New Testament Week 48: “God is Love” – 1-3 John, Jude

While the last chapters of the New Testament before the heavy Book of Revelation are short, they are also some of my favorite. 1-3 John and James make up the most beautiful and powerful messages of living the gospel. After we get through these chapters, we will embark on the Book of Revelation which I plan to compile into one post on Dec 22. After that we will take a break before resuming in 2020 with our study of the Book of Mormon. Many of the readers of this blog may not be familiar with the Book of Mormon and so the first post will be an introduction, history, and will address some of the misconceptions about the book.

For this week, I hope you will read through all the chapters, but at the very least read through 1 John 4. I will discuss it more later in the post, but it is really the central message of the gospel of Jesus Christ. The power of the gospel is love. Love for God, Love for ourselves, Love for all of God’s children. This is something that matters to our whole lives, and during the Christmas season it shows up a little more in people. Hopefully we can all find ways to spread and feel the love of God.


– God is revealed to us when we love each other.

– We cannot claim to “love God” and despise our fellow human beings.

– Many will fall away, but we must love and embrace them, so they have a path back to Christ.

Context and Timeline:
– The author of 1-3 John was an eyewitness to Jesus Christ and His resurrection. This cannot be overstated.

– There were many early Christians who departed from the faith, but claimed they were free from sin, or that there was no sin. John is addressing their claims in 1 John.

– Evil is also translated as Evil One or Satan.

– Whenever someone departs the faith it can cause division. This is a primary theme of 1-3 John.

– Anointing could refer to baptism, confirmation, or another ordinance.

– Propitiation means appeasing or satisfying.

– The woman mentioned in the beginning of 2 John was likely a woman named Kyria which means lady and could have been a real person or a symbol meant to be the church.

– No one is certain who Gaius is and it is unlikely it is the same Gaius of Paul’s letters.

– Jude is the most explicit place in the New Testament that states Jesus is Jehovah. This is a uniquely Latter-day Saint belief, but Jude is very clear on this point.

– The first estate is having enough faith to follow Jesus to the mortal world instead of following Lucifer.

– Enoch being the “seventh” could be allegorical as the number seven is perfect and Enoch was perfect enough to be translated into heaven with his people.

History around Books:
1-3 John is comprised of 3 different books. Some scholars admit they may have been written by three different people. While there is no specific clue to show they were written by John the Beloved, there are many parallels in the writings and the writing style is very similar. On top of that there are references to the author being “the elder” and other early Christian leaders quoted from these books extensively and attributed them to John. For this reason, it is very likely they were written by John, after the Gospel of John was written.

Jude is more accurately translated as Judas, and many scholars believe this letter was written by another of Jesus’s brothers. Judas, and Jacob (Jude and James) were both important early Christian missionaries and Paul talks about them in his letters. They spent their lives spreading the message of the resurrected Christ throughout the Mediterranean.

Doctrinal Teachings:

  • Jesus Christ’s Atonement = New Commandment (1 John 1-2)
    • Fellowship with God requires that we walk in the light.
      • Walking in the light means admitting we are not sinless.
      • It requires us to confess our sinfulness and forgive each other.
    • Christ’s atonement makes him our advocate with the Father.
      • Christ being separate from the Father couldn’t be more explicit.
    • Coming to know Christ is reflected in our desire to live the commandments.
      • Does not mean we will not fail, for which the atonement has already redeemed us, but does mean we desire to keep the commandments.
    • The new commandment for us is that we love each other, not the world and its ideas, but each other despite our differences.
    • The anti-Christ is anything that preaches that Christ is not our redeemer.
  • God is Love (1 John 3-5)
    • We are the children of God, and even though we do not know what that inheritance means, we do know that it will mean we will be like Jesus Christ.
      • Becoming the children of Christ requires us to be pure.
    • Purity = trying to be like Christ
      • Believe he forgives our sins, forgive others.
      • Walk in the light.
      • Love others in word, truth, and action.
    • The spirit will lead us to believe in Christ.
    • Love one another as God loves us.
      • God showed His love by sending Christ and Christ showed His love by dying for us.
    • Testifying of Christ brings the spirit and God into our hearts.
    • We cannot love God and despise any other person, or groups of people (think politics).
    • Love for God is shown by trying to follow the commandments.
  • Beware Deceivers and Imitating Evil (2 John – 3 John)
    • Many want to deceive those who believe in God and their machinations will be effective and subtle.
    • If we imitate evil, then we open ourselves up to the great deceiver.
  • Some Will Fall Away, but We Must Love Them. (Jude)
    • Jesus was the Jehovah who saved the Israelites from Egypt.
    • Beware of those who deceive and lead people from Christ:
      • Their motivations are greed, pride, power.
      • They are empty in what they really provide, although they claim they provide the truth: Clouds without water, driven by new winds, trees without fruit. The eternity they promise is void and dark and will be what they wish for.
    • The attributes we must avoid are – complainers, discontents, only go around speaking our own desires, use extravagant words and sophisticated language to obscure motivations, putting people in awe for our own advantage.
    • Instead we must build up our faith, keep ourselves in God’s love, have mercy and love for those who leave the faith, love and respect those who leave but try to help redeem their faith.

Key Moment or Scripture: 1 John 4:7-21
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. 
Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. 
In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. 
10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 
11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 
12 No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.
13 By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. 
14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 
15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. 
16 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. 
17 By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. 
18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. 
19 We love because he first loved us. 
20 If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot[a] love God whom he has not seen. 
21 And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother 

Love has been a central theme in most of our study of the New Testament. John takes love to a further level in 1 John 4. He clearly states that we cannot love God if we hate other people. For many of us we simply achieve this by ignoring everyone who is not like us or turning them into caricatures unworthy of our love (justified by God of course). In these verses those excuses are eliminated. Our love must be a love of action, of love that challenges us to be different and to see others different.

How else can we become “like Him” if we are unwilling to be challenged in how we see others? In addition to this being a necessity, John promises that if we will engage in this effort to truly love others, then we will become something different. We will change, we will feel the spirit, and the thing so many of us long for, God will be revealed and abide with us. Everyone wants to have confirmation that God is there, and he loves us and this is revealed to us when we love others, not the ones who are easy to love, but loving those who we would otherwise ignore, marginalize, or despise. It is a tough challenge, but it is where our faith and God are found.

Final Thoughts:
As we approach the Book of Revelations it is important to think about the pastoral nature of majority of the New Testament. The authors are asking us to live differently, treat each other better, live in the light, and have confidence in Christ. They have taught us how to avoid deception, the importance of faith, prayer, love, and obedience. It is easy to tell that they just want us to live the gospel. In the Book of Revelations, we get a much different thing. We are going to get symbols, metaphors, visions of the future apocalypse and imagery that is designed to increase our urgency and to be prepared for the plight of those who believe and those who do not. It is a much different experience and I really hope that we can appreciate the parts of the New Testament we have studied before we change for the final book.