© Charles A. Clough 2013
Charles A. Clough
1 John Series
Lesson 6 – The Form and Structure of John’s First Epistle
13 Oct 2013
Fellowship Chapel, Jarrettsville, MD
Please pass out these little brochures that I did on the Framework. This is for the website, the Biblical Framework website. The reason that I’m having him pass these out is because I want to reemphasize going over it and over it and over it, why the Bible is a package deal. You can’t exist as a Christian with fragments. The Bible addresses every area of life. That means if I study biology, the Scriptures dictate how I study biology. The Scriptures supply information for my study in biology. If I study literature, the Bible defines what language is. Any English class in literature that does not follow the scriptural concept of language is wrong. Because we don’t have real Christian education in the secular education, by definition, all of us have been educated with fragments.
The result is that we allow the non-Christian ideas of unbelief to assault and weaken the Christian faith. It’s like on the military battlefield; if you don’t control all the territory, the enemy will attack you from his territory. So you never can allow enclaves for the enemy to launch assaults against your position. You have to control all the territory. That’s why you always want to have control of the high ground.
During the Korean War, one of the problems was that we let the U. N. dictate the fact that we could not bomb on the other side of the Yalu River. So, when our planes/pilots were getting shot down it was because they were being shot at from across the north side of the Yalu River and couldn’t do anything about it. This is one reason that led historically to MacArthur and Truman’s great debate and why Truman fired MacArthur, because MacArthur was so angry at the United Nations for allowing his pilots to get killed because he could not control the territory north of the Yalu River. So it’s the same thing. Whatever war it is, you have to control the high ground.
When the assault went on Iwo Jima as I did a couple of years back with the Memorial Day service the significant act was when the Marines captured Suribachi, the high mountain. We have that Marine monument in Washington D. C.—that famous picture that Rosenthal took of the Marines planting the flag. It wasn’t that that was the victory of the battle. It wasn’t, because the Marines fought and died for some weeks after that trying to secure the rest of the island. But what that did do is it captured the high ground. From the high ground you control the rest of it.
This is why we have the argument over drones. The drones control the land. So that’s the military side; but ideologically the authority of Scripture is the high ground—period. Everyone has an authority, an ultimate authority. Your authority and my authority are either consciously—self-consciously rooted in the authority of Scripture or it’s rooted in some other place. Ultimate authority does not ever go away; it’s just relocated. So you have to be careful that you think through these things.
That’s why in my frustration of working with secular education I devised the Biblical Framework. It is because the attacks particularly in the university classroom are coming from uncontrolled territories against the Scriptures. They love to present the Christians as a group of religious fanatics, people that hold these little, tiny religious beliefs and they want to compartmentalize us—put us in our little ghetto so that they’ll feel safe. They don’t have to be bothered with us if they can wall us up in the ghetto. What’s frustrating to the non-Christian is you can’t discuss anything. You can’t discuss a political issue, an epistemological issue, or any other issue without a confrontation with the authority of Scripture. So that’s the battle and that’s why I’m handing that out to you. I just wanted to clarify that.
Let’s pray before we get into the epistle today.
Today we’re going to get into the epistle [1 John] itself. On the handout, you have a chart there of a preliminary look at an outline. One of the problems with this particular epistle is that scholars have been frustrated for years (actually the last 200 years) in trying to get an outline. When you read literature, you presume that the author has a thought he wants to communicate.
The tragedy right now is the young people in school today, particularly on the college campuses, are exposed to a new theory of literature. You want to watch this. If you are parents, you want to watch this with your children. The prevailing literature theory today is deconstruction and so on.
Here’s the idea. Today a modern person trained in the university environment is brought up to believe that all reading is your ideas imposed upon the author. There is no such thing as reading a piece of literature and understanding what the intent of the author was. That’s the dogma. So every time you read literature, you’re not reading literature. Every time you’re reading literature, you’re actually reading yourself into it. That’s the modern way of looking at literature.
