ImmerseMessiah NLT - Page 451

T H E L E T T E R K N O W N A S 1 J O H N was
written to a group of believers
in ­crisis. False teachers had begun preaching that Jesus was not the
­Messiah and claimed their teaching was based on a revelation from the
Spirit of God. Many followers of Jesus began believing these teachers,
and the community was being torn apart.
In response, John wrote a letter to all of the churches in the community. (As in the Gospel of John, the author doesn’t state his name
in this letter. But tradition ascribes it to the apostle John, and much
evidence in the letter supports it.) John urges the remaining believers
to stay faithful to what they had “been taught from the beginning.” He
combats the claims that the false teachers were making, showing how
their lives discredited their own message. John reassures the faithful
believers: “The Holy One has given you his Spirit, and all of you know
the truth.”
One thing the false teachers denied was that “Jesus Christ came in a
real body.” Like many people in the first century who were influenced
by Greek philosophy, they thought that spiritual things were good but
physical things were bad. They believed that if Jesus had really been
the Son of God, he could never have come to earth in a physical body.
But John offers eye­witness testimony that Jesus was both genuinely
human and the one sent by God into the world. John warns the recipients of his letter to test all those who claim to speak by the Spirit. If
they deny these basic truths about Jesus, then they are false prophets
and are following the spirit of the antichrist, which John says is already
present in the world.
John adds that the people who are leaving the community of faith
are also discredited by the way they live. For one thing, they are living
impure lives, possibly because they now believe that whatever they
do in their physical bodies doesn’t affect their spiritual condition. The
false teachers and their followers also lacked Christlike compassion for
the poor and s­ uffering—they didn’t care about the practical needs of
others. The true path had been taught and shown by Jesus. Those who
claim to know and love God will obey his commands; they will faithfully
live in the light and love of the Messiah’s way.

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