1 John is written at a particularly troubling time for a section of the faithful community. 1 John 2:18 says
“Children, it is the last hour, and just as you heard that the antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have appeared. We know from this that it is the last hour.”
What does this mean the last hour? It does not refer to the shadow of AD70, that event had gone. Clearly it is not the return of Jesus since we are now 1930 odd years on from this epistle. What does it mean? Simply – and more concerningly – it means John’s readers face an existential threat. As Martin notes:
Threats that were once external now were found within the ranks of the fellowship itself. For John it must have been a crisis beyond belief…it is “the last hour” for the community.1
As a historical note, while Antioch and Alexandrina endured as long centres of Christian faith, Ephesus ceased to be prominent seemingly quite early. This should then frame our approach to this book – it is a letter to a community in crisis. This is not a technical doctrinal dissertation, although doctrinal correction certainly features. The book(s) are focused on responding to internal challenges and surviving disunity. How should we behave? How should we think about others? How do we ascertain that we are not the problem?
The writer of 1 John is not named in the text. Tradition – indicative but not authoritative – links the two and the title was connected to the books from the late second century2. The books traditionally were written late while John was on Patmos (an event which happened in 95AD)3 and seem to have had limited circulation or use for a while. Scholars observe:
There are apparent allusions to these documents in the writings of church leaders by the middle of the 2d century (Ep. Barn. 5:9–11). Some claim that these allusions are closer to actual citations (Polyc. ep. 7), although such claims are debated. The first unquestionable citations appear in Irenaeus toward the end of the 2d century, demonstrating that the author knew 1 and 2 Jn (haer. 1.16.3; 3.16.5). The Muratorian fragment, which lists the documents generally accepted as authoritative, seems to refer to two epistles and attributes them to John, the fourth evangelist. Unfortunately, scholars are still divided as to whether the fragment should be dated at the end of the 2d or 4th centuries. Other citations toward the end of the 2d century and fragments of Clement’s commentary on the NT books (Adumbrationes) affirm the recognition of 1 and 2 John4
The gospel of John appears not to have been overly popular in the early church – it is notable by the scant references to it. One of the factors in it being less popular was the “early appropriation of the Gospel of John by Gnosticism”5. The first epistle of John is often recognized as a rejection of proto-gnosticism. In a sense the text of 1 John can be thought of as
a “paper,” which sets out to expound Johannine teaching and ideas, now preserved in the tradition and theology of the Fourth Gospel, for the benefit of heterodox members of John’s community who were also indebted to the teaching of the Gospel, but who were understanding it differently and, indeed, erroneously. For the purposes of this exercise the writer of 1 John draws, as his opponents had done, on the thought of the Fourth Gospel itself; and, like them, on occasions he refers to the text directly (cf. 1 John 2:3–11; also 4:1–6). In so doing he explicates the teaching of the Gospel and develops it, indicating at the same time how the Gospel should properly be interpreted6 (for similar comments see also Kysar7 and Martin8)
In some senses the epistle made the gospel more palatable by clarifying and expounding some of the passages which were wrested into an altogether inappropriate meaning.
While agreeing the same individual wrote both the gospel and the epistles, Brown admits certain differences which are not obvious to English readers:
I am persuaded that there is a marked difference between the two works in terms of clarity of expression. Having translated both GJohn and I John, I found the first relatively simple, while the obscurity of the second was infuriating…[as] I point out the number of scholars divided over the grammar and meaning of almost every verse in I John, one might well conclude that, simply from the viewpoint of translating correctly, there are more difficulties in any two chapters of I John than in the whole of the much longer GJohn9
A fair warning on the need to approach interpretation carefully and not imagine a Strongs concordance can assist our endeavours.
John faced two distinct issues. One of opposing error, the second one was preserving the community. There is no point winning the war if everyone perishes! So John links the core doctrinal statements, God being light and us being His children, with the practice of Christian love (see Smalley10).
We could read 1 John and focus on theology. The nature of Christ, the operation of the atonement, the extension of fellowship. Such technical considerations are interesting. Some find them fascinating. Great. However, this is a real book to real people who were really in trouble! What happens when there is conflict? Damage – lots of it. In such circumstances practice cannot be the poor cousin of theory. There is a temptation (particularly amongst those who imagine themselves authorities) to focus on sound doctrine11 as first priority, as if this leads inevitably to sound practice. This is an erroneous focus and assumption.
