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Summary of the Book of First John

By H. A. "Buster" Dobbs

I.  Introduction (1:1-4).
    A.  Statement about Jesus (1:1).
        1.  Jesus was from the beginning (1:1-2; John 1:1-2).
            a.  Jesus existed before the beginning, but he was 
                 present at the beginning.
            b.  Jesus created all things (John 1:3).
        2.  John says he and others saw, heard, and touched Jesus 
            a.  Jesus appeared in a body of flesh (1:1).
            b.  Jesus is the word of Life (1:1).
    B.  John wrote this letter that the reader might have fellowship 
        with Jesus and therefore have fullness of joy (1:2-4).
        1.  The eternal life which was with the Father came to earth 
        2.  John wrote a declaration about Jesus so the reader could 
            have fellowship with John and the other apostles (1:3).
            a.  The apostles were special witnesses of the 
                resurrection (Acts 10:39-41).
            b.  The resurrection proved Jesus to be the Son of God 
                (Rom. 1:4).
            c.  We cannot witness the resurrection of Jesus, but we 
                can know he is risen on the testimony of the apostles
                and have fellowship with the apostles (1:3).
            d.  The apostles have fellowship with Jesus and the Father 
            e.  If we have fellowship with the apostles, we also have
                fellowship with Jesus and the Father (1:3).
        3.  John also wrote so that all who are in fellowship with the
            apostles, Jesus, and the Father, may have a fullness of 
            joy (1:4).
            a.  Obeying the teaching of the Bible brings fellowship with 
                God (1:2-4).
            b.  Communion with God--sharing with him--brings joy to 
                all who understand the good news of salvation (1:4).
            c.  The complete life, the abundant life, provides all our 
                psychological and spiritual needs.
II.  God is Light (1:5 to 2:28).
     A.  What walking in the light involves (1:5 to 2:28).
         1.  Fellowship with God and the brethren (1:5-7).
             a.  God is light and there is no darkness in him, which 
                 is to say God is pure and in him there is no sin (1:5).
             b.  Those who walk in darkness (sin) have no fellowship
                 with God (1:6).  God cannot be associated with evil 
                 because his purity would be defiled.
             c.  If we sin, we have no fellowship with God (1:6).
             d.  Walking in light (purity) brings fellowship with all 
                 others who walk in the light (1:7).
             e.  The blood of Jesus keeps us clean, but the blood must
                 be applied.  This is true of the outsider and of the child 
                 of God (1:7).  The alien reaches the saving blood in 
                 baptism and the saint receives its benefits in 
                 confession and prayer.
         2.  Consciousness and confession of sins (1:8-10).
             a.  If we deny sin in our lives we are deceived, the truth is
                 not in us, we make God a liar, God's word is not in us 
             b.  If we confess our sins God will forgive us (1:9). 
                 Confession implies repentance.  Confession is to be 
                 made first to God and then to those we have sinned 
                 against. Confession to God is made through prayer (1:9).
         3.  Imitating the obedience of Christ (2:1-6).
             a.  God does not want us to sin (2:1).
             b.  If we sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus  
                 Christ the righteous (2:1). The "if we sin" does not imply 
                 that we may not sin--John has already observed that we
                 all sin--but means when we sin.
             c.  Jesus made provision to forgive the sins of the whole 
                 world on the cross (2:2).
             d.  The saving blood must be made actual through trust 
                 and obedience (2:3).
             e.  The disobedient person does not know Jesus (2:4).
             f.  We know we are in God when we keep his word (2:5).
             g.  If we are in God we will follow the example of Jesus in 
                 giving complete obedience to God (2:6).
     B.  What walking in the light excludes (2:7-29).
         1.  Hatred of the brethren is inconsistent with walking in the 
             light (2:7-11).
             a.  An old, new commandment (2:7-8).
             b.  He who hates his brother walks in sin (2:9).
             c.  He who loves is brother walks in purity (2:10).
             d.  He who hates his brother is blind (2:11).
