Today, we begin the book of 1 John on the podcast. This is the same John that wrote the Gospel of John. Jesus called him one of the Sons of Thunder and we also know him as the disciple whom Jesus loved. In case you’re still confused by all the Johns you heard stories about in childhood Sunday school, this is not John the Baptist.
John was old at the time he wrote the three letters we’re about to read. We already discussed that first Paul and then Peter were both martyred in the mid-60s AD. John probably wrote these letters about twenty years later between 85 and 90 AD. Actually, the letter doesn’t identify John as the author. But no one argues it because of all the ancient historians who say so, including Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, and Origen. We’ll talk more about the end of his life in the introduction to the book of Revelation.
John talks a great deal about Gnosticism and warns against it in all three of his letters. Gnosticism is the heresy that contends that all matter is entirely evil, and all spirit is entirely good. It follows that the body is to be treated harshly and pretty much denies or explains away Christ’s humanity. Salvation is attained not through faith in Christ but by special knowledge. John’s purpose in writing to believers was to expose this false teaching and the teachers who taught it and to assure believers of their salvation. It sounds ridiculous to us today, but people were ensnared in this sin right and left.
It seems to me – and this is just me talking – that we as humans have trouble embracing grace. Unearned favor. We think we have to earn it. We think we have to do something. And that’s how false teaching like Gnosticism gets a foothold. I’m interested to know your thought at Lifting Her Voice, Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.