2 John Lesson

2 John – Praise for obedience and warning about false teachers

 The Elder: 

To the elect  lady and her children: I love all of you in the truth—and not only I, but also all who have come to know the truth — because of the truth that remains in us and will be with us forever. 

Grace, mercy, and peace will be with us from God the Father and from Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, in truth and love. 

I was very glad to find some of your children walking in the truth, in keeping with a command we have received from the Father. So now I urge you, dear lady—not as if I were writing you a new command, but one we have had from the beginning—that we love one another. And this is love: that we walk according to His commands. This is the command as you have heard it from the beginning: you must walk in love. 

Many deceivers have gone out into the world; they do not confess the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh.  This is the deceiver and the antichrist. Watch yourselves so you don’t lose what we have worked for, but that you may receive a full reward. Anyone who does not remain in Christ’s teaching but goes beyond it, does not have God. The one who remains in that teaching, this one has both the Father and the Son. 10 If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your home, and don’t say, “Welcome,” to him; 11 for the one who says, “Welcome,” to him shares in his evil works. 

12 Though I have many things to write to you, I don’t want to do so with paper and ink. Instead, I hope to be with you and talk face to face  so that our joy may be complete. 

13 The children of your elect sister send you greetings. (HCSB)

I’ll be dividing this lesson into four parts.

  • Introduction – verses 1-3.
  • Christians must practice the truth – verses 4-6.
  • Christians must protect the truth – verses 7-11.
  • The farewell – verses 12-13.


Before we start a deeper look at this epistle, let’s take a look at some introductory information.

  • The letter was sent to Christians in the general area of Ephesus.
  • It was written around or just after 1 John was written.
  • The theme is very similar to 1 John; encourage and strengthen Christians to walk in love with others and resist false teaching.
  • Emphasizes obeying God’s commands.
  • It is a highly personal letter reflecting John’s affection and concern for these believers.

Now, let’s take a deeper look at these three verses.

  • The overarching idea in the first three verses is “May God’s blessings be upon the people I love, people who let the truth live in them.”
  • John starts with the term “elder.”
    • The Greek word for elder is presbyteros.
    • The title of elder was used for someone in a position of authority and responsibility.
    • In the context of the letter, it indicated that John had authority and responsibility for the recipients of the letter.
    • The use of elder instead of John’s name is a further reflection of the relationship between the author and the recipients.
  • One word that John hammers home is the word “truth.”
    • It occurs four times in these three verses, highlighting its significance to John’s message.
    • The Greek word for truth is aletheia, which means “in truth,” “upon truth,” and “according to truth,” pertaining to being a real or an actual event or state.
    • It means reality as opposed to mere appearance.
    • Jesus is “the truth.” John 14:6 – Jesus told him, “I am  the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. 
    • God’s Word is truth. John 17:17 – Sanctify them by the truth; Your word is truth.
    • The Spirit of Truth teaches us. John 16:13 – When the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all the truth. For He will not speak on His own, but He will speak whatever He hears. He will also declare to you what is to come.
  • John used the theme of “truth” at the beginning of this letter because there were false teachers leading the sheep astray.
    • John never tolerated false teachers.
    • There is a deadly difference between truth and error, and John would not tolerate error.
    • The truth would appeal to the minds of the readers.
  • The other important word in these verses is “love.”
    • It occurs twice in this section.
    • The Greek word used here is agape.
    • It means to have a love for someone or something based upon sincere appreciation and high regard.
    • Love would appeal to the hearts of the readers.
  • The next issue we need to discuss is the identity of “the elect lady and her children.”
    • Among scholars and theologians, there are three main interpretations of this phrase.
      • It is a figurative reference to a local church and its members. If this is true, then verse thirteen would also be a reference to a local church.
      • It is a reference to the universal church of believers.
      • The recipient is an individual lady and her children.
    • The majority believe the first choice is the correct one. It’s a metaphorical or symbolic way of identifying a local church and its members.
      • The term “lady,” or kuria in Greek, is the feminine form of “lord.”
      • This hints at the idea of the church being the bride of Christ.
      • This idea also meshes well with verse thirteen; churches are “sister” of each other.
      • Those who come to faith in a local church are the “children” of the “elect lady.”
  • John concludes this section with words common in ancient Christian greetings; grace, mercy, and peace.