         2.  Worldliness is inconsistent with walking in the light 
             a.  John wrote to little children because their sins were 
                 forgiven and they knew the Father (2:11,13).
             b.  He wrote to the fathers because of their knowledge 
             c.  He wrote to young men because they had overcome
                 the evil one and were strong and the word of God 
                 lived in them  (2:12,14).
             d.  Warning not to love the world nor the things that are
                 in the world (2:15).
             e.  Those who love the world do not love God (2:15).
             f.  The world consists of the lust of the flesh, the lust of 
                 the eyes, and the vain glory of life (2:16).
             g.  The world is perishing (2:17).
             h.  He who does the will of God abides for ever (2:17).
         3.  The teaching of antichrist is inconsistent with walking in 
             the light (2:18-29).
             a.  We live in the last dispensation of the world. We know 
                 this because the antichrist has come (2:18).
             b.  The antichrist went out from the saints because they 
                 were not of the saints (2:19).
             c.  True disciples of Jesus have an anointing and know 
                 all things (2:20).  Saints know all things that pertain to
                 life and godliness because they have the word of God. 
                 If the anointing is the means by which the followers of 
                 Jesus know all things, then the anointing must be the 
                 revealed word (2:20).
             d.  They knew the truth - we can know the truth (2:21).
             e.  The antichrist denied that Jesus has come in the flesh 
             f.  The gospel does not change and they were told to 
                 abide in what they were first taught (2:24). It is a 
                 mistake to run after some novelty.  Innovations cannot 
                 be truth because the apostles were guided into all truth
                 (John 16:13).
             g.  God gives eternal life (2:25).
             h.  Do not be led astray because that means losing eternal
                 life (2:26).
             i.  You have an anointing--the revealed gospel--and do not 
                 need to be taught something different;  God's anointing--
                 the gospel--is teaching you, and it is no lie (2:27).
             j.  Abide in God by abiding in the truth of the gospel (2:28).
             k.  Doing righteousness (works of righteousness) means we
                 are living in the Father and the Son (2:29).
III.  God is love (3:1 to 5:12).
      A.  Righteousness is the evidence of sonship (3:1-24).
          1.  The children of God (3:1-9).
              a.  Those who are obedient to the heavenly Father are 
                  children of God (3:1).
              b.  Children of God will share in Jesus' glory when he 
                  comes (3:2).
              c.  Children of God are to be pure because of this hope 
              d.  Sin is a rejection of the law or will of God and the 
                  substitution of the will of self (3:4).
              e.  In Christ there is no sin, therefore, being in Christ 
                  involves keeping the law or will of God (3:5).
              f.  If you abide in Christ, you do not sin. If you sin, 
                  you do not abide in Christ (3:6).
              g.  Do not be deceived. If you do righteousness, you 
                  are righteous (3:7).
              h.  Sin is of the devil. Jesus came to destroy the works 
                  of the devil (3:8).
              i.  The child of God does not sin (3:9).
          2.  The children of the devil (3:10-12).
              a.  Children of the devil do not righteousness 
                  (righteousness is something done).  He that does not 
                  love his brother in the Lord is a child of the devil 
              b.  Children of God love one another (3:11).
              c.  Children of God are not like Cain who killed his 
                  brother (3:12).
              d.  Cain killed his brother because his works were evil 
                  and his brother's works were righteous (3:12).
          3.  Righteousness means love and not hate; life and not 
              death (3:13-24).
              a.  Those who love the world will hate the child of God 
              b.  Loving the brethren is an indication that we have 
                  passed from spiritual death to spiritual life (3:14).
              c.  He who hates his brother murders his brother (3:15).
              d.  No murderer has eternal life (3:15).
              e.  We know Jesus loved us because he died for us. 
