Introduction: Have you ever gotten a phone message that seems
important, but the person forgot to leave their name or phone
number? What about people who call you and don’t say who they are?
What about fax messages to the “main office” fax machine that are
not addressed to you? These things annoy me because it makes it more
difficult to receive and understand the full message. Our study of
the book of 1 John presents a similar problem: it does not clearly
say who wrote it. Let’s dive into our study of the Bible and see
what we can learn about this mysterious messenger and his(?)message!

  1. Bible Detectives

    1. Read 1 John 1:1. What clues do we find about the author
      of this book? (The “Word of Life” must mean Jesus, so
      this was an eye witness to Jesus. Someone close enough
      to claim to have listened to Jesus and even touched Him.
      That considerably narrows the list of potential authors.)

      1. Is there more than one author? What is this “we”
        business? As in “we have heard,” “we have seen,”
        “we have looked?” (The author must think that people
        will identify him as part of a group.)

      2. Is there a clue in the very fact that the author
        does not say who he is? (People who call me and who
        do not say their name are people who think I already
        know their voice. What they don’t know is that I
        cannot distinguish some voices on the telephone.
        This author, this “we,” believes that those to whom
        this book is written know him. That is a clue that
        this is one of Jesus’ disciples, an apostle. Being
        an apostle is to be a member of a clearly known

    2. Read John 1:1-2. Now re-read 1 John 1:1. What clue do we
      have here about the author? (The two books have a similar
      “beginning” and use similar “Words.” This is a clue that
      the apostle John was the author of both books.)

    3. Read 2 John 1:1 and 3 John 1:1. What clue do we find in
      the term “elder?” (The author is “the elder.” That is
      pretty cryptic, but we are making more progress in our
      detective work.)

      1. What does “the elder” suggest to you? This is more
        evidence that the author is a respected leader of
        the Christian community who believes that he needs
        very little introduction.)

    4. Barnes Notes, in his introduction to the epistles of
      John, tells us that prominent Christian leaders, as early
      as the second century, referred to the apostle John as
      the author of these three letters. We need not go into
      this in more detail, because there is little doubt that
      the apostle John is the author of these epistles.

  2. Jesus and John

    1. Re-read 1 John 1:1. If we are right that Jesus is “the
      Word of Life,” what does John say about Jesus? (That
      Jesus was there from the start.)

      1. The start of what? The ministry of Jesus on earth?
        (Read John 1:1-4. John means Jesus was present from
        the beginning of the universe and that Jesus
        possessed “life.”)

    2. Both in 1 John 1:1 and John 1:1 Jesus is called the
      “Word.” Any idea why? (Read Genesis 1:1-3. Genesis tells
      us that God spoke the universe into existence. Calling
      Jesus “Word” or “Word of life” credits Him with the power
      to create the universe by merely speaking.)

      1. Think about that a minute. John also says in 1 John
        1:1 that he has heard, seen and touched Jesus. Does
        it seem reasonable that John should claim Jesus
        spoke the universe into existence if Jesus is
        someone who could be touched by humans? (Right at
        the beginning John makes the most extraordinary
        claim for Jesus: that He is our Creator.)

      2. Does John think that the Genesis account is some
        sort of “creation myth” given to primitive humans to
        tell them that God was generally supervising the
        evolutionary process? (John makes the claim that the
        universe was created by verbal command – and that
        Commander was Jesus.)

        1. John must think this subject is important if he
          starts out both his gospel and his first
          epistle on this topic. Why is this issue
          (Creation vs. Evolution) important? (It has
          everything to do with the power of God and
          God’s claim to authority over humanity. Either
          we serve a God who has the power to speak the
          universe into existence, and has spoken us into
          existence, or we serve a God who is more like
          us – limited in our abilities.)