Pure religion and undefiled is indivisible from right practice per James 1:27. One without the other is technically possible in the confines of a thought experiment only. On the field of life both need to be present, for theology without love is dead. In the language of John, knowing God can only mean we love each other according to God’s command. Anything else proves we don’t know God (1 John 2:4). John does not distinguish between right teaching and practice, both combine for what he calls ‘truth’. As Thompson observed:
the letters of 1 and 2 John are as much about Christian spirituality and conduct as they are about doctrine and belief…The turmoil within their congregation undoubtedly caused many to question their own faith and practice, and to wonder whether they were also guilty of or prone to the failings of the departed dissidents. First John regularly reassures its readers of those things in which they can have confidence. But at the same time it urges them to continue in faithfulness to the God who has given them so much12
I would go further. John encourages yes absolutely, but he is also teaching us how to respond to conflict, how to conduct ourselves in matters of dispute and fellowship. It is not just about hanging onto a correct based faith and being nice to the lovely people around you. The audience were not all of one mind, some of the readers were wrong in doctrine and practice. How then should we behave in the context of ecclesial conflict, with all the accusations, stress and unChristlike behavior that usually accompany such situations?
We cannot hope to cover the whole of John’s answer in this short article. However we will sample elements of the answer primarily focused on 1 John 3.
Ch3 v1-3 – The Children of God but not done yet…
John in Chapter 3 is going to expand on the implications of our status as God’s children. He makes this statement of God’s love emphatically in 1 John 3:1, but most versions understate the expressions. Most versions have something like “See what sort of love” the Greek for this carries the idea of amazement at something quite unusual:
The form potapós is a later corruption from podapós, which the earlier Greeks used only in the sense of “From what country?”13
This may not be quite enough to suggest the love is foreign and otherworldly as Burge14 and others do as the expression is also used (in amazement) at the Temple buildings (Mark 13:1). Smalley provides the sense John is conveying with:
consider how lavish is the love which the Father has showered upon us!15
And notes the word consider in the form used here is normally associated with concrete visible items in the NT. Not only are we “called God’s children” the early manuscripts have “and indeed we are!” (1 John 3:1). According to Metzer the emphasis is present in both Western and Alexandrian text families, its omission in some texts (including eventually the Textus Receptus) is likely due to a similar shape in wording on the lines leading to the error.16 Conflict and trial can dull the impact of our status in God’s economy. John underscores the fact of our position. Opponents might seek to belittle your understanding of the gospel, to challenge your loyalty to Christ (although they might substitute “the ecclesia” for Christ). In such circumstances we need the affirmation of John, we are God’s children yes indeed we are! There is an excitement about this undeniable and obvious fact for John.
However it would be a mistake to assert we have no further obligations because of our status. This is the issue for the opponents who insisted various things including that:
- “they had no sin” 1 John 1:8
- They didn’t have to obey God commands to love 1 John 2:4
- They were in the light despite their attitude to others (which John calls hate) was ok 1 John 2:9
In encouraging the believers, John points to the need for a life of improvement by highlighting that we have not reached a final destination yet. As he says:
…what we will be has not yet been revealed. We know that whenever it is revealed we will be like him, because we will see him just as he is. And everyone who has this hope focused on him purifies himself, just as Jesus is pure). 1 John 3:2-3
Our objective is end up like Jesus so logically we should be progressing from our existing privileged position of children to being more like Jesus. Jesus is the fulness of God’s glory – the perfect representation of God, i.e. a completion of the stated role of humanity in Gen 1:26. We in turn are progressing towards this likeness. Paul describes us as seeing an imperfect reflection of Jesus but transforming to a clearer one in 2 Cor 3:18.
How might this purification and transformation work? Consider the two walking to Emmaus. They were “foolish” and “slow of heart to believe” in the eyes of the only Judge (Luke 24:25). Their ability to recognize Jesus was transformed by exposition of God’s word and participation in table fellowship (note they didn’t recognize Jesus until after fellowship). This demonstrated our progress may be slow but shows how it should occur. John counsels no separation from those whose journey lags or leads our own and the example of Jesus illustrates the principles of fellowship we ought to extend (though clearly we would never dare judge others fools or slow to believe? Or would we?). We are all on a path together to better recognize and reflect the one whose name we bear and whose image we imperfectly reflect.
