The book of First John is known as a general epistle because it contains no specific address to which it was sent. Tradition says it was circulated throughout several Asian churches near the end of the first century. William Barclay's take on the book is, "it is a pastoral letter of desperation written in words that are loving and anxious" (Barclay, The Daily Study Bible Series, pg 3).
Tradition holds that John was writing to offset the false teachers traveling through the churches in Asia espousing a form of Gnosticism. These teachers were most likely former prominent Jewish Christians who forfeited their faith in Jesus and fell prey to the teachings of the Gnosticism. The Gnostics believed they had a special relationship with God and could do no wrong; denied Jesus as the Messiah; taught that the incarnation did not occur; and, that one could have "higher revelation" - could know God other than through Jesus Christ.
The key verse for the book is First John 5:13 - "These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God" (NKJV). Here John echoes the cry of other New Testament writers when he says "the important thing is to "know" Jesus Christ. May that be our daily passion for living -"to know the fullness of Jesus Christ." He is the "Revelation" of God. He is the God who became flesh and dwelt among us. Enlightenment comes to those who love Jesus Christ and live daily with and for Him, surrender their whole life to Him permitting Him to fill their heart with His love, and choose to study His teachings and emulate His life.
Do you "know Him" today?
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