Add parallel Print Page Options

Love and obedience are essentials for living in the light

1-2 I write these things to you (may I call you “my children”—for that’s how I think of you), to help you to avoid sin. But if a man should sin, remember that our advocate before the Father is Jesus Christ the righteous, the one who made personal atonement for our sins (and for those of the rest of the world as well).

3-6 It is only when we obey God’s laws that we can be quite sure that we really know him. The man who claims to know God but does not obey his laws is not only a liar but lives in self-delusion. In practice, the more a man learns to obey God’s laws the more truly and fully does he express his love for him. Obedience is the test of whether we really live “in God” or not. The life of a man who professes to be living in God must bear the stamp of Christ.

7-11 I am not really writing to tell you of any new command, brothers of mine. It is the old, original command which you had at the beginning; it is the old message which you have heard before. And yet as I give it to you again I know that it is true—in your life as it was in his. For the darkness is beginning to lift and the true light is now shining in the world. Anyone who claims to be “in the light” and hates his brother is, in fact, still in complete darkness. The man who loves his brother lives and moves in the light, and has no reason to stumble. But the man who hates his brother is shut off from the light and gropes his way in the dark without seeing where he is going. To move in the dark is to move blindfold.

As I write I visualise you, my children

12-14 I write this letter to you all, as my dear children, because your sins are forgiven for his name’s sake. I write to you who are now fathers, because you have known him who has always existed. And to you vigorous young men I am writing because you have been strong in defeating the evil one. Yes, I have written these lines to you all, dear children, because you know the Father; to you fathers because of your experience of the one who has always existed, and to you young men because you have all the vigour of youth, because you have a hold on God’s truth and because you have defeated the evil one.

See “the world” for what it is

15-17 Never give your hearts to this world or to any of the things in it. A man cannot love the Father and love the world at the same time. For the whole world-system, based as it is on men’s primitive desires, their greedy ambitions and the glamour of all that they think splendid, is not derived from the Father at all, but from the world itself. The world and all its passionate desires will one day disappear. But the man who is following God’s will is part of the permanent and cannot die.

Little anti-christs are abroad already

18-19 Even now, dear children, we are getting near the end of things. You have heard, I expect, the prophecy about the coming of the anti-Christ. Believe me, there are anti-christs about already, which confirms my belief that we are near the end. These men went out from our company, it is true, but they never really belonged to it. If they had really belonged to us they would have stayed. In fact, their going proves beyond doubt that men like that were not “our men” at all.

Be on your guard against error

20-23 God has given you all a certain amount of spiritual insight, and indeed I have not written this warning as if I were writing to men who don’t know what error is. I write because your eyes are clear enough to discern a lie when you come across it. And what, I ask you, is the crowning lie? Surely the denial that Jesus is God’s anointed one, his Christ. I say, therefore, that any man who refuses to acknowledge the Father and the Son is an anti-christ. The man who will not recognise the Son cannot possibly know the Father; yet the man who believes in the Son will find that he knows the Father as well.

24-25 For yourselves I beg you to stick to the original teaching. If you do, you will be living in fellowship with both the Father and the Son. And that means sharing his own life for ever, as he has promised.

26-28 It is true that I felt I had to write the above about men who would dearly love to lead you astray. Yet I know that the touch of his Spirit never leaves you, and you don’t really need a human teacher. You know that his Spirit teaches you about all things, always telling you the truth and never telling you a lie. So, as he has taught you, live continually in him. Yes, now, little children remember to live continually in him. So that if he were suddenly to reveal himself we should still know exactly where we stand, and should not have to shrink away from his presence.

What it means to be sons of God

29 You all know that God is really good. You may be just as sure that the man who leads a really good life is a true child of God.