An Introduction to 1 John and commentary on 1 John 1:1-10 (Part 1)

I posted last month saying that I’m getting more regular pulpit time. I’ll be preaching again next week and posting my passage notes then. In the meantime, today we started working our way through 1 John in Sunday School. I decided to post my notes here, too. So when this is done in a couple of months, you’ll basically have a verse-by-verse commentary of the book.

Introduction

So let’s get right into it. Not only is this going to be an analysis of the book, it’s also going to serve as something of a case study of how to read your Bible–that’s a field that Bible scholars call “hermeneutics.” So you’ll see me giving you several hermeneutical tools that you can apply as you study other books. And the first such tool is, naturally, reading in context. But “context” doesn’t only mean the verses right before and right after whatever verse you are in. It doesn’t even just mean the paragraphs before and after (although that’s a lot better than just the verses before and after). One of the major contexts is the purpose of the book. Why was the author writing? What was he trying to get his readers to understand? What’s the big idea he was addressing?

That’s really important, because if you get it right, much of the book will explain itself. But if you get it wrong, you’ll likely end up with hopeless contradictions within the book and with other books of the Bible. If you’ve ever found yourself reading and suddenly you come across a verse or passage that feels like it came out of nowhere and just doesn’t belong, that’s probably because you have missed the author’s overall point. We’ll see in just a bit how that works in 1 John as our example.

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The Galatian Heresy (Gal 3:1-6)

What happens when you put the wrong fuel in your car? In won’t go very far, right? So what happens when you try to run your Christian life on the wrong “fuel”?

Galatians is one of the most passionately written, emotionally and spiritually challenging books in all of the Bible. Paul’s anger and sarcasm drips from its pages as he battles what he sees to be not only an enemy of the gospel of Jesus Christ but a heresy devilish enough to endanger the entire church. Very often, evangelical ministers, following Martin Luther, argue that in this book Paul is defending the idea of justification by faith alone. Specifically, they say that he is attacking “the Judaizers”–Jewish Christians who taught that Gentile Christians needed to submit themselves to the Law of Moses–for teaching that salvation is by faith in Christ plus keeping the Law.

But what if that isn’t what Paul is saying at all? It is certainly the case that Paul is frustrated that Jewish Christians were telling Gentile Christians that keeping the Law was a requirement. But the question is, what were these people saying that keeping the Law was a requirement for?

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