Getting Up to Speed: An Essential Introduction to 1 John -- By: Barry Clyde Joslin

Journal: Southern Baptist Journal of Theology
Volume: SBJT 10:3 (Fall 2006)
Article: Getting Up to Speed: An Essential Introduction to 1 John
Author: Barry Clyde Joslin


Getting Up to Speed:
An Essential Introduction to 1 John

Barry Clyde Joslin

Barry Clyde Joslin is Assistant Professor of Christian Theology at Boyce College of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He received his Th.M. from Dallas Theological Seminary and his Ph.D. from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Introduction and Purpose of Article

Over against our own evangelical culture, in which compromise, political correctness, spiritual lethargy, and cultural relativity are common, stands the short letter of 1 John. Few have poured over its pages without being personally confronted with the apostle’s boldness and stark delineation between those who are “in the light” and those who still walk in the “darkness” of the world. None should miss the author’s clear description of what it means to believe and confess the word of life as those who have been “born of God.” A faithful study of 1 John yields a treasure trove of riches for the soul and mind as the reader is confronted by the apostle’s message in its five short chapters. Does it matter what one believes? Does it matter what one believes about Jesus, specifically? Can one know God and it have no impact on one’s life? John is bold and lucid on these and other matters and as such, his words are both timely and timeless. Indeed, such a message transcends the centuries and comes to us with abiding relevance. The aim of this article is practical: to provide a framework for further study, preaching, and teaching of the Bible, specifically, 1 John. What follows is a tool that will hopefully prove useful to the pastor, Sunday School teacher, youth director, Bible study leader, and anyone else wanting an overview of John’s first epistle. The article addresses the following five subjects: authorship and date; the original recipients of the epistle; the epistle’s overall purpose (i.e., why did John write?); various issues and theological emphases in 1 John; and the general outline/layout of the book. These five parts will then be followed by a brief conclusion.

Authorship and Date

These two issues can be treated together since they are so closely related. For most readers who study 1 John, the identification of “John” in the title is sufficient for ascertaining the author’s identity.1 In addition, this has been the traditional view of the church. Yet within New Testament studies there are many who refute Johannine authorship and make alternative arguments for the letter’s writer.2 In part the problem arises since nothing within 1 John unambiguously tells the reader exactly who the author is.3

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