Last month my husband and I spent a week in Chattanooga studying 1 John, 2 John, and 3 John at a Precept Ministries International Spring Study Program. I love these intensive study programs!
As part of the study, we made list of what we can know according to 1 John. The author states clearly that he wrote this book “to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know you have eternal life.” (1 John 5:13 |NASB)
What is “eternal life”?
Jesus, while praying to His Heavenly Father, said in John 17:3:
“This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.”
Eternal life does not just mean that we get to go to heaven when we die. It involves how we live today.
Jesus came to give us abundant life (John 10:10). He told us the Kingdom of God is among us (Mark 1:15). Romans 14:17 tells us that the kingdom of God is not what we eat or drink or how we act, but it is about righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. It is abiding in Christ and Him in us. Eternal life is living as part of the kingdom of God now, today, because you know God and His Son Jesus Christ.
1 John is all about eternal life and what it looks like to live eternal life in Christ. In this book God tells us what abiding in Him looks like and how we can abide in Himand He in us.
What can we know about abiding in God, about kingdom living and eternal life, from 1 John? How can we know it? Let’s look at the “know” verses together.
“And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments.“ (1 John 2:3)
What are His commandments? Jesus told us in Matthew.
And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”
Matthew 22:35-40 |ESV
1 John tells us that this is not a new command, but one we have had since the beginning (2:7). These are God’s commandments that we are to keep. Verse 3:18 instructs us to love not “with word or tongue, but in deed and truth.”
Verse 2:4 tells us that if I say I know God but don’t keep His commands, I am a liar and the truth is not in me. OUCH! (No one can keep His commandments perfectly; this is why we need forgiveness.)
1 John 5:3 tells us that keeping His commandments IS the love of God, and His commandments are not burdensome.
So, my friend, when I find loving others to be burdensome, perhaps it is because I am not truly keeping His commands by the power of His Holy Spirit in me. Perhaps it is because I am trying to “love” others in word and tongue instead of deed and truth.
“By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.” (1 John 2:5-6)
To understand how to walk Jesus walked, we have to study the life of Christ. We don’t have space in this post to examine everything He did and everywhere He walked. But was can look at a few passages.
The next few verses (vs. 2:8-11) speak of walking in the Light versus walking in darkness. Jesus is the Light. To abide in the Light I must love my brother. If I hate my brother, I am in darkness and walk in darkness.
When you have time, read John 13. John tells about the Last Supper when Jesus washed the disciples feet. He knew Judas Iscariot was going to betray Him, yet He served Judas just as He did the others. I’ve had to ask myself if I treat others with love and compassion, even when I know they will hurt me. Do I turn the other cheek?
Jesus did what the Father told Him to do and spoke the words the Father gave Him to speak so the world may know the Father.
Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works themselves.
John 14:8-11 |ESV
If I am going to walk in the same manner He walked, I must know the Father and listen to His instructions. I must be led by the Holy Spirit instead of by my flesh. I must love others.
In order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
Romans 8:4 |ESV
Yep. I have work to do in this area. Let me just say now that I have work to do in every area I am writing about today. I am sharing this post with you , but I am writing it to myself.
“If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone also who practices righteousness is born of him.” 1 John 2:29
According to http://www.blueletterbible.com, “Righteous” mean “observing divine law, keeping the commands of God.” We know that Jesus is God. God, of course, keeps His own commands, so we know that He is righteous. Thus, if we practice righteousness, we are born of God.
Chapter three starts with “See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God and such we are.” Ephesians 2 is one of my all-time favorite chapters. It starts out reminding us that we were once objects of God’s wrath; we were dead in our transgressions and sins. But God…(Don’t you just love the “BUT GOD” passages?) But God loves us and made alive together with Christ!
But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
1 John 3:7-10 tell us more about those who are “born of God”.
Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous. Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him; and he cannot keep on sinning, because he has been born of God. By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.
1 John 3:7-10
“We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is.” 1 John 3:2
Though we are children of God, we are not yet all that we will be. This is one of those “Already but not yet” things. We are already children of God, but we have not yet become fully like Him. We are being conformed to the image of Christ.