That’s why when you study Shakespeare, for example, you have to realize that Shakespeare was a white-bigoted male. He can’t address women; and he can’t address black people or Chinese people because he was a white-bigoted-male Englishman. That’s how literature is treated. This is how the Bible is going to be read. It’s a false theory of literature.
Do you know why it’s hypocritical for a teacher to teach that? They don’t read their own employment contract that way. Think about it. If you’re hired by the university, you’ve got an employment contract. It says that you will do this and such, this and such and here’s your salary. Now isn’t it interesting that the contract is never read by the theory of literature. It’s part of the hypocrisy of unbelief. You’ll always see that. Unbelief kills itself; shoots itself in the foot if you can carry it out far enough.
Here are some comments in the frustration of trying to get at John’s thinking. To read this epistle, say John the Apostle had ideas given to him by God and he’s trying to write this to churches. We shouldn’t have a problem with this, but we have to digress and go through this. Here’s the problem with this particular epistle.
One commentator said:
Having translated both the Gospel of John and 1 John, I found the first (that is the Gospel) relatively simple while the obscurity of the second was infuriating. Scholars are divided over the grammar and the meaning of almost every verse in 1 John.
That’s kind of discouraging news when you are trying to study any piece of literature.
Here’s another one. This is kind of humorous.
The most helpful suggestions regarding the structure of 1 John begin by setting down the fact that John does not develop a careful scheme of logical reasoning. Any attempt to find a line of argumentation building one point upon the proof of another is doomed to fail. 1 John simply does not develop its ideas argumentatively. John’s thought process resembles those of a woman more than those of a man.
No attack on the women here but I am just quoting a scholar that is frustrated with this epistle. Yes, this is the white-bigoted male speaking.
Thankfully while I was studying at Dallas Seminary I was exposed to Zane Hodges. Zane Hodges taught Johannine literature for some 30 years. He’s written probably one of the finest commentaries on 1 John. Hodges went back. He had to come to grips with this. So he came up by looking … more and more it’s been thought about on these New Testament epistles that these were read to Christians, which means that probably 95 percent of the recipients were illiterate and that these epistles were written in order to be read. Particularly 1 John was passed around from church to church. At the church it was read.
Turn to 1 Timothy 4:13 and you’ll see a glimpse of the dynamic that was involved in these early churches. 1 Timothy 4:13—you’ll notice what he says here. Paul is exhorting Timothy.
NKJ 1 Timothy 4:12, “Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity.
13 “Till I come, give attention to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine.”
So clearly going on central in these groups, they didn’t have printing press. They only had papyri and papyri by the way were very costly. It cost you a lot to get papyri. They were handmade. Papyri were not something you could go to Staples and get 500 sheets. Not only did they not have copy machines and printing presses, they didn’t even have inexpensive writing materials. This then says okay what in the days of the New Testament was a discourse format?
On your handout I’ve given you some of the points (four points) that we know from other literature that when people read to a group this is what they did. Roman numeral I, the form of the epistle—see where I have the four points. Rhetorical form of public speech is written to be read. Deliberative oration gives a pattern to look for and see the four points. There is a preface. There is a thesis, supporting things and an epilogue.
So you have these four things and you look for these things and ask yourself is this what John is doing in the epistle. The table that I’ve given you there with the outline for 1 John—you see in the left column it’s deliberative, orative structure.
We’re hypothesizing that John wasn’t just randomly writing verses. John was writing something to be read. The deliberative structure has a preface, which is the introduction to the deliberation. The second row is the thesis, the central proposal of the speaker. The third one is supporting material, a sequence of headings that group various arguments to support the thesis. Then you have a conclusion and recapitulation and an epilogue.
