Section 1: Keeping the Big Picture before the Little Details
John is a pastor and thinks in a pastoral way. The people to whom he is writing are people that he knows well, and the troubles that they are facing as individuals and as a church body are heavy on his heart. He calls them little children and beloved throughout his letter, giving us this sense. We can summarize the big picture with the John’s statement in the opening section of the letter: 1 John 1:3-4 “That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ. And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full.” The statement tells us several things about John’s attitude toward the people. First, he views them as genuine Christians. I am not suggesting that everyone who heard the letter read was a genuine Christian, but that was his target audience. Second, these Christians are being targeted by various types of false teachers. Some of these false teachers are preaching a different Christ, others are mystics who claim to have a deeper knowledge of the truth, while still others are teaching a form of antinomianism. Thirdly, John is convinced that the degree to which these Christians are duped by these false teachers will directly cause them to stumble in their Christian experience. Lastly, his primary concern is that by addressing these issues the people can identify error, reject it, and have a sustained fellowship with Christ where they will grow in that walk with the Lord, and experience sustained joy. Doctrinal confusion, unrepentant sin, and mysticism create confusion and keep Christians from experiencing a healthy, joyful walk with the Lord.