Commentary on 1 John

by Jack Lane

These notes are from my final Bible study to the group in the Placerville/Sacramento area before moving out of the area. 
1 John 1 (NIV throughout):
1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched – this we proclaim concerning the Word of life.
2 The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us.
3 We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ.
4 We write this to make our joy complete.

John begins his first epistle the way he began his gospel – in spiritual, philosophical terms. We know he’s talking about Messiah, even though he doesn’t specifically name him. John is writing for a specific purpose: to show that Yeshua, the prophet, the miracle worker, the Messiah, is also the Son of God, and is more than just a man. There's a reason he wrote this way, which we'll see as we go.
John begins with the same kind of language he began his gospel. He proclaims that this Thing he is talking about – this Word, this Thing which they saw and touched, was from the beginning. In his gospel, John calls it “the word.” Here he calls it “the life,” “the word of life.” It wasn’t Yeshua. Not back at the beginning. But now it is. This word, this life, became a human baby, and Yahweh was his Father. What a mystery it is!  
5 This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.
6 If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth.
7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.
8 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.
9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
10 If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives.

There is no darkness in God. There can be a lot of darkness in people, especially people who claim to follow God, but who don’t really follow God.

John says people like that lie. I prefer to think that they’re mistaken. I don’t think everyone is deliberately lying. I can see that they say one thing and do another. Maybe they know, at some deeper level, that they aren’t living in purity. But John says they lie. I don’t really want to disagree with him. I can’t really say he’s wrong.

John also says we have to walk in the light for Yeshua’s blood to purify us from sin. We need that, because human beings sin. It‘s what we do. We sin, whether we intend to or not. If we think we are above that sort of thing, we’re deceiving ourselves.

But if we confess – and I think it means to confess to God, not necessarily to each other – God will forgive us, and more importantly, over time he will remove unrighteousness from our character. That’s what we really need to be successful. 

1 John 2:
1 My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense – Jesus Christ, the Righteous One.
2 He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.
3 We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands.
4 The man who says, "I know him," but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him.
5 But if anyone obeys his word, God's love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him:
6 Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.

Many translations say we have an advocate with the Father. I like how NIV puts it: “we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense.” In fact, the German word for attorney is “advokaten,” showing how an attorney is someone who is pleading our case before the judge. That’s really a good picture of what our Messiah is doing in his role as our High Priest in heaven.

We’re told in Hebrews that Messiah is the High Priest who takes the blood into the holiest place. In Hebrews, and also here, we see that he is also the blood itself! He is the atoning sacrifice, not only for us, or for our particular church, or even for the whole body of Christians, but for everyone in the whole world!

However, there is a strong requirement: obedience to Yeshua’s commands, or his commandments. Once again, John calls somebody a liar. Before, it was people who claim to have fellowship with Yeshua but really walk in the darkness. Now he says it’s people who claim to “know the Lord” but don’t obey him. Those are pretty similar concepts.

7 Dear friends, I am not writing you a new command but an old one, which you have had since the beginning. This old command is the message you have heard.
8 Yet I am writing you a new command; its truth is seen in him and you, because the darkness is passing and the true light is already shining.
9 Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates his brother is still in the darkness.
10 Whoever loves his brother lives in the light, and there is nothing in him to make him stumble.
11 But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness; he does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded him.

Now we come to one of the major themes of this letter: Love. John is writing in short, simple sentences. The ideas are profound, and very hard to put into practice, so John writes in basic language, as if he is writing to children. In effect, he really is!

There are people who think they are walking in the light, but they hate their brother. They don’t even know they’re still in darkness. How can that be? The darkness has blinded them.

And what is darkness?  There is no darkness in God. God is light. Is it possible that if someone is still in darkness, they don’t have God, even if they think they do? Is that possible?

I think many denominations have “holier than thou” people who condemn others for one thing or another. John says they don’t have the light! They’re walking around in the dark.

John continues to explain more of what he means as we go through his letter.

12 I write to you, dear children, because your sins have been forgiven on account of his name.
13 I write to you, fathers, because you have known him who is from the beginning. I write to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one. I write to you, dear children, because you have known the Father.
14 I write to you, fathers, because you have known him who is from the beginning. I write to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God lives in you, and you have overcome the evil one.

John is writing to dear children, fathers, young men, dear children, fathers, and young men. He cycles through this list twice.

He writes to the children for two reasons: their sins have been forgiven, and they have known the Father. He writes to the young men because they have overcome the evil one, and also because they are strong, with God’s word in them – and they have overcome the evil one. He writes to the fathers because they have known him who is from the beginning, and because they have known him who is from the beginning.

