1 John, 2 John, 3 John

By Sister Renee Pittelli

            These books of the Bible are believed to have been written by the apostle John, who also wrote the Gospel of John and Revelation.  John teaches us many interesting things about God’s nature, our relationship with him, and our relationships with others, including the reasons behind some of the sorrow we experience at the hands of those we love, but who don’t love us in return. 

            With a few decades after Jesus’ crucifixion, many false prophets were in the land, including those who taught that Jesus was never human, but always a spirit.  John wrote these letters to refute false teachings about Jesus.  He emphasizes that God is truth, goodness, and love. He teaches us about truth, and very importantly, how to discern who is of God, who is of the world, and who is of Satan:

            God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.  If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth.  But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.  If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives…1 John 1:5-10

            Yet I am writing you a new command: its truth is seen in him and you, because the darkness is passing and the true light is already shining….1 John 2:8

            How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!  And that is what we are!  The reason the world does not know us is that it does not know him.  Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is….1 John 3:1-2

            We love because he first loved us…1 John 4:19

            We are taught that the children of God acknowledge Jesus as his Son and do not continue in their sinful ways.  We learn that God loves us and protects us and we have nothing to fear from the devil because he cannot harm us. As God’s children, we can ask anything of him, according to his will, and he will answer:

            We have confidence before God and receive from him anything we ask, because we obey his commands and do what pleases him.  And this is his command:  to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us…. 1 John 3:22-23

            This is the confidence we have in approaching God:  that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.  And if we know that he hears us- whatever we ask- we know that we have what we asked of him….1 John 5:14-15

            We are taught that the Spirit of God lives in us. If we are Spirit-filled, we need no man to teach us, because the Spirit teaches us. Discerning the spirit of a person will help us understand their nature, whether they are righteous, worldly, or wicked, and whether they are a sister or brother in Christ:

            We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands.  The man who says, “I know him”, but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him.  But if anyone obeys his word, God’s love is truly made complete in him.  This is how we know we are in him:  Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did…1 John 2:3-6

            Dear children, this is the last hour; and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come…1 John 2:18.

            But you have an anointing from the Holy One and all of you know the truth… lie comes from the truth.  Who is the liar? It is the man who denies that Jesus is the Christ.  Such a man is the antichrist- he denies the Father and the Son.  No one who denies the Son has the Father; whoever acknowledges the Son has the Father also…1 John 2:20-23

            I am writing these things to you about those who are trying to lead you astray. As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you….1 John 2:26-27

            If you know that he is righteous, you know that everyone who does what is right has been born of him .… 1 John 2:29

            No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him….1 John 3:6

            We know that anyone born of God does not continue to sin; the one who was born of God keeps him safe, and the evil one cannot harm him.  We know that we are children of God and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one.  We know also that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true….1 John 18-20

            And this is how we know the he lives in us:  We know it by the Spirit he gave us….1 John 3:24

            We are instructed not to desire the things of the world.  John explains why and how we are different from worldly men and women, why they cannot understand us, and why they will not listen to us.  We are warned not to be surprised if those of the world hate us.  The whole world is under the control of the evil one, and only we, who believe that Jesus is the Son of God, will overcome the world:

            Do not love the world or anything in the world.  If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him….1 John 2:15 

            The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever…1John 2:17

            Do not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and murdered his brother.  And why did he murder him?  Because his own actions were evil and his brother’s were righteous.  Do not be surprised, my brothers, if the world hates you….1 John


            You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.  They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them.  We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us.  This is how we recognize the Spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood….1 John 4:4-6

            John makes several points about good vs. wicked behavior.  We know the spirit of a man or woman by his or her actions.  Those who do right and love their brothers are righteous and children of God, but those who continue to sin and do evil and do not have love in them are children of the devil:

            Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray.  He who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous.  He who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning.  The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work…. This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are:  Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God; nor is anyone who does not love his brother…1 John 3: 7-8,10

            Let us love one another, for love comes from God.  Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.  Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.  This is how God showed his love among us: he sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him….1 John 4:7-9

            Many of us know people in our families or churches who claim to be Christian, sometimes putting on quite a show, but whose behavior is exactly the opposite of righteousness. Such people have the spirit of False Religion, and use their “faith” or “holiness” as an excuse to abuse others or to lead others astray, as well as for protection from being challenged about their destructive words or actions.  We should not be intimidated by such people and the religious appearance they attempt to give, but should discern their spirit according to the instructions we are given in the Scriptures:

            Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.  This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God:  Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God.  This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming, and even now is in the world…. 1 John 4:1-3

            Many deceivers, who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh, have gone out into the world.  Any such person is the deceiver and the antichrist.  Watch out that you do not lose what you have worked for, but that you may be rewarded fully.  Anyone who runs ahead and does not continue in the teaching of Christ does not have God; whoever continues in the teaching has both the Father and the Son.  If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not take him into your house or welcome him.  Anyone who welcomes him shares in his wicked work….2 John 7-11

            I wrote to the church, but Diotrephes, who loves to be first, will have nothing to do with us.  So if I come, I will call attention to what he is doing, gossiping maliciously about us.  Not satisfied with that, he refuses to welcome the brothers.  He also stops those who want to do so and puts them out of the church.  Dear friend, do not imitate what is evil but what is good.  Anyone who does what is good is from God.  Anyone who does what is evil has not seen God…. 3 John 9-11.

            Finally, the apostle John sums up the most important lessons he wants us to learn:

             Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves the father loves his child as well…..Who is it that overcomes the world?  Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.  This is the one who came by water and blood- Jesus Christ.  He did not come by water only, but by water and blood.  And it is the Spirit who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth.  For there are three that testify:  the Spirit, the water, and the blood; and the three are in agreement…..And this is the testimony:  God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.  He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life….1 John 5:1, 5-8, 11-12


Praise to our God for his wonderful Word!  Hallelujah!  Thank you, Lord!