John switches in verse 3 from plural inclusive language to the individual
everyone who has this hope focused on him purifies himself
Here’s the point and the test relevant to his audience. Everyone – no special privilege, exception or excuses – everyone individually “purifies himself” – Is this reading in too much? No. John tells us this is a process, an individual one. Each disciple “purifies” themselves – the Greek is present active, it is an ongoing process. Doctrine means action, not always successful action (hence the need for an advocate in 1 John 2:1), but still ongoing efforts.
Living the family mission 1 John 3:4-10
In v4-10 John will develop on the idea of us being God’s family. To be part of God’s family is a serious thing. In Greco Roman culture it was common for people to identify first and most importantly by their family name.17 Any individual could be assumed to be of certain character based on the family reputation18. You were your family. Our individualistic notions of self do not square well with ancient conceptions.
In v4 John draws the contrast between the faithful and the troublemakers.
Everyone who practices sin also practices lawlessness; indeed, sin is lawlessness.
To be clear, John is not contrasting the disciple with the carousing pagan. He is talking about contrasts closer to home, those who were opposing John and the gospel. His criticism informs us of the attitude of the splitters. On the detail of the word lawless, the NET notes state:
The Greek word…is often translated “iniquity” or “lawlessness” and in the LXX refers particularly to transgression of the law of Moses…The ‘law’ for the author is the law of love, as given by Jesus in the new commandment of John 13:34–35. This is the command to love one’s brother, a major theme of 1 John and the one specific sin in the entire letter which the opponents are charged with (3:17).19
While it is true the splitters were (are) denying the fundamental command of God – love. It is not that they are atheists as such, rather they are unloving believers. Lawlessness however is more than just sin/transgression though:
To be “lawless” does not mean simply to break the law; it means to disdain the very idea of a law to which one must submit20
As the opposition also included proto-gnostics (who would ultimately deny any responsibility to law). This is an extension of the libertine attitude of just sin and let grace abound that Paul confronted in Rom 6. There was a need for John to also drive home this message that we cannot inhabit the path of faith and the habitual and uncaring practice of sin – or “going on doing sin”21.
Why? Because the family commitment is to remove sin. Jesus the perfect son of God was “revealed to take away sin” v5. As fellow children we too reject the path of sin. Jesus was not just concerned with taking away sin, but also with being pure/dedicated (to echo the language of v3). Hence
his work also includes opposition to any sinfulness. In other words, Jesus’ works include both removing the guilt of sin and defeating its presence altogether. Jesus is concerned with both justification and sanctification22
By contrast the enemy sins, the enemy has always sinned from the beginning. This is no doubt a reference to the serpent in Gen 3 who inspired doubt in God’s command with the resultant loss of Eden. Some would claim this is Cain, but sin predated Cain and scripturally the wicked are the seed of the serpent. Incidentally, we might note the danger of too literal, or dare we say legalistic, reading of the New Testament’s allegorical use of Genesis 3. In Romans 5:12 Adam sinned first (despite being the second person to take the fruit) but in 1 John the serpent beat Adam to it.
In v6 John makes the difference between the two types of people relatable.
Everyone who resides in him does not sin; everyone who sins has neither seen him nor known him
On first blush this is grim – we all sin so none of us reside in God, right? The common approach to reading this is represented by Ross as:
Every one who abideth in Him sinneth not, does not sin habitually and deliberately: every one who goes on sinning…23
Based on tenses the argument is made for the phrases referring to incidental sinners (the faithful) versus the habitual and unconcerned sinner. Smalley notes there are some issues with the certainty of the grammar and how far we can push it (why would such an important point being vague?). The other readings can be described as “theological and situational”24. Jobes suggests rather what we are dealing with (given a definite article is present) is:
a category of sin that is identified with lawlessness25
I.e. this is not just sin but more akin to the denial of responsibility or possibility of sin. On balance I believe the grammatical reading of habitual sin fits best within John’s broader agenda and theology – but dogmatism is unsustainable given the nature of the evidence.
