First Epistle Of John
From Bible Encyclopedia
The fourth of the catholic or “general” epistles. It was evidently written by John the evangelist, and probably also at Ephesus, and when the writer was in advanced age. The purpose of the apostle (1 John 1:1-4) is to declare the Word of Life to those to whom he writes, in order that they might be united in fellowship with the Father and his Son Jesus Christ. He shows that the means of union with God are,
(2) on the part of man, holiness (1 John 1:6), obedience (1 John 2:3), purity (1 John 3:3), faith (1 John 3:23; 1 John 4:3; 1 John 5:5), and love (1 John 2:7, 1 John 2:8; 1 John 3:14; 1 John 4:7; 1 John 5:1).
The Epistle's content, language and conceptual style is an indication that a common authorship existed between this letter, the two other letters attributed to the Apostle John, as well as the Gospel of John. Whether the author was the Apostle John himself, someone who wrote under his name and spoke "for him", or whether a body of authors contributed to the writing of all four Johannine texts is an open question. However, "The three Epistles and the Gospel of John are so closely allied in diction, style, and general outlook that the burden of proof lies with the person who would deny their common authorship" (B. H. Streeter, The Four Gospels, rev. ed. (London: Macmillan, 1930) 460)
The author wrote the Epistle so that "you who believe in the name of the Son Of God... may know that you have eternal life." (5.13) It appears as though the author was concerned about heretical teachers that had been influencing churches under his care. Such teachers were considered Antichrists (2.18-19) who had once been church leaders but whose teaching became heterodox. It appears that these teachers taught that Christ was a Spirit being without a body (4.2), that his death on the cross was not as an atonement for sins (1.7) and that they were no longer able to sin (1.8-10).
The purpose of the apostle (1:1-4) is to declare the Word of Life to those to whom he writes, in order that they might be united in fellowship with the Father and his Son Jesus Christ. He shows that the means of union with God are, (1) on the part of Christ, his atoning work (1:7; 2:2; 3:5; 4:10, 14; 5:11, 12) and his advocacy (2:1); and (2), on the part of man, holiness (1:6), obedience (2:3), purity (3:3), faith (3:23; 4:3; 5:5), and love (2:7, 8; 3:14; 4:7; 5:1).
One of the most controversial verses of the bible is the Comma Johanneum, verses 5:7 through 5:8. They do not appear in any version of the text prior to the sixteenth century, but do appear in the King James Bible, something Isaac Newton commented on in An Historical Account of Two Notable Corruptions of Scripture. This is sometimes used as evidence to counter the King-James-Only Movement.