From various papyri that were distributed, you say, “Okay, could 1 John be organized this way?” It turns out it apparently is. [Slide 2] That’s why in the right column you see where I said in John’s structure 1 John 1:1–4 is the prologue. 1 John 1:5–2:11 are the preamble. Then in 1 John 2:12–27 is the purpose. That is the purpose. When he gets to that he does an interesting thing. It shows you it’s being read in light of a testimony. Then in 1 John 2:28–4:19 is the main thesis. Then in 1 John 4:20–5:17 he repeats himself. John repeats himself a lot, which also tells you this was written to be read because it was repetition. Then finally 1 John 5:18–21 is a review.
Now we come to what John was graveling at. That’s II. in the outline, the purpose of the epistle. Apparently by this time in church history, there were false teachers who were entering the flocks. This is a warning about false teaching of some sort. John doesn’t go into the details.
Like the Old Testament, we would love to know the details of Baalism; but we have to back out and reverse engineer what Baalism was from the dialogues the prophets are going at. We know a little bit more about Baalism from archeological discoveries in the last 50 or 60 years, but Baalism is kind of a mystery. So we have to be careful. What was Elijah really doing there on Mt. Carmel? We know the substance of it because the Holy Spirit has preserved what we need to know to cope with this.
Here are some problems. The false teachers were claiming to be apostolic in authority. So probably they were Jews and they probably were people who associated with the church at Jerusalem because John says they came out from us. So that was the problem.
Now what were the false teachers doing? False teaching does what? False teaching undercuts Bible doctrine. The false teachers were undercutting Bible doctrine. If you undercut Bible doctrine, what are the consequences of doing that? The consequences of doing that are that believers can no longer walk in fellowship with God if they believe false doctrine. John is concerned pastorally with the damage being done by the false teaching. As he goes through this, he’s going to introduce the substance, the basic truths of interacting with the triune God of the Bible. But then quickly he’s going to deal with the fact that we’ve got a problem. And I want you to understand the problem here. He warns people.
You start to see by 1 John 2, he’s already telling the people, “Watch out. You’ve got a problem with false teaching and I want you to be saved from it. You know better than this. You know doctrine. I’ve taught it to you, or you’ve been taught by others; and there’s no reason for you to be slipping into this false teaching.”
Now when he does this, here’s what modern literature doesn’t deal with. Truth doesn’t change with time. John, one of his words that he’s using again and again, is en arche: in the beginning. I told you this from the beginning. You were taught this from the beginning. Now, stay with it.
Two plus two isn’t five because we had a Gallup poll and the self-esteem of the mass of students dictates that 2 plus 2 is whatever makes you feel good. Truth is abiding. That gets us to what we’re dealing with here.
I bring this up again because we’re dealing with three great questions—always. Everything that you read—I don’t care whether it’s the Bible, the newspaper, or if it’s a textbook. Everything you read deals with these questions. So that’s why under II. [in the outline] I say, “What was the false teaching. Is it some form of Greek idealism?”
I asked the three questions that we talked about previously. What are the three questions?
There are other big questions, but these are the big three. So, let’s address the big three in following my outline there—the three great questions—the metaphysical aspect of reality. In parenthesis (square brackets there) I put some questions that might help you in conversation with unbelievers. The days of presenting the gospel in five minutes are pretty much over. The way with unbelievers today in our particular culture because we’re not thinking deeply is you have to trigger doubt in their minds of their position; and you have to do it in a gracious fashion, so they don’t become defensive. You don’t want them putting up a defense because what you want to do is come around the defense.
You don’t want to precipitate this kind of a reaction to you. “Ooo! You religious people, you bring up religious topics. I don’t want to talk about religion.”
You have to somehow deal with that. Here are the three questions. These are Dr. Norman Geisler’s suggestions here. Do you think that life has a purpose? I’m not talking about religion. Do you think that life has a purpose? That’s a critical question to ask because their answer to that questions gives you an idea of what they believe reality to be.
You can’t have a universe created randomly. That’s why again I put the footnote and you’ve seen it before in a previous handout the note by Bertram Russell. If we are only the product of causes that had no prevision of that which they were achieving, then life is meaningless. So that’s a fundamental question. Do you think life has a purpose?