What’s going on? Why the repetition? Here’s my guess: Those who are babes in Christ, newly baptized, have only recently been forgiven, and possibly in their purity they can have a strong relationship with God. Those who have been in the faith longer have what it takes to really do spiritual battle against the devil and prevail against him. After we’ve been in the faith for awhile, God will sometimes let us stand on our own spiritual feet and tell the devil where to go. And the fathers – the old men in the faith, the elders – they have the spiritual wisdom to discern what Yeshua really is. If only we were so smart!

15 Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
16 For everything in the world – the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does – comes not from the Father but from the world.
17 The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.

Yeshua spoke often about how the love of the world can be disastrous to one’s faith. Whether you love the world, or the world loves you, it’s a dangerous situation. Here John says that God’s love is not in us if we are in love with this cosmos, this system.

We need to be focused on the future – the Millennium, eternity, never-ending life as resurrected children of God. That’s where our focus needs to be. John defines “everything in the world” as including such things as sinful cravings, lust of the eyes, and boasting. And he says it will all pass away.

The world will pass away, the things of the world will pass away, the age will end, the elements will melt with fervent heat – but whoever does God’s will is going to live forever. That makes doing God’s will really important! It’s not a religious idea, or a doctrine. It’s a matter of life and death. Eternal life and eternal death!

God has given us, in this book, a choice between life and death. Moses saw the importance of doing God’s will. He said, “Therefore, choose life, that you may live, and your descendants!

18 Dear children, this is the last hour; and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come. This is how we know it is the last hour.
19 They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us.

Now John takes off his gloves and gets down to business. All the foregoing was introduction to the real purpose of this letter – a defense of biblical religion and the knowledge of Messiah against the attacks of Gnosticism!

To many people out there who don’t know their Bibles, “the Antichrist” is synonymous with “the Beast.” But John is saying that there were many antichrists, and they were already on the scene!

I don’t really understand John’s references to the last hour, but I can guess. Certainly he was at his last hour, because he died shortly after he wrote these epistles and his gospel. Perhaps John was recalling the Olivet prophecy:
Matthew 24:3-5:
3 As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. "Tell us," they said, "when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?"
4 Jesus answered: "Watch out that no one deceives you.
5 For many will come in my name, claiming, 'I am the Christ,' and will deceive many

Verses 9-12:
9 "Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me.
10 At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other,
11 and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people.
12 Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, 13 but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.

Verses 24-26:
24 For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect – if that were possible.
25 See, I have told you ahead of time.
26 "So if anyone tells you, 'There he is, out in the desert,' do not go out; or, 'Here he is, in the inner rooms,' do not believe it.
Possibly, “Look, he’s in the spheres”?

By the end of the first century A.D., when John wrote, Gnosticism had already taken hold of the ekklesia, and had already led many astray.

John saw the deception, the lying, the hatred and betrayal, the false prophets and false apostles, so he might naturally have believed that the end of the age was already upon them.

John said, “This is the last hour.” I used to follow a man who said, “This is the gun lap, the end of the end, the last days of the last days.” Both of these men (the Apostle John and the other guy) died, and the age still goes on. Were they wrong? Perhaps not, in cosmic time. We’ll find out.
20 But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth.
21 I do not write to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it and because no lie comes from the truth.
22 Who is the liar? It is the man who denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a man is the antichrist – he denies the Father and the Son.
23 No one who denies the Son has the Father; whoever acknowledges the Son has the Father also.
24 See that what you have heard from the beginning remains in you. If it does, you also will remain in the Son and in the Father.
25 And this is what he promised us – even eternal life.
26 I am writing these things to you about those who are trying to lead you astray.

John is writing to those who really did know the truth – the spiritually young, the more spiritually mature, and the spiritual elders. The children, the young men, and the fathers. John is writing to them because they still listened to him. They weren’t like Diotrephes in 3 John, the local church leader who loved to have the pre-eminence, who gossiped maliciously about the apostle John and his companions, and who threw true believers out of his little church congregation. John was writing to true believers about real liars, those who deny that Yeshua was the Messiah. He was reminding the flock that in order to have the Father, you have to have the Son. And he was warning them about those who were making deliberate efforts to deceive them and lead them astray. And he was reminding them of the reward for doing that – eternal life!

27 As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit – just as it has taught you, remain in him.
28 And now, dear children, continue in him, so that when he appears we may be confident and unashamed before him at his coming.
29 If you know that he is righteous, you know that everyone who does what is right has been born of him.

