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The OG On 1 John

On Monday, for the next few months I will write an Interruption  in summary of one book of the New Testament. Today it’s the OG (Old Guy—that’s me) on the Book of 1 John.

We are writing these things so that you may fully share our joy (1 John 1:4, NLT).

There isn’t another book in the Bible with the expressed theme of bringing joy to those who read it.

Juxtaposed with joy, there’s a note of melancholy in this letter, as the aged Apostle John (he’s at least 90 years old) uses the phrase “little children” seven times as a wise grandfather telling the church what to remember and what’s important, just before he passes to be with the Lord.

We proclaim to you what we ourselves have actually seen and heard so that you may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ (1:3).

John uses a unique method of writing. Today books are written progressing from one theme to another. But 1 John mentions topics, then other topics, and then mentions previous topics again.

Let me express this visually: Books usually sequence thoughts linearly—1, 2, 3, 4, 5. But 

1 John progresses ideas differently—1, 2, 3, 2, 1, 5.

There isn’t straight-line reasoning, only topics written as John thinks of them, and then he builds on these themes by coming back to them over and over. He focuses on topics like Jesus, the Spirit, righteousness, end times, and love. 

I once heard a Bible teacher say, “1 John teaches a topic and then reminds us of this topic again and again throughout the book.” 

Personally, I’ve found it’s a great way to learn. Each topic mentioned has companion verses throughout the letter. Let’s read 1 John 1:9 and subsequent verses about sin. . .  

If we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness (1:9).

My dear children, I am writing this to you so that you will not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate who pleads our case before the Father (2:1).

If you see a fellow believer sinning in a way that does not lead to death, you should pray, and God will give that person life (5:16a).

Below are my favorite verses in 1 John. I challenge you to mark these verses in your Bible, then read 1 John looking for their companion verses.

Dear children, the last hour is here. You have heard that the Antichrist is coming, and already many such antichrists have appeared. From this we know that the last hour has come (2:18).

This is the message you have heard from the beginning: We should love one another (3:11).

The Spirit who lives in you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world (4:4b).

In 1 John, the aged Apostle John writes to us as “little children,” repeating himself over and over on themes that we must grasp to fully mature in Christ. And then John gives one final exhortation in the last verse of his epistle. . . 

Dear children, keep away from anything that might take God’s place in your heart (5:21).

Amen! Just as relevant for us today as when it was written almost two thousand years ago!

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