Do you think human lives are uniquely valuable? The modern ecology doesn’t. You can be arrested and put in jail for destroying eagle nests and eagle birds, but you won’t be put in jail for destroying a human fetus. So, tell me now which one is more valuable? In our society we are dealing with this in a very serious fashion in public policy already…
The next question—do you believe human life is uniquely valuable? Uniquely, adverb. Has the universe been designed?
I had a conversation with some unbelievers in my own family last night about this. Brook and I were just talking about a friend of his, a student studying genetics. What college? Stevenson University, student is studying genetics. As he looks at genetics and he gets into the details the codes; there’s a four-letter alphabet that spells out your and my blueprints. We have 25–26 letters in our alphabet; God did it in four. Those four letters designed our whole human body.
So getting into the cell and the genetic structure, this guy said, “If anybody can’t look at this and see design; they’re nuts.”
Of all 2,000 years of church history we have never ever had as much evidence of God’s design as we do today. 100 years ago, 1,000 years ago, there wasn’t available the kind of data that we have to show design. So that’s the three questions.
Now the Greeks, I had a little blank there. What was the Greek theory of reality? We know pretty much what the Greek theory of reality was in the sense that the Greeks—they were struggling between idealism and total despair. In their idealism, Plato and Aristotle knew very well that truth has to abide. If truth constantly changes, you don’t have truth.
We want to learn about this because this is a rewarding trip to take so you will appreciate what we have in the Bible.
The Greeks frantically were looking to protect truth and righteousness and justice. They saw that physical reality is in flux. It’s changing. We’re born and we die. The plants rise and then they drop. So, the Greeks were looking at this constant change in matter. They said justice and truth can’t be material. They’ve got to be ideal. So they were struggling with the abstract rule of the ideal good, truth.
But as we said before when they came to proof, Plato actually had a problem. What is the ideal proof? You see it doesn’t work on certain things. But he knew he had to have some ideal in order to stop the change. If you don’t have God and a revealing God, where are you going to locate unchanging truth? You’ve got to conceive of some abstract idea, or you have nothing.
The most radical revolutionary of Marx was talking about justice; but on a material basis he couldn’t find it. Where do you find justice in matter? You can’t find justice in matter. You can’t hear it. You can’t touch it. You can’t feel it. So, that’s the dilemma.
That’s why I keep showing you this chart [Slide 4]. On the right side of the chart without the Creator/creature distinction you wind up with a universe of just one type of existence ranging from the gods, the goddesses, rocks, minerals, the whole nine yards. It’s all subject to change. The gods and goddesses of Greek mythology were changing. They fought with each other. If you don’t have the Word of God as the Creator/creature distinction, you don’t have a basis for truth.
That’s what John’s going to get at. Somehow whoever these false teachers are, they were influenced by the Greek idea that later on burst into Gnosticism. But it was Greek idealism matters to be dismissed. It’s just the ideal.
Here’s why this killed Christian life. You’ll see John do this in the epistle. If you follow that kind of thinking and you follow it out, track down and keep going, keep going; where does that lead? What are the consequences of thinking that way? If matter isn’t really worthy and it’s not abiding and it’s not just; justice doesn’t pertain to matter. But my body and your body are made of matter and it’s decaying; what does that do about sin in the Christian life? What it says is, it’s not really important. This is why later you’ll see John saying that the regenerate nature cannot sin because it’s in seed abiding in us. He’s not for sinlessness, he’s arguing for the sinlessness of regenerate nature given to us by regeneration. You can see that he’s struggling with this. So we kind of infer that these false teachers are kind of going along with Greek culture.
John says, “No, no. You keep going that way and you’ve destroyed the whole Christian life.” So these are the ideas he’s coming to grips with.
