In this chapter John sums up the point of everything he has previously written. He writes of faith in Christ, loving God, and overcoming the world (v. 1‐5). He then reviews God’s witness that gives us certainty regarding eternal life in Christ (v. 6‐13), and concludes with teaching on prayer (v. 14‐17) and the sure knowledge found in the Son of God (v. 18‐21).
Points To Ponder
· The importance of faith, love, and obedience
· What it means to overcome the world
· The nature of eternal life as a present possession
· Sin which does not lead to death, and sin which does
· The nature and importance of God’s commandments
· How to be confident our prayers are heard by God
Observation: What does the passage say?
Faith in the Son of God
God’s testimony about Jesus Christ
Record observations and write questions that come to mind from each verse.
1. What are the main points of this chapter?
2. What is absolutely necessary to be born of God? (v 1)
3. How do we know that we love the children of God (fellow believers)? (v 2)
4. What makes God’s commandments not burdensome? (v 3)
5. How can we overcome the world? (v 4)
6. What three things bore witness concerning Jesus Christ? (v 6-8)
7. What is the “testimony God has given about his Son? (v 11)
8. Why did John write these things in his epistle? (v 13)
9. What confidence do we have in prayer? (v 14‐15)
10. What is the sin that leads to death? (v 16)
11. What does anyone born of God not continue to do? (v 18)
12. In verse 18, is John saying that a Christian never sins?
13. What does John mean when he says the “whole world is under the power of the evil one (v. 19)? How do you see this to be true today?
Interpretation: What does the passage mean?
1. According to verse 2, what is the relationship between loving God, keeping His commandments and loving the children of God?
2. In verse 3, John culminates his discussion of love by defining the love of God. Considering this verse and John 14:21, 23-24, write your own definition of what it means to love God.
3. What does it mean to overcome the world? (v4)
4. John mentions in verse 4 that being born of God and having faith in Christ are the keys to overcoming the world through love. How do these two things combine with love to help believers overcome the trials and temptations of the world?
5. The phrase “came by water and blood” may refer to Jesus’ baptism and his crucifixion. Recall the false teaching in the church at the time that claimed that Jesus was only God between his baptism and his death – that is, he was merely human until he was baptized, at which time “the Christ” descended upon him, but then left later before his death on the cross.
6. Some people “hope” they will be given eternal life, John says we can know we have it. Our certainty is based on God’s promise that he has given us eternal life through his Son. Eternal life is based on facts, not on feelings (v. 13).
7. The “sin that leads to death” (v. 16, 17) has been interpreted many ways. First of all, whether it means physical death or spiritual death. Paul claimed in 1 Cor. 27-30 that some people physically died because they took communion in an unworthy manner. Ananias and Sapphira were struck physically dead when they lied to God (Acts 5:1-11). Hebrews describes the spiritual death of the person who turns against Christ (Heb 6:4-6). Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit results in spiritual death (Mark 3:29). In the context of this letter, however, since it was written in part against the Gnostic teaching which denied the incarnation and threw off moral constraints, the sin that leads to death probably refers to the Gnostics’ adamant and persistent denial of the truth and to their shameless immorality. This kind of unrepentant sin leads to spiritual death according to John.
8. Christians commit sins, of course, but they ask God to forgive them, and they continue serving them. God has freed us from slavery to Satan and keeps us safe from his continued attacks. The rest of the world does not have the Christian’s freedom to obey God.
9. John concludes his letter with three striking statements, affirming the truths that “we know” and summarizing some of the letter’s major themes. He is speaking here about the confidence we have (we know!) in our faith, in Christ, and in eternal life. Restate, he is saying we know who wins – we’ve seen the final score.
Application: How does this passage apply to me?
1. Verse 3 reveals that loving God is achieved by keeping God’s commandments with a willing spirit. Do you struggle more with obeying God (keeping His commandments) or doing it with proper motivation (His commandments are not burdensome? Explain.
2. What areas of your life testify to others that you believe Jesus is the Son of God?
3. In this passage, John teaches that loving God helps us love others. Do you find it easier to love God or to love others in your life?
4. Think of a few times when your prayers were outside of God’s will (v. 14). Looking back on those times, what have you learned from them?
5. From verse 18, what are some areas of your life where Jesus kept you safe from sin lately?
6. What has convinced you that true life is found in Jesus?
7. In John’s concluding sentences he adamantly states what “we know” about God, Christ, our faith and eternal life. How confident are you in the areas John mentions?
8. What are the areas of your life where you struggle with idolatry? How can you overcome this with the truth of Christ?
9. What is one thing you learned this week that you can directly apply to your life?
Sources:The Holy Bible, New International Version © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society
Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland
Serendipity Bible for Groups Third Edition, Zondervan Publishing Grand Rapids © 1998
The NIV Study Bible, 10th Anniversary Edition, Zondervan Publishing Grand Rapids © 1995
Life Application Bible New Revised Standard Version Tyndale House Wheaton © 1988, 1989, 1990