Christians Must Practice the Truth

  • The overarching theme in verses four to six is, “It is a joy that some of you are walking in the truth. We are commanded to love one another and to walk in obedience to God’s commands.”
  • In this section, we find another word that repeats itself. The words “walk/walking” occurs three times in this section.
    • In the original Greek, this would convey an action beyond simply understanding truth. It would require acting on the truth.
    • It’s not enough for believers to know the truth. We must demonstrate the truth through our actions wherever we are.
    • When someone “walks in the truth,” it means they are obeying the truth and allowing it to control their lives.
    • John 14:15 – If you love Me, you will keep My commands.
  • John is “very glad” that some of the believers are walking in the truth.
    • Although not apparent from the English rendering, John had met some of the members of the church during his travels and observed their obedience. John wasn’t saying that only a portion was walking in obedience.
    • It also makes the Father “very glad” when His children walk in obedience to His Word.
    • Shepherd leaders are also “very glad” when members of their flock walk in obedience to God’s Word.
  • Another word that occurs repeatedly is “command.”
    • Command occurs four times in these three verses.
    • The commands are given by the Father.
      • Each commandment is an expression of love.
      • The will of God is the revelation of God’s heart. Psalm 33:11 – The counsel of the Lord stands forever, the plans of His heart from generation to generation.
      • Obedience to God’s Word is a revelation of our love, not an expression of fear. 1 John 5:3 – For this is what love for God is: to keep His commands. Now His commands are not a burden.
      • False teachers try to make God’s commandments appear harsh and difficult, offering their followers “true” freedom, which is really false freedom. 2 Peter 2:19 – They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption, since people are enslaved to whatever defeats them.
      • The greatest freedom is obedience to God’s perfect will.
      • Those who are true followers of Christ and love God would never think His commandments are harsh or unbearable.
  • John now moves on to the command to love one another.
    • Loving others is not a new command; it goes back to the Old Testament, where Jews were told to love both their neighbors and strangers.
      • Leviticus 19:18 – Do not take revenge or bear a grudge against members of your community, but love your neighbor as yourself; I am Yahweh.
      • Deuteronomy 10:19 – You also must love the foreigner, since you were foreigners in the land of Egypt.
    • However, what is new is that with the incarnation of Jesus, there is a new emphasis on brotherly love, agape, as demonstrated in Jesus’ life, and the expectation that we follow His example and love others in the same manner. 
    • A reasonable question to ask is, “is it possible to command love?” The short answer is yes! But we need to understand what defines Christian love.
      • It’s not a feeling or special kind of “religious emotion.”
      • It’s an act of will that enables us to interact with and accept others.
      • Christian love is treating others in the same way God treats you.
      • It’s possible to extend love to others even when we really don’t like them.
        • People can be rude to us, but we can be kind in return.
        • People may persecute us, but we can pray for them, and when the opportunity presents itself, we can be kind to them.
        • If we followed our feelings, we would retaliate.
        • But if we allow the Holy Spirit to control our lives, we can act like Jesus would have acted in Christian love.
    • Love and obedience go together.
      • We can’t separate our relationship with God from our relationship with others.
      • If we say we love God, but we hate our brothers or sisters, how can we say we love God?
      • If we walk in obedience to God, His love is made perfect in us toward others.
  • When we look at these three verses together, we see the themes of truth, love, and obedience blended.
    • Believing in the truth, Christ, and the Word leads to our salvation.
    • The evidence of salvation is love and obedience.
    • Love and obedience are strengthened as we grow in the knowledge of the truth.
      • Ephesians 4:15 – But speaking the truth in love, let us grow in every way into Him who is the head—Christ.
      • John 7:17 – If anyone wants to do His will, he will understand whether the teaching is from God or if I am speaking on My own.
    • Obedience allows us to learn more truth, and the more truth we learn, the more we love Jesus, who is the truth.
    • Instead of living in a vicious circle of defeat, we live in a victorious circle of love, truth, and obedience.