Then we have the epistemological aspect that took us over to the other side. Truth, what is truth? You’ll see I have hard brackets there. I say these are questions for our contemporary conversation. Do you think there are absolute truths that hold for all time for all people? That’s a good question to throw out in the conversation. Do you believe that there are things that are true for everybody—true for you, true for me, true for people 1,000 years ago and true for people today? Do you believe that? By their answer, people will reveal to you their theory of truth.
A good one to ask is do you think all religious beliefs teach basically the same thing?
I bet you most people say, “Yeah, they do,” because they’re thinking of some generic deity. I don’t pray to a generic deity. I pray to the Lord Jesus, God the Father, and Holy Spirit, the God of the Bible. It’s not a generic deity created by some lawyer, some judge, that says I can’t pray in the county council meeting or use Jesus’ name or the rule of the Department of Defense that I’m a military chaplain and I can’t end my prayers in Jesus’ name? Bologna! What god do you want me to pray to? Allah? Do all religions teach the same thing? It’s a good test.
Now the question is what would the Greek mind have answered to these questions? The Greek mind would kind of mishmash them together because again it’s all part of the continuity of being. It doesn’t matter what the differences are.
Then we come to the ethical thing, conduct. A good question to ask—do you believe that some things are either right or wrong for everyone? A simple question. Listen to the answer you get when you ask it. And what do the Greeks believe? Again, if my body and your body are matter subject to decay and change; then it really doesn’t matter about say, the Ten Commandments, or any moral imperative.
Now let’s conclude. In the last 15 minutes of class let’s look at if John gives us hints in the epistle’s text itself of why he wrote these things. Now we know in the Gospel he does tell us at the end.
John 20:31, John says:
NKJ John 20:31, “but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.”
So he clearly tells you that. He prefaces it by saying, “Jesus did a whole lot more. I’m only giving you a subset of revelation.”
That’s something else to seriously remember as a Bible student. This book that we’re holding here is only a part of the revelation God has historically given. We don’t know the other things. The lost book of Jasher, what was that? The Chronicles of the Judean Kings? We don’t have that. What happened to all these books? We don’t know. They were just were lost. We have to deduce that the Holy Spirit didn’t think they were necessary for us, so He didn’t preserve them.
But let’s turn to the end of 1 John. Let’s turn to 1 John 5, because here there is a verse that some think tells us the purpose of the epistle. So, the last part of your handout is a chart. We’re going to do a sort of inductive Bible study here. We’re going to look at every place in the epistle where he announces why he has written these things. The last one is 1 John 5:13.
NKJ 1 John 5:13, “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.”
Commentators who hold that this is the final of answer of John, why he wrote the epistle, would argue then that these Christians really weren’t sure they were believers.
Remember what I said last time about Arminianism and Calvinism? You take both of them to the extreme and you don’t have assurance. So they’re arguing on the basis of verse 13 that these people weren’t assured of their salvation, so John had to beef it up. But if you’ll look at the context, always look at the context, in the context both before verse 13 and after 13, he’s talking about prayer. He’s talking about trusting the Lord in prayer.
Is this verse 13 really telling us why he wrote the whole epistle or is it local? Is it telling us why he wrote that part of the epistle? Keep in mind this was written to be read and somebody is reading this to us. We don’t have a copy of it, and you were the writer knowing your piece was going to be read; what would you do? I think I would put repetition in there.
A person hears it and they’re following you. They’re listening, they’re listening, they’re listening; but they forgot this because they’re listening to this. So when I get down to here I’m afraid they have forgotten this so I’ll repeat this. That creates a style. That’s how you would write this because it’s written to be read.
Well, in that text I’ve got 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 cases and we’re going to look at each one of those six verses now. Look at the first one. Turn to 1 John 1:4. That’s the first place he starts telling you why he’s writing these things. This tells us a reason.
Now what you have to say is, “Is this the reason for the whole epistle or these things for the local context of the epistle?”
He says here:
NKJ 1 John 1:4, “And these things we write to you that your joy may be full.”
