The Second in a Series of Sermons on John's Epistles
Imagine stumbling through life in complete darkness, not knowing where you are going, and unable to avoid danger or disaster. For the Apostle John, walking in darkness is a powerful metaphor depicting the fate of those apart from Christ–forced to live as slaves to sin, in complete ignorance to the things of God, and at the mercy of false teachers who claimed to be “enlightened,” but who are completely in the dark about the things of the Lord. As John opens this epistle, he reminds us that God is light, and because we have eternal life, we walk in the light of God’s revelation of himself in the person of Jesus Christ, the word of life made manifest in the flesh.
We return to our series on the Epistles of John. As we saw last time, the three epistles we know as 1st, 2nd, and 3rd John were written by the Apostle John, who is also the author of the Gospel bearing his name. We know this to be the case based upon the grammar and style of these epistles, which repeatedly allude to, or are dependent upon, the gospel of John. As I mentioned last time, it is highly probably that these epistles were written after John had completed his gospel. Christian tradition tells us that John had fled Jerusalem at some point before the destruction of the city in 70 A.D., eventually relocating to Ephesus, where it is believed that he lived well into old age, dying during the reign of the Roman emperor Trajan. Since I spent a fair amount of time on background material last time, I would ask you to consider the previous sermon so as to understand the situation in which these epistles were written.
Since we are covering new ground, it is important to briefly recap John’s purpose in writing before we work through our text. Based upon the content of these epistles it is reasonable to conclude that they were written for the purpose of explaining and elaborating upon themes within John’s gospel, as well as to correct the errors of various false teachers who were distorting things John had stated earlier. This will become clear shortly when we come to verses 6-2:1, in which John responds to a series of errors being taught by those who departed from the faith.
Like the Book of James, John’s first epistle is probably a sermon of sorts in which John proclaims to us that Jesus is God manifest in the flesh, who came to earth to bring the word of life. At many points, John simply sets out the truth regarding the person and work of Christ in full confidence that the truth will cast out all error. At the heart of this truth is the fact that Jesus is God manifest in human flesh who came to save us from our sins. This is the light of the gospel, and those who know and understand Christ’s person and work will walk in that light. Walking in the light means repenting of our sins, loving our brothers and sisters, and living confidently in the hope of eternal life.
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