The Apostle John, the follower of Jesus whom he loved so much (Jn 13:23; Jn 19:26; Jn 20:2; Jn 21:20), wrote this letter, probably about 95 A.D. A few scholars try to date it before the fall of Jerusalem (70 A.D.). A tradition says that John took care of Jesus' mother, first in Jerusalem and then later in Ephesus until she died.

The main purpose of this epistle was to combat the rising tide of Gnosticism. Later, in the second century, Gnosticism was to become a major threat to the historical truths of the gospel message. Gnostic devotees claimed to have a special "knowledge" (1108-GSN - gnosis) which was supposedly not available to rank-and-file Christians. These "intellectuals" believed, along with the Greek philosopher, Plato, that the human body and spirit were two entirely separate entities. The flesh (4561-GSN - sarx) was allegedly and inherently "evil," while the spirit (4151-GSN - pneuma) was "good" and functioned in a completely different manner. Since the material body was considered "evil," these Gnostics were felt forced to reject the teaching that Christ had ever been in a real, physical body. So, they taught that Jesus only "seemed" to have had a body (2Jn 7 ). In actuality (they claimed) Jesus was only a phantom. However, the Apostle John was very careful to point out that Jesus had been PHYSICALLY present (Jn 1:14; Jn 20:27-31). John and the other apostles saw Jesus closely, heard him at close range, and touched him with their hands--both before and after his resurrection from death (1Jn 1:1-2).

John also emphasized that we CAN be certain of our salvation. As long as one continually "walks in the light (truth) as he (Jesus) is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth (i.e. continually) us from all sin" (1Jn 1:7). We must also continually admit our sinful condition (1Jn 1:9).

Can one who is "born of God" commit sin? Answer: certainly! However, it must NOT be habitual (1Jn 3:6, with the Greek present tense). If it is, then that sinner is in league with the Devil (1Jn 3:8)! The true Christian does not PRACTICE that kind of life (1Jn 3:9), though, at times, he or she may occasionally slip and fall.

Because of early Gnostic influence, some were claiming that they were now sinless (1Jn 1:8,10)! If such were the case, we wouldn't need Jesus (1Jn 2:1-6). The Gnostic sympathizers were teaching that a mere intellectual knowledge made them acceptable to God, even though they were living immoral lives! John responded with: "The one who PRACTICES good is from God, but the one who PRACTICES evil has never experienced God" (3Jn 11 )!

In this letter, the Apostle John stressed that we must love one another, according to the wishes of our Savior (Jn 13:34-35; Jn 14:15; Jn 14:23; Jn 15:10-17). The noun "love" (0026-GSN - agape) appears 17 times and the verb "love" (0025-GSN - agapao) occurs 28 times in these short five chapters!

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