Study Guide

Johannine Epsitles (1-3 John) The World

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The World

God made the whole world and saw that it was good, right? Isn't that how those guys in Genesis (1:31) tell it? Well, a lot has happened since then, and the elder is none too impressed with the way things have been going down here on Earth.

This World's Gone to Heck

Over and over again, the elder tells his fellow Christians that "the world" is a no good, rotten place:

  • "All that is in the world—the desire of the flesh, the desire of the eyes, the pride in riches—comes not from the Father but from the world." (1 John 2:16)
  • "This is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming; and now it is already in the world." (1 John 4:3)
  • "The whole world lies under the power of the evil one." (1 John 5:19)
  • "Many deceivers have gone out into the world." (2 John 1:7)

Remember: the elder isn't talking about God's created world. He doesn't mean that rocks and trees and streams and birds are oozing with evil. He's actually dissing the people of the world.

Yeah, that's us.

See, he thinks that people everywhere should be focused on God. Loving him. Praising him. Believing in him. Instead, those worldly folks put all their energy into earning money and chasing beauty and acquiring more and more material things. How many iPhone cases do you have? We rest our case.

The elder's advice? Stay away from the world. Don't buy what it's selling. Keep the focus on God and loving others.

The elder is such a non-conformist.

Savior of the World

And yet, the elder is clear that Jesus came to save the whole world:

He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. (1 John 2:2)

It can't be such a bad place if God would send his only son to save it, right? Or maybe that's the reason that God had to send Jesus in the first place? The world was so far gone and it needed a wake-up call in the form of a crucified savior.

In fact, the elder knows that it's only because the devil is still at work in the world that every single person on Earth hasn't yet put their faith in Jesus. The devil keeps tricking everyone into loving their worldly goods instead of Christ. The elder tells Christians not to be surprised that the world hates them (1 John 3:13). After all, it hated Jesus, too.

But the elder knows that one day God will fix all this. In fact, he thinks it will happen pretty darn soon: "the world and its desire are passing away" (1 John 2:17). But, of course, we're all still sitting here staring at our watches, waiting for a resolution…two thousand years later.

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