Lesson 148: 1 John

New Testament Seminary Teacher Manual, 2016


Introduction

John invited Church members to seek fellowship with the Father and the Son. He emphasized the need to keep the commandments of God to show our love for Him. John also reminded Church members to love others.

Suggestions for Teaching

1 John 1–5

John explains the importance of keeping the commandments and loving one another

Divide students into pairs. Write the word apostasy on the board. Invite students to turn to their partners and briefly explain the meaning of apostasy. Then invite a student to come to the board and write a definition of apostasy. The definition should indicate that apostasy means a turning away from the truth (see Guide to the Scriptures, “Apostasy,” scriptures.lds.org).

Explain that the Apostle John wrote the epistle of 1 John at a time when apostasy was threatening the Church. In this epistle, John warned the Saints of antichrists (see 1 John 2:18–26; 4:3). An antichrist is “anyone or anything that counterfeits the true gospel plan of salvation and that openly or secretly opposes Christ” and the authority and teachings of His chosen servants (Guide to the Scriptures, “Antichrist,” scriptures.lds.org). Some antichrists in John’s day were teaching that Jesus Christ did not have a physical body while on earth but only appeared to be a physical being.

Invite a student to read 1 John 1:1–4 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what John testified of to refute this false teaching. Explain that the phrase “the Word of life” (verse 1) refers to Jesus Christ.

  • What words did John use to refute the false idea that Jesus Christ did not have a physical body?

  • According to verses 3–4, why did John share his sacred witness of Jesus Christ with Church members? (He wanted them to have fellowship with the leaders of the Church, who had fellowship with Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. He also desired that they experience a fulness of joy.)

Explain that to have fellowship means to enjoy a relationship of trust, communion, and common purpose. We can have fellowship with Church leaders as we receive and follow their teachings and counsel.

Write the following incomplete statement on the board: If we receive and follow the teachings of prophets and apostles, we can …

  • Based on John’s teachings in John 1:3, how would you complete this statement to form a principle? (Using students’ words, complete the statement on the board so that it conveys the following principle: If we receive and follow the teachings of prophets and apostles, we can gain fellowship with the Father and the Son.)

Display pictures of the current President of the Church and other prophets and apostles.

  • How does following the teachings of the prophets and apostles help us gain fellowship with our Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ?

Invite a student to read 1 John 1:5–6 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what can prevent us from having fellowship with our Father in Heaven.

  • What can prevent us from having fellowship with our Father in Heaven?

Point out that John’s use of the word darkness refers to spiritual darkness.

  • What do you think it means to walk in spiritual darkness?

Invite students to study 1 John 1:7–10; 2:1–6, looking for truths John taught that can help us know how to walk in the light of the gospel. Explain that the word propitiation in 1 John 2:2 means an atoning sacrifice that satisfies the justice of God. Invite students to study these verses silently on their own or with partners or in small groups.

  • What truths did you identify in these verses? (Consider writing students’ responses on the board. These may include truths such as the following: Jesus Christ atoned for our sins. When we keep the commandments of God, our love for God is perfected.)

  • Why do you think our love for God becomes more perfect, or complete, as we keep His commandments?

  • When have you experienced a greater love for God as you have striven to keep His commandments?

Read aloud the following descriptions of two Latter-day Saint youth. Invite students to listen for a particular commandment that these two individuals struggle to obey.

  1. 1.

    A young man reads the scriptures each day and faithfully performs many of his priesthood duties, but he is often unkind to his younger brother.

  2. 2.

    A young woman regularly attends her Church meetings and has earned her Young Womanhood Recognition. However, she often posts rude comments about some of her classmates and teachers on social media.

  • What commandment do these two young people struggle to obey?

Invite students to reflect on situations in which they might struggle to show love for others.

Invite a few students to take turns reading aloud from 1 John 2:9–11; 4:7–11, 19–21. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what John taught about love. You may want to invite students to consider marking teachings in these verses that are meaningful to them.

  • Which of John’s teachings about love are meaningful to you? Why?

  • What principle can we identify from these verses about what we will do when we love God? (Students may use different words, but they should identify a principle similar to the following: When we love God, we will love others.)

  • Why do you think we will show our love to others if we truly love God?

Point out that while John used the word hate in 1 John 4:20, there are many ways that we can withhold our love or kindness from others besides hating them. Invite students to explain what they think some of those ways might be.

Invite a student to read 1 John 3:17–18 aloud, and ask the class to look for how we ought to demonstrate our love for others. Invite students to report what they find. Students should discover the importance of loving not just “in word” but also “in deed.”

  • Why do you think it is important that we demonstrate our love through our actions and not through our words alone?

  • Whom do you know who is a good example of showing love to others? What does this person do that manifests his or her love for others?

Invite students to think of someone in their life for whom they could show more love. Ask them to write on a piece of paper the name of that individual along with something specific they could do to demonstrate love or kindness toward that person. Explain that they do not need to show their love in extravagant ways and that small, simple gestures of charity and kindness are often the most meaningful. Invite them to take the paper home with them and act on what they wrote.

Point out that when we demonstrate our love through our actions, we are following the example of Jesus Christ (see 1 John 2:6; 3:1–3). You may want to conclude the lesson by sharing your testimony of the truths students identified in their study of 1 John. Encourage students to apply these truths in their lives.

Commentary and Background Information

1 John 3:2. “We shall be like him”

Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained that the purpose of mortal life is to become like God through the Atonement of Jesus Christ:

“In the theology of the restored church of Jesus Christ, the purpose of mortal life is to prepare us to realize our destiny as sons and daughters of God—to become like Him. … The Bible describes mortals as ‘the children of God’ and as ‘heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ’ (Rom. 8:16–17). It also declares that ‘we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together’ (Rom. 8:17) and that ‘when he shall appear, we shall be like him’ (1 Jn. 3:2). We take these Bible teachings literally. We believe that the purpose of mortal life is to acquire a physical body and, through the atonement of Jesus Christ and by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the gospel, to qualify for the glorified, resurrected celestial state that is called exaltation or eternal life (“Apostasy and Restoration,” Ensign, May 1995, 86–87).

1 John 5:3. “For this is the love of God”

Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught about the relationship between loving God and keeping His commandments:

“When we love the Lord, obedience ceases to be a burden. Obedience becomes a delight” (“The Great Commandment,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2007, 30).

Supplemental Teaching Idea

video icon1 John 4:7–11. Video presentation—“Two Brothers Apart”

To help students feel the truth and importance of the principle that when we love God, we will love others, consider showing the video “Two Brothers Apart” (6:12). This video shows the relationship between two brothers over several years as they learn to understand and love each other. This video is available on LDS.org.

Downloads
Downloads: Small