BibleProject New Testament Series - Lesson 29

1-3 John - BibleProject

The lesson introduces the letters of John, including their historical and cultural context, authorship, and purpose. The literary features of the letters, such as style, language, structure, and outline, are examined. The themes and messages of the letters, including love and fellowship, truth and error, the importance of Jesus' humanity and divinity, and living in light of God's love and truth, are also explored. Finally, the significance of John's letters in the New Testament, such as their contributions to a larger understanding of the New Testament and their impact on the original audience, are discussed.

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Taught by a Team
BibleProject New Testament Series
Lesson 29
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1-3 John - BibleProject

BP150-29: 1-3 John

I. Introduction to the Letters of John

A. Historical and Cultural Context

B. Authorship and Purpose

II. Literary Features of John's Letters

A. Style and Language

B. Structure and Outline

III. Themes and Message of John's Letters

A. Love and Fellowship

B. Truth and Error

C. The Importance of Jesus' Humanity and Divinity

D. Living in Light of God's Love and Truth

IV. Significance of John's Letters in the New Testament

A. Contributions to a Larger Understanding of the New Testament

B. Impact on the Original Audience

  • You will gain a comprehensive understanding of the literary design, purpose, themes, and messages of each book in the New Testament, including the four Gospels, Acts of the Apostles, epistles of Paul, general epistles, and the book of Revelation.
  • You will gain a comprehensive understanding of the book of Matthew 1-13 through this lesson, including the literary design of the book, the flow of thought in each chapter, and the key themes and events. The lesson highlights the importance of Jesus' role in bringing God's kingdom to earth and inviting his disciples into a new way of life.
  • You will gain knowledge and insight into the Gospel book of Matthew through an overview of the first 13 chapters. You will learn how Matthew presents Jesus as the king who brings God's kingdom to earth, and how his disciples are invited to participate in this new way of life through his death and resurrection. You will also discover the central theme of the kingdom of God in Matthew, its relationship with the Church, and the call to discipleship and obedience.
  • Gain insight into the book of Mark's literary design and flow of thought, as well as Jesus' role as Israel's Messiah, inaugurating God's kingdom through his suffering, death, and resurrection.
  • By studying the Gospel of Luke, you will gain knowledge of the authorship, purpose, themes, and literary features of the Gospel, as well as a deep understanding of Luke 1-2, which narrates the miraculous births of John the Baptist and Jesus and provides models of faith and obedience. You will discover how Luke emphasizes the universality of God's love and the role of the Holy Spirit in empowering Jesus and his followers.
  • Luke's Gospel portrays Jesus as the fulfillment of God's promises told in the Old Testament, bringing the good news of God's kingdom to the poor, teaching his disciples about prayer, trust, and generosity, continuing his mission to the poor and social outsiders, celebrating God's mercy for the lost and the tragic resistance of Israel's leaders, and ultimately dying on the cross as an embodiment of God's love and mercy.
  • In the Gospel of John, the first half of the book tells stories of Jesus performing miraculous signs that lead to controversy, culminating in the raising of Lazarus and his rejection by Israel's leaders, all of which prepare us to understand Jesus as the Messiah, teacher of Israel, and Son of God who offers a new quality of life through belief in Him.
  • You will gain insights into Jesus' ministry and teachings, including the seven signs of Jesus' public ministry and his private ministry, which include the washing of the disciples' feet, farewell discourse, and high priestly prayer.
  • This lesson provides comprehensive insight into the introduction and context of the book of Acts, the early church in Jerusalem, and the gospel going to the Gentiles.
  • You will learn about the book of Acts, covering chapters 13-28, which includes Paul's missionary journeys, the Jerusalem Council, and his journey to Rome, and learn about the debates and decisions made by the apostles and elders, as well as gain insights into Paul's ministry and travels.
  • In Paul's Letter to the Romans, he explains how the gospel reveals God's righteousness, creates a new humanity fulfilling God's promise to Israel, and unifies the church, with chapters one through four laying the foundation for understanding the rest of the letter, which emphasizes that all humanity is hopelessly trapped in sin and needs to be rescued through faith in Jesus.
  • In Paul's letter to the Romans, he explores the idea that all humanity is trapped in sin and needs to be rescued through Jesus' death and resurrection, and that being in the family of Abraham means being a part of a new humanity that God is creating through Jesus and the Spirit, with the purpose of rescuing and renewing all of creation.
  • Explore 1 Corinthians to gain insights into complex problems faced by the church and how Paul responds through the gospel. Learn about unity, sexual integrity, love, worship order, and the resurrection as the foundation of hope in the future. Understand the gospel's application to all aspects of life.
