Q: In 1 Jn 1, what was the main reason 1 Jn was written?
A: John wrote against those who were trying to lead people astray: libertine proto-Gnostics who denied Jesus coming in the flesh. Likewise Tertullian, writing 207/208 A.D., said it was against Antichrists such as the Marcionites in Against Marcion book 3 ch.8 p.327, However, some people today disagree, so here are four parts for an extensive analysis.
Explicit: The most straightforward solution would be to ask John. Here is what he said about why he wrote.
a. That your joy may be complete. 1 John 1:4. John also discusses being complete in God’s love in 1 John 4:12,17,18.
b. So that we will not sin. 1 John 2:1
c. Both an old and a new command. (love others) 1 John 2:7-8
d. Writing to those who know God, have their sins forgiven, have overcome the evil one. 1 John 2:12-14, and to those who know the truth. 1 John 2:21
e. John is writing about those who are trying to lead God’s people astray 1 John 2:26
f. Writing to believers so that they can know they have eternal life. 1 John 5:13. 1 John uses the word "know" 42 times according to the NIV Study Bible p.1908.
Notice that the reasons John gives go from the general to the specific. 1 and 3 are setting the general context for what John will be saying. 4 is not so much a reason why John is writing, but rather, a reminder of why John is writing to them. Whatever someone claims is the main point of 1 John, it should relate to what John claims are the main points of 1 John, especially points 2, 5, and 6.
Absolute: Of the 104 verses, here is a breakdown of the top topics that includes 90% of the verses. These are apparently the major points John emphasized.

Obey God’s commands and don’t sin (29½ verses)
1:5-7; 2:1,3-8,15-17,28-29
3:3-9,22½,23½,24; 5:2-4,16½,17-19,21

Believe Jesus and not lies (23 verses)
2:18-27; 4:1,4-6; 5:5,13,20

Experience Christ who came in the flesh (15½ verses)
1:1-3; 2:13-14; 4:2-3,9½ ,12-19

We must love one another (16 verses)
2:9-11;3:10½ ,11-15, 16½ ,17,23½
4:7-8,11,20-21; 5:1,2½

We are not sinless, but God forgives our sin (6 verses)
1:8-10; 2:2,12; 4:10

Ask and receive from him (4 verses)
3:22½ ; 5:14-15,16½

Verses referring specifically to the Old Testament, Jews, Judaizers, legalism, and sacrifices. (0 verses)

Comparative: Common aspects of 1, 2, and 3 John
a. Watch out for deceivers who deny Jesus coming in the flesh. 1 John 2:18-19,26; 4:1-3; 2 John 7
b. Joy be complete. 1 John 1:4; 2 John 4,12; 3 John 3
c. Truth 2 John 1-4; 3 John 1,3,4,8,12
Love 2 John 1,3
d. Walk in love and truth.
e. Much to write but want to talk face to face instead of using pen and ink. 2 John 12, 3 John 13
Historical context: John primarily ministered in Asia Minor, and 1 John was probably written between 70 and 110 A.D. Here were some of the heresies then.
Cheap-grace (Jude 4,8; Revelation 2:2,6,14-15,20-23)
Eusebius (3:28-29; 4:14) Irenaeus (26)
Jews and Judaizers (Revelation 2:9; 3:9) Irenaeus (26), Ignatius to the Philadelphians
Denying Jesus coming in the flesh. Hippolytus (225-235/6 A.D.) mentions the Docetists, and Polycarp ch.7 (110-155 A.D.) refers to 1 John 4:3
False apostles and teachers, and denying the true apostles (Revelation 2:2 Irenaeus, Eusebius)
Those who went out from the church due to the heretical combination of denying Jesus coming in the flesh, antinomialism, and different apostolic authority, are three of the five points of libertine Gnosticism. (The other two points are a fanciful mythology of demigods and belief that the God of the Old Testament was evil and different from God in the New Testament. We know a great deal about the heresy of Gnosticism through the Christian writings of Irenaeus, Hippolytus, Eusebius, and others, and the fit is perfect except for one thing: Gnosticism was not an identifiable movement until later. However, proto-Gnostic elements, such as the heresies of Simon Magus, the libertine proto-Gnostic Cerinthus, and possibly the Docetists were present. John personally denounced Cerinthus according to Irenaeus, who heard this from Polycarp, the disciple of John. This is recorded in Eusebius’ Ecclesiastical History 3:28; 4:14. Irenaeus’ Against Heresies (ch.26) (182-188 A.D.) also mentions Cerinthus, without mentioned the bath incident with John.
Conclusion: The explicit, absolute, comparative, and historical context analyses have the common element of warning against deceivers who deny Jesus coming in the flesh. The main point of 1 John seems to be warning the flock in truth and love against those who
1. Deny Jesus coming in the flesh
2. Do not obey God’s commands
3. Do not practice loving the brothers

Q: In 1 Jn 1, who were the Gnostics?
A: Gnosticism was a group of heresies which wanted to mix fanciful Greek thought and Christianity. Gnostics are not specifically mentioned in First John. All Gnostics believed in fanciful godlike beings, of whom Christ was just one. They believed the God of the Old and New Testaments were different, and the God of the Old Testament was evil. Gnostics accepted the Gospels but rejected most or all of Paul’s writings. They had additional scriptures, which varied. There were two types of Gnostics: libertine and ascetic. All Gnostics said the physical body did not matter, only esoteric spiritual knowledge. Libertine Gnostics concluded that sinning all you wanted in the body was fine. Ascetic Gnostics concluded that you should be celibate, never marry, and treat your body harshly.
As an aside, the Basilidean Gnostic sect worshipped as their Supreme deity "Abrasay". It was considered magical to incant abrasadabra, which was later corrupted to "abracadabra", which is a nonsensical word magicians use today. This is according to www.worldwidewords.org.
It would seem very reasonable that 1 John is addressing Gnostics except for one thing: Gnosticism was not fully developed until 50 to 100 years later. However, proto-Gnosticism was prevalent then, and Eusebius records that John encountered proto-Gnosticism in the heretic Cerinthus. Thus many believe 1 John was written in a large part to combat proto-Gnosticism. See the previous question for more discussion. For more references on the heresy of Gnosticism, see the discussion on 2 John 7.

Q: In 1 Jn, is it true that John writes all his inspired works with one heretic, Cerinthus the Gnostic, in mind, as one Catholic claimed?
A: No. Cerinthus was not a Gnostic, though there were some similarities of belief. Here is some info on Cerinthus, then on Gnostics,
Cerinthus was an early heretic. The church historian Eusebius relates that Polycarp, a disciple of John the apostle, said this about John. "And there are those that heard from him that John, the disciple of the Lord, going to bathe in Ephesus and seeing Cerinthus within, ran out of the bath-house without bathing, crying, 'Let us flee, lest even the bath fall, because the enemy of the truth, is within."
The church father Irenaeus (wrote 182-188 A.D.) wrote against Cerinthus. Here is what Irenaeus said in Against Heresies chapter 26.
"Cerinthus, again, a man who was educated in the wisdom of the Egyptians, taught that the world was not made by the primary god, but by a certain Power far separated from him and at a distance from that Principality who is
supreme over the universe, and ignorant of him who is above all. He represented Jesus as having not been born of a virgin, but as being the son of Joseph and Mary according to the ordinary course of human generation, while he nevertheless was more righteous, prudent, and wise than other men. Moreover, after his baptism, Christ descended upon him in the form of a dove from the Supreme Ruler, and that then he proclaimed the unknown Father, and performed miracles. But at last Christ departed from Jesus, and that then Jesus suffered and rose again, while Christ remained impassible, inasmuch as he was a spiritual being. [The next sections talk of other groups, the Ebionites, and then Cerdo, and then Marcion.]
Cerinthus had in common with some Gnostics a belief that the Creator of the world was a different being than the Supreme God, that Christ and Jesus were different, and Christ came upon Jesus. However, another heretic Irenaeus discusses is Marcion, and the Gnostics generally came from Marcion, not Cerinthus.
Cerinthus, Marcion, and the Gnostics in general probably came to some of their conclusions because their Greek culture taught them that God could not have emotions or be affected [emotionally] by His creation in any way. Plato taught that there were two worlds, the lower world, we call reality, and the higher world of ideals. Thus is it not surprisingly that some of these heretical views showed up more than once, since they came from the common source of Greek philosophy.
The Gnostics were actually not a group, but more than 30 different groups. Many Gnostics believed that they should live a frugal, ascetic life and never marry, while many others believed you could live any way you felt like, since the body did not matter anyway. Gnosticism did not come into full bloom (like a weed) until well after John’s death, but proto-Gnostic beliefs were around in John’s time.
As an aside, I have never read anywhere that Cerinthus or the Gnostics had any particular view on the Lord’s Supper, the physical institution of the church, that salvation was by faith alone, the sacraments, or the hierarchical nature of the church.
Saying they believed sins are truly blotted out is false, because they did not believe there was sin, in the same sense as the Bible speaks of sin.
It is false to say that all that John wrote was against Cerinthus for three reasons.
1. While John certainly had heretics in mind in 1 John, he was against all who denied that Jesus Christ came in the flesh, denied that believers should live a holy life. John in no way limited himself to just Cerinthus, but rather said that "...many false prophets have gone out into the world..." (1 John 4:1)
2. The Catholic person’s claim that all John’s works were against one heretic, or even multiple heretics, reduces all the richness of John’s writing to only one small point. If you had to reduce everything John wrote to one point, then believing the Jesus, the only begotten Son of God is the point, not believing against Cerinthus. Furthermore, while it is true that 1 John was written primarily to guard against "many false prophets", 3 John had other emphases, including the divisive church leader Diotrephes.
3. It sounds as though this Catholic person is out-of-step not only with the Bible, but with the Catholic Pope and modern Catholic Church. The Catholic Church has issued as statement basically saying that Luther’s teaching on justification "is OK". This does not mean they have converted, or even that they agree with Luther’s teaching, but rather that it is tolerated. It seems as if he is trying to make modern Conservative Christians into Gnostics, or at least into followers of Cerinthus.
You can be assured that Conservative Christians do not believe
The Creator and the Supreme God are different,
That Jesus and Christ are different,
That we should live our life in less than a holy way,
Or that we should falsely accuse a group of being an ancient heresy by twisting some of the facts and leaving out most of the other facts.
On a final note, while I think the Pope is greatly in error, and I see many serious errors in Catholic Doctrine, and I have met a few Catholics whom I think were true believers. They did not necessarily "toe the line" on all the Catholic doctrines, (few Catholics do, actually) but where they saw a difference between what the Bible taught and what the Catholic Church taught, they followed the Bible.
Do you know there are no Protestants in heaven? There are no Catholics or Orthodox in heaven either. There are only people, saved by Jesus, who might have been Protestants, Catholics, or Orthodox, but their following Jesus was the most important thing to them.

Q: In 1 Jn 1, was this book written primarily to be read by Jewish Christians, as the hyper-Calvinist John Gill taught?
A: No. Gill taught that the main point of 1 John was written primarily to Jewish Christians to emphasize that salvation is for all the world. Gill’s interpretation provides support for a peculiar interpretation of 1 John 2:2. However, I do not know of any recent writer who has provided an adequate basis for this opinion, or any ancient writer who ever heard of this novel view. See the first question on 1 John for more info.

Q: In 1 Jn 1:1-4, is John speaking of his experience as a Christian or his experience as a disciple and an eyewitness of Jesus?
A: While Christians do experience Christ in their lives, John is referring to his eyewitness experience as Jesus’ disciple.
On one hand, it seems to be a great blessing to have seen Jesus when Jesus was on earth. On the other hand, in John 20:29, Jesus said people were more blessed who did not see and yet believed.

Q: In 1 Jn 1:5, how can there be no darkness with God?
A: Regardless of whether you view this literally, symbolically, or both, God can be any way He wants. See the discussion on James 1:17 and the second question on 1 Timothy 6:16 for more info.

Q: In 1 Jn 1:7, since Christ cleanses us from all sin, why do Christians still sin?
A: We are still in the process of being made holy. Christ’s atoning sacrifice was not only necessary to provide forgiveness for the sin we committed before we were saved, but also for the sins we commit after we are saved, as 1 John 1:7 shows.

Q: In 1 Jn 2:1, is Christ the propitiation for the sins of the whole world? If so, will all be saved?
A: No. Some can receive God’s grace in vain (2 Corinthians 6:1). The message of the Gospel is of no value to some people, because it is not combined with faith, as Hebrews 4:2 shows.

Q: In 1 Jn 2:1, does this refer to all people or all kinds of people?
A: Genuine Christians disagree, with two views.
Most Calvinists must interpret this as, "for the elect of Israel and of the whole world" and "valid anywhere in the world" per the Geneva Study Bible. Otherwise, their theology falls. However, even Hard Calvinists, such as A.W. Pink, would admit that 1 John 2:2 at least "in appearance" supports the concept of a universal atonement. Amyraldian and 4 ½ point Calvinists, who accept universal as well as limited aspects of the atonement, believe the next view. For reference, here is the earliest Christian to write on 1 John 2:1 and teach a view similar to this.
Augustine (c.400 A.D.) in his commentary on 1 John, interpreted 1 John 2:1 as the church in the whole world. Augustine also believed that baptized infants who died will all go to Heaven, and unbaptized infants will all go to hell, so Calvinists are probably not to quick to appeal to Augustine for support, here.
Everyone else’s view: The Greek means what it says. Martin Luther, in mentioning 1 John 2:2, wrote, "It is a patent fact that thou too art a part of the whole world; so that thine heart cannot deceive itself, and think, the Lord died for Peter and Paul, but not for me."
For reference, some Christians who believed Christ atoned for the whole world include
Clement of Alexandria (wrote 193-217/220 A.D.) in The Instructor Book 3 ch.12 quotes 1 John 2:2, and understands it as it appears.
Origen (225-254 A.D.) mentions this verse and 1 Timothy 4:10 as applying not only slaves, women, and children, but also to the intelligent and simple in Against Celsus book 3 ch.49 p.484.
Athanasius (c.297-373 A.D.) Incarnation of the Word ch.7 See also Against the Heathen 4 p.6)
Gregory Nanzianzus (c.330-391 A.D.) On the Theophany, or Birthday of Christ
Cyril of Jerusalem
(c.315-335-386) First Catechetical Lecture I
John Chrysostom (wrote c.392-407 A.D.) numerous
Prosper of Aquitaine (c.420 A.D.) Answers to the Gauls Article 8 believed that Christ died for both the elect and reprobate who heard the Gospel. (Prosper accepted definitive aspects too, as shown by Article 9.)
See also the discussion on 1 John 1.

Q: Does 1 Jn 2:3-5 contradict being saved by grace?
A: No, it complements it. Without verses like these, the doctrine of salvation by grace would have some missing pieces. See the discussion on James 1:17 and the three questions on Ephesians 2:5-8 for more info.

Q: In 1 Jn 2:7-8, is John writing an old commandment, or a new commandment?
A: -John is telling us poetically that he is writing both new and old aspects of what is an old commandment.

Q: In 1 Jn 2:18,22, how are there many antichrists?
A: See the discussion on 2 John 7 for the answer.

Q: In 1 Jn 2:20 (KJV), what is "unction"?
A: This King James Version expression means "anointing".

Q: In 1 Jn 2:25 and 1 Pet 1:9, is eternal life something Christians are only promised, or is it something Christians already have as in Eph 1:4?
A: Both. See the discussion on Ephesians 1:13.

Q: In 1 Jn 3:1-2, are female Christians called "sons of God", too?
A: Yes. Galatians 3:28 shows that there is no male or female in Christ but all are considered "sons of God" The reason for this concept, that females are "sons" of God too, might be due to two things.
1. In the Greek culture, daughters were not thought as important as sons.
2. As a carryover from the Hebrew language, there was no Hebrew word for "children", but the word "sons" including sons and daughters. This is according to an article in Christianity Today 10/27/1997 p.35.
See the discussion on Galatians 3:28 for more info.

Q: In 1 Jn 3:4-6; 1 Jn 3:9, and 1 Jn 5:18, do we have to be sinless, or have no sin, to be saved?
A: No, otherwise, how would John write 1 John 1:8? While the KJV and NKJV translate this "…doth not commit sin…" and "…does not sin…", they do not convey the fact that the Greek word is in the continuous tense. The Wuest New Testament translates 1 John 3:9, "Everyone who has been born out of God with the present result that he is a born-one of God does not habitually commit sin…". The NIV translates 1 John 3:9, "No one who is born of God will continue to sin…" Williams Translates this "practices sin" and "makes a practice of sinning". The NASB and uNASB translate it, "No one who is born of God practices sin…" When Critics Ask p.539 translates this, "Whoever is born of God does not continually practice sin." Geisler and Howe explain the difference as follows: "If a pig and a lamb fall into the mud, the pig wants to stay there, but the lamb wants to get out. Both a believer and an unbeliever can fall into the same sin, but a believer cannot stay in it and feel comfortable." See 1001 Bible Questions Answered p.71-75 and Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.428-429 for more info.

Q: In 1 Jn 2:12-14, why does John emphasize fathers, young men, and little children?
A: Scripture does not say why John, through God’s Sovereignty, chose this poetic expression. However, we can see that a person can have different roles in the church, sometimes simultaneously. Here is my view.
New believers (children) should concentrate on the fact that their sins have been forgiven, they have a new life, and they have a relationship with God.
Co-workers (young men) should concentrate on (internally and externally) overcoming the evil one, being strong in the Lord, and having the word of God living in them.
Leaders (fathers) in all their busy working and leading, should not lose sight of their relationship with God they had as children.

Q: In 1 Jn 3:10,14-18, 23-24, if a Christian hates or does not always love others, will he or she go to Hell?
A: There is a difference between not always loving someone as much as you should and hating the person. While we should hate evil (Psalm 45:7; Proverbs 15:27), hatred of another person should not be in the heart of any Christian.
However, Christians do not love perfectly. Genuine Christians still sin, and some sin greatly. However, true Christians repent of their sin, which means they are sorry for their sin, they confess their sin to God, and decide not to commit it again.

Q: Does 1 Jn 3:10 contradict God saying He loved Jacob but hated Esau?
A: No, for two reasons.
1. Hypothetically speaking, even if God had absolutely no love at all for some one (which is false according to Psalm 145:8,13), God is not required to obey the commands He gives his creatures.
2. "Loving Jacob and hating Esau" was a Hebrew idiom showing that Jacob was loved more and received blessings Esau did not receive, as Now That’s a Good Question p.570 says. See the discussion on Romans 9:13 for more info.

Q: Does 1 Jn 4:1-3 refer to spirits or to people?
A: This verse is applicable to any source of teaching, whether it be a mystical message from a spirit, or a word from a person, whether spoken or written.

Q: In 1 Jn 4:1, since some people are trying to find God, why would God knowingly allow false prophets?
A: The way God has chosen to set up Creation and allow a Fallen world, God permits many things that break His heart, as Matthew 23:37-39 shows. As to why a loving, Almighty, All-Knowing God would permit evil and deception, see the three questions on Habakkuk 1:13.

Q: In 1 Jn 4:2, is every spirit or teacher from God if they say that Jesus came in the flesh?
A: No. As in 1 John 5:1, this is a necessary, but not a sufficient condition for godly instructors.

Q: Does 1 Jn 4:2-3 talking about Jesus having flesh before or after His resurrection, or both?
A: Both. According to When Cultists Ask p.298 and When Critics Ask p.539-540, John uses the perfect tense ("has come") in Greek. The perfect tense means past and continuing action or state. In 2 John 7, John says that deceivers deny "Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh" using the present tense.
Luke 24:39; John 2:19-22; 20:26-27; and Acts 2:30-31 also demonstrate Jesus had a physical body after His resurrection.

Q: In 1 Jn 4:7, since God is love, doesn’t that mean that love is God and everything done for love is automatically done for God as Christian liberals claim?
A: No. As one Christian put it, Our culture has taken the truth that God is love, and turned it around to make love their god. Something done for the love of money is not done for God, as Matthew 6:24 shows. One example of it being evil to love people more than God is Matthew 10:37, where Jesus says "Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me".

Q: In 1 Jn 4:10, does this mean we do not love God and predestination is true?
A: No, 1 John 4:10 cannot mean we do not need to love God, because that would be contrary to 1 John 4:19-21. Also, both Calvinists and non-Calvinists agree that predestination in Eph 1:5 and other places does not mean believers do not love God, contrary to scripture.
Rather, both 1 John 4:10 and 4:19 show the order and initiative, in two complementary ways. When mankind was lost, ignorant, and unloving toward God, God loved us and sent Jesus to die for us. When we individually were disinterested in God or even active enemies of God, God still loved us first. The idea God loves those who love Him first, because of their love for Him, is turned on its head by 1 John 4:10,19.

Q: In 1 Jn 4:12, how has no one seen God apart from Jesus, since Isaiah saw the Lord in Isaiah 6:1?
A: In 1 John 4:12, no one has seen God in the flesh, a part from Jesus manifesting Himself on earth. In Isaiah 6, this is understood as a vision. Even in this vision though, Isaiah felt ruined because of the closeness to the holiness of God and his sinful nature.