        2. If evolution is a correct theory of origin,
          what reason is there to believe a God exists?
          (This is one of those “grand theory” answers
          which you either understand or you do not. If
          the universe came about by chance, then there
          is no need to believe in a God. However, if
          the universe was created, then you know a God
          (of some type) exists. Naves catalogs 104 Bible
          texts (under “Creator”), ranging from Genesis
          to Revelation, where God either directly or
          indirectly stakes His claim to authority over
          humans on the fact of His Creation. John
          understands this clearly, many so-called
          Christians these days do not.)

    3. Read 1 John 1:1-2. John tells us that the “Word of Life”
      “appeared” and was seen, heard and touched by John and
      others. What other reason might John refer to Jesus as
      the “Word of Life?” (Words are tools to communicate. John
      is telling us that Jesus is giving us a message from

      1. What role does John play in the work of the Word?
        (Just as Jesus communicates meaning and
        understanding about God the Father, so John repeats
        these important messages to us.)

  3. John, the Reliable Witness about Jesus.

    1. Lets assume that you had a UFO (“Unidentified Flying
      Object”) encounter last night. Also assume that you and I
      do not know each other. You want me to believe your story
      and I’m pretty skeptical. What would you say to make me
      believe? (Since we do not know each other, you
      cannot appeal to my trust in
      you. So you have to appeal to
      what makes a trust-worthy

      1. Lets look at the law a minute. There are a few rules
        that help the fact-finder focus on reliable,
        competent evidence. These rules exclude the fact-finder from even hearing very unreliable,
        incompetent evidence. One well-known evidentiary
        rule is the “Rule Against Hearsay.”

      2. What does the hearsay rule exclude? (Testimony from
        people who are not in the courtroom. If you are the
        one who saw or heard the evidence, you have to be in
        court to be able to talk about it. I can’t testify,
        “My Uncle Bob saw that the light was red.” If Bob
        saw it, he has to be the one in court declaring it.
        It requires first-hand knowledge – so Bob can be
        effectively cross-examined.)

    2. When you consider 1 John 1:1-2, does the apostle John
      sounds like he knows about the hearsay rule? (Yes! He
      says that he is an eye-witness, no hearsay here.)

      1. But, if John is so well-known and respected by his
        readers, why does he need to be concerned about the
        hearsay rule in his letter? (He expects the letter
        to be passed on to others.)

    3. Aside from personal knowledge, what are some other things
      you would guess a lawyer relies upon in cross-examination
      to show that someone is or is not a reliable witness?
      (The ability to observe, to see correctly. This ranges
      from distance issues, to lighting issues, to the
      condition of your eyesight, to weather conditions, to
      bias, etc.)

      1. What does John say to bolster his testimony (our
        willingness to believe him) beyond having first-hand
        knowledge? (That he heard and that he touched.)

      2. Notice that John says he saw it twice. “We have seen
        with our eyes, which we have looked at.” What does
        that mean? (The Greek means more than just looking,
        it means he contemplated it. Sort of a long, serious
        look. Not just looking, really seeing.)

        1. Why would John say that? (Eye witnesses can be
          wrong. So John says his was a long, hard look
          at Jesus’ credentials. John spent time with
          Jesus. His conclusion is not a casual matter.)

    4. Let’s step back a minute. John is claiming that Jesus is
      the Creator of the universe. How can John claim first-hand knowledge about that? (Obviously, John cannot. I
      think he is making a logical argument. John does not
      think his readers doubt whether Jesus was a historical
      person. Instead, the issue is the nature of Jesus’ life
      on earth and whether Jesus is now alive. Whether there is
      a resurrected Jesus. John says, “I sensed Jesus’
      miracles in every possible way, and I am a first-hand
      witness to Jesus’ resurrection. I believe Jesus is God
      and I believe He is the Creator of the universe.)

    5. Friend, how about you? Will you accept that Jesus is God
      and the Creator of the universe? This is the first step
      to salvation and (as we will discuss next week) the path
      to joy!)

  4. Next week: Experiencing the Word of Life.