The First Epistle General of John

New Testament Teacher Resource Manual, (2002), 241–42


Author:John, one of the original Twelve Apostles of Jesus, is traditionally identified as the author of 1, 2, and 3 John. Although John’s name is never mentioned in these letters, there are three compelling clues that point to him as the author. First, early second-century writers referred to him as the author. Second, the letters include similar vocabulary and writing style to the Gospel of John. Third, the author wrote that he had seen and touched the body of Jesus, which was certainly true of the Apostle (see 1 John 1:1–4; 4:14).

Audience:The audience for 1 John is not indicated explicitly in the letter. However, the contents indicate that John wrote to believers (see 1 John 1:3–4; 2:12–14). It is possible that it was addressed to Saints in several locations. The letter provides little or no evidence on which to fix a place or time of writing. If the tradition of John’s long residence in Ephesus is correct, the letter could have been written from there between A.D. 70–100.

Historical Background:Deceivers arose among the early Saints. Their false doctrines are known to us as Gnosticism (see the commentary for Colossians 2:18, 19 and the “Introduction” to 1 John in The Life and Teachings of Jesus and His Apostles, pp. 345, 429). John corrected the false teachings of the Gnostics by bearing powerful witness of the Savior’s physical existence (see 1 John 1:1–2; 4:2, 14; 5:6).