Christians Must Protect the Truth

  • The theme for this section is that believers must not be led astray by the world’s deceivers, those who don’t acknowledge Jesus. We shouldn’t help them in any way, which would be assistance to those practicing evil.
  • In this section, John warns about the deceivers in the world.
  • In the context of this letter, it addresses the false teaching of docetism or proto-Gnostics who denied the incarnation of God the Son.
  • The Greek word for deceiver is planos, and it means more than just teaching false doctrine.
    • It does mean teaching false doctrine.
    • It also means to lead people astray or to lead them into wrong living.
    • John had already taught that what we believe determines how we act. Wrong or false doctrine will lead to wrong living.
  • Where did the deceivers come from?
    • They came from inside the church.
    • They professed faith in Jesus but were false believers.
      • Jude 3-4 – Dear friends, although I was eager to write you about the salvation we share, I found it necessary to write and exhort you to contend for the faith that was delivered to the saints once for all. For some men, who were designated for this judgment long ago, have come in by stealth; they are ungodly,  turning the grace of our God into promiscuity and denying Jesus Christ, our only Master and Lord
      • 1 John 2:19 – They went out from us, but they did not belong to us; for if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us. However, they went out so that it might be made clear that none of them belongs to us
      • Acts 20:30 – And men will rise up from your own number with deviant doctrines to lure the disciples into following them.
  • John also warns there are many deceivers.
    • 2 Peter 2:1-2 – But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, and will bring swift destruction on themselves. Many will follow their unrestrained ways, and the way of truth will be blasphemed because of them
    • These deceivers are also the “antichrists” John warned about in 1 John 2:18-23.
  • To protect the truth requires a faithfulness to the basic doctrines of the Christian faith.
    • The deceivers had departed from the truth and church fellowship.
    • The deceivers were dangerous.
  • John points out three dangers the church and its members face from the deceivers.
    • The danger of losing what we have worked for.
      • John warns the readers to “watch yourselves.”
        • The deceivers will try and falsely offer something you don’t have.
        • In reality, they will take away what you do have.
      • Satan is a thief, and so are his minions.
      • The full reward John is talking about is an abundant entrance into the eternal kingdom.
        • Believers will receive rewards in heaven. Both John and Paul talk about that in Scripture.
          • Revelation 4:10 – The 24 elders fall down before the One seated on the throne,  worship the One who lives forever and ever, cast their crowns before the throne, and say.
          • 1 Corinthians 9:25 – Now everyone who competes exercises self-control in everything. However, they do it to receive a crown that will fade away, but we a crown that will never fade away
          • 2 Timothy 4:8 – There is reserved for me in the future the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on that day, and not only to me, but to all those who have loved His appearing
    • The danger of going beyond what Scripture says.
      • The Greek term for “goes beyond it,” proago, means to go beyond the established boundaries of teaching or instruction, failing to obey properly.
      • The false teachers will try and come off as “progressive” in their thinking.
      • However, the progress they push actually abandons the doctrine that Jesus is God the Son, who came in the flesh.
      • We all know of examples today where pastors, churches, or denominations have “gone beyond” what is contained in Scripture to promote a “kindler, gentler, all inclusive” Gospel.
        • Same-sex marriages and non-binary genders are two of the more recent examples.
        • However, both go “beyond Scripture,” which is clear that God created male and female and that marriage is between a man and a woman.
      • Learning is good, but anytime it leads us away from the fundamental doctrines of the person and work of Jesus Christ, then we are on dangerous ground.
  • The danger of welcoming or receiving false teachers.
    • As we consider verse ten, we need to view it in the context of first-century practices of hospitality.
      • As opposed to today, there weren’t many inns for travelers to stay. This was especially true for traveling Christians who tried to stay away from the evil influences in the world.
      • Christians were encouraged to open their homes to visitors.
        • Romans 12:13 – Share with the saints in their needs; pursue hospitality.
        • Hebrews 13:2 – Don’t neglect to show hospitality, for by doing this some have welcomed angels as guests without knowing it.
      • Believers who showed hospitality to servants of God were helping those who were spreading the truth, the Gospel.
    • Those who were showing hospitality to false teachers were sharing in their evil works.
    • The true doctrine of Christ is a test of truth, a foundation for fellowship, and a bond for mutual cooperation.
    • The same principle applies today.
      • We may have Mormons or Jehovah’s Witnesses come to our door, spreading their false doctrine.
        • We should never be rude to them; see the section above about love.
        • But, we should point out their false teaching and show them the truth contained in Scripture.
        • One additional method of trying to limit their damage is to take as many of their resources as possible and then burn them so they won’t do any harm.
      • There are also false teachers on television, radio, youtube, etc., who spread false teaching. We need to be alert so that we don’t inadvertently aid them in any way.
    • Why was John so focused on not accidentally helping the wrong people?
      • It would give the false teacher the impression their heretical teaching was acceptable.
      • It would be possible to become influenced by them.
      • It would provide the false teacher with ammunition on their next stop that you supported them. Our disobedience could lead to someone else’s destruction.
    • John was not saying that only believers could/should enter your house.
      • Engaging the lost is required to lead them to Christ.
      • Often, a comfortable setting such as our home is a good place to do that.
    • John is saying we shouldn’t receive, enable, or encourage false teachers who represent antichristian groups.

The Farewell

  • John now closes this letter much in the same way he will close 3 John.
  • There are several points in these last two verses.
    • John emphasizes the importance of Christian fellowship.
    • John is saying we should experience joy when we gather with other believers.
    • Receiving letters from fellow believers is important but not as important as face-to-face meetings.
    • The letter that John wrote doesn’t contain all the things he wanted to discuss with them.
    • John was planning on visiting this family or church in person.
  • John concludes the letter by saying the children of their elect sister send greetings.
    • As previously discussed in the first section of this lesson, this most likely refers to a church and its members.
    • This demonstrates that Christian churches in the first century were concerned about other churches; there wasn’t any competition or disunity.


