What you get:
- Tips for teaching 1-3 John in a Bible Study
- Over 50 discussion questions WITH answers
- Atlas of 6 hi res maps that track with Apostle John
Sample map in 1-3 John Leaders Guide & Atlas
Trying to correct distorted Christian preaching
These three short letters of 1, 2, 3 John are the kind of letters you write when you don’t want to write letters.
Which could explain why they’re so short.
Clearly, there was a problem that generated those letters. But John doesn’t give the problem a name. Many scholars speculate it was a heresy later called Docetism (DOE suh TISS um), though at the time it probably didn’t have a call sign other than words like “trash,” “crap,” and “hogwash,” depending on a Christian’s vocabulary and temperament.
Bible experts base their speculation on John’s unusual words of warning. Nothing like this shows up anywhere in the Bible but in the writings of John. We’ll call him John since early church leaders said he was John, the disciple of Jesus.
The warnings? John feels compelled to remind the readers of this.
Jesus was human, not a spirit ghost. “I’ll tell you how you can recognize God’s Spirit in someone. People led by God’s Spirit will acknowledge Jesus Christ came here as a flesh and blood human being” (1 John 4:2).
God the Father and Jesus the Son are one, whatever that means; John doesn’t explain it. “Anyone who rejects the Son has already rejected the Father. But anyone who believes in the Son also has the Father” (1 John 2:23). “Everyone who loves their Father loves his Child” (1 John 5:2).
Believers are one with God. “Anyone who obeys God is spiritually linked to him, united. God lives in that person. God’s Spirit and the spirit of that person become one, making decisions together. We know this because the Spirit God gave us lives inside of us” (1 John 3:24).
Backward engineering the Bible
Bible experts backward engineer those reminders into the problems that produced them. Scholars say it’s possible people who attended the church were trying to convince others that Jesus was just a spirit being who only pretended to be human (Docetism), and that we can never live up to the example he set because we’re only humans made from clay and full of dirty deeds.
When John starts his letter, he leads with that. Essentially he’s saying, Now wait a minute, my fellow apostles and I know better because “we’ve touched him with our hands” (1 John 1:1).
You can’t touch a spirit, the mistaken folks apparently taught—as though they would recognize a spirit if one pinched them a good one.
The warped view of Jesus seemed to produce warped behavior. Folks apparently taught that if we believe in Jesus, it doesn’t matter what we do in this world. Go ahead and lie, cheat, and steal. We can’t help it because we’re flawed humans.
John said those ideas are spiritually lethal. He taught that people are capable of goodness because God’s Spirit lives in us.
“My dear children, I’m writing this to steer you away from sin… There’s one way to tell if we really know God: we obey him” (1 John 2:1, 3).
In addition to 1-3 John Leaders Guide & Atlas
You might consider the Ephesians Leaders Guide & Atlas
Best resource for comparing other Bible translations: Bible Gateway. This isn’t an ad. It’s a recommendation from the Casual English Bible.
To support the work of paraphrasing the Casual English Bible and keeping it free online: