1 John 4:1-21

Observation Questions, “What does the passage say?”

  1. What are the repeated words and phrases in this chapter?
  2. Notice the emphasis on the relational words child, children, son, Father, and references to birth.
  3. Note the number of times “commandment” is mentioned.
  4. Note the number of times “world” is used.
  5. Note the number of times “water” and “blood” are used.
  6. Note the emphasis on belief.
  7. As always, note the usage of God, Jesus Christ, Son, etc.
  8. In verse 13 the author gives us the reason for writing the book, what is it?
  9. In verses 14-19 note the emphasis on words sin, death, evil (evil one).
  10. Spend more time than you think you should simply making observations: what do you see?

Interpretation: “What does this passage mean?”

  1. As in the last chapter, note the parallels here to the gospel of John
    1. Born of God, children of God – notably the conversation with Nicodemus in John 3
    2. Love connected with obedience to the commandments, notably John 15.
    3. The usage of the word “world.” Define this word, note the range of meaning. What is the definition of the world here?
    4. Water and blood, again, John 3.
    5. Testimony (1 John 5:6-13) with John 1:7-19; John 3:11, 32-33; John 5:31-36; John 8:13-17; John 21:24.
  2. John gives a reason for the writing of this book as well as for the writing of the gospel of John, see John 20:31
  3. In verse 8, most modern translations have a notation about this verse. What is the issue here and what are the problems raised or solutions to the manuscript issue?
  4. What is a sin leading to death and a sin not leading to death?
  5. Compare verse 18 with John 17:12-21, what does it mean to “kept” by God or “kept from the evil one”?
  6. Connect the dots in John’s teaching about love: 2:9-11; 3:10-18 and in the gospel: John 3:16; 15:12-27; 21:15-17.
  7. Who is the “evil one?” Would it make a difference if this word was translated “evil”?
  8. Define “eternal life” and how is it different from life – if it is.

Application: “What does the passage mean to me?”

  1. This book (see introduction) appears to give three tests of faith: the Social Test, the Doctrinal Test, the Moral Test. Summarize the book using these categories.
  2. There is an emphasis on being born of God and being a child of God, describe the value of framing a life of faith in child-parent terms (1 John 5:21)
  3. How does this book help you frame issues of life and death?