John the Apostle (“the disciple whom Jesus loved” is the title he takes 4xs in his gospel) writes from Ephesus in AD 95.
I John – personal Christian friends; II John – maybe a woman, but probably the “Elect Lady and Children” is used metaphorically for a church, III John is written to Gaius (a Christian in the church of II John).
1-2 John address churches that are left feeling inferior and spiritually threatened by false teachers who left their churches with a significant following.
I John – to distinguish between orthodoxy and heterodoxy (righteous vs. lax; love vs. exclusion, correct vs. incorrect Christology). II John – warn against “docetic Gnostics.” III John -settle church disputes by commending Gaius and rebuking Diotrephes.
How to Read it
Make note of the repeated and contrasting words in I John. Also look for clues about the false prophets – their recent departure is the occasion for writing.
I. Marks of Authenticity – Part 1 (1-2) – read 1.8-10 sin, 2.3-5 obedience, 2.10-11love
II. Marks of Authenticity – Part 2 (3) – read 3.6,9 sin, 3.14 love, 3.22-23 prayer support
III. Marks of Authenticity – Part 3 (4) – read 4:2-3 testing spirits, 4:10-12 love,
IV. Marks of Authenticity – Conclusion – read 5.3 love & obedience
I, II, III John are great books on what to do when people believe/act in the wrong.