Study Guide

Johannine Epsitles (1-3 John) Good vs. Evil

Good vs. Evil

I write to you, young people, because you are strong and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one. Do not love the world or the things in the world. The love of the Father is not in those who love the world; for 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. And the world and its desire are passing away, but those who do the will of God live forever. (1 John 2:14-17, NRSV)

I have written unto you, young men, because ye are strong, and the word of God abideth in you, and ye have overcome the wicked one. Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever. (1 John 2:14-17, KJV)

Two equations, c/o the elder:

(1) Love of God = good.

(2) Love of the World = evil.

The elder doesn't mean that God's creations (trees, birds, flowers, and all that good stuff) are bad. It's the people of the world who turn away from God and become obsessed with things like sex, beauty, and money.

Children, it is the last hour! As you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. From this we know that it is the last hour. (1 John 2:18, NRSV)

Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time. (1 John 2:18, KJV)

Beware the antichrist!

The elder knows the world is about to end because people are spreading all kinds of evil rumors about God. Little does he know, God can take this stuff for at least another two thousand years.

We must not be like Cain who was from the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own deeds were evil and his brother's righteous[…] All who hate a brother or sister are murderers, and you know that murderers do not have eternal life abiding in them. (1 John 3:12, 15, NRSV)

Not as Cain, who was of that wicked one, and slew his brother. And wherefore slew he him? Because his own works were evil, and his brother's righteous. Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him. (1 John 3:12, 15, KJV)

This is a unique reading of Cain and Abel's story from Genesis. Apparently Cain did evil things and Abel did good things, so Cain decided to kill his brother. We kind of remember something about God favoring one brother over the other, but hey, there are no right answers in literature…right?

Little children, you are from God, and have conquered them; for the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. They are from the world; therefore what they say is from the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us, and whoever is not from God does not listen to us. (1 John 4:4-6, NRSV)

Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world. They are of the world: therefore speak they of the world, and the world heareth them. We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. (1 John 4:4-6, KJV)

Good vs. evil. Us vs. them. According to the elder, the people in his community are awesome, well-behaved children of God. His opponents are no-good, worldly jerks. How's that for black-and-white thinking?

Every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. And 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, NRSV)

Every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world. (1 John 4:3, KJV)

If you don't believe what the good guys say about Jesus…you're evil. Hey, we never said this guy was open-minded.

Those who believe in the Son of God have the testimony in their hearts. Those who do not believe in God have made him a liar by not believing in the testimony that God has given concerning his Son. And this is the testimony: God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life. (1 John 5:10-12, NRSV)

He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son. And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. (1 John 5:10-12, KJV)

It's a simple choice: good or evil. If you buy the things the elder is selling, you can count yourself with the good guys. If not, then it looks like you'll be taking the escalator downstairs at the end of time.

We know that we are God's children, and that the whole world lies under the power of the evil one. (1 John 5:19, NRSV)

And we know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness. (1 John 5:19, KJV)

Everyone always thinks they're the good guys, right? The elder is no different.

Do not receive into the house or welcome anyone who comes to you and does not bring this teaching; for to welcome is to participate in the evil deeds of such a person. (2 John 1:10-11, NRSV)

If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds. (2 John 1:10-11, KJV)

How do good people become evil? By accepting houseguests, apparently. The elder warns the elect lady not to let his opponents even set foot in her house—doing so would make her an accomplice to evil. Too bad. Guess she'll have to wait to show off her new guest bedroom.

Many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh; any such person is the deceiver and the antichrist![…] Everyone who does not abide in the teaching of Christ, but goes beyond it, does not have God; whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. (2 John 1:7-9, NRSV)

Many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist[…] Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. (2 John 1:7-9, KJV)

This is one of the elder's major bones of contention with his opponents: they don't put enough emphasis on Jesus' humanity. In his opinion, they're also going "beyond" the things that Jesus taught. But the elder might be guilty of that here and there, too.

Beloved, do not imitate what is evil but imitate what is good. Whoever does good is from God; whoever does evil has not seen God. (3 John 1:11, NRSV)

Beloved, follow not that which is evil, but that which is good. He that doeth good is of God: but he that doeth evil hath not seen God. (3 John 1:11, KJV)

The elder's advice: do good stuff, not bad stuff. The elder should get a job teaching elementary school.

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