The apostle John wrote the First Epistle of John probably from the city of Ephesus around A.D. 90. In it John declares his and the other apostles’ qualifications for their authority, battles the heresies of Gnosticism and Cerinthianism, and provides Christians with a handbook for living as followers of Christ.
He begins his letter with his and the other apostle’s unique qualifications for being able to teach the fledgling Church. They have heard Jesus, saw Jesus, examined Him closely, and physically interacted with Him. John quickly delves into the relationships we, as humans, have with Christ. Fellowship, love, sin, and salvation are laid bare for the reader to understand.
John leaves no gray area for Christians in either expected action or in more complex theology. One is either a follower of Christ or not – no exceptions. Love will dominate a believer’s life. Love for fellow believers; love for non-believers; love for God and His love for us are concisely and clearly stated. John uses the word “love” forty-six times in five chapters.
Regarding love John writes that the proof we love God is by keeping His Word. If we truly love others we will be people of action and not of words and this type of love comes only from God and will keep us from stumbling. The true believer is not to love the world or anything in the world because one cannot love both the world and God. God’s love for us led Him to send His son to die to make us His children.
John’s deep love for the Church is apparent in his pleadings for them to avoid false teachers and to stay away from idols. The fledging Church was being infiltrated by the Gnostic teaching and the Cerinthian heresy and John develops clear distinctions between the Christ of the heretics and the Christ he discipled under, watched die, and saw resurrected.
He also addresses many concerns of the contemporary church – why are we hated by others, how can we tell a true believer, what is the nature of God, what is the nature of sin? In short, 1 John is a handbook for those of the Christian faith.