Q: In 1 Jn 4:18, since "love casts out all fear", why are we to fear God in 2 Cor 5:11?
A: There are two kinds of fear.
We are to fear God, with a fear that is compatible with love. Christians should fear God in the sense of standing in awe of Him and respecting His justice, knowledge, and power. Our fear should be the kind that results in us praising God in Psalm 22:23. Because there is no way to have eternal life apart from God’s grace, God has a far even greater power over everyone than just over physical life and death.
Some verses that emphasize the proper way to fear God are Job 28:28; Ps 15:4; 34:11; 40:1-3; Proverbs 1:7; 2:4. Some verses that show it is wrong not to fear God are Ps 55:19; Proverbs 1:29; 9:10; 10:27; 15:33; and Jeremiah 2:19.
We are not to fear anyone else. David did not fear his enemies in Psalm 3:6 Psalm 23:4 says we are to fear no evil, and Psalm 27:1-3 says we are not to fear others. Other verses are Ps 46:2; 49:5; Proverbs 29:25.
See When Critics Ask p.540 for more info.

Q: In 1 Jn 4:20-21, how are we supposed to love others?
A: We are supposed to love others in almost every way. We are to love in actions, not just words (James 2:14-16), sacrificially, and as God loves us (1 John 4:19). Love is the most important of Christian virtues (1 Corinthians 13, especially verses 1-3, 13).
The only way we are not supposed to love, is to love anyone, even our own family greater than we love God. If our alleged love for someone causes us to disobey God, then that is misguided or wrong love.

Q: Does 1 Jn 5:1 mean that everyone who believes that Jesus is the Messiah is going to Heaven?
A: No. As in 1 Jn 4:2, this is a necessary, but not a sufficient condition to be a believer. It is interesting that the Greek language has not one but two word for believing. One word is used in the Bible for a life-trusting dependence, and the other word is used in the Bible for mere intellectual assent.

Q: Was 1 Jn 5:7-8 added to the Bible?
A: This was an addition that was not in the original manuscripts. As the General Introduction to the Bible p.484 says, "In fact, the acceptance of the longer rendering as a genuine part of the text of 1 John violates almost every major canon of textual criticism." However, Christians who prefer the King James Version generally accept this passage, and here are the arguments for both sides.
Added Later view: We will look first at the manuscripts that have 1 John and do not have it, and then at the Church Fathers who do not refer to it.
Bible Manuscripts and manuscript families that have 1 John 5:6-9 but do not have this addition.
Vaticanus 325-350 A.D.
Sinaiticus 340-350 A.D.
Bohairic Coptic 3rd/4th century
Alexandrinus c.450 A.D.
Sahidic Coptic 3rd/4rth century
Syriac
Some Armenian [Arm] from 5th century
Ethiopic [Eth] from c.500 A.D.
Georgian [Geo] from 5th century
Byzantine Lectionary (K, L, P)
Arabic
Slavonic
048 original, 33, 81, 322, 323, 436, 945, 1067, 1175, 1241, 1243, 1292, 1409, 1505, 1611, 1735, 1739, 1846, 1881, 2138, 2298, 2344, 2464,
Psi, 1844, 1852 have a slightly different grammatical ending for witnessing.
L833 has "baptism" for "water"
The following church writers quote from 1 John or the Trinity, and never mention this addition.
Irenaeus wrote 182-188 A.D. refers to 6 verses in 1 John
Clement of Alexandria
Tertullian (wrote about 200-240 A.D.)
Hippolytus (wrote 222-235/6 A.D.)
Origen (225-254 A.D.)
Cyprian (248-258 A.D.) However, The Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers Second Series vol.7 footnote gamma p.323 is interesting. It says in part, "They [the additional words] have been thought to be cited by S[aint] Cyprian in his work on the Unity of the Church; and this citation, if a fact, would be a most important one, as it would throw back their reception to an early date. But Ticschendorf (Gk. Test., Ed., viii, ad. Loc.) gives reasons for believing that the quotation is only apparent, and is really of the last clause of verse 8."
Dionysius of Alexandria
Jerome
Gregory Nazianzen (330-391 A.D.) in proving the Trinity refers to this version but does not have the addition. "What about John then, when in his Catholic Epistle he says that there are Three that bear witness, the Spirit and the Water and the Blood?" On The Holy Spirit ch.19 p.323-324 (The Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers Second Series vol.7)
Ambrose (340-397 A.D.) also quoted 1 John 5:6 in discussing the Holy Spirit and the Trinity, and he did not quote 1 John 5:7. The only reasonable explanation is because it was not there.
Augustine also refer to 1 John without these verses.
Quodvultus
Facundus
Therefore, it was added in the King James Version, the Vulgate, and in religious writings starting about 380 A.D.
Today’s Handbook for Solving Bible Difficulties p.50-52 mentions that it was only in 8 Greek manuscripts. Most importantly, in four of the eight it was in the margin, not in the text. In other words, it was a note somebody added in their margin, like Christians make notes today. Eventually, somebody copied the margin note into the text. Also, while the church fathers quoting 1 John extensively, and wrote much defending the Trinity, not a single one of them quoted 1 John 5:7-8 to defend the Trinity. The passage is also absent in Syriac, Coptic, Armenian, Ethiopic, Arabic, Slavonic, and apparently everything except Latin. However, it is not even in the early form of Old Latin or the Vulgate as issued by Jerome according to A Textual Commentary on the New Testament 2nd edition p.648.
Both When Critics Ask p.540-541 and The Complete Book of Bible Answers p.73-74 add that the only reason it is any late Greek manuscripts at all is that Erasmus was pressured to include it in his Third Edition of the Greek New Testament of 1522. Erasmus himself omitted it in his Fourth and Fifth editions 3/1/1516 and 1519. (See the New International Dictionary of the Bible p.225 for more info on this.) Erasmus said he would include it if and only if a single Greek manuscript could be found that had it. After his second edition, one was found. It is called Codex Gregory 61, copied by a Franciscan friar named Froy (or Roy) written in 1520 (note the date). Since Erasmus did not know of the source, he added it in his third edition in 1522 because the Catholic Church wanted it added. A printer, Fayerabend, added it to Luther’s Bible in 1574.
Greek scholar Bruce Metzger in Textual Commentary Second edition p.715-716 has a more extensive discussion.
Summary of added later view: The General Introduction to the Bible p.484 says, "In fact, the acceptance of the longer rendering as a genuine part of the text of 1 John violates almost every major canon of textual criticism."
Original view: It must be admitted that the three earliest Greek manuscripts that have 1 John 5:7-8 are dated the 10th and 12th and 14th centuries, it was not in the Byzantine manuscript family, and it was not even in the original Latin Vulgate. It is in the following miniscules:
61 - codex Montfortianus, early 16th century (61 and 629 have a slightly different reading than the others.)
88variant - 14th century manuscript, and 1 John 5:7-8 was added later in 16th century handwriting at Naples
221variant - Variant reading added to a manuscript originally from the 10th century now at Oxford
429variant - a variant added to a 16th century manuscript in Wolfenbuttel
629 - in the text, not a variant reading
636variant - a variant added to a 16th century manuscript in Naples
918 - 16th century manuscript in Escorial, Spain. In the text, not a variant reading
2318 - 18th century manuscript in Bucharest, Rumania. In the text, not a variant reading
In four of the preceding manuscripts it was in the margin as a later addition, not in the main text. With the possible exception of 626, it was not in a single known Greek manuscript prior to the time of Erasmus.
Some Armenian [Arm] from 5th century
Codex Gregory 61 (1520 A.D.) Written after Erasmus said he would not put this in his Bible unless they produced a Greek manuscript that had it in.
The second earliest place it is found is in the work Liber Apologeticus, written by either the Spanish heretic Priscillian or his follower Bishop Instantius around 385 A.D..
It is also in the writings of Varimadum (380 A.D.)
Anonymous Treatise On Rebaptism
(250/4-256/7 A.D.) ch.18 Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.5 p.677 refers to 1 John 5:8. However the footnote say that it quotes the Latin formula, not the Grek.
In the writings of Speculum.
John Cassian, the father of the semi-Pelagian error (435 A.D.).
It is in various Italic versions and in the Clementine version of the Latin vulgate. "testimony/witness on earth, spirit, water and blood, and the three are one in Christ Jesus. And the three bear testimony/witness in heaven, the father, word, and spirit."
Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.375 says it was in the Old Latin [Italic] as early as the fifth century, and in the very late miniscule 635 in the margin.
Finally, since it was in the Latin Bible in the Middle Ages, and in the King James version, and it was accepted by Catholic Church (but not Greek or Eastern Churches) for over 900 years, it must belong.