  • John commended the recipients of the letter for walking in the truth but also commanded them to walk in the truth. Examine your walk. Do you walk in the truth? Do you walk in love, which means following the commands the Father has given us? If you do, keep doing it. If you don’t, pray for the Holy Spirit to give you the strength to walk in God’s power and love others just as God loves us.
  • Be watchful for false teachers around your home, in your workplace, in your community, and your church. If you find some, don’t enable them in any manner. Confront them with the truth of the Gospel. Warn your spiritual brothers and sisters, so they don’t fall victim to their heresy. As believers, we must always confront and correct false teaching.
  • Engage in fellowship with other believers. While written and voice correspondence is important, they will never replace the importance of face-to-face meetings. We should meet often with fellow believers to encourage and support each other.
  • Pray for the other churches around you, regardless of their denomination or demographics. The one caveat is that they are a church that teaches the truth and doesn’t compromise to be socially acceptable in a fallen world.

1 John Lesson Twelve

1 John Lesson Twelve: 1 John 5:14-21 – Prayer and Three Christian Certainties

14 Now this is the confidence we have before Him: Whenever we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. 15 And if we know that He hears whatever we ask, we know that we have what we have asked Him for. 

16 If anyone sees his brother committing a sin that does not bring death, he should ask, and God will give life to him—to those who commit sin that doesn’t bring death. There is sin that brings death. I am not saying he should pray about that. 17 All unrighteousness is sin, and there is sin that does not bring death. 

18 We know that everyone who has been born of God does not sin, but the One who is born of God keeps him, and the evil one does not touch him. 

19 We know that we are of God, and the whole world is under the sway of the evil one. 

20 And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding so that we may know the true One. We are in the true One—that is, in His Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life. 

21 Little children, guard yourselves from idols. (HCSB)

I’ll be dividing this lesson into four parts.

  • Verses 14-15 – Effective prayer.
  • Verses 16-17 – Confronting sin.
  • Verses 18-19 – How Christians act.
  • Verses 20-21 – We know the truth.

Effective Prayer

As we dig deeper into the first two verses in this passage, talking about prayer, we need to focus on the idea that godly prayer is prayer that aligns with God’s will, not our wants. Let’s look at some points John is talking about regarding prayer.

  • We have confidence when we bring our prayers before God.
    • In the original Greek, confidence means “freedom of speech.”
    • We have the freedom to bring our petitions before God and tell Him our needs and the needs of others.
  • First, there are some conditions that must be met before our prayers are heard by God.
    • We need a heart that doesn’t condemn. 1 John 3:21-22 – Dear friends, if our conscience doesn’t condemn us, we have confidence before God 22 and can receive whatever we ask from Him because we keep His commands and do what is pleasing in His sight.
    • Unconfessed sin is an obstacle to prayer. Psalms 66:18 – If I had been aware of malice in my heart, the Lord would not have listened.
    • Husbands must honor their wives. 1 Peter 3:7 – Husbands, in the same way, live with your wives with an understanding of their weaker nature yet showing them honor as coheirs of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered.
    • We must settle our differences with other believers. Matthew 5:23-25 – So if you are offering your gift on the altar, and there you remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled with your brother, and then come and offer your gift. 25 Reach a settlement quickly with your adversary while you’re on the way with him, or your adversary will hand you over to the judge, the judge to the officer, and you will be thrown into prison.
    • We must abide in Christ, demonstrating love and obedience. John 15:7 – If you remain in Me and My words remain in you, ask whatever you want and it will be done for you.
  • Second, we must pray in alignment with God’s will.
    • Matthew 6:10b – Your will be done.
    • George Muller, who ran several orphanages in England during the 1800s housing thousands of orphans, said: “Prayer is not overcoming God’s reluctance. It is laying hold of God’s willingness.”
    • There are times we can only pray, “Not my will, but yours be done.” (from Luke 22:42)
    • If we are immersed in God’s Word, we can determine His will by reading Scripture and listening to the Holy Spirit. Romans 8:26-27 – In the same way the Spirit also joins to help in our weakness, because we do not know what to pray for as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with unspoken groanings. 27 And He who searches the hearts  knows the Spirit’s mind-set, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God
    • God wants to supply our needs, not our greed. Philippians 4:19 – And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus. 20 Now to our God and Father be glory forever and ever.
    • If we walk with God, obey His commands, and pray for things that glorify God and build His kingdom, those requests will be answered.
    • James warns about praying with the wrong motive. James 4:3 – You ask and don’t receive because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your evil desires.
    • We also need to remember that God may answer the request in a way that is different from what we anticipated. Also, God will answer the request in His time, not ours. We may have to wait longer than we’d like to get the answer.
  • As we mature in our prayer life, we must learn to see things from God’s point of view, not from ours.
    • We study Scripture to learn about God’s will in a general sense.
    • As we face circumstances in life, we take these general principles and apply them to specific circumstances.
    • We pray for what God wants, not what we want.
    • When we do that, our prayers will be answered.
    • John Stott wrote – “Prayer is not a convenient device for imposing our will upon God, or for bending His will to ours, but the prescribed way of subordinating our will to His. It is by prayer that we seek God’s will, embrace it and align ourselves with it. Every true prayer is a variation of the theme ‘Your will be done’”.