The contrast between the two groups, the children of God and those who have instead become “of the devil” is illustrated in one great test in v10:
By this the children of God and the children of the devil are revealed: Everyone who does not practice righteousness—the one who does not love his fellow Christian—is not of God
A way of sin may be invisible to us. But one thing is not hard to spot. Love. Again let us put ourselves in the position of John’s readers, for John was writing to the faithful more than he was the splitters. They needed to love. There is a challenge here for us:
John is also exhorting his own followers to exhibit love because they are responding to the secessionists with equal hostility. And just because their theology is right by no means says that their angry attitudes are justified.26
It is all very well for us to love each other. But what of the Diotrephes in 3 John 9-11 – how do we respond to him? The prominent loud brethren who lay charges against you, who make rulings on fellowship, who try and cast out those who support you? Note John does not advise the faithful to behave this way or to take action against the Diotrephes types afflicting them. Instead the faithful are to love and accept that the Diotrephes of the community will either leave of their own accord (1 John 2:19), succumb to the power of prayer (1 John 5:16) or continue receiving their love without returning it. While John condemns such, he comes no closer to recommending a Diotrephian solution than Jesus does in Revelation 2-3. The faithful are left with no choice but to love the unlovable – it is after all a family trait.
Disaster in the family of God 1 John 3:11-13
So why this conflict in God’s family? Surely this isn’t right? John has pointed to the distinction of light and dark, love and hate, children of God and those of the devil. These differences lead to conflict. Sadly sometimes the greatest threat to our faith is our faith family. It is fine to speak of us being the children of God but the squabbling and experience sometimes threatens our perception of this reality. Certainly that was the experience of John’s audience. Trouble in paradise. So he demonstrates that not all the family rightly belong, by continuing his Genesis connection.
Cain was of the evil one, of the devil. While he was literally fathered by Adam this was not his spiritual status. What made this plain? His actions, which are highlighted not as a reflection of his theology but as reflecting his emotions – his envy. This one had not purified himself, he was not developing the image likeness of God. Sadly it eventually showed. What specifically prompted Cain’s anger and murder? Cain’s downfall was his obsession with the spiritual standing of his brother, so much so that he murdered him. It’s Cain – perhaps surprisingly – that the Lord identifies in John 8 as the spiritual forebear of the Pharisees and others. They were more intent on defining burdens to be carried instead the more important job of lightening loads and loving each other. Finally the children of Cain killed another righteous Abel for the same reason, because of envy (Mark 15:10)
John shows us the family of God has seen these challenges before. Once again John does NOT conclude that it is our responsibility to judge the Cains in our midst and banish them to the land of Nod. Rather he expects us to anticipate the opposition of the world and the Cains amongst us.
We should not expect the family of God to be one long happy sing-a-long with like-minded individuals. At times it is, and our walk is joyful. Jesus experienced companionship at times but also plenty of disappointments. From Adam onwards the family of God has been a training ground where love is required (rather than love being always easy & automatic).
Love means sacrifice like Jesus 1 John 3:14-18
While the Cains are associated with hatred and death, for such is their end, the faithful are different. We have eternal life for we have “crossed over from death to life” 1 John 3:14. John is echoing the thoughts of the Lord in John 5:24:
the one who hears my message and believes the one who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned, but has crossed over from death to life
It is consistent with the words of Christ, John and Paul to speak of the faithful as alive, having eternal life versus the unbelieving as being dead (see for example Eph 2:5). However, this change in status reflects a change in behaviour. As the Lord did in the sermon on the mount (Matt 5:22), so John equates murder with anger and hatred in 1 John 3:15. However John takes this further and defines love, and by contrast then the hatred. It has been observed that:
Most people associate Christianity with the command to love, and so they think that they know all about Christianity when they have understood its teaching in terms of their own concept of love.27
However the human conception of love is not enough, this is not something popular culture can illustrate for us. John defines love by one demonstration – the sacrifice of Jesus in 1 John 3:16. Jesus gave his life for us, we should give our time, energy and possessions for others (1 John 3:17). Words are cheap, common and have no nutritional value. The trouble makers might talk a good game but how do their actions practically assist the needs of the faithful and the wider world?
So let’s make this uncomfortable. I used to say I had no enemies. Do you have enemies? No? Ok let’s focus on the slightly less than lovely people you know. The individual you hope (for good reason, a shady past or maybe an antisocial doesn’t make it onto the arranging group/committee you’re on or a speaking list – whatever. You may hold the reservations for good moral reasons, or maybe because, like me, the individual doesn’t always play well with others. Try praying for people who are definitely not your enemies, that’s how I discovered perhaps I wasn’t being honest with myself about where some relationships were at. How do we demonstrate love towards these individuals? We don’t retaliate, even when we consider such retaliation measured and disproportionately modest. But restraint is not enough. We need to love, in concrete ways.