  • In 2 Corinthians, you will learn about Paul's efforts to reconcile with the Corinthians, address their forgotten generosity, and confront the "super apostles" who undermine his authority, revealing the paradox of the cross and its implications for a transformed life.
  • You will gain an understanding of the background, context, and content of Galatians, including the false teaching that prompted Paul's letter, his defense of his gospel and authority, the role of the law in God's promise to Abraham, and the importance of living by the Spirit and bearing the fruit of the Spirit.
  • Gain insights into the book of Ephesians, which emphasizes the creation of unified, ethnically diverse communities through devotion to Jesus and each other.
  • This lesson on Philippians will provide you with a comprehensive understanding of its background, authorship, themes, literary features, detailed analysis of each chapter, and significance in Christian theology and impact on the church.
  • By studying Colossians, you will gain understanding of the book's authorship, background, and theological themes such as Christology, spiritual maturity, and the new humanity in Christ and how to practically apply the teachings of Colossians to the church and daily life.
  • By studying this lesson on the book of 1 Thessalonians, you will gain understanding of its background, themes, purpose, literary features, and application. You will learn about the historical and cultural relevance of the book and its personal and spiritual significance for us today.
  • You will gain an understanding of the background, purpose, and themes of 2 Thessalonians, as well as an in-depth exegesis of the text. The application of the book to historical and cultural contexts, as well as its relevance for today, is also explored.
  • This lesson provides comprehensive insights into the book of 1 Timothy, including its background, themes, and significance in the New Testament, such as its contribution to understanding church leadership and worship, the historical context of the early church, and its application for modern church life.
  • In 2 Timothy, Paul writes to Timothy from prison, urging him to stay strong in the face of persecution and to confront corrupt teachers who are causing problems in the church in Ephesus.
  • This lesson on the book of Titus provides a comprehensive understanding of its background, authorship, purpose, structure, themes, and significance, enabling you to appreciate its contributions to the New Testament, its impact on the original audience, and its relevance to the Church today.
  • Gain insights into Paul's letter to Philemon about forgiveness and reconciliation with his runaway slave, challenging assumptions about social justice and inequality, and highlighting Paul's commitment to pastoral care and reconciliation.
  • This lesson on Hebrews covers the authorship, purpose, literary genre, Christology, eschatology, and theology of the book, providing insights into Jesus as the Son of God, High Priest, and Perfect Sacrifice, the concept of Rest, Warning Passages, and the Superiority of Christ and the New Covenant, the Importance of Faith and Obedience, and the Perseverance of the Saints.
  • In the Book of James, you will explore the wisdom of Jesus' teachings and the Book of Proverbs, examining themes such as faith and works, the power of words, wealth, poverty, and wisdom, ultimately learning to live according to the "Perfect Torah of Freedom."
  • Through participating in this lesson, you will learn about 1 Peter, including information on its authorship and date, recipients and purpose, theological themes, literary features, and application. The lesson covers the book's historical and cultural context, as well as its contemporary relevance, and provides insights into how it speaks to topics such as suffering and glory, holiness and ethics, and Christology and salvation.
  • You will gain understanding of the book of 2 Peter, including its authorship, date, and literary context, as well as its theological themes, interpretation, and application. By studying 2 Peter, you will learn about false teachers and their destruction, the day of the Lord, the second coming of Christ, the certainty of God's promises, and the importance of godly living in contemporary Christian life.
  • You will gain knowledge and insight into the letters of John, including their historical and cultural context, authorship, purpose, literary features, themes, and messages, as well as their significance in the New Testament.
  • The book of Jude emphasizes the importance of contending for the Christian faith and exposes corrupt teachers, using both biblical and non-biblical Jewish texts as examples, ultimately highlighting that obedience to Jesus is the true indicator of genuine belief.
  • You will gain a deeper understanding of the book of Revelation, including its historical and literary context, authorship, purpose, and genre, as well as its structure, themes, and images. Additionally, you will be introduced to different interpretive approaches and learn how to apply the book to your personal life, the church, and culture.
  • This lesson provides an understanding of the book of Revelation, including its structure, content, symbolism, interpretive approaches, message, and relevance, helping you to gain insight into the nature of God, the victory of Christ, the role of the church, and the end of history.

