Summary of 1st, 2nd and 3rd John

1 john summary false prophets

This is a brief summary or outline of the 3 letters known as 1st John, ” 2 John and 3 John in the New Testament. Written as recorded in ‘The Bible Brief’ – a complete summary of the 66 books and letters that make up the protestant Bible as we know it today.

Introducing 1st John

When written: Most likely between A.D.85 – 95.

By Whom: The Apostle John.

Significant People & Places: Jesus Christ

Sound-Bites: If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (Ch.1:9)

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. (Ch.4:1)

He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life. (Ch.5:12)

The Messianic Link: The ‘Eternal Life’ Ch.1:2

The Advocate with the Father (Ch. 2:1)

1 John in a nutshell:

John wrote this book with the intention of stopping the influence of false teachers, and in particular the teachers of Gnosticism that were hounding the new believers. John proclaims from the beginning that ‘God is light,’ as a way of highlighting the dark, immoral teachings of the Gnostics and encouraging the believers to walk in the light of The Lord.

He continues this letter by re-iterating the basic tenets of the faith, emphasizing that he did not expect them to be perfect (1:9), but that they should overcome the world by showing their love for one another as God loves us, by loving God and keeping his commandments (5:3).

He finishes the letter by encouraging the believers that they have eternal life already through Christ, who has given them understanding so that they may know the truth.

Notes & Quotes:

The Apostle John was particularly concerned with the influence of the Gnostics within the church, who basically advocated that all spirit was good and all flesh was bad, therefore Jesus was not a real physical being but a spirit-being. Not only did John deal with this very effectively, but he also gave us this terrific epistle on love and just what it really should be like between ourselves and between us and God the Father.

John teaches us here that by keeping our eyes on Jesus and by following his commandments to love one another, then we can indeed ‘overcome the world’ and walk in the light of the true Gospel of Christ.

Summary of 2nd John

When wrtten: Around A.D. 85-95.

By Whom: The Apostle John.

People & Places: Jesus Christ

Sound-Bites: For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is the deceiver and the antichrist. (Ch.1:7)

The Messianic Link: He is the Truth which abides in us (Ch1:2)

2 John in a Nutshell:

In this short letter of only one chapter, John is again most concerned about the false Gnostic teachers who are pestering the church. He advises that the easiest way to catch them out is to ask them if Christ came in the flesh; if they deny that this was so, then they are deceivers and the antichrist. (v7)

Such people should not be accepted or allowed into their house, as to do so would be to participate in their sin.

Notes & Quotes:

There was a campaign ‘doing the rounds’ at this time, seeking to undermine the eye witness accounts of Jesus’ physical resurrection. These accounts basically claimed that it was not Jesus at all, but his ghost or spirit. John and the other Apostles—who were there at the time—refute this vehemently.

Even today I have heard Jesus described as all sorts of things, from a spirit-man to a nice man to a space-man! However, only acknowledgement that Jesus was indeed the Son of God, crucified and risen in the flesh will be enough to satisfy The Father that we are worthy to enter the kingdom of Heaven, and participate in the marriage supper of The Lamb (Rev.19:7-9).

Summary of 3rd John

When Written: Around A.D. 90-95.

By Whom: The Apostle John.

Significant People & Places: Gaius; Demetrius; Diotrephes

Sound-Bites: Beloved, do not imitate what is evil, but what is good. The one who does good is of God; the one who does evil has not seen God. (v.11)

The Messianic Link: He is The Name in verse 7

3 John in a Nutshell:

John is writing to his friend, Gaius, to wish him and the fellow believers well. However he is concerned about the leader, Diotrephes, who will not allow John’s messengers access to the church.

He finishes this short epistle by commending Demetrius to them, and advises them that he will soon come and deal with the matter ‘face to face’. 

Notes & Quotes:

Even people in leadership must subject themselves to leadership or oversight, for “power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Any church or individual who will not accept the advice of their appointed leaders within the movement risks falling into the error and snare of ‘the power trap’. For that reason alone it is not advisable for a church to be run by one man or woman—answerable to no-one but themselves—lest they should fall into this trap, and be led into error.

  • Article extracted with full permission from ‘The Bible Brief’ a Bible Summary book available on Amazon here

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