1 Corinthians 13:12 tells us that “now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.“
1 Corinthians 15 speaks of what will happen when Jesus returns.
Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:
“Death is swallowed up in victory.”
“O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?”
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.
1 Corinthians 15:51-58
Here on planet earth, until His return, the sting of death is present. We have victory through Christ Jesus, but we still live on planet earth where sin and death are all around us. Some day, when He returns, we will be caught up with Him and see Him face to face. We will be made like Him and we will put on an imperishable body! Glory!!
“You know that He appeared in order to take away sins, and in Him there is no sin.” 1 John 3:5
So many passages in the Bible speak about Jesus coming to take away the sins of the world, not only our sins but the sin of the whole world. John 3:16, 1 John 2:1-2, and 2 Corinthians 5:22 are two such passages. Forgiveness of sins and eternal life are available to all. Only a few will choose the narrow road, but the road is open to all who will choose it.
1 John 3 goes on to say, “No one who abides in Him sins; no one who sins has seen Him or knows Him.” (vs. 6) This is referring to the practice of sin, not to those (all of us) who sin and repent. Those who practice sin and do not repent (turn from their sin) do not know God and have not even seen God.
“We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death.” 1 John 3:14
LOVE is a Key Word in 1 John. It appears more than 40 times.
1 John 2:3 tells us that we can know we know Him if we keep His commands. Jesus taught us that the two greatest commandments involve loving God and loving others. These commandments sum up the Law and the prophets.
To have eternal life, we must know God and His son. If we know God and His Son we must keep His commandments to love God and others. If we know God and keep His commandment to love our brothers, we know we have passed out of death and into [eternal] life.
I love (see what I did there?) that all of this fits together so beautifully!
Verse 15 makes this even more clear by demonstrating the opposite: “Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.” If you love your brother, you are obeying His commands and know Him, thus, you have eternal life. If you hate your brother, you are practicing sin and do not know God so do not have eternal life.
So, if I have come to know God, I will keep His commandments, walk in the Light, walk in the same manner as He Himself walked, and will love my brothers and sisters. These are all evidence that I have been saved by grace and am alive together with Christ; I have passed out of death into life. WOW!
How can all this be true? Read on, my friend!
“By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.” 1 John 3:16
Verses 17-18 go on to say. “But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.”
Again, we know from other passages of Scripture that Jesus laid down His life for us. We can know or understand what love is by looking at what He did. And because we are in Him, we ought to walk in the same manner He walked (2:5-6). Thus, we must lay down our lives for our brothers.
What does that look like? According to verses 17-18, love involves giving what we ourselves have to our brothers and sisters who in need.
For example, I am an empty-nester who does not work outside my home. I have time – time I can spend helping other moms who still have children at home. I love hanging out with four particular little girls and their momma. She needs my help sometimes. I kept two of the girls for a few weeks while their parents and little sisters were out of town on an important training trip.
We have empty bedrooms; we offer them to families visiting our community for visit like house hunting trips. One couple and their 8-month-old twins were here for a week last month.
I love to study the Bible and have time to teach it, so I lead studies with women around my dining room table.
These things are not always convenient. I could have gone to Florida for two weeks with Ron last month instead of keeping two pre-teen girls. But I was willing to lay down my life for that family, to set aside my desires and wants to love them. (And the girls are sweet girls, so it was fun…most of the time.)
1 John 4:7-11 also speaks about love.
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.
1 John 4:7-11
“By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before him; for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything.” 1 John 3:19-20
To know what “this:” is, we have to read the verse before these. The previous verses speak of loving not in word and tongue but in deed and truth.
If we love in deed and truth, we know that we are of the truth and we reassure our heart before God. So, when we are feeling condemned, we can trust what God’s Word says about us. His Word says that there is NO CONDEMNATION for us because we are IN CHRIST JESUS. Jesus fulfilled all the requirements of the Law; He paid our debt, the debt for our sin. So we do not face condemnation. Nor should we who are in Christ condemn others. There is no place for condemnation in our lives.