BP150-29 - 1-3 John

The letters of first, second and third. John first. John is actually anonymous, but second, third, John are written by someone who's called the elder. Now, the language and style of all three of these works are identical to each other and to John's gospel. And so most people think that all of them come from the disciple that Jesus loved. Now, that could be John, the son of Zebedee, one of the 12 apostles. Or it could be another John. Among Jesus's earliest disciples, known as John the Elder. Whichever John it was, he's now in his old age and he's overseeing a network of house church communities that are likely around the city of ancient Ephesus. Now, from clues within the Gospel and from these letters, it seems that these communities were made up mostly of Jewish followers of Jesus, and that they had recently gone through a crisis that motivated John to write these letters. He mentions that a group of people have broken off from these churches. These people no longer acknowledge Jesus as Israel's Messiah or as the Son of God, and they're stirring up hostility among those who stayed faithful to the churches. In fact, second and third, John clearly addressed this conflict. Second, John is a warning to a specific house church. There are people who deny Jesus. John calls them deceivers, and they're probably going to come looking for validation or support. And this church community is not to offer any. Third, John is actually written to a member of one of these house churches, a man named Gaius. And the elder asks him to welcome legitimate missionaries who are going to arrive soon. He has to tell him to do this because the leader of that church community, Dystrophies, is acting like a jerk, and he's rejecting anybody associated with John the Elder. And so these letters give us a window into the tension and conflict that John faced in these churches. And first, John was written as a response to all of this as a form of damage control. The elder assures those who still believe in the Messiah Jesus that God is with them as they adhere to the truth. And so all of this helps us understand the uniqueness of First John, which is actually not a letter at all. It reads more like a poetic sermon sent to these churches. John says that he's not communicating new information. In fact, almost all of the key ideas and words in verse John, come right out of Jesus's teachings in the Gospel of John. And so John's goal is to remind them and persuade these Christians to stay true to what they already say they believe. The poetic quality of John's sermon is really cool. He doesn't develop his ideas in a linear or logical way. Rather, he uses a well-known technique of ancient rhetoric called amplification. So John has just a few core ideas. He wants to communicate about life and truth and love. And he's going to cycle around these ideas repeatedly, each time offering a little bit different of an angle or emphasis. He uses a lot of hyperbole. He uses very stark contrast with simple images of light and dark and love and hate and good and evil. But don't let the simplicity of First John fool you. This work is deeply profound. There's a clear introduction to First John and then a clear conclusion and the flowing cycles of the sermon in between. These two don't follow any kind of rigid literary design. But there do seem to be two larger sections. Each one is marked off by the introductory phrase This is the message. And then each is followed by a repetition of images about how God is first light and then how God is love. And all of the ideas in these two parts flow out of and cycle back into these two core ideas. So the introduction is very similar to the Prolog of the Gospel of John. It has echoes of Genesis chapter one, and Proverbs Chapter eight. John speaks of the word of life that was with God in the beginning. For John, the word God refers to both the Father and the Son who came to bring life into the world. And so those who saw and heard and touched the son are called we. John's referring to himself and the apostles who were eyewitnesses of Jesus. And so now we have a message for you, the next generation of Jesus followers. So when the apostles share the word of life with others, these others are also brought into fellowship with the father and the Son through the Apostles. The word fellowship here is koinonia. In Greek, it means a participation or sharing. When people hear the message about Jesus through the Apostles, that message brings them into a real relationship with Jesus himself and into a real participation