1 John; opinions wanted

I’ve been in an interesting conversation on a protestant messageboard about 1 John. I guess I had not realized how many different views on 1 John there are, and I’m wanting opinion and different churchs’ teachings on it.

In protestant circles there seems to be a split in opinion two ways. The first is; Was 1 John mainly written for believers, unbelievers, or both?

The second is; Was John presenting Tests of Life or Tests of Fellowship? In essence was he painting a picture of Salvation, or a picture of Christian Life. (In shorthand; The first would be comparing Saved to Unsaved the second would be comparing a Christian in good standing vs. one in bad standing.)

Opinions/thoughts? I’m thinking John knew his audience would be a mix of all of the above in the various church congregations where the letter would be circulated. :shrug:

I found Haydock’s commentary on this book here. This is what it says in the introduction:

This epistle was always acknowledged for canonical, and written by St. John, the apostle and evangelist. At what time and place, is uncertain. It is sometimes called the Epistle to the Parthians, or Persians. The chief design is to set forth the mystery of Christ’s incarnation against Cerinthus, who denied Christ’s divinity, and against Basilides, who denied that Christ had a true body; with zealous exhortations to love God and our neighbour. (Witham) — The same vein of divine love and charity towards our neighbour which runs throughout the gospel, written by the beloved disciple and evangelist, St. John, is found also in his epistles. He confirms the two principal mysteries of our faith: the mystery of the Trinity, the mystery of the incarnation of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. The sublimity and excellence of the evangelical doctrine he declares: “And this commandment we have from God, that he who loveth God love also his brother;” (Chap. iv. 21.) and again, “For this is the charity of God, that we keep his commandments; and his commandments are not heavy.” (Chap. v. 3.) He shews how to distinguish the children of God from those of the devil; marks out those who should be called antichrists; describes the turpitude and gravity of sin. Finally, he shews how the sinner may hope for pardon. It was written, according to Baronius’s account, sixty-six years after our Lord’s ascension. (Challoner) — The effect of all is to prove the certainty of the Catholic faith, and to renounce all heretics and schismatics, who entice persons from the true saving faith.

John himself gives his answer

I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life. 1 john 5:13

My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye may not sin. And if any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous 1 John 2:1

1Jn was written to a community who were in danger of being influenced by a docetic heresy. That is why John goes back to cover all the fundamentals.

Thank you! It seems that Haydock is of the opinion that it was written to point out and fix any heresy present. I would assume that there wouldn’t be such a split in Catholic thinking as there is in protestant, which is a struggle in essence between OSAS and the ability to loose one’s salvation.

One of the arguments is that when John uses such phrases in the Greek it refers only to the surrounding context, not the entire letter. Some say it refers to the letter, some to the context.

That is my understanding as well, hence why I think it is an “all of the above” issue; John is laying out salvation, and sanctification and his letter can benefit both a believer and an unbeliever.

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