Few books of the Bible are more abused by misinterpretation than 1st John. I have heard teachers and preachers for 50 years use this book of the New Testament to teach the polar opposite of what John the Apostle intended. Every book in the Bible deserves to be read completely. I know of no book where this is more important.
My study of 1 John begins with the 5th chapter the 13th verse. A reader of 1 John must get here to learn who the book was written to, and why.
I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life. (1 John 5:13)
The aged Apostle wrote the words of 1 John in 90 to 100 A.D. from Ephesus. The community of Christ followers had become fractured in the 60 to 70 years since Jesus’ cross-work, resurrection, and ascension. There were a variety of unbelievers about creating problems by their false teaching about the person Jesus Christ. (In that regard not much has changed…) So to combat false teaching about Jesus, and to give blessed assurance to those who were trusting Christ, John addressed his first of three epistles to: “Those who believe in the name of the Son of God”.
John in fact addressed his book to the only people who were Christians. For there are no people who are true Christians who do not believe in the name of the Son of God. It is more than just believing facts about a historic man named Jesus. It is far, far more! It is about believing that God came in flesh, (the incarnation), and that this Jesus was the “Anointed One”, the “Christ” of God! It is faith in this holy God-man that sets the captive free, shakes off the clothing of death, and lives by the Spirit of the eternal God. The Scriptures are consistent and clear, those who put their trust (faith) in the Lord Jesus Christ have eternal life. It is these dear people, the family of God on earth, that John writes to. And he writes to them for a specific reason, “that you may know that you have eternal life”.
John’s purpose could not be more clear. He wanted those who were trusting in Christ to know that they were safe. It matters not what the infidels are teaching, pay no attention to what the legalistic pretenders insist on, you can know you have eternal life. I think everyone would agree that “knowing” is different from hoping you have a thing. And to “know” is far more blessed than perhaps finding out at some point in the future. Now it is right to ask “What does this knowing rest upon?” John answers again from chapter 5.
“…for this is the testimony of God that he has borne concerning his Son. 10 Whoever believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself. Whoever does not believe God has made him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has borne concerning his Son. 11 And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12 Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.” (1 John 5:9b-12)
If you get nothing from 1st John but this section you have done well. If you are staking your life and future life on these claims you are indeed safe. And, as verses 10 and 12 make clear, unbelievers (or make believers) who do not have the Son do not have life. This is straight forward Bible doctrine it is not contradicted any other place in the Bible. It is just as true here as when Jesus taught the same truth to Nicodemus, the Jewish leader, over half a century earlier.
Never forget! Those who do not believe (have faith in..) are calling God a liar and are confirming their condemnation. This is where the rubber meets the road. What about Jesus? Jesus once asked his followers “Who do you say that I am?”(Matthew 6:15). Who is He to you? In the next installment on 1st John we will see who Jesus was according to the author.
Put your whole trust in Jesus.