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
Verses 21-23 tell us: “Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God; and whatever we ask we receive from him, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him. And this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us.”
So, If we abide in Him and He in us, if we obey His commands, by the power of the Holy Spirit, – including loving God and others, not in word and tongue but in deed and truth – we know we are of the truth and can have confidence before God. When we ask we receive from Him. We cannot practice sin and expect to get anything we want; we must keep His commandments and do what pleases Him. Then we will receive what whatever we ask. Isn’t this amazing? And wonderful!
“Whoever keeps his commandments abides in God, and God in him. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit whom he has given us.” 1 John 3:24
This is the final “know” of chapter 3. If we keep His commandments we abide in Him, and God abides in us. “Abide” means to stay, to dwell with, to remain. We can know that He abides in us because we have received the Holy Spirit which Jesus sent. (Read John 14-16 to learn more about the Holy Spirit.)
In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.
Ephesians 1:13-14 |ESV
When we believed in Him, we received the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit testifies to our spirit that we are children of God and we must not live according to the flesh. If we are children of God, we are heirs with Christ and we do not suffer alone. We suffer with Christ in order that we may be gloried with Him!
So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.
“By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already. ” 1 John 4:2-3
This passage makes it very clear: we can know the Spirit of God. Verse one tell us to test the spirits. We are not to believe every spirit but are to test each spirit to learn whether they are from God. Even in our churches today there are false prophets. We can know who they are if we test the spirits.
If a spirit confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God. All other spirits are not of God.
The passage goes on to explain that we who abide in Christ, we who love God and love others, we who obey His commands, we to whom this letter is written are from God and have overcome the spirits who are not of God.
Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. They are from the world; therefore they speak from the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us; whoever is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error.
1 John 4:4-6
In a previous chapter the author explains that “Little children” are those who know their sins are forgiven. That includes all follower of Jesus! We have overcome the spirits who are not of God because greater in God in us than he (Satan) who is in the world. Glory!!
Did you notice there is another “know” verse in that passage?
“We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us; whoever is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error.” 1 John 4:6
We know which spirits are of God and which are not: those who confess Christ are of God and those who don’t aren’t.
Verse 6 tells of that whoever is not from God will not listen to those who are from God. Verse 5 tells us that those who are from the world speak from the world and do not listen to those who are from God.
We don’t have to guess who is from God and who is not. We can test the spirits. We can know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error. We have the Holy Spirit in us to help us as well.
“By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit.” 1 John 4:13
The rest of this chapter sums up what we study in the previous passages:
And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.
1 John 4:14-21
By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. 1 John 5:2
If we love God we live His children. If we live His children, we love Him because He is love. And because we love Him and His children we are obeying His commands and can know that we are born of God and have eternal life. So cool!
Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.
1 John 5:1-3
I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life. 1 John 5:13
This is why John wrote the book of 1 John. He was a disciple of Jesus. He saw with his own eyes and heard with his own eyes the truth of Jesus. He experienced seeing, and hearing Jesus perform miracles. He saw his Savior die on the cross and he saw Him after he rose from the dead! The author of this book wants you and me to KNOW that we have eternal life; we don’t have to doubt it!
And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him. 1 John 5: 15
Bottom line: Know God. Abide in Him. Love God and His children. Obey His commandments. Then we will receive whatever we ask, because we will ask for things that please Him.
I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life. And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.
1 John 5 :13-15
We know that we are from God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one. 1 John 5:19
From studying this book we can know that we have eternal life, that we are from God, are born of God, and abide in God. We know that evil is all around us and these are the last hour. But we also know that greater is He who is in us than he who is in the world.
And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true; and we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life. 1 John 5:20
He is the true God. Jesus. Jesus is the true God. And He is eternal life.
Jesus = eternal life.
Eternal life = Jesus.
You cannot have one without the other.
There is much more in 1 John. So much more! Love. Abide. Do not practice sin. We are born of God. We can know that we have eternal life.
If you have a chance, read this short book. Read it a few times over. It will bless your socks off! And convict you of sin. At least, it did me. I have a lot to work on.