Johannine Epistles

Bible Study at Day's

Dr. Robert C. Newman

 

                                                                  FIRST JOHN

                                              (outline modified from Burdick, NIVSB)

 

I. Introduction:  The Reality of the Incarnation (1:1-4)

 

                        He (Word of Life) existed from the beginning, with the Father

 

                        He (the Eternal Life) was manifested to us

 

                        We experienced Him

 

                        We proclaim Him to you

 

                        May your joy be complete

 

II.  The Christian Life as Fellowship with the Father and Son (1:5-2:28)

 

            A.  Ethical Tests of Fellowship (1:5-2:11)

 

                        1. Moral Likeness (1:5-7)

 

                                    Our message from Him

 

                                    God is light, no darkness at all

 

                                    We cannot walk in darkness & have fellowship with Him

 

                                    With fellowship we have cleansing by His blood

 

                        2. Confession of Sin (1:8-2:2)

 

                                    We are not sinless yet

 

                                    He will forgive if we confess

 

                                    Denial of sin is denial of Him

 

                                    Purpose of letter is to avoid sin

 

                                    But all need Christ's advocacy, payment

 


                        3. Obedience (2:3-6)

 

                                    How we know we have come to know Him

 

                                    Claim without obedience marks liar

 

                                    Obedience completes love

 

                                    We must follow Jesus' example

 

                        4. Love for Fellow Believers (2:7-11)

 

                                    Not a new command (goes back to OT)

 

                                    Yet new as manifested in Him and believers

 

                                    Hatred for brothers belies claims

 

                                    Love motivates lifestyle, avoids causing sin

 

                                    Hatred is blindness

 

            B.  Two Digressions (2:12-17)

 

                        1. Writing to Family (2:12-14)

 

                                    children, fathers, young men

 

                                    forgiveness, knowledge, victory

 

                        2. Don't Love the World (2:15-17)

 

                                    Inconsistent with love for Father

 

                                    Does not find its source in Father:

 

                                                Lust of flesh (sensuality)

 

                                                Lust of eyes (covetousness)

 

                                                Pride of life (boasting)

 

                                    World will not last

 


            C.  Christological Test of Fellowship (2:18-28)

 

                        1. Contrast:  Apostates vs Believers (2:18-21)

 

                                    Already the last hour

 

                                    Many antichrists on scene

                                                show they are not Xns by their departure

 

                                    True believers have Holy Spirit

                                                (show they are Xns) by knowing truth

                       

                        2. Person of Christ:  Crux of the Test (2:22-23)

 

                                    Antichrist is liar

                                                denies Jesus is the Christ

 

                                                denies both Father and Son

 

                                    Confession of Son is key to having Father

 

 

                        3. Persistent Belief:  Key to Continuing Fellowship (2:24-28)

 

                                    Abiding (remaining) in original Gospel message

 

                                                linked to abiding in Father & Son

 

                                                this is eternal life

 

                                                don't be deceived

 

                                    Anointing remains in you

 

                                                teaches the truth

 

                                                keeps the believer

 

                                    Abide in Him

 

                                                in view of judgment

 

 

 


III. The Christian Life as Divine Sonship (2:29-4:6)

 

            A.  Ethical Tests of Sonship (2:29-3:24)

 

                        1. Righteousness (2:29-3:10a)

 

                                    An attribute of God and all His children

 

                                    God's love demonstrated:

 

                                                calls us His children

 

                                                is making us so

 

                                    So world misunderstands us as it does Him

 

                                    Our likeness to God will be perfected when we see Him

 

                                    Meanwhile we seek to be pure just as He is

 

                                    Sin, by contrast, is law-breaking

 

                                                Christ came to rescue us from this

 

                                                He Himself is sinless

 

                                                Those who are His don't keep on sinning

 

                                    Contrast with children of Satan

 

                                                Sin an attribute of Satan & all his children

 

                                                Christ came to destroy Satan's work

 

                                                God's seed in us keeps us from sinning

 

