1 John Outline

by | Jul 9, 2024 | 02 Library, Charts NT

1 John Outline by Krisan Marotta

John wrote his first letter to clarify the differences between the genuine gospel as revealed by Jesus to the apostles and the heretical versions of the gospel spreading in the early church. He gives two guiding principles for recognizing genuine believers and false teachers.

1 John 1:1-4 Preface – authority of apostles

  • The apostles are the only reliable source of information about the way to gain eternal life because they were intimate eye-witnesses to the life, ministry and teaching of Jesus.

1 John 1:5-2:2  Principles Stated

  • 1:5 God is completely good (light).  Therefore genuine believers:
    • 1:6-7 will not pursue sin.
    • Instead, they will pursue holiness (righteousness, goodness).
    • 1:8-9 will not deny their sinfulness.
    • Instead, they will recognize their sinfulness.
    • 1:10 will not call their sinful actions right.
    • Instead, they will call sin, sin.
  • 2:1-2 Though sinful, believers are forgiven on account of Jesus.

1 John 2:3-25 Principles Expanded — Genuine believers will:

  • 2:3-6 pursue righteousness (holiness).
  • The one who claims to know Jesus will value the same things Jesus did.  Thus he/she will strive to live in the same way Jesus did and to confirm his/her life to the teachings of Jesus.
  • 2:7-11 love the things of God.
  • The one who claims to be following Jesus will love righteousness and will love others who also love righteousness.
  • 2:12-17 not love the things of the world.
    • 2:12-14  reassurance about their spiritual status.
    • John wrote 2:1-11 not because he doubts his readers faith.  Rather he wrote with the assurance that they will respond to his message  because of their faith.
    • 2:15-17  exhortation not to love the world because it is temporal.
    • Do not put your trust in all the pleasures of this world because they are temporal.  Only the one who puts his trust in God will gain eternal life.
  • 2:18-25  confess that Jesus is the Messiah.
    • 2:18-21 false teachers did not remain faithful to the gospel.
    • The false teachers who strayed from the apostolic gospel were never genuine believers.  In contrast, genuine believers have a sign from God that they are chosen by God.  That sign is their response of faith to the gospel.  (Since faith is a gift from God and He only gives it to those He chooses, they have a sign (their faith) that they are chosen.)
    • 2:22-25 false teachers deny Jesus is the Christ.
    • The false teachers deny that Jesus is the Messiah, thereby showing they do not understand the truth and are not speaking for God.  In contrast, genuine believers remain faithful to the message they heard from the beginning (the gospel they first heard from Jesus & the apostles).

1 John 2:26-3:3 Exhortation to pursue righteousness

  • 2:26-28 Exhortation to remain faithful to the gospel.
  • Don’t be deceived by the false teachers’ claims to have the “true” revelation.  Instead remain faithful to the gospel you first believed.
  • 2:29-3:3 Explanation of “remaining faithful”: pursuing righteousness.
  • Remain faithful by striving after righteousness. Those born of God are destined for holiness. The hope of that destiny should motivate you to strive after righteousness now. Even now believers are different from the world, but the kind of people they will one day be is still in the future.

1 John 3:4-24  Rationale behind the Principles– Genuine believers:

  • 3:4-10 pursue righteousness because they are born of God.
  • Everyone who pursues sin is guilty.  Believers – those who remain committed to the teaching of Jesus – do not pursue sin as a lifestyle because Jesus came to pay the penalty for our sin so that God would then change our hearts and make us people who no longer want to sin. No true believer is committed to sin as a lifestyle because God plants in believers a tendency to love God (saving faith) which opposes any tendency to rebel. Thus believers are not capable of remaining committed to a  lifestyle of sin.
  • 3:11-18 love the people of God because they love God
    • 3:11-15 loving God involves loving His people.
    • Do not be surprised if non-believers hate you because the ones still committed to sin do not love  those who love God.  In contrast, an important part of Jesus’ teachings was that we love one another and those who have saving faith will love the things of God including His people.
      • 3:16-18 loving God’s people involves giving up your own rights.
      • The kind of love we are suppose to have was demonstrated by Jesus giving His life for others.  Believers should be willing to give up their own rights, material things and even their own lives for another. 
  • 3:19-24 can have confidence they are children of God.
    • 3:19-22 God’s evaluation is greater than our own.
    • Your subjective appraisal of whether or not you are a genuine believer is not reliable.  The only reliable judge of that is God.  If we ask Him for righteousness,  He will give it to us.  Thus your status as a believer is not dependent on how you feel but rather on whether your life is evidencing the marks of saving faith.
    • 3:23-24 God tells us we can know we are His.
    • The commandments we should be striving to keep (the marks of saving faith) are that we trust God for salvation made possible by His Son Jesus Christ and that we love those who love righteousness.