The anointing we have received from Messiah – it wasn’t oil poured over our heads, it wasn’t a religious ceremony where we were ordained to some religious duty.  It was the indwelling of the Spirit in each one of us.

Yeshua said the Spirit, the Comforter, the parakletos, would teach us all things. John says Yeshua’s anointing teaches us about all things – including about phonies and false prophets who try to lead us astray. So this is about being anointed with the Spirit.

Then John says something interesting: Because we have this anointing, we don’t need anyone to teach us. Some people have interpreted this, out of context, to mean that they never have to go to church and listen to a sermon. But the context is a rebuttal of Gnostics and their deceptions, not a blanket statement that we don’t need to assemble – “It’s just you and me, Lord.” We don’t need someone to teach us the deep, esoteric mysteries of Gnosticism. The Spirit doesn’t teach us those things – and there’s a reason for that! Instead, John calls on us to remain in Christ, continue in Christ, so we may not be ashamed when He comes. We don’t want to be afraid and hide in a garden somewhere, like Adam and Eve, do we?

1 John 3:
1 How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.
2 Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.
3 Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure.
4 Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness.
5 But you know that he appeared so that he might take away our sins. And in him is no sin.
6 No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him.

John goes on to correct some of the doctrines of the Gnostics. I don’t have the background to go into detail, but I can refer you to Alan Knight’s book, Primitive Christianity in Crisis, now in its second edition, which goes into some very excellent detail on this subject.

However, we can look at this concept that we are now, already, in this life, the children of God.
John draws a distinction between what we are now – children of God – and what we shall be in the future. Our understanding is that we will be fully born, immortal spirit children of God, born from the dead into the same plane of existence that Yeshua was born into when he was resurrected. John has the confidence that we will be like Christ when Christ returns, when we rise into the air from our graves at the sound of the trumpet. And whoever has this hope really wants to purify himself or herself. As Christ is pure, so we have a strong desire to be pure.

Here is one of the definitions of sin – the breaking of the law, or lawlessness. In fact, those who teach that the law is done away can be said not to know God or Christ.

7 Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. He who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous.
8 He who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil's work.
9 No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God's seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God.
10 This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God; nor is anyone who does not love his brother.
11 This is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another.

Verse 9 used to baffle me.
In the NKJV it reads: “Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His seed remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God.” This sounds like the resurrection, if no one is capable of sinning. This is pivotal to understanding the ideas of being born again.

The NIV has a better translation according to the sense of the passage: “No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God's seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God.” The person who is born from above, or born of God, or born again, is still alive, still in the flesh, but now has God’s Spirit along to help overcome the world, the flesh, and the devil. And verse 10 continues the thought: If you’re a child of God, you will be doing the things that are right. If someone isn’t doing the right things, or if they hate their neighbor, John says they’re a child of the devil.

And he repeats his earlier appeal: We should love one another.

12 Do not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own actions were evil and his brother's were righteous.
13 Do not be surprised, my brothers, if the world hates you.
14 We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love our brothers. Anyone who does not love remains in death.
15 Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life in him.
16 This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.
17 If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him?
18 Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.

This passage reminds me a lot of the epistle of James – arguing and fighting and killing because of our lusts. Also like James: We should be making the needs of our brothers a higher priority in our lives. John is calling on us, as James did, to show our faith by showing God that we love through action. If Christ was big enough to lay down his life for us and actually die, why can’t we lay down a piece of our lives to help someone in need? If we have something, can’t we share our something with someone who has nothing? If we don’t have pity, how could we think the love of God is in us?

Is that what it means to hate our brother? Is that what it means to walk in darkness even while we think we’re walking in the light? Lip-service. That’s what they call it. Loving with your lips, but not with your actions. John calls on us to love with our actions, and also in truth. Does that mean true doctrine? Can we love “in” true doctrine? I think he means that when we live in the truth, we will love in the truth.

19 This then is how we know that we belong to the truth, and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence
20 whenever our hearts condemn us. For God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything.
21 Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God
22 and receive from him anything we ask, because we obey his commands and do what pleases him.
23 And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us.
24 Those who obey his commands live in him, and he in them. And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us.

Verse 20: “...our hearts condemn us.” Sometimes our hearts can bring us down a notch when our egos run away with us. Sometimes we suddenly remember how tiny we are, how insignificant in the world, how small the world is in the galaxy, how lost our galaxy is in the infinite reaches of space. Sometimes we want to just sit and mew like a kitten in a tree.