                                                This is how we distinguish God's children from Satan's

 

                        2. Love (3:10b-24)

 

                                    Also a test for God's chidren vs Satan's

 

                                    Original message

 

                                    Contrast Cain (Genesis 4)

 

                                                belonged to (child of) Satan

 

                                                murdered brother Abel

 

                                                hated Abel's righteous lifestyle

 

                                                don't be surprised if world hates you

 

                                    Test of eternal life

 

                                                love for brothers

 

                                                            Example of true love:  Jesus died for us

 

                                                so we ought to die for brothers

 

                                                love linked to compassion

 

                                                love results in action

 

                                    Active love is test of truth

 

                                                provides assurance

 

                                                            God knows more than we

 

                                                gives us confidence

 

                                                            support of God

 

                                    But this confidence linked to obedience:

 

                                                trust in who Jesus is

 

                                                love for one another

 

                                    And obedience linked to abiding

 

 

           


            B.  Christological Tests of Sonship (4:1-6)

 

                        Not all spirits from God

 

                                    Test the spirits

 

                                    Confession:

 

                                                Jesus is the Christ

 

                                                Christ has come in the flesh

 

                                    Spirit of antichrist already in world

 

                        Contrast children of God and of Satan

 

                                    Children of God overcome world

 

                                    Children of Satan heard by world

 

                                    Children of God not heard by world,

                                                but by other children of God

 

 

IV.  The Christian Life as an Integration of Ethical & Christological (4:7-5:12)

 

            A.  The Ethical Test: Love (4:7-5:5)

 

                        1. The Source of Love (4:7-16)

 

                                    comes from God

 

                                    characterizes all & only regenerate

 

                                    manifested in Son's redemptive work

 

                                    God's love, not ours, was first

 

                                    His love should motivate us to love

 

                                    no one has seen God, but he can be seen in us

 

                                                if we love one another

 

                                                if we confess Jesus as Son

                                    abiding in love = abiding in God

 

                        2. The Fruit of Love (4:17-19)

 

                                    by abiding in God's love, love is perfected in us

 

                                    this gives us confidence in day of judgment

 

                                    this casts out fear

 

                        3. The Relation between Godward and Manward Love (4:20-5:1)

 

                                    cannot love God and hate brother

 

                                    those who love God commanded to love brother

 

                                    if you love God then you must love His children

 

                        4. Obedience:  Evidence of Love for God's Children  (5:2-5)

 

                                    test for love of believers is love of God and obedience

 

                                    test for love of God is obedience

 

                                    child of God is victorious over world thru faith

 

                                    victor over world is one who trusts Jesus as Son

 

            B.  The Christological Test (5:6-12)

 

                        Jesus Christ came by water and blood

 

                                    water app incarnation (birth water; see Jn 3:5)

 

                                    blood app atonement

 

                        Spirit bears witness to Christ

 

                        Three witnesses:

 

                                    Spirit: regeneration

 

                                    Water: incarnation

 

                                    Blood: atonement

                        These are divine witnesses, not merely human

 

                                    believer has witness in himself

 

                                    this witness is eternal life

 

                                    only one who has Son has this life

 

 

V.   Conclusion:  Great Christian Certainties (5:13-21)

 

                        Written to believers to give assurance of life

 

                        Believers also have assurance of answered prayer

 

                        Assurance of answers to prayers of intercession

 

                        God's children kept from sin and Satan

 

                        Given understanding to know God and live in Him

 

                        Guard yourselves from idols

 

 


                                                                SECOND JOHN

 

I. Introduction (1-3): lengthened form of standard letter introduction

 

            Author: "the Elder"

 

                        some have denied this is apostle John, as term elder seems like too low a designation

 

                        these hypothesize another "John the elder"

 

                        but "elder" may here mean:

 

                                     --church officer: Peter uses of self (1 Pet 5:1)

 

                                     --old man: similar to Paul's use (Phm 9)

 

                                     --one of 1st Xn generation: Papias' use

 

                        style of letter and earliest tradition favor apostolic authorship

 

            Recipients: "elect lady and her children"

 

                        see also "lady" (5) and "children of your elect sister" (13)

 

                        two proposals:

 

                                     --literal: a Xn woman with grown children

                                                (who has a sister w/ grown children)

 

                                     --figurative: a Xn church and individual members

                                                (sister is another church)

 

                        if literal, name of woman?

