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Day 348 – Thru the Bible
Today we complete First John and read Second and Third John. Nice job!
1 John 5 – As John approaches the end of his letter, he weaves the three strands of right belief, God’s love for other Believers flowing through us, and glad obedience into a strong cord of assurance. There is nothing here that provides new content beyond what John has already said. His purpose here is to show the interconnectedness of these three realities of gospel transformation. Belief, love, and obedience are all mutually reinforcing. The Christian life is one of head, heart, and hands. However, key for the right interpretation of this passage and later writings of John is the fact that the person who “overcomes the world” (i.e., is given ultimate victory over sin and its effects) is one marked by “our faith” and who “believes that Jesus is the Son of God.” (Revelation ; 5; ). Eternal salvation is never gained by human effort but is granted to those who rest on Jesus.
In 1 John 5:6–11, John speaks of the truth of the gospel being testified to both by historical fact (“by water and blood,” perhaps referring to Jesus’ confirming baptism and sacrificial death) and by a divine, spiritual confirmation in the heart of the Believer. Belief in this twin testimony brings us, by faith, into the “eternal life” God gives us in His Son.
John brings his letter to a close, clearly announcing his purpose, namely, that his genuinely believing readers might have full assurance of the “eternal life” they have in Jesus Christ. This confidence in eternal life should translate into a daily confidence here and now, worked out in prayer that is “according to [God’s] will” for ourselves, and for others, with trust for spiritual protection, and in daily fellowship with God and in Jesus that turns us from all earthly idols.
How has this letter helped you rest in your assurance of your belief in Jesus?
2 John 1 – It is impossible to miss John’s emphasis on “truth” in the opening verses. As in his first letter, John is here concerned that the truth of the gospel be the foundation upon which all church life in general, and all relationships between professing Believers specifically, be grounded.
While it is John’s concern for the truth that emerges with greatest force, he makes a point to link it with love, a connection that reverberates throughout 1 John too. Right from the start, John establishes the content of the gospel (the “truth” of “grace, mercy, and peace . . . from God the Father and from Jesus Christ the Father’s Son”) and one of the primary fruits of the gospel (“love”). The apostles Paul and Peter also joined truth with love (Ephesians 4:15; 1 Peter 1:22).
The truth is we live in accordance with Jesus’ command to love one another because that is now who we are. Showing again that transformation is the inevitable result of a right response to God’s word of grace in the gospel.
Having been loved so marvelously, all out of proportion to what we deserve, we are freed to love others—even when they do not deserve it.
We also see John warns his readers to be on the alert for anyone who in their teaching “does not abide in the teaching of Christ” and who thus teaches in a way that erodes both the content and the effect of the gospel. The doctrinal test for teaching is here the same as is seen in 1 John: whether or not someone confesses “the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh” (1 John 4:2–3). Any attempt to change or replace the gospel will be tested by the unchanging truths of the gospel of Jesus, the Christ.
We are never called to move past the gospel but rather to abide in it. The gospel of God’s great love for us, won by Another, is our daily meat and drink.
How had the Gospel transformed how you love?
3 John 1 – Once again John’s concern for the integrity of the truth of the gospel (explained in his previous letters; examples, ; ; ), held tightly by individual Believers and controlling relationships between believers, emerges with clarity and force in the opening verses of his letter.
Four times in these opening verses the word “truth” appears, and each time it does so with clear emphasis. John is unapologetically communicating the importance of faithfulness to the objective content of the gospel for the health of both the individual Believer and the local church. By inference, we see John’s passionate opposition to teaching that is false, both for its very falseness and for its effect. It should not go without notice that this passion for the truth is, as we have come to expect from John, covered with a deep love for those to whom he writes. John rejoices in his spiritual “children” who are “walking in the truth.” (2 John 4).
There is no tension between loving truth and loving grace. After all, Jesus himself came, as John says in his Gospel account, “full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). In cherishing truth and earnestly loving others, we follow in the footsteps of the Savior.
John’s burden in this letter is (1) the commendation of the church, and of Gaius in particular, for supporting faithful gospel ministers, and (2) encouragement that such support might continue. By such support, Believers actually participate in faithful gospel ministry. (This is exactly the opposite of the “participation” in wickedness that we see in 2 John 11.) Therefore, all genuine Believers participate in the ministry of the gospel as it goes forth.
It is striking that John speaks of those who “have gone out for the sake of the name.” This is, indeed, our impelling motive in all that we do: the name of Jesus. He laid down His life for our sake; we gladly respond by laying down our lives for His sake.
John gives an example of one who was refusing to support gospel-faithful ministry, evidently as a result of a desire to draw attention to himself and
to be independent of anyone else’s authority. As such, Diotrephes demonstrates again how a failure to personally yield to the gospel will inevitably result in a life that betrays the gospel.
John encourages his readers rather to follow the example of those whose lives conform to God’s truth and whose lives put on display for all to see the transforming power of the gospel. There is a fellowship in the gospel, and John calls his
readers to purposefully engage in it, both for specific purposes and in daily life. He ends his letter with a reminder of the great promise of the gospel (peace), with an expression of hope concerning his plans for a future visit, and with expressions of personal fellowship.
How has the Gospel transformed your daily life?
What other thoughts or questions does today’s reading bring up?
Some of these notes are from the ESV Gospel Transformation Bible study notes. We highly recommend this study Bible.
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