1:4 I rejoice greatly that I have found some of your children
walking in truth,
even as we have been commanded by the Father.
1:5 Now I beg you, dear lady, not as though I wrote to you a
but that which we had from the beginning, that we love one another.
1:8 Watch yourselves, that we don't lose the things which we have
but that we receive a full reward.
1:9 Whoever transgresses and doesn't remain in the teaching of
Christ, doesn't have God.
He who remains in the teaching, the same has both the Father and the Son.
1:10 If anyone comes to you,
and doesn't bring this teaching, don't receive him into your house,
and don't welcome him,
1:11 for he who welcomes him participates in his evil works.
1:12 Having many things to write to you, I don't want to do so
with paper and ink,
but I hope to come to you, and to speak face to face, that our joy may be made full.
1:13 The children of your chosen sister greet you. Amen.
The author of the letters of 1,2,3John is the apostle John apparently most favored in Jesus' eyes as he was known as the disciple whom Jesus loved. (John 20:2; John 21:7,20) And we find the rhetoric, the style of writing, and the emphasis John uses in his letters similar. And so also we have confirmation of its authenticity by the testimony of Irenaus who was a disciple of Polycarp who was a disciple of the apostle John.
John was an apostle, but he was also one of the elders of the Church, as was Peter who wrote, "The elders who are among you I exhort, I who am a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that will be revealed" 1Peter 5:1
While the identity of the "lady" is not given, by "elect" John is expressing his confidence of her salvation status. Perhaps this simple fact can be taken as a lesson to those who think one's "election" status is unknowable. For identifying one's election status (which is the subject of much of John's letters) is not as mysterious as some make it out to be.
"her children" may refer simply to her physical offspring, or possibly those she's led to Christ and has discipled. But if it is her own children it is strange that, if she is married, why John didn't speak of her husband. But given that later he alludes to them being not mere infants, it could be that she is a widow. And perhaps that's the reason why he's dealing with her directly rather then through her husband. Not that I want to read too much into it, but rather to mention the various possibilities.
"I love in the truth" sounds romantic by todays standards, where the word "love" is often presumed to have sexual overtones. But John commonly spoke of love in a much different sense, both concerning what Jesus said of it in his gospel and throughout John's letters. And in particular here qualifying it as being with respect to the truth. By that he wasn't referring to sincerity, but rather to the truth of the Word of God.
All who have come to know the truth of God's word have a common appreciation for one another's love for the truth. Is this your experience? Might it be a good idea to express that to others?
Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him,
"If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed." John
8:31 Having the truth of God's Word abiding in us is to
allow it to dominate our thoughts, forming the basis of our
convictions and the reason for our actions. For we have "been born again, not of corruptible seed but
incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides
"Truth" is mentioned 4 times in the first three verses. Perhaps one reason for this emphasis is because of his warnings later on of false teachers.
Realize that this verse is not simply a greeting. It is a prayer. So here's something we can pray for others. Pray that they will experience God's grace, mercy and peace.
God's grace is that character quality whereby he does good for those who don't deserve it. For we all fall short of God's standard from time to time.
God's mercy is that character quality whereby he provides for those in a pitiable state.
And God's peace is that state of mind free from concerns in view
of God's sovereignty and graciousness.
What was the apostle's greatest joy? Apparently it was seeing other Christians walking in the truth. And this is particularly the case concerning those we've personally discipled. Paul writes, "what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes? Is it not you? Indeed, you are our glory and joy." 1Th 2:19,20 and "Therefore, my beloved and longed-for brethren, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, beloved." Php 4:1
The greatest joy a Christian can experience is in seeing those
they've personally influenced live a life in accordance with the
truth. And conversely the Christian's greatest discouragement is
in seeing them fall.
This is the most common command in John's letters. Note 1John 3:11 "For this is the message that you heard from the beginning, that we should love one another" and 1John 3:23 "this is His commandment: that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another, as He gave us commandment."
While right doctrine or right theology is important, historically
love for fellow Christians has often been sacrificed in the name
of right doctrine. If your faith were evaluated based upon your
love for other Christians, how would you measure up?
How do we show love to God? By obedience! Jesus said, "He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me."John 14:21
"And this is His commandment: that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another" 1John 3:23 Those who live a lifestyle consistent with these commandments show that they love God.
Loving other Christians is not simply a "preference" to hang
around certain people. It is not simply an internal feeling of
affection. Though that may result. Christian love involves action.
It involves applications that lead to edification of other
This was an issue John mentioned also in 1John 4:2,3 "By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world."
The particular deviant theology John was alluding to was that of the "docetists", who while claiming to believe in Jesus, held that he could not have come in a body of physical flesh, as the Greek philosophers held that whatever is physical is innately evil. Thus while the docetists appeared to honor Christ, they did so by introducing false doctrines about him.
This wasn't about his moral teachings, but rather simply about his physical nature. Paul declared the physical nature of Christ to be central to the gospel.