John is drawing on the example of Jesus and the laying down of his life. The whole commandment to love each other was given in John 13, in the last supper. In John 13:1 Jesus knew what was coming via Judas, proceeds to wash everyone’s feet – including his betrayer’s feet. This was a humiliating slave job, something no less demeaning then versus now. Yet Jesus did it. The act of love and subsequent self-examination (‘Lord am I the betrayer?’) led to Judas choosing to leave and walk into the night. It was then that Jesus gives the command to love each other in the same way he did John 13:34. Could we wash the feet of those we know wish our harm?
In this context Peter, responding to the news of Jesus imminent departure states he will lay down his life for Jesus (unaware of his upcoming threefold denial). However Jesus does not need us to lay down our life for him through death. He wants us to lay down our lives in service for each other (ala Paul’s living sacrifices in Rom 12:1). Like Peter we need to learn Jesus wants a life laid down by feeding and nurturing all the flock (John 21:15-17).
Jesus gave his life for us, the laying down of our life means practical concrete love to others – not platitudes. We should give our time, energy and possessions for others (1 John 3:17). Words are cheap, common and have no nutritional value. The trouble makers might talk a good game but how do their actions practically assist the needs of the faithful and the wider world? They had plenty to say about doctrine (and their superior grasp of spiritual ideas), doubtless they talked about love too but their actions didn’t warm any cold homes and fill any empty bellies. To the faithful John appeals in v18:
Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue but in deed and truth
Don’t be like them. Be love, real love.
The assurance of a good conscience 1 John 3:19-24
The life laid down in serving others (not speaking at them) is a fundamental confirmation that we are “of the truth” 1 John 3:19. The impact of this should be that we either convince our conscience of our standing before God or reassure our conscience – the Greek is uncertain. In either case this is not the mindset of the self-righteous Pharisee at prayer. John is talking to a congregation who were being belittled and challenged by superior teachers. Their faith and standing before God were being denigrated. Should they hear the accusers and worry about their fellowship with God? No. Their accusing “experts” who were throwing around propositions and misusing the gospel of John, were not to throw the faithful off kilter. John holds out the acts of love as a confidence building object for them in opposition to external voices.
Listen to your conscience. Examine it, challenge it, educate it the ways of God sure. But John holds up our conscience as the authority, not the voice of those claiming authority. John comforts his readers further saying in 1 John 3:20
…God is greater than our conscience and knows all things
Strengthened by an examined conscience, a heart which knows it is trying, we can be confident that “whatever we ask we receive from him” 1 John 5:22 – most especially I guess the forgiveness of our failures. We could though feel inadequate in our sacrifice for others. How can we possibly live up the example of Jesus’ love in laying down our life? For example, we cannot solve the poverty of the world and we know we can always do more. Should we feel overwhelmed with guilt at this? No. When we are unsure because our powers are limited we should have confidence in our all-knowing Father.
AT Robertson wrote:
“It is true that we dread for man, let alone God, to read the inner secrets of our hearts, but the Christian looks on God as all-loving as well as all-knowing, and that makes all the difference. The full grasp of God’s love for us silences the condemnation of our own hearts, for His love is a love that knows all and still loves, a love that gave the highest for us (Jn. 3:16) and that cannot be made to cease loving us (Rom. 8:31–39).28
Finding comfort in this of course requires faith in the character of God. God is not a disinterested detective seeking to find evidence of our failures. He is a loving Father seeking ways to support and save us. His love picks up where our own conscience and confidence fails. Consider the example of Peter who – being pushed by the Lord to consider his love in the context of his awful denial of Christ – eventually declares in John 21:17:
Lord, you know everything. You know that I love you
This is where we want to be – confident that our intentions our known even when our actions are quite contrary to those espoused by God’s children.
We have a twofold instruction summarised in 1 John 3:23 to:
believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he gave us the commandment
This is the key to God engaging and fellowshipping with us. John goes on in v24 to say we need to abide in God – this of course is the language Jesus used in John 15:4 of abiding in him as the vine. Abiding in God’s family means He will abide with us. It means we can produce the fruit of love. A vine branch really has no idea how to make grapes – it is just a consequence of being in the vine. So too with us, empowered by our fellowship with God and His son, working together we can do great things.
If we abide (or reside as some other translations have it), the challenge and the contradictions of the splitters are of no avail. We know we are laying down our lives like our Lord, we know we are sharing his love and building the family likeness. The noise of opposition cannot erase belief or love. In the first century the Spirit gave further temporal witness and assurance – a position perhaps replaced now by the comfort of God’s word although the spirit of Christ is also in evidence in his siblings.
