In writing this epistle, John had two purposes on mind: first, to expose and address false teaching (Gnosticism) that was creeping into the Church <see 1 Jn.2:26>; secondly, to assure believers of their salvation; “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.” <1 Jn.5:13 (NIV)>.

The Subject matter of the book counters false and erroneous doctrine, and encourages the reader to live in the knowledge of truth. The important theme is fellowship with God <1 Jn.2:28>; showing the Basis of fellowship <1 Jn.1:1 – 2:27>, and the Behaviour of fellowship <1 Jn.2:28 – 5:21>. The Basis of fellowship is further divided into Conditions, Cautions, and Meaning of fellowship. The Behaviour of fellowship is also divided into Characteristics, Consequences, and Manifestations of fellowship. It also speaks to Abiding in God’s light and love.


“One of the most dangerous heresies of the first two centuries of the church was Gnosticism. Its central teaching was that spirit is entirely good and matter is entirely evil. From this unbiblical dualism flowed five important errors:

  1. Man’s body, which is matter, is therefore evil. It is to be contrasted with God, who is wholly spirit and therefore good.
  2. Salvation is the escape from the body, achieved not by faith in Christ but by special knowledge (the Greek word for “knowledge” is gnosis, hence Gnosticism).
  3. Christ’s true humanity was denied in two ways: (1) Some said that Christ only seemed to have a body, a view called Docetism, from the Greek dokeo (“to seem”), and (2) others said that the divine Christ joined the man Jesus at baptism and left him before he died, a view called Cerinthianism, after its most prominent spokesman, Cerinthus. This view is the background of much of 1 John (see 1Jn.1:1; 2:22; 4:2-3).
  4. Since the body was considered evil, it was to be treated harshly. This ascetic form of Gnosticism is the background of part of the letter to the Colossians (2:21-23).
  5. Paradoxically, this dualism also led to licentiousness. The reasoning was that, since matter-and not the breaking of God’s law (1 Jn. 3:4) -was considered evil, breaking his law was of no moral consequence.

The Gnosticism addressed in the NT was an early form of the heresy, not the intricately developed system of the second and third centuries. In addition to that seen in Colossians and in John’s letters, acquaintance with early Gnosticism is reflected in 1, 2 Timothy, Titus, and 2 Peter and perhaps I Corinthians.”  [Source: The NIV Study Bible]

A study of 1 John 1:1-4

Beginning his letter, John speaks to the unique experience which he and the other disciples (apostles) shared; they had a personal contact with The Word of life, God’s eternal Son, they saw Him in person, they observed, they watched every action, they listened to His teaching; they missed nothing: “…we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched” <1 Jn.1:1 (NIV)>. He references this to what has been recorded in the Gospel of John chapter 1 where he speaks to the coming into the world of Christ the eternal Son of God, The Word of God: “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” <Jn.1:14 (NIV)>.

The Word – God’s Son, became a human being – “….Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man…” <Phil.2:5-8 (NIV)>. This was in God’s plan of salvation, someone had to die for sin, and that sacrifice had to be perfect and sinless, and was portrayed in the O.T. Burnt and Sin offerings <see Lev.1:6-8; 4:1-5>. But we are told that animal sacrifice is not capable of removing our sin, it only covered them from God’s sight for a period of time, and that is the reason why these sacrifices had to be repeated continuously; so, there had to be a better sacrifice <see Heb.10:3-7; 11-12>. Since there was no perfect (sinless) human being, God had to send The Perfect sacrifice in the person of His Son. Faith in God’s sacrificial provision gives us the salvation from our sin that we need <1 Jn.2:1b-2; Jn.1:12>.

The twelve disciples (apostles) had the privilege of His presence, His teaching and His miracles for three years of His ministry on the earth, so John is able to give an actual report of all that Jesus said and did. Because of his close encounter with Jesus Christ – The Word of God – he is able to declare; “…we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us.”” <1 Jn.1:2-3 (NIV); cf Jn.1:1-2, 14>, so that we all can have fellowship with Christ and each other, as believers in Christ.

Thus, the basis of our Christian fellowship is our faith in Christ for which we have received eternal life, and this gives us communion with God and a friendship that can be shared and experienced wherever we meet other believers in Christ.


Throughout the Scriptures there are many references to the judgment of God upon individuals, peoples, and nations who have rebelled and rejected God, such judgments executed by different methods (water, fire, confusion of language) are recorded. There are seven specific judgments to which the Scriptures speak; one has been completed (the judgment that occurred at Calvary), another is on a daily basis (self-judgment <see 1 Cor.11:28-29; Psa.26:1-2; 1Jn.1:9>), one that there is no specific time indicated (fallen angels <see Ezek.28:12-19; Isa.14:12-17; 1 Cor.6:3; Jude 6;  2 Pet.2:4>), and four that are yet to be executed; the judgment-seat of Christ, of the Jewish nation <see Ezek.20:34-38; 1 Sam.8:6-7; Lk.23:13-18; Acts 7:51-53>, of the gentile nations <see Matt.25:31-32, 45; Joel 3:2>, and of the evil dead. We will be looking at the details of three of these judgments. (You may wish to read the prelude to this Post by selecting “Life-Death-Resurrection [2/12/22]” from the list of Current Posts).


