Introduction to 1 John

The most cursory reading of the first Epistle of John is enough to show us that it bears a very strong likeness to the Gospel of John. The same themes are prominent in both. In the Gospel they are set forth, mainly but not exclusively, in the Lord's own words, and as illustrated in His life. In the Epistle they are still enforced, but the main point now is that they are to be demonstrated in the lives of the children of God. The Gospel shows us things that are true in Him. But the Epistle speaks of "a new commandment . . . which thing is true in Him and in you" (1 John 2: 8). This brief sentence furnishes us with a key to the whole epistle.

This epistle was amongst the last to be written. There were already "antichrists" about, as the second chapter states. These men laid claim to superior knowledge. They claimed that their teachings were a moving forward, an improvement on what had gone before. But under pretence of moving forward they moved clean away from the foundation which had been laid in Christ, and from the life which from the beginning had been manifested in Him, when He came amongst us in flesh. Hence the first thing needful was to make very plain that there had been a real, true, objective manifestation of the eternal life in Christ.