Confronting Sin

John now talks about sins that don’t lead to death and sins that do lead to death. What could John be talking about when he mentions “sin that brings death?” Scholars and theologians have wrestled with this question and have come up with four possibilities, although none are clear-cut. Here are the four.

  • A terrible sin that God will not pardon. There isn’t anything in the New Testament that fits the definition of this kind of sin. Peter cursed and denied Jesus three times. That’s about as bad a sin as we could imagine. Yet, a short period of time later, Peter was eating a meal with Jesus on the shore of the Sea of Galilee.
  • It’s talking about some type of apostasy, to deliberately turn from being a follower of Christ. However, 1 John 3:9 appears to teach that a true Christian can’t fall away from the faith. If some do, it’s an indication they were never a follower in the first place.
  • John is talking about blaspheming the Holy Spirit, a sin Matthew says will not be forgiven (Matthew 12:31-32) But how could John call someone like that a “brother?”
  • John is talking about a physical death. Some Christians in Scripture sinned so badly that God took their lives; Ananias and Sapphire (Acts 5:1-11), the man sinning with his stepmother in 1 Corinthians 5, the people who “fell asleep” in 1 Corinthians 11 because they were abusing the Lord’s supper.

Although we don’t know the correct interpretation, we can focus on a positive point from John’s message. We need to be praying for our brothers and sisters who are in sin. This type of request would align with God’s will. Jesus prayed for Peter on the night he was betrayed, and we should do the same for others.

One final point here. John is not being soft on sin. He writes that “all unrighteousness is sin.”

How Christians Act

John is not talking about the occasional or accidental sins that believers commit. John is talking about habitual and deliberate sins. Because a believer has a new nature, their desires should change from the realm of darkness to the kingdom of light. Let’s dig into this deeper.

  • A Christian faces three enemies, all of which want to lead them into sin.
    • Satan.
      • The whole world is under the sway of the evil one – 1 John 5:19.
      • Satan is the god of this age, meaning this world. 2 Corinthians 4:3-4 – But if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. In their case, the god of this age has blinded the minds of the unbelievers so they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.
      • Satan is the ruler of this world. John 14:30 – I will not talk with you much longer, because the ruler of the world is coming. He has no power over Me.
      • Satan is the spirit who works in the children of disobedience. Ephesians 2:2 – in which you previously walked according to the ways of this world, according to the ruler who exercises authority over the lower heavens, the spirit now working in the disobedient.
      • Satan tells lies. Genesis 3 and 2 Corinthians 11:1-3. When people listen, they turn from and disobey God’s truth.
      • Satan may inflict physical suffering.
        • Job.
        • Paul: 2 Corinthians 12:7b-9 – Therefore, so that I would not exalt myself, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to torment me so I would not exalt myself. Concerning this, I pleaded with the Lord three times to take it away from me. But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Therefore, I will most gladly boast all the more about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may reside in me.
        • David: 1 Chronicles 21.
    • The flesh.
      • The old nature still lies within us even after we are born again.
      • We have a new nature, but we don’t always yield to the new nature.
    • The world.
      • The world is our enemy. 1 John 2:15-17 – Do not love the world  or the things that belong to the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in him. 16 For everything that belongs to the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride in one’s lifestyle—is not from the Father, but is from the world. 17 And the world with its lust is passing away, but the one who does God’s will remains forever.

A believer faces three very formidable foes. How does a believer keep from sinning? The answer is in verse eighteen. 

