How to Read 1 John
During the month of December, our church will be reading the book of 1 John. Use this study guide to help you as read this amazing letter.
What’s First John All About?
The first letter of John is about having real faith in the real Jesus. This letter was more than likely written by John, the Beloved Disciple, who also wrote the Gospel of John. It was written to encourage Christians to continue in their faith and obedience to Christ.
The letter points out ways that we can see evidence of genuine faith in Jesus. While the language in some passages is strong, we should understand that the letter was written to challenge believers in their pursuit of Christ. The point of the letter is not to convince you that you're not saved. John simply wants it to make it clear what real faith in the real Jesus looks like. And he wants that real faith to be ours.
Outline of The Book
1:1–4 | Real Faith In the Real Jesus
1:5–2:2 | Real Faith Walks In the Light
2:3–11 | Real Faith Walks In Obedience
2:12–17 | Real Faith Overcomes the World
2:18–27 | Real Faith Abides In Truth
2:28–3:3 | Real Faith Abide In the Father
3:4–10 | Real Faith Practices Righteousness
3:11–18 | Real Faith Love the Brothers
3:19–24 | Real Faith And Assurance
4:1–6 | Real Faith and the Spirit of Truth
4:7–12 | Real Faith and Love of God
4:13–21 | Real Faith and the Spirit of Love
5:1–5 | Real Faith and the New Birth
5:6–12 | Real Faith and the Son of God
5:13–21 | Real Faith That Endures
Things to Look For
Look for Jesus. John wants to be perfectly clear on who Jesus is and what he came to do. Look for great passages that dive the depths of his person and his work.
Look for contrasts. John likes to make strong contrasts: darkness & light, death & life, sin & righteousness. Look for these contrasts and see how John uses them to show us what real faith looks like.
Look for the new birth. John loves to use the new birth language all over this letter. And his focus is not so much on how we are born again, but more on what fruit comes from the new birth. Look for this language and see how John uses it to encourage us to live as those born of God.
Look for obedience. John’s letter is full of the weight of obedience. We are called to keep Christ’s commands. John walks us through these commands in different ways. But notice, also, how John is quick to root our obedience in the person and work of Christ.
Look for God’s love. John’s letter has some strong warnings and it can be easy to get hung up on those. Yet the letter also has some of the most beautiful passages on God’s love in the Bible (not that warnings are not evidence of God’s great love). Let these beautiful passages on God’s love remind us just how much he loves to save sinners and give them real faith in Jesus.
Tips For Reading
Be creative on how you read this month. Read a chapter a day to read it 6 times. Read through the outline above to read it twice. Take 15 minutes and read the book once every day this month!
The letter can be hard to understand sometimes. Why not talk with someone about what you read so you can gain their insights. And maybe you’ll give them a few insights too.
Take some time to listen through the sermon series we preached through 1 John a few years ago:
Pray before you read: “Lord let me have real faith, in the real Jesus.”