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1:5-2:11 - Preamble - Proofs & Restoration of Intimacy with God

to teach/Asiatic believers/that they should examine their lives for proofs that they are intimate with God so that, if they are not, they may confess their sin and establish intimacy through the work of Christ

  • Style Element: The Preamble in Greek rhetorical style elaborates on the Prologue.11
  • Supporting Arguments: No components would be introduced in the Preamble that do not support the arguments of the Prologue.
    1. Restoring Intimacy with God (1:5-2:2): to teach/Asiatic believers/that they should reflect God's holiness but they will sin and then their intimacy with God can be restored by the advocacy and cross work of Jesus Christ through confession
    • Forgiveness of All Sins at Salvation: See, for example, 1 Corinthians 6:9-11; Ephesians 1:7-8a.
    • Salvation Forgiveness is Effective for a Lifetime of Sin: See, for example John 10:28-29; Romans 8:31-39; 2 Timothy 1:12b; Hebrews 7:25.
    • God is Light (1:5-7): God is light, completely righteous. When the believer lives a righteous life, as God is righteous, then God and the believer have fellowship.
    • Fellowship Sphere Descriptions: light/darkness (1:5-7; 2:9-11) -- See Diagram.
    • Fellowship with God (1:5-7): Fellowship is intimacy. Intimacy is unbroken as long as a believer lives his life in the sphere that conforms to God's righteousness. In this sphere there is even the "fellowship cleansing" of sins of which we are not aware (verse 7b).
    • Restoring Broken Fellowship with God (1:8-10): When a believer sins, and every believer does, our fellowship with God is broken but it can be restored through confession and the sin is cleansed for fellowship. "When we fail, we are not to be overwhelmed by our failure, but to rely on the intercession of our Advocate with God the Father."12
    • Encouragement Not to Sin (2:1a): John wants to make sure the reader knows that, though he wants him to be aware of how the break in fellowship can be restored through confession, John would prefer that the reader not sin in the first place. Encouraging the recipients not to sin is another purpose of the Epistle.
    • Advocate for Sinning Believers (2:1b): See the discussion of "Advocate" by clicking here.
    • Propitiation (2:2): "Because of sin his [the Father's] holiness had been offended, and only a sinless sacrifice could meet his righteous demands. Jesus Christ the Righteous One provided in himself the perfect sacrifice."13 See Romans 3:24a-25b and 1 John 2:2; 4:10. The propitiation is a basis of Christ's Advocacy. Potentially Christ's offering of Himself was more than sufficient for all the sins that have and will be committed by residents of the earth (1 John 2:2b). Christ did not die just for the elect as some Calvinists teach. The worldwide effects of His death make it possible for salvation to be offered to all the residents of the world through trust.
      2. Proofs of Intimacy with God (2:3-11): to teach/Asiatic believers/that they should keep Christ's commandments (2:3), pattern their lives around His model (2:6), and love fellow believers (2:9-11) because such actions are signs that they have intimate fellowship with God (2:5b)
      a. Knowing God (2:3-4):
      • Being Clean: At our Lord's final celebration of the Passover with His disciples, he announced that all of them except Judas were clean . . . they had received His imputed righteousness (John 13:1-11, 18, 21-30). (The Lord indicated they only needed their feet washed indicating that necessary of restoring fellowship with God when it is broken. This seems to be a summary of chapter 1:5-2:2 of the first Epistle by the same author.)
      • Not Knowing: Even though the eleven disciples were "saved," our Lord taught that there was still a sense in which they did not know Christ and the Father (John 14:7-9). So it is not without precedence that John also indicates in 1 John that some believers do not know God with respect to intimate fellowship with Him. For a believer whose God is only a new or passing acquaintance, it cannot be said of him that he has intimate fellowship with God. God will only grant that intimate fellowship when the believer keeps his commandments.
      • Quote: "It is true that all believers do know God and Christ at a fundamental level; they know God as 'the only true God' and they know that Jesus Christ has been sent by Him (John 17:3). But at the level of communion and fellowship, a believer may not know his Lord."14
      b. Fellowship Sphere Descriptions: -- knows God/doesn't know God (2:3-4) -- See Diagram.
      c. [PROOF 1] Commands (2:3-5): In Johannine theology, a person has assurance he is saved because he has trusted in Christ (John 3:16; 5:24; 6:35; 9:35-38; 11:25-27). There are scores of other passages in Johannine writings that do not teach that assurance is based on obedience. Specifically, keeping commandments should not be used as evidence that a person is saved and not keeping commandment should not be used as evidence that a person is not saved. However, a believer only has intimate fellowship with God when he is keeping His commandments.15
      d. Fellowship Sphere Descriptions: -- keeps commandments/doesn't keep commandments (2:3-4) -- See Diagram.
      e. Love of God (2:5a): There are many levels of God's love:
      • All of the inhabitants of the world are recipients of God's love through the cross work of His Son (John 3:16).
      • Believers in the Son and His cross work receive God's "great" love (1 John 3:1).
      • But it is in believers "in fellowship" with God, who are keeping His commandments (i.e., His Word) that the love of God finds its most complete manifestation (John 14:22-23; 1 John 2:5). The noun form of menw (see the next paragraph) is used in John 14:23, "abode."
      f. Abiding (2:5-6, 10):
      • Menw En: Here the Greek word for "abide in" is menw en. One meaning of the verb is traced all the way back to the Classic Greek. It is the meaning, "to remain in a particular sphere of life (with en). En is often translated, "in," in English. These two words appear in 1 John 2:6, "abides in [Him]." In John's books it is described as ". . . the closest possible relationship between Christ and the believer." In John menw is used 40 times in its various meanings.16 It is used 24 times in 1 John. "Abiding" is an important concept with John's writings.
      • Intimate Fellowship: John has taught elsewhere that not all believers are "abiding" in Christ (e.g., John 15:1-8, especially verses 4-5). In John 15, the vine is an intimate fellowship with Christ. Only those who "abide" are fruitful. "Abiding" is an enhanced state of a believer's relationship to God . . . intimate fellowship. The works of those who do not "abide" face the fire of the Judgment Seat of Christ (compare John 15:6 to 1 Corinthians 3:12-15).  Though they may be found without good works, yet they yet shall be saved.
      • Abbreviation: Some times the expression, "abiding in Him," is shortened to "in Him (e.g., 1 John 2:5)."
      g. Fellowship Sphere Descriptions: -- abides in Him/doesn't abide in Him (2:5-6) -- See Diagram.
      h. [PROOF 2] The Example of Christ (2:6): The one who seeks to have intimate fellowship with God should use Christ as the example for his life. See also Philippians 2:5-8.
      i. Fellowship Sphere Descriptions: -- follows Christ's example/doesn't follow Christ's example (2:6) -- See Diagram.
      j. [PROOF 3] Love of Fellow Believers (2:7-11): The command to love other believers had been effective since the beginning of the Christian age. The Lord, Himself, had issued the commandment shortly before His passion (John 13:34-35). The Apostle Paul issued the command earlier than John in Romans 13:8-10. First John was written as early as AD 64, see paragraph I, above. According to Ryrie, Romans was written around AD 57-58.18 The commandment was new in Jesus' time but should now be old to the readers of 1 John. First John 2:11 is obviously not talking about a non-believer hating a believer since the one hated is called the brother to the one hating. The one who hates his brother is not lost, he is just out of fellowship. 
      k. Fellowship Sphere Descriptions: -- loves fellow believers/doesn't love fellow believers (2:9-11) -- See Diagram.