Q: Does 1 Jn 5:6-8 mean that since the Holy spirit is a witness along with water and blood, the Holy Spirit is not a living being?
A: No. A witness can be a living being as well as an inanimate object. A common mistake of cults is that since the Holy Spirit has many attributes a human being does not have, therefore (by some stretch of logic) the Holy Spirit cannot have personality. 1 John 5:6-8 shows there are three witnesses to the fact that Jesus had a physical body. The blood refers to His crucifixion, and the Spirit is an inward testimony to Christians. The water refers either to Jesus’ baptism by John, or possibly the water surrounding a baby at birth.
Following are various facts the Bible teaches us about the personality of the Holy Spirit.
Parakletos (the comforter, the one along side us). John 14:16,26, John 15:26
Can know the innermost thoughts of God 1 Corinthians 2:10-11
Speaks to us. Acts 13:2, Hebrews 3:7
Reminds us. John 14:26
Like a parent, so we will not be orphans (orphanos in Greek). John 14:18
Guides us. John 16:13
Teaches us. John 14:26 1 Corinthians 2:13
Lives in us. 1 Cor 3:16, 2 Timothy 1:14, Romans 8:9,11, Ephesians 2:22
In our hearts. 2 Corinthians 1:22 Galatians 4:6
He intercedes for us (inanimate objects do not pray or intercede). Romans 8:26-27
Can be insulted. Hebrews 10:29
Testifies of Christ. John 15:26
Has a mind. Romans 8:27
Can be grieved. Isaiah 63:10, Ephesians 4:30
Makes choices. 1 Corinthians 12:11
Possesses love. Romans 15:30
Can think things are good. Acts 15:28
Searches deep things of God. 1 Corinthians 2:9-10
Groans (and thus cares) for us. Romans 8:26
See When Cultists Ask p.299 and Jehovah’s Witnesses Answered Verse by Verse p.21-22 for more info.

Q: In 1 Jn 5:7,8, how could God let a sentence get added to the Bible?
A: 1 John 5:7,8 was likely an added sentence. We know this because we have the testimony of Greek manuscripts. Whether this sentence is in or out, does not change Christian doctrine.
According to Aland et al, it is in the "A" category that this sentence was not in the original manuscript. In other words, the "A" category is "virtually certain" that the 25 disputed words in 1 John 5:7-8 are a later addition.
Muslims in particular should not have much problem with this particular issue. We do not have such corresponding testimony of ‘Uthman’s changes in the Qur’an because he burned the copies of the Qur’an that others could use to cross-check him. A few survive today, in a Museum in Cairo, and they do show changes.

Q: In 1 Jn 5:13, how can know we have eternal life, since the hell-bound people in Matthew 7:21-23 thought they knew they had eternal life? In other words, assurance of salvation does not mean much if we can never know if we have false assurance.
A: Three points to consider in the answer.
We can have genuine assurance based on God’s grace, not us:
Believers can be confident of their eternal life. 1 John 4:17; 5:11-19; 3:24;4:13; Ephesians 3:12
God not only saves us, He also seals & preserves us. Ephesians 1:13-14; Jude 24; 1 Timothy 1:14
Never forget we were bought at a price, Jesus' blood. 1 Corinthians 6:20; 7:23; 2 Peter 2:1; Acts 20:28
We must believe & confess that Jesus is Lord to be saved. Romans 10:9-13; 1 Peter 1:23
We must call on the Lord to be saved. Acts 2:21; 22:16; Joel 2:32; 1 Corinthians 1:2; Zephaniah 3:9
It is a gift of grace, not earned by works. No merit on our part can save us. Ephesians 2:8-9; 2 Timothy 1:9; Titus 3:5; Acts 26:20; Romans 3:23-24; 4:5; 6:14-15; 9:32; 11:5-6; Galatians 3:2,3,10-14
Real faith bears fruit, because faith without works is dead. James 2:14-26
All true believers work to obey God and express love for God and people. 1 John 3:14-15
People can have a false assurance and counterfeit conversion:
We must examine ourselves, for counterfeit Christians can be deceived. 2 Corinthians 13:5
Believers must be diligent to the very end in order to make their hope sure. Hebrews 6:11
Some can have a false assurance of salvation Jeremiah 17:10, even if they:
Have the form of godliness; know the scriptures. 2 Timothy 3:5; John 5:39-47
Believe (in an intellectual, not a saving sense), are baptized. Acts 8:13,20; James 2:19
At least themselves believed they prophesied in Jesus' name, drove out demons, & performed many mighty miracles. Matthew 7:21-23; 2 Thessalonians 2:9-10
Once escaped the world’s corruption by knowing our Lord and Savior.2 Peter 2:17-22
We can and should test our assurance by seeing if our life, experience, and doctrine match what the Bible says.
We are responsible to watch our life & doctrine closely. 2 Timothy 1:14; Colossians 1:23; Proverbs 22:5
Not to follow wisdom of this world. Colossians 2:8-9; James 3:15; 1 Corinthians 1:17-27; 2:6,8,14; 2 Corinthians 1:12
Persevere. Hebrews 10:23,36; Hebrews 12:1,12-13; 1 John 2:24; 1 Corinthians 13:7; Romans 5:3-4; James 1:3-4,12; James 5:11; 2 Peter 1

Q: In 1 Jn 5:14-15, how come we do not always get what we pray for?
A: Read James 4:3 and see the discussion on Matthew 7:7-11; 1 Corinthians 12:7, and 1 Corinthians 12:8 (Paul’s thorn) for more the answer.

Q: In 1 Jn 5:16-17 what is "sin that leads not to death" versus "sin that leads to death"?
A: There are two views:
Spiritual death: Some Christians interpret this as a believer can disobey God for so long that they can lose their salvation. Since John is talking about spiritual, not physical life and death everywhere else, he is probably talking about that here. See Hard Sayings of the Bible p.742-744 for more on this view. Augustine in his Homily 10 on 1 John says, "The ‘sin’ therefore, of a brother, ‘unto death’, I suppose to be when, after the acknowledging of God through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, one fights against the brotherhood, and is set on by the fire-brands of hatred against the very grace through which he was reconciled to God." Augustine said this perhaps relates to one of the brethren blaspheming the Holy Spirit. Augustine affirms that this sin is for a Christian to forsake the faith until death. See Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers First Series vol.7 p.527 for this quote.
Physical death only: Other Christians interpret this as disobedience that is severe enough for God to take the believer home early, as with Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5:1-11, and some Corinthians in 1 Corinthians 11:29-30. When Critics Ask p.541 says that Paul also may have meant this when he wrote 1 Corinthians 5:5 to turn a believer over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh that his spirit may be saved. See also The Complete Book of Bible Answers p.70-72 for more on this view.

Q: Does 1 Jn 5:16-17 refer to the Catholic concept of "mortal sins" vs. "venial sins"?
A: No. The Catholic doctrine said that a believer would go to Hell if they committed a mortal sin and died before receiving forgiveness and/or absolution for the sin. They would still go to Heaven, though with a longer stay in purgatory, for non-mortal, or venial sins.
The Bible teaches that Jesus completely saved us from all our sins in Hebrews 7:25. While genuine believers will want to repent from all their sins, it is God’s grace, not our actions, that bring us to Heaven.

Q: In 1 Jn 5:18, is Satan unable to "touch us", or can Satan "sift" us as wheat in Lk 22:31?
A: Satan can do nothing without God’s allowing it. As the book of Job shows, Satan had to ask permission to externally affect Job’s circumstances and body.
However, perhaps Satan’s greatest power lies in deceit and temptation. To a certain extent, Satan’s influence over a Christian is only to the degree that the Christian "gives an ear" to listen to Satan.
See When Critics Ask p.541-542 and Haley’s Alleged Discrepancies of the Bible p.179 for more info.

Q: In 1 Jn 5:19, why is the whole world lie under the sway of the evil one?
A: See the discussion on Romans 8:19-22 and Ephesians 2:2 for the answer.

Q: In 1 Jn 5:19, how is the whole world under the "control" or "influence" of the evil one?
A: See the discussion on Romans 8:19-22 for the answer.

Q: In 1 Jn 5:21, is it OK to have statues of idols in your house if you do not worship them?
A: No. Even if you have no inclination whatsoever to worship the idols, it is still wrong for three reasons.
1. The creation and worship of idols is an affront to God. Sacrificing to idols is sacrificing to demons, as 1 Corinthians 10:19-21 and Deuteronomy 32:17 show. Appreciating the artistic qualities of a well-made idol is like appreciating the positive qualities of something made and used by Satan to keep people in spiritual blindness. Tongue-in-cheek, if I did keep idols in my house, I would keep them next to my artistically made Satanic ritual objects. However, since I do not have any Satanic ritual objects in my home, I guess I would not have any place for the idols, either.
2. Idols could cause others to stumble. Even if the other person is not tempted to worship your idol, you are still setting a bad example, showing that idolatry is not to be taken too seriously.
3. It seems much more difficult to have a strong witness to idolatrous people (Hindus, Buddhists, and others), if you tell them they must turn from idols and serve the Living God to go to Heaven, but you still have idols in your home.

Q: How do we know that 1 Jn was really written by John?
A: There are two main reasons.
1. The Early church recognized it as from the Apostle John. In particular Cyprian’s Epistle 69 (248-258 A.D.) quotes 1 John 2:18-19 and says this is by the apostle John. He also quotes the "epistle of John" in Treatise 12 The Third Book 2.
2. Tertullian (200-240 A.D.) while referring to 1 John 2:33; 4:2-3; and 5:1 says that John said all of these. (Against Praxeas 28). In de Corona ch.10 says that "John says, ‘My little children, keep yourselves from idols,’ (1 John 5:21)
3. Later Augustine (c.400 A.D.) in his first homily on 1 John, says it was written by the John who wrote the Gospel.
4. It has a similar style as 2 and 3 John and the Gospel of John.
In the highly unlikely event that we were wrong, and the early church was totally mistaken on the authorship of 1 John, if God still intended for 1 John to be scripture, what difference would it make if it were by John or not?

Q: In 1 Jn, how do we know if what we have today is a reliable preservation of what was originally written?
A: There are at least three reasons.
1. God promised to preserve His word in Isaiah 55:10-11; Isaiah 59:21; Isaiah 40:6-8; 1 Peter 1:24-25; Matthew 24:35.
2. Evidence of the early church. Here are a few of the writers who referred to verses in 1 John.
Didache 120-150 A.D.
Letter To Diognetus c.130 A.D.
Caius (180-217 A.D.) quotes most of 1 John 1:1 and says it was written by John in the Muratorian Canon p.603.
Clement of Alexandria wrote 193-217/220 A.D.
Tertullian 200-240A.D.
Origen 225-254 A.D.
Hippolytus 222-235/6 A.D.
Cyprian (wrote 248-258 A.D.) quotes 1 John 1:8,9 and saying "In his epistle, John lays down…" in Treatise 8 ch.3 p.476.
Hilary wrote about 355-367/368 A.D.
Athanasius 326-373 A.D.
Ephraem 373 A.D.
The Muratorian Canon (c.170 A.D.) mentions the Letter of 1 John
3. Evidence of heretics and other writers
Priscillian (385 A.D.) refers to 1 John 4:3; 5:7-8
4. Earliest manuscripts we have of 1 John show there are manuscript variations, but zero theologically significant errors.
p9 (=Papyrus Oxyrhynchus 402) 1 John 4:11-12,14-17 third century. The Complete Text of the Earliest New Testament Manuscripts p.70 has a picture of this manuscript, and it says the handwriting was not by a trained scribe, it was written carelessly, and some of the spellings are unintelligible.
3rd century - 1968 - The Text of the New Testament
3rd century - 1998 - Aland et al. Fourth Revised Edition
p74 (=Bodmer 17) Acts 1:2-5,7-11,13-15,18-19,22-25; 2:2-4; 2:6-3:26; 4:2-6,8-27; 4:29-27:25; 27:27-28:31; James 1:1-6,8-19,21-23,25,27; 2:1-3,5-15; 18-22, 25-26; 3:1,5-6,10-12,14,17-18; 4:8,11-14; 5:1-3,7-9,12-14,19-20; 1 Peter 1:1-2,7-8,13,19-20,25; 2:6-7,11-12,18,24; 3:4-5; 2 Peter 2:21; 3:4,11,16; 1 John 1:1,6; 2:1-2,7,13-14,18-19,25-26; 3:1-2,8,14,19-20; 4:1,6-7,12,16-17;5:3-4,9-10,17; 2 John 1,6-7,13; 3 John 6,12; Jude 3,7,12,18,24 (7th century)
7th century - 1968 - The Text of the New Testament has James 2:4 and 1 Peter 1:12
7th century - 1975 - Aland et al. Third Edition
6th century - 1998 - Aland et al. Fourth Revised Edition
Vaticanus (325-350 A.D.), Sinaiticus (340-350 A.D.), and Alexandrinus (c.450 A.D) have all of 1 John.
Bohairic Coptic 3rd/4th century
Sahidic Coptic 3rd/4rth century
Peshitta Syriac [Syr P] 375-400 A.D.
Ephraemi Rescriptus 5th century
Armenian [Arm] from 5th century
Georgian [Geo] from 5th century
Ethiopic [Eth] from c.500 A.D.
It should be mentioned 1 John 5:7-8 is one of the three or four most notable manuscript variations in the Bible. However, even this is not theologically significant, as these verses do not teach anything about the Trinity that is not found elsewhere.

 

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