  • Jesus keeps us. The word “keep” has two meanings here.
    • One is to “watch over.” Jesus watches over us, so the evil one doesn’t touch us.
    • Because Jesus “watches over” us, we are able to obey His instructions.
  • We see an illustration of this in Luke 22:31-32 – “Simon, Simon, look out! Satan has asked to sift you like wheat. 32 But I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And you, when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”
  • Satan can’t touch a believer without God’s permission.
  • If God gives permission to Satan to attack us, it also means He has given us the ability to resist the attack through His power. God will never allow us to be tested beyond the capability of our strength in Him. 1 Corinthians 10:13 – No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to humanity. God is faithful, and He will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation He will also provide a way of escape so that you are able to bear it

We Know the Truth

The truth John is talking about here is that the Son of God has come to redeem us, and He’s a reflection of the Father. Let’s take a deeper look at these last two verses,

  • Jesus is God the Son.
    • Jesus, in human form but fully divine, was a reflection of the Father.
    • The characteristics that Jesus displayed are the same that make up the Father.
    • When we study and understand who Jesus was, how He acted toward others, and how He acted in situations, we see the Father on display, and we see how we should act as followers of Christ.
  • Because we know, worship, and serve the true God, we are connected with reality.
    • The “true One” means the original as opposed to a copy or the authentic as opposed to an imitation.
    • Jesus is the true light. John 1:9 – The true light, who gives light to everyone, was coming into the world.
    • Jesus is the true bread. John 6:32 – Jesus said to them, “I assure you: Moses didn’t give you the bread from heaven, but My Father gives you the real bread from heaven.
    • Jesus is the true vine. John 15:1 – “I am  the true vine, and My Father is the vineyard keeper.”
    • Jesus is truth. John 14:6 – Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.
  • Jesus came into the world to give us an understanding of the truth.
    • The truth of Jesus repudiates the false teaching in the world.
    • Some of the false teachers claimed to have a special knowledge of God and salvation apart from Jesus.
    • God can only be known in one way, through Jesus.
    • Truth can only be known in one way, through Jesus.
    • Anything that claims something different from what Jesus taught is false and a work of Satan.
  • Christians live in an atmosphere of reality or truth, while unbelievers live in an atmosphere of lies and falsehood.
    • Followers of Christ have been given spiritual discernment to know the truth from lies.
    • Unbelievers don’t have this understanding.
    • Christians don’t choose between good and bad; they choose between true and false.
  • John doesn’t end Colossians with a typical farewell. Instead, he delivers a stern warning.
    • By using the phrase “little children,” John is indicating a deep love for the recipients of the letter.
    • It may seem out of place for John to be addressing the issue of idols here. But, a theme of the entire epistle was the idea of truth versus lies. John is warning them to reject idols and cling to Christ; reject the false and embrace the real.
    • What idols was John warning against?
      • The best interpretation is that John was warning against anything that would take the place of God.
        • 1 Thessalonians 1:9 – For they themselves report what kind of reception we had from you: how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God.
        • Ephesians 5:5 – For know and recognize this: Every sexually immoral  or impure  or greedy person, who is an idolater, does not have an inheritance in the kingdom  of the Messiah and of God.
        • Colossians 3:5 – Therefore, put to death what belongs to your worldly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desire, and greed, which is idolatry.
      • In the context of this letter, John was most likely referring to the “idols” of the false teachers who were saying Jesus was less than God.
        • The god of the false teachers was not just less than a perfect god; it was an idol.
        • The god of the false teachers was not true but a god of men’s imaginations.
      • For believers today, it is essential that they guard against any God-substitute. What are some of the idols that control people today?
        • Covetousness. A person may “worship” their bankbook or stock portfolio.
        • Adultery. A person may be addicted to pornography.
        • The thing we “serve” is the thing we worship. Whatever controls our lives is our god.


  • Be active in prayers that align with God’s will. All believers should have an active prayer life. But being active in prayer is not enough. Our prayers must align with God’s will. As we mature in our spiritual walk, we will grow in our understanding of God’s will for any given situation. One question to ask ourselves as we pray is, “Does this request bring glory to God?” If the prayer is answered, will God be glorified? Or is it a selfish prayer that benefits the person praying or another individual? 
  • When we see a fellow believer involved in sin, we are instructed to pray for them. Are you praying for those around you who are involved in the sinful activity? Everyone sins, and we all need the prayers of others to help us in this life.
  • Guard yourself against false teachers. There are many false teachers who preach an “attractive” message. We should always compare what a preacher/pastor/Bible teacher says against what Scripture says. If the message and Scripture don’t agree, it’s a red flag for false teaching. If you find yourself in that situation, you need to discuss it gracefully with the teacher. It’s possible they made an honest mistake, and they’ll correct it with the group who received the false message. If they don’t accept the charge of false teaching, you need to warn others who heard the message. Everyone in that group is in danger of being led astray.
  • Guard yourself against the idols of this world. In today’s modern world, there are too many potential idols to list. Some examples are jobs, positions, social media, pornography, drugs, or alcohol. The bottom line is that anything that takes a primary place in our lives and pulls us away from God is an idol.

