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Chuck Smith :: Study Guide for 1 John

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John was the last living apostle, the only one who wasn't martyred for Christ. The heresy of gnosticism was gaining a foothold in the Church when John wrote this letter. The Gnostics didn't believe that God created the "evil" material world, but that a distant emanation of Him did. They believed that Jesus was a phantom when He lived on the Earth and didn't have a body of flesh. Gnosticism was further developed by Arias, who started the Arian heresy. Arias denied the deity of Christ and claimed that He was only a created being. The Arian heresy is the basis of the Watchtower Society's (Jehovah's Witnesses) belief system. John sought to correct the heresy by emphasizing the deity of Jesus Christ in his writings.


v. 1 Christ was with God from the beginning (Micah 5:2 The Hebrew word for "everlasting" means "beyond the vanishing point"). "Looked upon" means "gazed steadfastly upon."

v. 2 John makes a strong declaration of the eternity of Jesus Christ

v. 3 "Fellowship" in Greek is koinonia, variously translated "oneness, in common, communion." Jesus came to bring us into koinonia with God.

v. 4 The first reason John gives for writing this epistle is so that our joy may be full (John 15:11, 16:24). Happiness is a variable, related to our circumstances. Joy in the Lord is a constant, based on the relationship we have as His children

v. 5 John describes God as light in a philosophical and moral sense. He is completely p e, with no trace of darkness (John 3:19). Light exposes and dispels darkness (John 1 :9).

v. 7 The blood of Jesus Christ is continually cleansing us from all sin.

v. 8 The word "sin" refers to man's sinful nature, which is dominated by the body's needs and appetites. We have to struggle to keep our carnal nature under control of the Spirit (1 Cor. 9:27).

v. 10 Romans 3:23.


v. 1 John's second reason for writing this letter is that we sin not. God requires perfection from us (Matthew 5:48), but our perfection is through our belief in Christ (John 6:28-29). The strength and life of the Spirit in us conforms us to the image of Christ. Christ intercedes with God for us when we sin. Jesus acts as our attorney and defends us (Hebrews 7:25) when Satan brings accusations against us (Revelation 12: 10). When Satan accuses us, we tend to draw away from God because of a sense of shame and unworthiness. When the Holy Spirit convicts us, we're drawn to God to make things right with Him.

v. 3 John 14:21; Romans 2:13; James 1 :22.

The word "know" here in the Greek means to know by experience. If we know God by experience, we'll keep His commandments.

v. 5-6 We know that we're in Christ, because God's love is being perfected in us as we abide in Him.

v. 9-11 We need to be honest with God and confess our feelings of hatred for another person, so that God can replace our hatred with His love.

v. 13-14 "Fathers" are those who have been in the faith a long time. "Young men" are those who are strong in the faith through the Word of God. The Word of God is our strongest defense against sin and temptation (Psalm 119:11). Jesus answered the temptations of Satan with the Word of God (Matthew 4:1-10). We need a daily cleansing in the Word so we'll have the strength and power to refrain from sin (John 15:3).

v. 15 "World" doesn't refer to nature but to the worldly system created by man.

v. 16 This is the world we're not to love: the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes (the desire to see that which is perverse), and the pride of life (the desire to rule over others).

v. 17 The things of the world will pass away (2 Peter 3:11).

v. 18 Many false prophets and teachers are deceiving people today (Matthew 24:11; 2 Peter 2:3,14).

v. 19 A healthy church can purge itself of poisons.

v. 20 "Unction" means "anointing." The word "know" here comes from a Greek word meaning to know by intuition. We know some things intuitively by the anointing of the Holy Spirit.

v. 22 Christ means Messiah.

v. 27 The Holy Spirit teaches us to abide in Christ (John 16:13).

v. 28 This is our promise of eternal life if we abide in Jesus Christ.


v. 2 Everyone has a god, a master passion, or guiding principle. We become like the god we serve (Psalm 115:4-8). Worshipping any false god is a degrading experience. Worshipping the true and living God is an elevating experience.

v. 3 Watching for the return of Christ is a purifying force in the Church.

v. 6 "Sinneth not" means "does not practice sin."

v. 8 He who is living in continual sin is of the devil; for the devil has continually sinned from the beginning. Christ was sent to the Earth to destroy Satan's work in our lives (John 16:7-11; Romans 6:6).

v. 9 "Commit sin" means "practice sin." "His seed" refers to Christ's seed (1 Peter 1 :23).

v. 11 Our faith in Christ should produce love in our hearts for each other.

v. 16 We cannot really know God through nature, because nature is fallen. Though nature does speak to us of God, the only way we can know of God's love is through Jesus Christ (Romans 5:8).

v. 23 These are the commandments the child of God is required to keep (Matthew 5:44-46).

v. 24 Romans 8:9.


v. 1 "Beloved" means "those who are loved divinely in God." Every one of the New Testament writers warned the believers about false prophets and teachers.

v. 2-3 The way to discern a false prophet is to see what the prophet says about Jesus Christ. If he denies the deity of Jesus, then he isn't of God.

v. 7-8 The word "love" is agape, the spiritual love we cannot have apart from God (1 Cor. 13).

v. 12 We cannot love as God wants us to love apart from His agape love working through us. We're instruments through which God's divine love is manifested.

v. 17 We represent God to the world.

v. 18 If we know how completely God loves us, we don't need to fear. He won't allow anything to take place in our lives which doesn't serve a good purpose.


v. 1 We love God and should love all those who are begotten by Him.

v. 4 The Bible tells about those who are overcomers of the world and about those who are overcome by the world.

v. 6 John 3:5.

v. 9 Man's witness is accepted in a court of law A man who can be convicted or exonerated on the testimony of witnesses. If the witness of man is accepted as true, how much more ought we to accept the witness of God.

v. 11-12 God has given us the gift of eternal life through His Son We cannot have the gift without accepting the Son. This is God's record. Any religious leader who tells you that you can have eternal life without Jesus Christ is speaking against what God has said.

v. 14-15 We receive the things we ask for that are according to God's will. We should not attempt to dictate to God and command that He give us what we ask for. Prayer doesn't change the mind of God or the purposes of God. The purpose of prayer is to get God's will done (Romans 1:21).

v. 16 The "sin unto death" is the willful rejection of Jesus Christ.

v. 18 "Sinneth not" means "does not practice sin." The word "himself" isn't in this verse in the Greek. The word is "him." Since Greek doesn't have capital letters, the translators had to choose which ones to capitalize. I think the word "he" here refers to Jesus and should be capitalized, for Jesus protects us from Satan.

v. 21 It's so easy to make idols of material things.

Used With Permission

© The Word For Today. We thank Chuck Smith, The Word For Today and Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa for their permission to utilize this work.


The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.


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