Sadly the community which John wrote to didn’t last long. However the epistles of John provide a template for those who are under similar trials. Although now temporarily asleep, the first audience is one with the current family of faith. Despite the opposition of the world and the works of the evil one the eternal life which we have (along with our siblings in Ephesus) will eventually be made open and plain. Finally we shall perfectly see Jesus as he is and be like him together with all our faith siblings.
- Martin, R. P., & Davids, P. H. (Eds.). (1997). In Dictionary of the later New Testament and its developments (electronic ed., p. 589). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press
- Brown, R. E. (2008). The Epistles of John: translated, with introduction, notes, and commentary (Vol. 30, p. 5). New Haven; London: Yale University Press.
- Carroll, S. T. (1992). Patmos (Place). In D. N. Freedman (Ed.), The Anchor Yale Bible Dictionary (Vol. 5, p. 179). New York: Doubleday.
- Kysar, R. (1992). John, Epistles of. In D. N. Freedman (Ed.), The Anchor Yale Bible Dictionary (Vol. 3, p. 900). New York: Doubleday.
- Haenchen, E., Funk, R. W., & Busse, U. (1984). John: a commentary on the Gospel of John (p. 19). Philadelphia: Fortress Press.
- Smalley, S. S. (1989). 1, 2, 3 John (Vol. 51, p. xxvii). Dallas: Word, Incorporated.
- Kysar, R. (1992). John, Epistles of. In D. N. Freedman (Ed.), The Anchor Yale Bible Dictionary (Vol. 3, p. 901). New York: Doubleday.
- Martin, R. P., & Davids, P. H. (Eds.). (1997). In Dictionary of the later New Testament and its developments (electronic ed., p. 590). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
- Brown, R. E. (2008). The Epistles of John: translated, with introduction, notes, and commentary (Vol. 30, pp. 24–25). New Haven; London: Yale University Press.
- Smalley, S. S. (1989). 1, 2, 3 John (Vol. 51, pp. xxvii–xxviii). Dallas: Word, Incorporated.
- As a matter of interest the expression “pure doctrine” is foreign to the bible, scripturally we are to hold to sound/healthy doctrine or teaching – check the Greek if you are skeptical!
- Thompson, M. M. (1992). 1–3 John. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
- Zodhiates, S. (2000). The complete word study dictionary: New Testament (electronic ed.). Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers.
- Burge, G. M. (1996). Letters of John (p. 145). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.
- Smalley, S. S. (1989). 1, 2, 3 John (Vol. 51, p. 140). Dallas: Word, Incorporated.
- Metzger, B. M., United Bible Societies. (1994). A textual commentary on the Greek New Testament, second edition a companion volume to the United Bible Societies’ Greek New Testament (4th rev. ed.)(p. 642). London; New York: United Bible Societies.
- Richards, E. R., & O’Brien, B. J. (2012). Misreading Scripture with Western Eyes: Removing Cultural Blinders to Better Understand the Bible(p. 99). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
- Schweizer, E., von Martitz, P. W., Fohrer, G., Lohse, E., & Schneemelcher, W. (1964–). υἱός, υἱοθεσία. G. Kittel, G. W. Bromiley, & G. Friedrich (Eds.), Theological dictionary of the New Testament(electronic ed., Vol. 8, p. 342). Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans.
- Biblical Studies Press. (2005). The NET Bible First Edition; Bible. English. NET Bible.; The NET Bible. Biblical Studies Press.
- Jobes, K. H. (2014). 1, 2, & 3 John. (C. E. Arnold, Ed.) (p. 143). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
- Ross, A. (1954). The Epistles of James and John (p. 182). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.
- Burge, G. M. (1996). Letters of John (p. 149). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.
- Ross, A. (1954). The Epistles of James and John (p. 183). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.
- Smalley, S. S. (1989). 1, 2, 3 John (Vol. 51, p. 159). Dallas: Word, Incorporated.
- Jobes, K. H. (2014). 1, 2, & 3 John. (C. E. Arnold, Ed.) (p. 147). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
- Martin, R. P., & Davids, P. H. (Eds.). (1997). In Dictionary of the later New Testament and its developments (electronic ed., p. 592). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
- Marshall, I. H. (1978). The Epistles of John (p. 192). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.
- Ross, A. (1954). The Epistles of James and John (p. 192). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.