                  We must be willing to lay down our lives for the 
                  brethren (3:16).
              f.  If we are able to help a needy brother and refuse to 
                  do so the love of God is not in us (3:17).
              g.  Love is not in saying but in doing (3:18).
              h.  If we know and obey the truth, we are sure of our 
                  relationship with God (3:19).
              i.  You know what is in your heart (mind), but God is 
                  greater than your heart and he, too, knows all things 
              k.  If we know ourselves to be obedient to the Father's 
                  will,  we have boldness toward God (3:21).
              l.  He gives us what we ask because we keep his 
                  commandments and do the things that please him (3:22).
              m.  God wants us to believe in the power and authority of 
                  Jesus and love one another (3:23).
              n.  We know we are in God if we keep his commandments 
      B.  Possession of the Spirit is the source of sonship (4:1 to
          1.  The spirit of truth and the spirit of error (4:1-6).
              a.  We prove the spirits because many false teachers 
                  are in the world (4:1).  We prove the spirits by testing 
                  the teaching with the gospel.
              b.  Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has 
                  come in the flesh is of God.  Confession of Jesus as 
                  the Son of God implies keeping his commandments 
              c.  Every spirit that does not confess Jesus is antichrist 
                  and not of God (4:3).
              d.  Those who trust Jesus and obey him will overcome 
                  because God guarantees his victory (4:4). God is on 
                  our side!
              e.  The world hears those who are of the world (4:5).
              f.  We are of God because we keep his commandments. 
                  This is how we know the spirit of error and the spirit 
                  of truth (4:6).
          2.  The duty and power of love (4:7 to 5:3).
              a.  To know God is to love, for God is love (4:7-8).
              b.  God loved us and give his son for us (4:9).
              c.  God loved us before we loved him (4:10).
              d.  If God loved us this much, we ought to love each 
                  other (4:11).
              e.  We cannot become acquainted with God by sight, 
                  but we can know him by the power of love (4:12).
              f.  We know we are right with God because he has 
                  given us of his Spirit (4:13).  The Spirit reveals the
                  word of truth to us through apostles and prophets 
                  (John 16:13).  It is by this word that we can know we 
                  are the children of God (Rom. 8:14-16).
              g.  The gospel is: God sent his son to save the world 
              h.  If we confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God is in us 
                  and we are in God (4:15).
              i.  If we abide in God, we abide in love and have 
                  boldness in the day of judgment (4:16-17).
              k.  We have no fear of the last judgment because we 
                  love God (4:18-19).
              l.  Loving God means also loving the brethren (4:20-21).
              m.  Faith makes us children of God. If we love God we 
                  must also love all those who are begotten of God 
              n.  The key is loving God and doing his commandments 
          2.  Overcoming the world is proof of sonship (5:4-5).
              a.  Lovers of God overcome the world by faith (5:4-5).
          3.  Evidence that Jesus is the son of God (5:6-12).
              a.  Jesus came by water and the blood (5:6; John 19:34).
              b.  The Spirit is the truth (5:7).
              c.  The three who bear witness are the Spirit (truth), 
                  the water, and the blood (5:8).
              d.  We believe credible testimony from men, but the
                  witness of God is greater and he bore witness of his
                  Son (5:9; Matt. 3:17; 17:5).
              e.  To reject this witness is to reject God (5:10).
              f.  God gave us life in his Son. If we do not have the 
                  Son, we do not have the life (5:11-12).
IV.  Conclusion (5:13-21).
     A.  How we may know that we are of God (5:13).
         1.  We may know we are right with God on the basis of what 
             is written (5:13; John 20:31).
         2.  We know we are of God because of the power of prayer 
             a.  If we ask according to his will, he hears us and we 
                 know that we are of God (5:14-15).
             b.  We must not pray for those who sin unto death 
                 (those who will not confess their sin) (5:16).
             c.  Unrighteousness is sin. Not all unrighteousness 
                 is sin unto death, but some unrighteousness is sin 
                 unto death (5:17).
         3.  Children guard themselves from sin (5:18).
     B.  We know we are of God (5:19-20).
         1.  The whole world belongs to the devil (5:19).
         2.  We know that we are of God because he has given us
             understanding trough his revealed word (5:20).
             a.  Through the things that are written in his revealed 
                 word we know that Jesus came in the flesh for our
                 salvation (5:20).
     C.  Guard yourselves from idols (5:21).

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