1 John Lesson Eleven

1 John Lesson Eleven: 1 John 5:6-13 – The Full Assurance of Our Relationship to God

Jesus Christ—He is the One who came by water and blood, not by water only, but by water  and by blood. And the Spirit is the One who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth. For there are three that testify: the Spirit, the water, and the blood —and these three are in agreement. If we accept the testimony of men, God’s testimony is greater, because it is God’s testimony that He has given about His Son. 10 (The one who believes in the Son of God has this testimony within him. The one who does not believe God has made Him a liar,  because he has not believed in the testimony God has given about His Son.) 11 And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. 

12 The one who has the Son has life. The one who doesn’t have the Son of God does not have life. 13 I have written these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life. (HCSB)

As John nears the completion of this letter, he drives home a point that directly challenges the false teaching from the Gnostics that he was confronting; Jesus is God. 

I’ll be splitting this lesson into two parts.

  • Jesus is God – verses 6-10.
  • Believers have eternal life – verses 11-13.

Jesus is God

In the previous section of the passage, verses one to five, John placed emphasis on trusting in Jesus and overcoming the world. To believe that Jesus is the Son of God is fundamental to the Christian experience. But how do we know that Jesus is God? 

Some of those alive at the time called Jesus a liar and a deceiver – Matthew 27:63. Others said that Jesus was a religious fanatic, a madman, or perhaps a zealous Jew who was sincere but sadly mistaken. We also need to remember the false teaching the recipients of this letter were receiving from the Gnostics. The false teaching of the Gnostics had two main points.

  • The “Christ” came upon the man Jesus when He was baptized.
  • Before Jesus died on the cross, the “Christ” left Jesus, and He died like any other person.

John’s letter refutes this false teaching by presenting three infallible witnesses to prove that Jesus is God.

  • Before we look at the three witnesses, we need to remember Jewish law. In order to confirm testimony, at least two witnesses were required.
    • Deuteronomy 19:15 – One witness cannot establish any wrongdoing or sin against a person, whatever that person has done. A fact must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.
    • John 8:17 – Even in your law it is written that the witness of two men is valid.
  • The first witness is the water.
    • The water refers to Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan River at the beginning of His ministry.
    • Matthew 3:13-17 – Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan, to be baptized by him. 14 But John tried to stop Him, saying, “I need to be baptized by You, and yet You come to me?” 15 Jesus answered him, “Allow it for now, because this is the way for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he allowed Him to be baptized. 16 After Jesus was baptized, He went up immediately from the water. The heavens suddenly opened for Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming down on Him.  17 And there came a voice from heaven: This is My beloved Son. I take delight in Him!
  • The second witness is the blood.
    • Blood refers to the shedding of Jesus’ blood at His crucifixion and subsequent death.
    • As the time drew near for Jesus to die, God spoke from heaven.
      • John 12:28b – Then a voice  came from heaven: “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again!”
      • This was a reference to both what had already occurred and Jesus’ ultimate sacrifice on the cross.
    • There are also Scripture references to the glorification of Jesus during His crucifixion.
      • Matthew 27:45 – From noon until three in the afternoon darkness came over the whole land.
      • Matthew 27:50-53 – Jesus shouted again with a loud voice and gave up His spirit.  51 Suddenly, the curtain of the sanctuary was split in two from top to bottom; the earth quaked and the rocks were split. 52 The tombs were also opened and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised. 53 And they came out of the tombs after His resurrection, entered the holy city, and appeared to many. 
      • Matthew 27:54 – When the centurion and those with him, who were guarding Jesus, saw the earthquake and the things that had happened, they were terrified and said, “This man really was God’s Son!”
  • The third witness is the Holy Spirit.
    • The Holy Spirit was sent to bear witness to Jesus. We can trust the Holy Spirit because it is the Spirit that is truth.
      • John 15:26 – When the Counselor comes, the One I will send to you from the Father —the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father—He will testify about Me.
      • John 16:14 – He will glorify Me, because He will take from what is Mine and declare it to you.
      • Romans 8:15-16 – For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption, by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father!” 16 The Spirit Himself testifies together with our spirit that we are God’s children, 17 and if children, also heirs—heirs of God and coheirs with Christ—seeing that we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him. 
      • 1 Corinthians 2:14 – But the unbeliever does not welcome what comes from God’s Spirit, because it is foolishness to him; he is not able to understand it since it is evaluated  spiritually.
  • John is showing that all three testify to the truth of Jesus being the Son of God, the incarnation of the divine, and the pathway to redemption and restoration with God.
  • If human testimony is accepted on the basis of two or more witnesses, how much more should God’s testimony be accepted?
  • John makes two points in verses nine to eleven.
    • Divine testimony should be accepted because it is greater than human testimony, which everyone accepts.
    • Willful unbelief is sin. If we trust human testimony, why shouldn’t we trust God, who is more trustworthy than people?
  • When we consider these two points, we see the following three facts, which lead to one conclusion.
    • The Father witnessed at Jesus’ baptism.
    • The Father witnessed at the cross.
    • The Holy Spirit witnesses today within each believer.
    • Jesus is the Son of God.
  • Those who reject these facts are calling God a liar.
  • There is no middle ground in this discussion.
    • You are either with God and part of His spiritual family, destined to spend eternity in heaven.
    • Or you are against God, excluded from His spiritual family, and destined to spend eternity in hell.