in God's own love and life. And so this flows right into the first main section. This is the message. God is light. This is the message of the Apostles that the God revealed in Jesus is light. And so if people want to participate in God's own life through Jesus, they need to keep walking in the light, which is a really cool image. But what does it mean? It means for John to keep Jesus's commands. And that's. Hard. So when you fail, Jesus's atoning death will cover for your sins. And then once again, you're called to get up and obey Jesus's teachings. But which one of its teachings? John remains the church's of Jesus's old slash new command given to the disciples at the Last Supper that they love one another as he loved them. Doing this is walking in the light. Now, if God's light is now shining through Jesus, then that means the world's darkness is passing away. Which also means that God's children already in this moment have victory over the sin and evil and death that reigns in the world. And so that leads John to challenge. The churches don't love the world because it's passing away, too. He's referring here specifically to pride and sexual corruption. Likely, these are problems connected to the conflict that was happening in the churches. And so this leads, John, to warn the churches about these people who have left the communities and who deny Jesus as the Messiah. John calls them the anti messiahs and deceivers, but he's confident that those who still know the truth about Jesus are in fact the true children of God, and they are loved by the Father, and they show that they're part of God's family when they do righteousness and when they love one another. Unlike the deceivers who are generating anger and strife and division. And so this transitions into the second main section of the sermon. This is the message of the Apostles. John says that God is love and so God's children should love one another and avoid hatred. Don't be like Cain. From Genesis chapter four, John says his hatred led him to murder his brother. But for Christians, love is defined by giving up one's life as a sacrifice for the well-being of others. That's what Jesus did. And when God's children trust in that love for them, it changes them. And so John warns once again of the deceivers. This time he calls them false prophets. When they deny Jesus is the Messiah, they apparently claim to speak for God. But John says to test the spirits. If anyone claims to speak on God's behalf but doesn't focus on Jesus as the crucified son of God, they do not speak for God. John says God's true children will center their whole lives on the crucified and risen Jesus, because that's where we see God's true heart revealed. We see on the cross that God is a being of total self-giving love. And that love is what compels Jesus's followers to love others in the same way. And when people meet this God of love, it does away with fear and angst forever, which is part of what John means by having victory over the world. When you realize that God so loves you that He is crazy about you, despite your deepest flaws and failures, that love becomes the thing that grounds your entire life. This love is what comes through trusting in the crucified Jesus. It comes through trusting God's testimony about Jesus given by the Spirit and His trusting in the message from the Apostles about Jesus. And when God's love gets a hold of you, it opens up eternal life. It's a life permeated with God's own presence and life and love. And it begins now carrying on into eternity. And so this leads John, to the climactic conclusion of his sermon. He says, We know the son of God has come, and so we can know the one who is true, and we are in the one who is true in his son, Jesus the Messiah. This is the true God and eternal life. Now, if your head's kind of spinning after hearing that sentence and you're wondering, Wait, who is the one who is true? Who is the one who gives true life? Is it Jesus or is it God? And John's answer is, of course, yes. John doesn't know any God apart from Jesus. And when he and the other apostles encountered Jesus, they discovered the God who loves us so deeply that He has chosen not to exist without us, despite our failures. And this God is so surprising, so unexpected that John's final words call us to keep away from idols, that is, to resist any temptation to remake the surprising God in our own image. To know Jesus is to know the God of creative life, giving others centered love. This, John says, is the one true God. And that's what the letters of John are all about.