- A. False Teachings (1:6–2:2)
- B. The Truth of the Gospel (1:7–10)
- C. The Ongoing Provision of the Atonement (2:1–2)
- D. Knowledge of God Evidenced by Keeping His Commandments (2:3–11)
- E. Exhortation to Various Groups of Believers (2:12–14)
- F. Exhortation to Avoid Worldliness (2:15–17)
- G. Warning Against Antichrists (2:18–27)
- H. Summary (2:28)
The key verse to this section is 1:5, identifying God as light. It is a summary of the whole discussion to follow. In Jn 1:9 the eternal Word is referred to as “the true light that gives light to every man” and in Jn 8:12 Jesus refers to himself as the “light of the world.” Thus the epistle says, We have heard from him [Christ] this truth, clearly affirming that God's nature as light has been most fully revealed to the world through the Son. This is a logical corollary of the prologue, which speaks about a sensory revelation to those with whom John identifies himself (us). As in the Gospel, the antithesis of light is darkness, typical religious symbols for good and evil.
While light conveys multiple meanings, in this affirmation it declares that God is “the source and essence of holiness and righteousness, goodness and truth; in Him there is nothing that is unholy or unrighteous, evil or false” (Bruce, 41). This quality, then, becomes the first test of life. Those who know God (i.e., have eternal life) are those who walk in the light.