 

                                     --unnamed

 

                                     --"Kyria" - rare but not unknown name

 

                                     --"Eklecte" - app ruled out by (13)

 

            Greeting: similar to Paul's greeting style

 

                        Grace, mercy and peace

 

                        Will be with us: note of confidence

 

II. Occasion for Letter (4)

 

            contact with some of lady's children

 

            glad to see them walking in the truth

 

III. God's Commandment (5-6)

 

            love one another

 

            not new commandment

 

            love = obedience to God's commands            

 

IV. Warning against Deceivers (7-11)

 

            many out in world, like the deceiver, Antichrist

 

            don't acknowledge Jesus as Christ come in flesh

 

            danger to believers to lose reward

 

                        they "go beyond" the teaching of Christ

 

                                    don't have God

 

                        not to be aided in their work

 

                                    lest we share their ‘reward’

                       

V. Conclusion (12-13)

 

            further matters postponed for personal visit

 

                        greetings from sister's children

 

 


                                                                 THIRD JOHN

 

Background

 

            People Involved

 

                        Elder (1): apostle John, prob in neighborhood of Ephesus, overseeing a number of churches

 

                        Gaius (1): recipient of letter; mature Xn; prob wealthy; member (perhaps an elder) of church in view

 

                        Demetrius (12): app carrier of letter, a travelling Xn worker, poss in charge of a group of such,       seeking hospitality from church in view

 

                        Diotrephes (9-10): app elder in same church, with considerable influence which he has misused to build himself up and to put down all signs of independence

 

            Circumstances of Early Church

 

                        Itinerant Prophets:

 

                                    cp 2 John 10, Didache 11-13 and Paul's practice of sending associates

 

                                    Responsibity of local churches to help Xns who have gone out as travelling workers

 

                                    Danger of misuse of hospitality by charlatans and heretics

           

                        Monarchical Bishops: cp Ignatius of Antioch, Rev 2-3?

 

                                    Bishop becomes an office distict from elder, above elders, one per church, with considerable powers

 

                                    Clearest examples in Ignatius: Eph 2:1; Mag 6:1; Trall 3:1; Smyr 8:1-9:1

 

                        Letters of Recommendation:

 

                                    A common practice, see 2 Cor 3:1-2

 

                                    Samples from NT:

 

                                                Jerus ch for Judas & Silas (Acts 15:24-27)

 

                                                Paul for Phoebe (Rom 16:1-2)

 

                                                Paul for Timothy et al (2 Cor 8:16-24)

 

                                                Paul for Tychichus (Eph 6:21-22) and Onesimus (Col 4:7-9)

 

Outline:

 

I.          Introduction (1)

 

II.        Gaius' Hospitality (2-8)

 

                        Evidence of his spiritual maturity (2-3)

 

                        Source of joy for his spiritual father (4)

 

                        Encouragement to continue hosptality (5-8)

 

III.       Diotrephes' Inhospitability (9-11)

 

                        Ignored John's request (9)

 

                        Wants preeminence (9)

 

                        Wicked actions (10)

 

                                    unjust accusations

 

                                    refusal to receive travelling brethren

 

                                    forbids others to receive them

 

                                    excommunicates those who don't obey him

 

                        A bad example (11)

 

IV.       John's Request (12)

 

                        His recommendation of Demetrius

 

                        Request for showing hospitality implied in verses 3, 5, 6, 8, 10b

 


V.        Conclusion (13-14)

 

                        Very much like that of 2 John

 

                        John prefers personal contact to letter writing

 

                        Greetings from others