Of all the competing voices out there, how do you know which one is right? Which one is worth listening to? And which ones carry more weight than the others? Who you listen to and why is a major theme of the letter of 1 John. John wrote this letter teach his readers to recognize the difference between the true gospel and false gospels and between true teachers and false teachers.
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 2 guiding principles for recognizing genuine believers and false teachers.
How can the apostle John say love is a mark of believers and hate is a mark of non-believers? Even a cursory examination reveals that believers hate and non-believers love.
When I was a new Christian, I told another believer that I was struggling with controlling my temper. She told me that I was not a genuine Christian because if I was, I wouldn’t sin. If she is right, not only was I not a Christian then — I still am not a Christian now. When you discover two very different interpretations of the Bible, how do you decide who’s right?
If a local church developed a schism such that it divided into opposing camps, both camps might be tempted to judge the other side using 1 John 2:9-:11. But the Apostle John did not write these verses to be a club to condemn each other.
In 1 John, the Apostle John is writing to clarify the true gospel from the false gospels spreading through the early church. His first point is God is holy and you are not.
Is the gospel message of the Word of Life, a “pie in the sky” other worldly gospel? Suppose I give a starving person enough food to eat to this week and next week she starves. Have I failed?
2 & 3 John contain the same ideas as 1 John. So what was the purpose of these short letters?