The Focus of Fellowship
I. JOHN AIMS IN THIS EPISTLE
There are some significant thoughts that John will raise throughout this epistle. The key theme of thought would be "tests.” There are certain tests that prove seek to prove us. John not only develops this idea of a test proving us but he also determines that those who fail the test are not in the Church. Each of these tests is basically exclusive to each other and yet there is such an interlinking of each test that the failure of one test will certainly affect the outcome in another test.
The tests that John speaks of are as follow:
- The Test of Fellowship (with God and with fellow believers).
- The Test of Doctrine (including the understanding of Jesus Christ, of sin, antichrists, and false doctrine).
- The Test of Morality (the biblical view of obedience, love, holiness, and sin).
So from this list (which may be expanded), one understands that John is very much determining that the Church is a very exclusive entity to which saints are born into (John 3:3-5;Acts 2:38). The test of fellowship will immediately betray the pretenders and will affirm the authentic. This role of fellowship is with the saints of God and with God and its ultimate purpose is to bring joy into the life of the believer.
A. Basic Background for 1st John
It is important again to set the stage and context for what John was dealing with in the 1st century. He was dealing with the Gnostics and his epistle does not so much call in question the exact nature of the doctrinal error as it does to simply restate the fundamentals of the faith. These heretical views were simply calling into question the humanity of Jesus Christ and the atonement of sin. To call into question the humanity of Jesus Christ was to embrace a questioning of God.