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




                                                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?




                                     --"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




            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)




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