Believers Have Eternal Life

  • John makes this point clear in the final three verses of this passage.
    • Those who accept the truth of the Father’s testimony concerning Jesus have life.
    • The life John is referring to in verse eleven is eternal life in heaven.
      • Life is contained in accepting the testimony about Jesus.
        • Those who accept the testimony about Jesus have the Son.
        • Those who accept the Son have life.
      • Death occurs for those who reject the testimony about Jesus.
        • They will have a physical death.
        • They will have a spiritual death, eternity in hell.
    • John is reminding and encouraging the recipients of his letter that those who believe in the testimony about Jesus have eternal life.

Before we take a summary look at this passage, let’s remember the situation that John was addressing. False teachers had permeated the early church, teaching heresy and leading some astray. Let’s consider the modern-day church. Few would argue that false teachers promoting heresy have permeated the church, leading believers astray.

Now, let’s consider three points essential to John’s writings.

  • The “blood” must remain central to all we are and preach. The “blood” refers to the cross.
    • In 1 Corinthians 1-4, Paul talks about the “foolishness” of the cross. Paul isn’t saying the cross is foolish. He is saying it is foolishness to those who reject the truth. 
    • As believers, we can never demote the significance of the cross.
    • 1 Corinthians 1:23-24 – But we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to the Jews and foolishness to the Gentiles. 24 Yet to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ is God’s power and God’s wisdom, 25 because God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength.
      • Christ is the power of God.
      • Christ is the wisdom of God.
    • Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross is the gateway to redemption, forgiveness, and eternal life.
  • The Holy Spirit is the preserver of truth.
    • However, John isn’t clear on how this is done on a practical level.
    • It could be spiritual discernment.
    • However, since John references water and blood, it makes the most sense he is referring to “what was at the beginning.” This understanding would point not to personal creativity and innovation but to the foundations on which the church was built.
      • The confessions and traditions of the original church.
      • The recitation of creeds.
      • An alarming trend has been noted by theologians.
        • The foundations for all of what we believe are no longer recognized by many “believers.” One of the more common is the teaching that the first eleven chapters of Genesis are fictional.
        • The validity of belief for many now appears to be functional.
      • One enlightening example is from a commentary author talking about his last year of seminary. The students were required to read one sermon per day for ten weeks. An observation from that exercise is that older sermons, those from pre-1950, contained a higher level of theological sophistication, which is lacking in many modern sermons. I’m sure many, if not all, who are reading this, can remember examples where the sermon they heard was light on sin, hell, love, and sacrifice. At the same time, those sermons may have been heavy on how to feel better about yourself or that God was still “love” even when we are engaged in willful sin.
    • Theology is losing ground to false teaching because churches have stopped pursuing and teaching truth.
  • Any claim to being a genuine follower of Christ is illegitimate if it denies what God has said about Jesus.
    • Jesus is both fully human and fully divine during the entirety of His life.
    • Any theology that rejects incarnation Christology must be dismissed as false theology.
    • Anyone who teaches false theology, whether knowingly or unknowingly, is part of Satan’s attempt to undermine and destroy the church.


  • Do you understand and believe in the absolute and unconditional truth that Jesus is who God the Father says He is? If not, examine why in light of what John wrote in this passage. Water, blood, and the Holy Spirit all testify about who Jesus is. 
  • If you hear or read about false teaching, confront it. Remember to always correct in a spirit of gentleness while not tolerating compromise.
  • Are you confident in your eternal destination? John is clear that if we believe the truth about Jesus and place our faith in Him, we have eternal life. If you have doubts in this area, determine why you doubt and pray for reassurance.