The Old Testament records the many attempts that God made to bring His people, the Jews, back to Himself from their sinful rebellion; it also records the prophecies of their coming Messiah who would be God’s means of providing salvation for all mankind. The issue of inherited sin in all people had to be dealt with for all eternity, for that is the only way that mankind can be restored or redeemed from sin to be able to spend eternity with God. As the Jewish nation had been taught through the Law given through Moses, the shed blood from a sacrificial animal was the only way for sin to be cleansed, and this is what was accomplished by Christ in His death, burial and resurrection.

When God delivered the Jews from their captivity in Egypt (symbolic of our deliverance from the servitude to sin), He instructed the people through Moses to select a lamb for each household; the animal had to be in good health and should not have any defect; the lamb was to be killed and the blood was to be smeared on the door-posts and the tops of the door-frames <Ex.12:3, 5-7>. On that night God executed judgment upon the land and people of Egypt so that Pharoah would release the slaves; ““On that same night I will pass through Egypt and strike down every firstborn — both men and animals — and I will bring judgment on all the gods of Egypt. I am the Lord. The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are; and when I see the blood, I will pass over you. No destructive plague will touch you when I strike Egypt.” <Ex 12:12-13 (NIV)>; in this way God redeemed His people from their captivity, and instructed them to celebrate this event throughout their generations, reminding them of their deliverance. The Law given through Moses instructed them in the various animal sacrifices for various functions and feasts, showing them that all sin must be dealt with through the shed blood of the animal. These sacrifices, however, were only symbolic in nature until God’s eternal sacrifice was offered in the person of His Son, Jesus Christ <see Heb.9:6-10>. This chapter continues to describe the sacrifices and their purpose by stating: “In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.” <Heb 9:22 (NIV)>: and since these animal sacrifices were only symbolic, God had to provide a “better” sacrifice, and that provision is His Son Jesus Christ, who offered Himself once and for all eternity, and as “the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood that is not his own. Then Christ would have had to suffer many times since the creation of the world. But now he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself.” <Heb 9:25-26 (NIV)>

Thus, Christ took our sins in His own body on the Cross, and in our place suffered God’s judgment for our sins: “…John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” <John 1:29 (NIV); cf Heb.2:9; 1 Jn.2:2; 2 Cor.5:21>; and in this we see that God’s wrath against sin was revealed at Calvary as Christ suffered for us in the darkness of the daytime <see Matt.27:45-46>, and paid the price for sin that was ours to pay <Rom.6:23>.

The question that we each have to answer is: What have I done in response to God’s gift of salvation? Have I accepted God’s gift or have I rejected His offer? Our response to this will determine where we stand in the judgments to come <see Jn.1:12-13>.


This judgment is where all the believers in Christ will be judged and rewarded for their actions after their conversion (belief). It will take place at the second coming of Christ after the first resurrection <see Lk.14:14; Matt.16:27>; and it should be noted that this will not be a question of our salvation, it will be an accountability to Christ: “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.” <2 Cor 5:10 (NIV)>; good or bad suggests profitable or not. Our sins before conversion will not be judged, for Christ has already cancelled that debt that we owed to God <see Heb.10:14-17>, neither will the sins committed and confessed after our conversion <1 Jn.1:9>. Our deeds and motives will be judged: “…his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work. If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames.” <1 Cor 3:13-15 (NIV)>. Christ will judge our words <Matt.12:36-37>, thoughts <Matt.15:19-19>, and our secrets <Rom.2:16>. Here there will be no favouritism for God knows our heart <Gal.6:7-8>. If the believer’s actions and motives pass the test of Christ’s judgment (fire), the believer will be rewarded.

We prepare for this judgment by constant communion with Christ through His Word and self-examination (judgment), and the daily leading of The Holy Spirit. When this is our lifestyle there should be no cause for concern to the believer; “Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait till the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men’s hearts. At that time each will receive his praise from God.” <1 Cor 4:5 (NIV)>



This is God’s final judgment upon all those who throughout their lifetime have totally rejected Him and His offer of salvation, and as is described by the effects and the results of all the judgments during the tribulation period <Rev.16:9> when God is dealing with His people, the Jews, and the nations of the world, there will be a millennial period (a thousand years) after which there will be a resurrection of all the ungodly dead. The Scriptures record the vision of John: “Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. Earth and sky fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what he had done.” < Rev.20:11-13 (NIV)>; and in this judgment we must understand that the guilty verdict has already been declared and that there is no appeal or withdrawal of this verdict. All who stand before God’s throne at this judgment have already condemned themselves by their actions and motives in the rejection of Jesus Christ and the salvation that he has secured; their names have never been entered in the Book of Life, and the sentence is condemnation to the Lake of fire <Rev.20:15>.

Therefore, we see in this that God will punish all those that reject Him, and there will be no exceptions <Heb.9:27>, for He has declared that nothing impure, sinful or ungodly will enter His heaven <see Rev.21:8, 27>; and He has given us assurance of this, for He has given all judgment to His Son, Jesus Christ <see Jn.5:22, 27-29>.

Again, we are all faced with a great decision; to which resurrection will I answer Christ’s call, the first <1 Thess.4:16-17>, or the second resurrection where we will face God’s final judgment. Let us hear God’s Word; “…They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years. (The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended.) This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy are those who have part in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years.” <Rev.20:4-6 (NIV)>; the second death is final separation from God for all eternity!