But what confidence in the rest of that verse: God is greater than our hearts, and He knows everything! And then, in verse 21, if our hearts don’t condemn us, if we don’t have to stop and worry and wonder about whether we’re going to make it, it’s because we have confidence before God! What a remarkable confidence we have, the assurance of eternal life in joy and happiness as God’s own children, living with Him at His level of existence! Do you have that confidence? That’s the bedrock of our faith, that our Father wants to raise us to His level of existence and share it with us, forever!

But if we have that confidence, why can’t we have the next confidence as well, in verse 22:  We receive from Him anything we ask, because, like any good children, we obey our Father and do the things that please Him. Do we obey God and do the things that please Him? Then why shouldn’t we have this other confidence as well?

1 John 4:
1 Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.
2 This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God,
3 but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world.
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.
5 They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them.
6 We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we recognize the Spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood.
7 Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.
8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.

Verse 8: God is love. What a concept. Not just that God has love, or that God emanates love, or that followers of God will have a lot of love. No, John tells us, “God IS love.”

Can you fear a Father who IS love? I think a good father on earth would have love for his children, but he would also want to train them and discipline them so that they will be good people as adults. Therefore, he would train them up, give them boundaries and parameters, and punish them if they strayed out of bounds. Who would fear a father like that? Only those children who really want to be bad.

9 This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.
10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.
11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
12 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.
13 We know that we live in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit.
14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world.
15 If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and he in God.

There are some challenging ideas in this book. Here is one of them. It doesn’t say that God lives in us if we have our doctrines right, or if we go to the right church, or if we say the sacred names just right, or if we follow one calendar or another, or – surprisingly – even if we are totally obedient!

Of course, obedience is necessary. We don’t earn our salvation by obedience, but we learn righteousness by obeying God.

But still, what the elderly John is trying to say, before he dies, is this: Love one another. Look at verse 10: “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.”

God took some of Himself – His word, some of His essence, something which was from the beginning, I don’t know – and made that into a human being, filled with the Spirit without measure, and this person was able to live a sinless life and die in our place so we could die in him and live forever! That’s love.

And if we love one another, God will live in us and make His love complete in us. Wow – what a bargain!

16 And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.  God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him.
17 In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like him.
18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
19 We love because he first loved us.
20 If anyone says, "I love God," yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen.
21 And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother.

There it is again – God is love. If you live in love, you live in God. If you live in God, you live in love.

Verse 18: This is one of those verses I like to scramble when I’m talking to people. I’ve often said, “Yes, you know what the Bible says, ‘Perfect fear casts out love.’” Not everyone catches the joke. I think that’s because all the elements of the sentence are there, just in a different order. I also think i'ts because this is a true statement.

Just as God’s perfect love can cast out all our fears, so Satan’s perfect fear can drive out God’s love from our lives, from our perspective, from our plans, and rob us of our security in the fabulous future God has in store for us.

1 John 5:
1 Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves the father loves his child as well.
2 This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands.
3 This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome,
4 for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.
5 Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.

John has been saying this in many ways, so I think we should stop and consider it. It’s another one of those areas we might have difficulty grappling with, based on our old ideas and concepts. John has been saying, quite plainly, that those who truly believe that Yeshua is the son of God are already in some special category – maybe not the firstfruits, but definitely they are loved of God, born of God, children of God.

I think of people in the Hellenized churches, the ones who don’t revere torah the way we do. They seem to have, in many cases, a genuine love of God. They claim wholeheartedly that Jesus is the Son of God. They live a lot more righteously than a lot of other people I know.

John goes on to restate that obedience to God is necessary in order to be born of God, and being born of God is how we can overcome the world. I note that many people in Hellenized Christianity obey God to the extent that they know.

But the punch line is still this: The one who overcomes the world is the one who believes that Yeshua is the son of God. Now, does that mean that someone who believes but who doesn’t keep all of the commandments is actually not an overcomer, not victorious over the world, not a child of God? That’s not the sense I get from reading this.

But what about these earlier verses?
1:6: “If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth.”
2:4: “The man who says, ‘I know him,’ but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him.”

This is still something of a mystery to me.

I think the answer might be that those who deliberately walk in darkness, those who lie with a full awareness, those who know that they are being disobedient to God but don’t care – these are the people who have no light in them.

You might be aware of 2 Peter 3:18: “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” There are a great many people who grow in the grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, even though they don’t grow in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. They know that God is love, and that they are His children.

6 This is the one who came by water and blood – Jesus Christ. He did not come by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth.
7 For there are three that testify:
8 the Spirit, the water and the blood; and the three are in agreement.
9 We accept man's testimony, but God's testimony is greater because it is the testimony of God, which he has given about his Son.
10 Anyone who believes in the Son of God has this testimony in his heart. Anyone who does not believe God has made him out to be a liar, because he has not believed the testimony God has given about his Son.
11 And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.