1 John 4:1-5:12 Discerning the genuine teacher from the false

  • 4:1-6 Exhortation to be discerning. Do not believe everything that gets taught “in the name of Jesus” even when it is taught by sincere teachers.
    • 4:1-3 Genuine teachers believe Jesus is the Christ.
    • If a teacher does not acknowledge that  1) Jesus is the Christ — including why we need a Messiah, the problem of sin , works & faith — and 2) Jesus was both fully God and fully human, then that teacher contradicts the gospel and is not from God.
    • 4:4-5 False teachers find a hearing in the world.
    • False teachers have the “eyes” of the world.  Therefore their teaching fits the world’s (non-believers) perspective and the world embraces it.
    • 4:6 Genuine teachers respond positively to the apostolic message.
    • In contrast, the apostles have “eyes” from God.  Those whom God has chosen will respond to the truth as taught by the apostles because God has given them the “eyes” to see it.

1 John 4:7-4:18  To know God and to be born of God means:

  •  4:7-11 to love with the love exemplified by Jesus.
  • Those who know God and are born of God are to love each other because God has a character marked by love.  When God changes believers hearts to make them like Him, God makes them loving people.  The kind of love in view here is the love demonstrated by God sending His Son to die for us:  self-sacrificing, merciful, compassionate love.
  • 4:12-18 to acknowledge Jesus as the Son.
  • Beholding God is not a mark of a being born of God.  Rather loving one another as just described is a mark of being born of God and believing that Jesus is the Son of God is a mark of being born of God.  If we persist in trusting God’s love for us (as demonstrated by His Son), we can have confidence before God and have no reason to fear judgment.   Because there is no punishment for those who persist in trusting in God’s love for them, we have no reason to fear God’s judgment.

1 John 4:19-5:12 To claim to love God means:

  • 4:19-21 to love those who love God.
  • We love (with this type of love) because God has transformed our hearts into the type who can love.  If someone claims to love God and hates his brother (who knows & loves God), he is lying.  If you don’t love  believers who are tangible manifestations of God’s values and priorities, you don’t really love God.
    • 5:1-5 those who love God believe Jesus is the Christ.
    • Believers are those who believe that Jesus is the Messiah.  We know that we love other believers by the fact that we are demonstrating a love for God by striving to keep his commandments.  If we genuinely love God, then we will genuinely love righteousness.  Because if we genuinely love God, we have saving faith.  An integral part of saving faith is a genuine longing for righteousness.  Thus striving after righteousness (keeping God’s commandments) will be a joy to us, not a burden.
    • 5:6-12 the Jesus who was baptized & died on the cross.
    • The one who has faith is the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God. Which Jesus?  The one who was affirmed to be God’s son by 1) the voice at his baptism, 2) his death on the cross as predicted by Scripture and 3) the Spirit of God working in your own life to open your eyes.  Believing in this Jesus is the only way to LIFE.

1 John 5:13-21 Conclusion: Believers have confidence

  • 5:13-15 about receiving eternal life.
  • You can be confident that you will receive eternal life because God answers requests for righteousness.  When you ask to be saved, you are asking for righteousness.  Thus you know that God will save you and you will receive eternal life.
  • 5: 16-18 about their sinfulness not jeopardizing their eternal life.
  • If you see a believer sinning (and his sin is not grounded in a heart of unbelief), pray for him and God will bring him to repentance.  All sin is wrong, but sin in believers is not grounded in rebellion to God and God has promised to save them from it.
  • 5:19-21 about the truth of the message of Jesus & the apostles.
  • The Son of God came to earth and told us the way to eternal life.  We are the faithful to that message and are the true followers of Jesus Christ.  The God who sent His Son Jesus is the true God and the only source of eternal life.  Don’t believe in anyone or anything else.

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Copyright © 2024 · Krisan Marotta, WednesdayintheWord

Series: 1 John: Discerning the True Gospel

Resources to Study: John’s letters

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash