Didn’t we have a fun Week 1 of What Love Is by Kelly Minter getting to know the Apostle John? I’m looking forward to all that we will be learning in John’s epistles. I can’t wait to try some of her recipes included in this study too! The Strawberry Romaine Salad listed in Week 1 looks delicious. If you’d like to join this study, more information about the study and book ordering can be found here.
John worked in the family business. He was a fisherman by trade along with his brother James. Both of these sons of Zebedee, as well as their fishing partners, Simon Peter and Andrew, answered the call to follow Jesus and their lives were never again the same. Jesus nicknamed these brothers, Boanerges -the Sons of Thunder. (Mark 3:17) Scholars believe this moniker reflected their fiery dispositions. When Jesus called a few of his disciples aside to do something special with him, John was a part of that small group. He was a witness to some astounding things like a multitude of fish filling a boat where none had been (Luke 5:1-11) and Jesus transfigured before his eyes. ( Mark 9:2-8) Because of their close relationship, Jesus asked John to care for his mother Mary as his own. (John 19:25-27) John, as one of the leaders in the early church, also offered Paul the right hand of fellowship confirming Paul’s call and ministry. (Galatians 2:7-10) Later in his life, John wrote his gospel account of the life of Jesus, he recorded his vision on the island of Patmos found in Revelation and he wrote these three letters: 1,2, & 3 John.
In his gospel account, John refers to Jesus as the Word. He also calls him life.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men. …The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:1-4,14
John saw this aspect of Jesus’ character when he witnessed him raise Jairus’ daughter (Mark 5:35-43) and Lazarus from death. (John 11:38-44) In fact, Jesus makes this proclamation about himself to Martha, Lazarus’ sister.
” Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?'” John 11:25-26
Writing in his epistle, John begins with these words which include the first usage of the title, Word of life, for Jesus.
“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. 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.” 1 John 1:1,2
John heard, saw, and touched him. John was a true first-generation witness. Can you imagine?! John opens his letter by confirming the humanity of Jesus. Perhaps, John chose to open the letter in this way because those with conflicting opinions had begun to infiltrate the First century Church. In the introductory video, Kelly Minter highlights two of these groups of people. The first group were Jewish people who rejected the divinity of Jesus. The second group were early Gnostics who found the humanity of Jesus difficult to accept because they believed all matter was evil. Therefore, John states Jesus was real flesh and blood and he was also eternal life. John wrote to affirm and encourage believers to believe what they know.
“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. We write this to make our joy complete.” 1 John 1:3,4
One of the key points that John highlights in his letter concerns the fellowship that he had with Jesus and with the other disciples. Throughout his writings, John often invites us, as readers and believers, to come to Jesus and become part of their fellowship, the community that God offers to believers with Him and through His Son, Jesus. John knew the value of fellowship of having koinonia ( Greek word meaning communion or fellowship transliterated into English) with other believers and wants others to experience the same.
“This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in Him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. 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.” 1 John 1:5-7
In order to walk in fellowship with Jesus, we need to be in the light. No darkness is found in God. John passionately shares this truth and tension between light and dark. He argues that we cannot walk in gray. We must choose one or the other. John was specifically addressing those who habitually walk in sin and darkness as a lifestyle choice. He plainly stated these truths to ensure that the message was understood. He also wrote to counteract the falsehoods that were circulating among the believers in an effort to reinforce their convictions and to encourage them to stand firm in what they knew. John desired for them to believe deeply and to have assurance of their faith.
“If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives.” 1 John 1:8-10
John doesn’t mince words but goes straight to the heart of the matter. Sin affects us. Sometimes, we might pretend that sin doesn’t and according to John, those thoughts are deceptive, untruthful, and show that we believe God to be a liar. John reminds his readers that God is faithful and just and upon confession of sin, the believer becomes forgiven and purified of all unrighteousness. What a beautiful truth to remember and to know to encourage the growth of assurance in your faith!
Questions to Ponder:
- Does God’s word have a place in my life?
- Am I walking in the light of truth or am I walking in darkness?
- Do I find it easier to grasp the humanity of Jesus or the divinity of Jesus?
- Am I in fellowship with other believers in a way that is helping me to grow in faith?
- Do I truly believe that when I confess my sins to God that He forgives them and purifies me from unrighteousness?
We’re off to a great start! This week work the lessons from Week 2. Enjoy your time in the pages of 1 John!