hatred of someone by saying, “Yeah, but you don’t know what they’ve done to me!” I know what we’ve all done to God – ignored Him, did not give Him thanks, did not give Him glory (credit), broke His rules that were made to protect and guide us for our good, and took His Holy Name in vain (and many times in anger). When we realize how much of a sinner we are and that He has forgiven all that, then it becomes easy for us to not hate others and forgive (whether or not they ever apologize to us) – we are free…we’ve done the right thing, there is nothing more required of us – just forgive and love. If they never respond well to this, then they will have to answer for that on their Judgment Day (Hebrews 9:27). In Luke 7:36-47, Jesus was eating at a Pharisee’s house when a woman “of loose reputation” came in and poured perfume on Jesus. The Pharisees (religious leaders who usually did not have the love of God in their hearts and who plotted against Jesus eventually) were indignant. Jesus went on to compare them with her saying that in the few short moments she had with Jesus, she did more right than all of them. Jesus, speaking of the Pharisees, then said, “He who is forgiven little, loves little.” This woman, because she realized how much of a sinner she was, had much love for Jesus because He forgave her of her sins (which were many, as it says). But these religious leaders were proud and had no idea how much of a sinner they were. Hence, they did not love Jesus (God) at all.

Try to hang out with people who are not embarrassed to talk about how great Jesus is. Hang with those who really love Him. This fervent love that comes directly from the Holy Spirit is far better than any religious ceremony man has concocted. Do not seek religion, seek the Life-Giver Himself and love Him. Now I am not saying never go to church, but just don’t put religion over relationship with Jesus. He wants to be personally close with all of us during our short lives here on earth.

1 John 5:

v3-4: God’s commandments are not burdensome. Why? Because He now supplies us with the power to resist temptations and sin through our faith in Jesus.

v5-11: Reveals how much Jesus overcame the sin of this fallen world.

v12: Uh oh…here comes another politically incorrect statement from God’s Word …“He who has the Son (Jesus) has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.” In earlier commentaries I have explained in detail why Jesus is THE ONLY way to heaven. Remember – Christianity is not “our religion,” no one could make this up but God. We have 3 enemies – Satan, sin, and death. Jesus is the only person who conquered all three, as well as fulfilling over 300 OT prophecies (including rising from the dead – Psalms 16:10) that no one else has come close to doing.

v14-15: Our prayers will be answered if they are according to His will and if we know He hears us.

v16: The “sin leading to death” is blaspheming the Holy Spirit by giving Satan credit for doing great miracles and healings that helped people.

v19: Describes only two groups of people: those in God’s family and those in the world that are lost souls without eternal life and held captive in Satan’s power.

v21: Guard ourselves from idols. An “idol” is anything that is more important to us than God (Jesus). It will have power to hinder our walk with God and, if not “thrown away,” will eventually lead to our destruction. This is probably why it is the first of the Ten Commandments.