The First of Three Letters from John (Part 1)
December 21- Nº 355 1 John 1:1 – 2:17
John was one of Jesus’ first followers (see #224 - August 12). He and his brother James (not to be confused with James the brother of Jesus) were fishermen. John became one of Jesus’ closest confidants while he was here on earth. As a matter of fact, their relationship was so close that, as he was dying on the cross, Jesus asked John to take care of his mother (see #281 - October 8). Evidently, Mary lived with John in Jerusalem for many years as he became a leader in the Jerusalem church. Later they moved to Ephesus, where John set up his new ministry headquarters. He became a missionary and itinerant pastor for a network of seven house churches in the province of Asia. It was during this time that he probably wrote the Gospel of John as well as three letters to the churches he was responsible for. Tradition tells us that Mary was eventually buried in Ephesus. Sadly, a crisis was taking place in several of the churches near Ephesus. Some of the members had left and were stirring up controversy. They no longer believed that Jesus was the Son of God. They taught that he was just a man who had experienced God’s Spirit for a short time. John referred to these false teachers as “anti-Messiahs” or “anti-Christs.” John wrote to assure the church leaders that Jesus really was the Messiah. He reminded his readers of how intimately he had known Jesus. After all, they had walked and talked and lived and laughed together for three years. John had been present when Jesus had performed many of his miracles. He had heard his teachings firsthand. He had witnessed the relationship that Jesus had with His Father. He had even heard God proclaim, “This is my Son!” as he stood on the top of the mountain where Jesus was transfigured (see #245 - September 8). John explained that the believers he was writing to were also sons and daughters of God. God loved them and wanted to have fellowship with them as His children. But this kind of relationship was only available through Jesus. Anyone who denied that Jesus was God’s Son could not have fellowship with God! John used the images of light for holiness and darkness for sin as he had so often in his Gospel account. He explained that God is light. He is the very essence of purity and holiness. Nothing dark (or sinful) can enter His presence. In order to stay in the light and have fellowship with Him, John’s readers needed to obey God’s commands. If they disregarded His commands, they would not remain in fellowship. Of course, this did not mean that true believers would never sin. That was impossible. But Jesus had already paid the penalty for all their sins when he died on the cross. If they were willing to admit that what they had done was wrong, God would forgive them. Then they would be able to enjoy fellowship with Him again. John described two characteristics of believers who are in fellowship with God. First, they love each other, and value others more than they value themselves. Second, they do not love or value the things that the world says are important. Because of this, they no longer try to satisfy their own longings or feel the need to impress others. John explained that Satan loves to stir up selfish desires inside believers to lure them away from God. That’s what he was doing in the house churches that met near Ephesus. His goal was to keep believers from walking in the light and enjoying fellowship with their heavenly Father.
Since your fellowship with God is characterized by how well you love and value other believers (even those who are very different from you), would God describe your relationship with Him as: Very close? Somewhat close? Somewhat distant? Or very distant? Choose someone you would typically ignore. Find a special way to let them know that they are valuable in your eyes as well as God’s.