There is a little text problem there. I tend to follow the Majority Text, not the Critical Text. The other reading says, “These things we write unto you that our joy may be full,” which is precisely what he says in 2 John and 3 John. In this case then what he’s saying:
NKJ 1 John 1:4, “And these things we write to you that your joy may be full.”
He’s just told in 1 John 1:3 about having fellowship. He wants the people that he has read to, “I want you to have joy in your life because I’m a pastor. In the ultimate sense, I’m a pastor. I want my sheep to enjoy fellowship with God.”
NKJ 1 John 1:4, “And these things we write to you that your (my) joy may be full.”
Let’s look at 1 John 2:1. Now he’s saying another thing. He’s repeating himself here. You’ll notice most of this is at the front end of the epistle because he’s working up to where he has to come to grips with the false teaching. So in 1 John 2:1, he’s just dealt with God’s holiness. He’s just declared God as the God of light, not of darkness. That is another slam at this Greek idea.
So he’s saying:
NKJ 1 John 2:1, “My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.”
He’s not arguing for sinless perfection. He would like us not to sin. No pastor does want his people to sin. None of us want to sin, but we know we do. So, what do we do when we sin?
“I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have …”
We have a propitiation, a Propitiator and it’s the Lord Jesus Christ. We’ll get into that kind of theology later. This is the reason that he is writing the local context. You see my little chart.
NKJ 1 John 2:1, “… I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.
2 “And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.”
He’s moving the conversation from the Father to the Son at that point. That’s why three weeks ago, I was pointing out—watch the Trinity. We’re coming up on the Trinity here. It’s embedded in the literature. Here’s one of those passages where he’s shifting from the Father to the Son. When he does that, the subject material shifts, which tells me that my relationship with the Father is a little different than my relationship with the Son. There is a different subject emphasis.
All right let’s turn to 1 John 2:7.
Here he’s been talking about a relationship with the Son. Now he’s drifting into what looks like he’s talking about the Holy Spirit; but he doesn’t mention the Holy Spirit by name.
NKJ 1 John 2:7, “Brethren, I write no new commandment to you, but an old commandment which you have had from the beginning.”
See that phrase, “you heard it from the beginning.” What is the Greek idea? Truth is kind of an abstract. John says truth is abiding. Truth doesn’t change. So, it’s an opening.
“you have had from the beginning.”
“an old commandment which you have had from the beginning.”
NKJ 1 John 2:8, “Again,”
He’s ironic here. Yet (you would say in our English) it is a:
“new commandment I write to you, which thing is true in Him and in you, because the darkness is passing away, and the true light is already shining.”
That’s the dispensational shift from the Age of the Law to the Age of Grace in the church. Now is that talking about the whole epistle or is that talking about what he just wrote? Well, you look at the context. He’s going to discuss the new commandment. Here’s where he introduces the commandment.
NKJ 1 John 2:9, “He who says he is in the light, and hates his brother, is in darkness until now.
NKJ 1 John 2:10, “He who loves his brother abides in the light, and there is no cause for stumbling in him.”
He’s talking about brothers—about believer–believer relationship in the church there.
It’s not written to unbelievers but written to believers. He’s saying that this is a new commandment. It’s new for this age because we have a risen Savior. We have Jesus who ascended to be at the Father’s right hand and who, by the way, is in charge of the high ground.
The high ground has already been captured. Satan cannot sit in the chair. This chair is already occupied. Someone is sitting at the Father’s right hand. That changes things.
And John says, “Yes, it is a new commandment in a way because things have changed. Jesus now sits at the Father’s right hand.”
Let’s go further in 1 John 2:12–14. Now here’s a section that kind of tips you off that this was written to be read. When you speak or you talk, think about your own conversation with somebody. How many times when you are conversing with someone, do you repeat yourself? Maybe once or twice when you’re trying to tell them a story, you’re trying to do something, or you’ve been in an auto accident.
