Study Guide

Johannine Epsitles (1-3 John) Truth

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Whoever says, "I have come to know him," but does not obey his commandments, is a liar, and in such a person the truth does not exist. (1 John 2:4, NRSV)

He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. (1 John 2:4, KJV)

Actions matter when it comes to the truth. The elder says that if you go around telling people you're cool with Jesus, but you aren't acting like it (by doing what he said to do), then you're a liar, liar pants on fire.

I am writing you a new commandment that is true in him and in you, because the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining. (1 John 2:8, NRSV)

Again, a new commandment I write unto you, which thing is true in him and in you: because the darkness is past, and the true light now shineth. (1 John 2:8, KJV)

The elder has something new to say, but that doesn't mean it's not true. In fact, it's a shining beacon of truth light beaming out in the darkness. Yeah, the elder is pretty sure of himself.

I write to you, not because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and you know that no lie comes from the truth. Who is the liar but the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, the one who denies the Father and the Son. (1 John 2:21-22, NRSV)

I have not written unto you because ye know not the truth, but because ye know it, and that no lie is of the truth. Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son. (1 John 2:21-22, KJV)

The elder's audience isn't lumped in with the liars…yet. The elder is mostly worried that they'll start seeing truth in his opponents—and that would be terrible for everyone.

Little children, let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action. And by this we will know that we are from the truth and will reassure our hearts before him. (1 John 3:18-19, NRSV)

My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth. And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him. (1 John 3:18-19, KJV)

Translation: don't just say you follow the truth—do it.

This is the one who came by water and blood, Jesus Christ, not with the water only but with the water and the blood. And the Spirit is the one that testifies, for the Spirit is the truth. There are three that testify: the Spirit and the water and the blood, and these three agree. If we receive human testimony, the testimony of God is greater; for this is the testimony of God that he has testified to his Son. (1 John 5:6-9, NRSV)

This is he that came by water and blood, even Jesus Christ; not by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit is truth. For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one. And there are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one. If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater: for this is the witness of God which he hath testified of his Son. (1 John 5:6-9, KJV)

The opponents have been spreading their "human testimony" around—and the elder is not pleased. He has a very specific idea about what the truth is: Jesus was baptized and died, and both of those are super important parts of his life. No way he's letting anyone else say otherwise.

The elder to the elect lady and her children, whom I love in the truth, and not only I but also all who know the truth, because of the truth that abides in us and will be with us forever […] I was overjoyed to find some of your children walking in the truth, just as we have been commanded by the Father. (2 John 1:1-2, 4, NRSV)

The elder unto the elect lady and her children, whom I love in the truth; and not I only, but also all they that have known the truth; For the truth's sake, which dwelleth in us, and shall be with us for ever […] I rejoiced greatly that I found of thy children walking in truth, as we have received a commandment from the Father. (2 John 1:1-2, 4, KJV)

The folks at this church are still following the traditions and teachings of the community, and the elder is pretty psyched that they're holding onto his version of the truth. Apparently, the naysayers haven't arrived in town yet.

I was overjoyed when some of the friends arrived and testified to your faithfulness to the truth, namely how you walk in the truth. I have no greater joy than this, to hear that my children are walking in the truth […] Therefore we ought to support [the friends], so that we may become co-workers with the truth. (3 John 1:3-4, 8, NRSV)

I rejoiced greatly, when the brethren came and testified of the truth that is in thee, even as thou walkest in the truth. I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth […] We therefore ought to receive [the friends], that we might be fellow helpers to the truth. (3 John 1:3-4, 8, KJV)

The elder receives the good word about Gaius: he also hasn't strayed from the path of truth.

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