Welcome to the Bible Reading Plan! We are so glad you are joining us as we read through three short, but powerful New Testament books: 1, 2, and 3 John. Each day, you will read one chapter of the Bible followed by a short devotional, answer a few questions, and if you want, record any observations or insights using the interactive comments section. We believe God will use this resource to grow our knowledge and affection for Him. We know God’s Word does not return void (Isaiah 55:11). