Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever.
Oh God, you know every blade of grass that grows, every sparrow that dies, every act and thought of the seven billion people here on earth. The hundred billion stars are yours and you made them, and you watch them, and the vastness of space and the countless galaxies, you know. You know my coming in and my going out, my thoughts and dreams and schemes, my countless little sins and lies, my kindnesses and my cruelties, my prayers and my curses.
Your knowledge is utterly beyond my comprehension, Lord. And yet, despite all of this, you have promised to know me, to be with me, to listen to me and help me and, if I only ask for it in the name of your Son, to forgive me when I offend you.
I praise you above all else, Mighty God; for the wonderment of your existence and the unfathomable size and complexity of your creation. And above all, my love and obedience are yours; I give them to you now and forever, in gratitude for your greatest gift, the sacrifice of your blessed Son, Jesus Christ.
Lord, I pray that this day I will let the light of Christ pour from me like a sunbeam, to brighten every dark corner that I come upon.
[Forgiveness of others is the key that unlocks Christ’s forgiveness, and forgiveness through Christ is the key that unlocks the kingdom of God.]
And now, as a little child, let me abide in you all this day, oh Christ, so that when you appear I may have confidence and not shrink from you in shame at your coming. For I know that you are righteous, and I am sure that I will be made righteous only by my life in you.
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!
We bless you from the house of the Lord.
The Lord is God,
and he has made his light to shine upon us.
y little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.
And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.
* * *
Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world — the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life — is not from the Father but is from the world.
* * *
Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.
John’s books (including Revelation) were written long after the rest of the New Testament; as much as 60 years may have passed from the writing of James to the writing of these epistles. John was the only apostle thought to have died from natural causes, and he lived quite a long time, probably well into his 90s.
His second and third letters are called “postcards” by waggish seminarians — these are the shortest books in the New Testament — and there is not much to them. They are simply personal correspondence, containing a few lines of theological matter, all of it redundant to the first epistle.
The first epistle does not read like an epistle, but like a homily; it contains no opening salutation, no closing, and no discussion of personal matters. The style is very much like the Gospel of John: simple words and basic theological concepts repeated in different variations.
The purpose of the letter was to combat the schisms that arose in the church in 70-100 A.D. It became infiltrated by semi-Christian Gnostics, who combined the Gospel of Christ with various Oriental religions. These Gnostics struggled to take control of churches from pure Christians. John, being the only living apostle, was the clear choice to lead the fight against heretics.
In Chapter 1 (of 5), John first establishes his unique credentials: he was the last living apostle and personal witness to the life of Christ. He then describes three basic Christian principles: God is light, God is life, God is love. The simple beauty of his prose, combined with the interweaving of variations on these three themes, gives the epistle its force. He sideswipes the Gnostics (who believed that all matter is evil) by his assertion that those who know Christ walk in the light of God — even though they are made of flesh — by keeping His commandments. Where a believer sins, he may be forgiven upon confessing his sin; but by and large, proof of love of God, and thus salvation, lies in avoiding sin and loving one another.
John repeatedly stresses that those who walk in darkness — that is, fail to keep Christ’s commandments, especially to love God and one another — are liars if they claim to be followers of Christ.
The term “antichrist” originates in this epistle, the only place it is found in the Bible. John gives his listeners (for this would have been read aloud) a simple test of whether teaching comes from God or Satan: if the speaker confesses that Christ was God made flesh, the spirit is basically divine and may be heard. Otherwise, the spirit is that of the antichrist. This gave confused church members a simple test to weed out Gnostic teachers.
Although it helps to know the anti-Gnostic purpose of the letter, 1 John is a book that can be read, enjoyed, and fully appreciated without a guide or teacher.