FIRST JOHN: PURPOSE, STRUCTURE, AND SUMMARY
A version of this article was published in Voice: An Independent Church Journal (97:5, September/October 2018), pp. 28-28.
John wrote this letter of concern in the 80’s AD to be circulated amongst the churches around Ephesus where he was ministering. A movement of false teachers had taken hold there and had gained a notable amount of defectors from the faith (2:18-21). This explanatory text deep in the body of the letter is vital for understanding the background and purpose for its writing. John writes to assure the faithful remnant that they needn’t worry that they were missing out on God’s truth. John’s repetitive correctives in the letter suggest that the false teachers denied the reality of sin, distorted the knowledge of Christ, and advanced an esoteric spirituality reserved for those who followed their “enlightened” teachings.
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