"For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:" 1Cor 15:3,4
These things reveal how central the nature of Christ was to the early Christian faith. It was not simply the teachings of Christ that defined Christianity, but the person of Christ as well. To deny the physical nature of Christ was heresy. So beware of false religions, like Islam and the cults, which claim to believe in Jesus and yet portray him differently than the historic record of scripture.
Yet even with respect to this doctrine concerning the nature of
Christ's body which John considered so significant, there is a
division of opinions in the Christian community. For did Christ
come in "Adamic" flesh as we have - being prone to temptations as
we are? Or did he come in flesh free from a sinful nature and thus
was not subject to the kinds of temptations we face?
Given the previous verse, what he is referring to is to keep a constant vigilance over what we and our fellow Christians believe about Christ.
Similarly Paul exhorted Timothy saying, "Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers." 1Tim 4:16 For if false doctrine creeps into the Christian community, it hinders the effectiveness of ministry and thus its rewards.
An example of this is found in the book of Galatians where Paul battled the cult of the circumcision for the hearts of the Galatian Christians. His vigilance there is a good example to follow. And realize that many today are Christian in name only, but may be saved by ministering to them being watchful and persevering.
Thus also we have the principle from Proverbs 27:23,24"Be sure you know the condition of your flocks,
give careful attention to your herds; for riches do not endure
forever, and a crown is not secure for all generations."
John is speaking of transgressing the boundaries of scriptural
truth and thus inventing doctrines. Paul mentions in 1Cor 4:6
"Do not go beyond what is written." The
idea is not to make the writings of post-Biblical theologians the
foundation of our faith or on the level of scripture. For he goes
on to say in the same verse "Then you will
not take pride in one man over against another." Yet that
is often the basis of denominational divisions, not the mention
the source of cults - namely one man making too much of his own
ideas over and against scripture. "Every
word of God is flawless; he is a shield to those who take refuge
in him. Do not add to his words, or he will rebuke you and prove
you a liar." Pr 30:5,6
While love for fellow Christians is a measure of a genuine
Christian, so also is right doctrine. For John also writes in 1John
4:6 "We are of God. He who knows God
hears us; he who is not of God does not hear us."
He's referring to those allegedly Christian brethren coming as false teachers. Don't be friendly with such people. Don't welcome them as brethren. Notice how confrontational Jesus was concerning the false teachings of the Pharisees. And notice how hostile Paul is towards the cult of the circumcision in his letter to the Galatians.
But this is not referring to our associations with non-Christians, but rather concerning alleged "Christians" who are apostate. For Paul writes, "What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside. Expel the wicked man from among you." 1Cor 5:12,13
HOWEVER, be very careful in making such judgments. And I would
say to reserve them only for the most obvious cases. For John's
main command is to love fellow Christians, and that includes those
who are immature in the faith. In other words, while you attempt
to apply this verse, "Don't throw out the baby with the bath
Paul gave Timothy a similar warning, "Do not lay hands on anyone hastily, nor share in other people's sins; keep yourself pure." 1Tim 5:22 God will hold you accountable for whom you do and do not endorse. Therefore "have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them."Eph 5:11
Conversely "He who receives a prophet in
the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward. And he
who receives a righteous man in the name of a righteous man
shall receive a righteous man’s reward." Mt 10:41
John repeats this is his third letter saying, "I had many things to write, but I do not wish to write to you with pen and ink; but I hope to see you shortly, and we shall speak face to face." 3John 1:13,14 Similarly Paul wrote the Thessalonians saying, "But we, brethren, having been taken away from you for a short time in presence, not in heart, endeavored more eagerly to see your face with great desire."1Th 2:17
Some times joy can be made full through writing, as John says in 1John 1:4 "these things we write to you that your joy may be full." But much as the internet can be a convenient form of communication, this cannot replace face to face ministry. Jesus didn't simply give us the word through proxy, but became a man and met us face to face. And he didn't simply come to live in a palace, giving commands through messengers, but ministered personally doing personal discipleship and coming into direct contact with people. And Jesus didn't simply limit his ministry to the masses. He met face to face with individuals. (See also Healing the Hemorrhaging woman at http://www.bcbsr.com/survey/jcm15.html)
This personal contact also communicates the value of the
individual. Ministering to large groups or indirectly through
writings alone, may tend to devalue the importance of the
individual. Afterall, who raises their children via email? So if
you can, don't limit your Christian fellowship and ministry to
relatively impersonal forms. And don't just "go to church".
Establish relationships with individuals.
And so by way of application may I say, Greetings to you who seek and serve the Lord. I salute you.
Most of the New Testament letters start and/or end with greetings. But Christians today often overlook these because today when it comes to greetings people often don't mean what they say. For example today someone my say, "Hi! How are you doing?", but not expect the person to answer the question. But back then greetings was not taken so lightly, as we had noticed in verse 11 concerning greeting false teachers, "he who greets him shares in his evil deeds".
Now the Greek word the Bible actually uses here for "Greet" is
"aspazomai" which the lexicon defines as to salute one, greet, bid
welcome, wish well to; to receive joyfully, welcome, which is good
segue into our study of 3John which starts of with a more
The Berean Christian Bible Study ResourcesJul 23,2020