Please read and study along with me as I look at these three small but essential epistles written by the Apostle John, also known as the elder, or the one that Jesus loved. Today we can just refresh ourselves on the background of these three epistles in preparation for a deeper dive.
Please read: I, II, and III John
I, II, and III John are written with one primary focus, a warning against false teachers called Secessionists. This group of false teachers was traveling around as itinerate preachers evangelizing – so to speak. They were causing confusion among the new believers, and John was trying to provide guidance for recognizing and hosting these false teachers.
Although there is one main reason John wrote the letters, to warn against the Secessionists, there are several important themes in I John. The overarching theme is the nature of God, with several supporting sub-themes that follow: God is revealed as the Father of Jesus Christ, God is light – and in Him, there is no darkness, God is love, and this love is displayed in the atoning sacrifice of our sins. II John still carries a warning against Secessionists and an additional warning for those who show hospitality to these false teachers. III John has a similar theme but is directed to one individual, Gaius.
John’s letters were possibly written to churches and the believers living in Ephesus and the Roman province. They were most likely written in the early ’90s because they appear to have been written after the Gospel of John as they build on themes laid out in the gospel. It is believed that John wrote these epistles while he was in Ephesus toward the end of his life.
I John 1:1 – 2:2 has some critical points that we don’t want to miss. In chapter 1:1-4, John takes us back to the beginning of the Bible in Genesis one, “in the beginning.” Also, back to the beginning of His gospel, “in the beginning was the Word.” John is reminding us of the origins of the gospel, the entire message from beginning to end regarding “the word of life.” In these opening passages, he is reminding them that they were witnesses to the gospel that he has preached, “which we have heard, which we have seen with our own eyes which we have looked at and our hands have touched.” He reminds the believers to remember what they experienced when they were first saved.
Beloved, take a few moments to reflect on your journey with God. Do you remember how you first came to faith? How your eyes were suddenly open to the gospel, and you believed. Isn’t that a good reminder for all of us? Also, remembering past victories that God has brought you through can encourage and give you faith for the battle you are going through right now. Take notes and write down the triumphs you have had over the devil, and remember that nothing is impossible with God.