1 John P2R, Week 13

This week’s passage for memorization, 1 John 3:23-4:3, includes the end of one train of thought and the beginning of another. By now you may have noticed that the weekly passages aren’t arranged into tidy little segments of a single theological concept. Instead, they are tidy little segments that fit onto the pages of our moleskine journals. That said, they are still in the order which the Holy Spirit inspired John to write, and once memorized as a whole, the page segments will fade into the background and the units of thought will come to the fore.

Our first two verses this week wrap up the flow of thought which began in 3:11: John’s elaboration of the social test that we should love one another. In verse 23, John shows how loving one another goes hand-in-hand with believing in Jesus (the doctrine test), and both fulfill the keeping of God’s commandments (the moral test). In fact, loving one another and believing in Jesus are so mutually dependent that they are essentially a single commandment. John then states that “whoever keeps [these] commandments abides in God and God in him” (3:24). The way that we know that God abides in us is “by the Holy Spirit, whom [God] has given to us.”

Continue reading “1 John P2R, Week 13”

1 John P2R, Week 12

Last week’s passage for our memorization covered some hard ground. John contrasted the love which comes from God and is shared among believers—proving that we have passed out of death into life— against the murderous hatred of the world for believers, which shows that they abide in death.

In this week’s passage we find an appeal to live out our love for one another in tangible, life-sustaining ways, loving in deed and in truth. We also encounter the deeply reassuring truth that this kind of love is another proof that we are in Christ, or, as John writes, “of the truth.” And this proof reassures our hearts whenever our hearts condemn us. When doubt creeps in and the enemy whispers in our heart that we don’t really belong to Christ, “God is greater than our heart.” When we reassure our hearts by the truth to which our one-another love testifies, we have confidence before God and may approach him in prayer, in full assurance that we are his children because the love that we have for one another and our obedience to his commandments. Continue reading “1 John P2R, Week 12”

1 John P2R, week 11

Coming off a long hiatus from memorizing makes for a bumpy re-entry. Restoring this discipline to its place in my daily routine has been easier than reminding my brain what we’re doing. However, my efforts at discipline and my rusty brain aren’t the only players in this scheme. The Holy Spirit is helping me, and he will help you as well, to hide God’s word in our hearts.

Week 10 ended with the reminder that loving one another is the message we have heard from the beginning, which gives us a solid tether to week 11 starting with an event that occurred way back at the beginning: Cain’s murder of his brother, Abel. John links murderous intent with hate for one another, just as Jesus equated murder with anger in the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5:21-22). This is a deeper layer of the contrasts John has been using all through his epistle. Love for one another is life-giving; hate for one another is life-taking. Continuing the theme of children of God and children of the devil, John makes his case that children of the devil not only keep on sinning, but, like Cain, they hate those who are righteous with a murderous hatred.

We should therefore not be surprised that the world hates us. Just as love for the world is incompatible with love for the Father (2:15), hatred for our brothers and sisters in Christ is incompatible with being a child of God! In contrast, John tells us that love for the brothers is yet more assuring evidence that we have passed out of death into life. John reiterates his love test again, paired with the contrasting hate of the world. Murderers who do not love abide in death and do not have eternal life abiding in them. John is not making an absolute statement that those who commit murder are forever excluded from life in Christ. We know that the word of God assures us that everyone who believes in Christ—regardless of the sins they have committed or will commit—will be saved. Not saved because of their faith, but because they have been chosen before the foundation of the world by God, saved by his grace because of his lavish love, and given faith to believe (Eph. 1-2:9).

The point John is making is that it is absolutely uncharacteristic of a Christian to not love other Christians, and he will continue to build this case. John is contrasting the one-another love of those who are born of God with those who are from the world, and therefore hate Christians with murderous hatred because they are of the devil. Therefore, we who are of God, and have been loved with the love which was given its highest expression in Christ’s laying down his life for us in his sacrificial death, ought to also love our brothers and sisters in the faith and lay down our lives for them (16).

Now, to the memory aids:

12 We should not be like Cain, who was of the evil

one and murdered his brother. And why did he

murder him? Because his own deeds were evil and

his brother’s righteous.

We (John includes himself) should not be like Cain, who was of the evil one (because of who he belonged to) and murdered his brother (because of what he did). (Ask yourself-) And why did he murder him? (Answer- 2 reasons) Because his own deeds were evil and (in contrast) his brother’s righteous.

13 Do not be surprised, brothers, that the world

hates you.

Do not be surprised, (it’s too obvious- really!) brothers, that the world hates you.

14 We know that we have passed out of death into

life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does

not love abides in death.

We know (here’s the assurance) that we have passed out of death into life (why?) because we love the brothers. (in contrast) Whoever does not love abides in death. [Notice that once we also were abiding in death, but now we have passed out of death into life. We underwent a necessary transformation. Keep praying for those who have yet to pass out of death into life!]

15 Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer,

and you know that no murderer has eternal life

abiding in him.

Everyone who hates his brother (no exceptions) is a murderer, and you know (certainty) that no murderer (no exceptions) has eternal life abiding in him. (paired with the previous verse, it is logically inconsistent for one to abide both in death and in life. Murderers cause death and abide in death/ they take life and therefore cannot abide in life.) [Again, no murderer, while abiding in death, has eternal life abiding in him, unless and until he is called out of death into life by the Life-Giving God]

16 By this we know love, that he laid down his life

for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the

brothers.

 By this (pointing forward to the example) we know love (here’s the preeminent example of love- the highest definition), that he (Christ) laid down his life for us, and (therefore) we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. (because Christ loved us sacrificially, so we ought to love one another sacrificially.)

Fellowship With God; Confidence in Christ, Lesson 14

Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome. For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?

This is he who came by water and blood—Jesus Christ; not by the water only but by the water and the blood. And the Spirit is the one who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth. For there are three that testify: the Spirit and the water and the blood; and these three agree. If we receive the testimony of men, the testimony of God is greater, for this is the testimony of God that he has borne concerning his Son. 10 Whoever believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself. Whoever does not believe God has made him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has borne concerning his Son. 11 And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12 Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life. (1 John 5:1-12)


In our passage this week, John brings together the strands of right belief in Jesus Christ, love for God and one another, and obedience to God’s commands and weaves them into a single tapestry of assurance for believers. As we’ve read through the epistle to this point we’ve seen that these three tests of assurance must work together, and now John will draw them together, that we may know that we have the victory that overcomes the world—our faith. “What John is at pains to show is the essential unity of his threefold thesis. He has not chosen three tests arbitrarily or at random and stuck them together artificially. On the contrary, he shows that they are so closely woven together into a single, coherent fabric that it is difficult to unpick and disentangle the threads.”[1] Continue reading “Fellowship With God; Confidence in Christ, Lesson 14”