Your translations may have a reference to the Trinity in this passage: The Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost (or Holy Spirit), and these three are one. This verse was added later, centuries after the apostles died, as an attempt to “prove” the existence of the Trinity. It isn’t in the earliest manuscripts. It simply doesn’t belong there. John didn’t write it. It doesn’t even fit in with the overall context of what John is writing about.

I’ve known about this verse for years. “Oh yes, 1 John 5:7. This is the bogus verse that was added in centuries later to prove the Trinity. It doesn’t belong there.”

But what is the context here? When we take out the spurious reference to the Trinity that doesn’t appear in the oldest manuscripts, we are left with this curious statement: There are three witnesses – the Spirit, the water, and the blood – and these three witnesses agree with each other. This is a reference to the need for two or three witnesses to establish a matter.

Yeshua himself stated that his own testimony was not credible. Did you know that? In John 5:31-32, Yeshua stated: "If I testify about myself, my testimony is not valid. There is another who testifies in my favor, and I know that his testimony about me is valid.”

Yeshua didn’t write his own gospel, or leave us any written record of his teachings. He left it up to others to write down those things, others who had witnessed these things, so that there would be a voice of two, three, or four witnesses to establish what he had said and what he did.

John is saying in his epistle that, even though Yeshua didn’t give his own testimony, didn’t write his own gospel, didn’t proclaim himself to be anything special – there are three witnesses that testify that he truly is the son of God:

1. The Spirit, speaking audibly on a few occasions, bringing God’s message that this was His beloved son;
2. The waters of repentance and baptism in which he was baptized, and in which he oversaw his disciples baptizing others;
3. The blood of atonement which gushed from his dead body as he hung there on the cross.

12 He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.
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.
14 This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.
15 And if we know that he hears us – whatever we ask – we know that we have what we asked of him.

John again tells us that we can approach our loving Father, the One who IS love, and ask Him for the things we need. As a child can ask a loving father for things, so we have that awesome privilege of being able to ask God for things – not things to satisfy our fleshly lusts, but those things which we know a loving Father would want us to have, those things we actually need.

16 If anyone sees his brother commit a sin that does not lead to death, he should pray and God will give him life. I refer to those whose sin does not lead to death. There is a sin that leads to death. I am not saying that he should pray about that.
17 All wrongdoing is sin, and there is sin that does not lead to death.
18 We know that anyone born of God does not continue to sin; the one who was born of God keeps him safe, and the evil one cannot harm him.
19 We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one.
20 We know also that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true. And we are in him who is true – even in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life.
21 Dear children, keep yourselves from idols.

Isn’t it interesting that there are sins which do lead to death and sins which do not lead to death! Isn’t it also interesting that John is saying that we should pray about those people whose sins don’t lead to death, almost as an obligation. Of course, John isn’t forbidding us to pray for those whose sin would lead to death. We may pray for those people, of course, but John isn’t making it as much of an obligation.

Did you notice another definition of sin in verse 17: All wrongdoing, all unrighteousness, is sin. So whatever isn’t righteous, whatever is wrong, that activity, or that thought, or that attitude, is sin. But who decides what is or isn’t righteous, what is right or wrong? God? Moses? It wouldn’t be possible to list every possible sin in the Bible. Sometimes YOU have to decide what’s right or wrong.

If we aren’t raising our children to understand the difference between right and wrong, how will they ever make wise decisions in life? If God doesn’t exercise our ability to decide right from wrong, how could we ever grow up into the stature of the fullness of Jesus Christ?

We were born into a fallen world. Adam and Eve saw to it that every person ever born in this world had to be able to learn to discern the good from the bad. Most people choose the bad. Some of them don’t know any better. Some of them do! Some people actually do know they are doing wrong, but they don’t have the ability or the encouragement to correct the situation. They will need God’s Spirit to help them do that. They may be waiting to hear about that Spirit, that opportunity, that calling, from you.

In the meantime, though, John felt the need to write this letter to warn the ekklesia about deceivers, false brethren, false doctrine, bad attitudes, a lack of love, and other things that he worried about as his life came to a close. We can take the lessons of this letter to the brethren, written to an ancient people, and apply these lessons in our lives today.

John said it is the last days, it is the last hour. I say it is the last days for me speaking here. So before I bow out gracefully, I wanted to leave you with these important things to think about, meditate on, and apply to your lives.