You’re saying, “This is what happened.”
You’ll find yourself repeating. Why? Because, you want to emphasize this. Watch what happens in verse 12, verse 13, and verse 14.
NKJ 1 John 2:12, “I write to you, little children,”
Is he talking about all believers? Probably in this case not. He’s talking about young believers.
“Because your sins are forgiven you for His name’s sake.
13 “I write to you, fathers,”
Maybe they’re the older men, the older believers.
“Because you have known Him who is from the beginning. I write to you, young men,”
Here is where he raises the problem of false teaching for the first time in the epistle, explicitly.
“Because you have overcome the wicked one.”
The first time he mentions Satan. The young men are the warriors. It’s the young men who are the warrior class. So he addresses each one very pastorally in the sense he’s sensitive to the young believer. What’s the young believer first to know? He knows one thing for sure.
“My sins are forgiven in Jesus’ name. I don’t know a lot else, but I know that.”
14 “I have written to you, fathers, Because you have known Him who is from the beginning. I have written to you, young men, Because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, And you have overcome the wicked one.”
He is preparing them to do battle, but he starts with their relationship with God.
The tense now shifts. It looks like he repeats himself.
If you look now at the end of verse 13:
“I write to you, little children,”
That’s a different Greek word than the first one. It’s the word for a child who had a tutor, a young child. The idea is that he has a teacher and he’s being tutored. He’s being disciplined. He’s learning.
As Judge Bork, who I’m not sure was a believer, but he wrote as one in many cases. He says, “You know each generation is born as savages that must be civilized by a family.”
Anyone who has raised kids knows you don’t have to teach a kid how to be bad, do you? Did you ever see a little boy, a little girl? They know how to be bad. They come equipped that way. We as parents have to deal with that. It’s part of the depravity of man. They are cute little creatures made in God’s image; but they are depraved cute little creatures.
So he says:
“I write to you, little children, Because you have known the Father.”
Now he addresses the three people again; but it’s a past tense. The first is a present tense. I am writing unto you this, this, this, and this.
Now he shifts the perspective. I have written unto you. What do you mean you have written? You just got through the process of writing. Why do you use the past tense here? He uses past tense because he’s repeating himself.
What he is saying is, “I have just said that I’ve written to you.”
So past tense I write—I have written unto you. See the shift?
14 “I have written to you, fathers, Because you have known Him who is from the beginning. I have written to you, young men,”
Now he amplifies it because he’s going into the false teaching. These are the Christian warriors. He treats the believer that has grown up, that is mature on the front lines and he says:
“I have written to you, young men, Because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, And you have overcome the wicked one.”
So now he amplifies it a little bit. Do you see what he’s done? He’s done what you and I do all the time in our everyday conversation. He repeats himself. That’s another signal that this is being read to people.
Papyri are expensive. He’s not in the business of putting a lot of words on papyri and using up the sheet. You’re very conservative when you write these documents, so the fact that he’s taking all this extra papyri space means that he wants an emphasis.
Whoever the pastor who is reading this, “I want you to read this. Listen to me. Let me address your congregation.”
Let’s look at 1 John 2:21. Here’s another case—preface verse 20.
NKJ 1 John 2:20, “But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you know all things.”
By the way that’s where we get the word for Christ.
NKJ 1 John 2:21, “I have not written to you because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and that no lie is of the truth.”
There again, is this the whole epistle? Or, is this injected at this point in the reading to the believers? He’s not saying he’s adding new doctrines. This is why there is no argumentation for anything new. 1 John doesn’t introduce any new truth. It’s more of a reminder of truth.
Then finally 1 John 2:26.
NKJ 1 John 2:26, “These things I have written to you concerning those who try to deceive you.”
See, he’s moving more and more into the false teacher issue.
We are about to run out of time. Next time hopefully we’ll have some discussion about this. But, please read 1 John 1, just chapter 1—just that little bit. Kind of observe it and we’ll move into that.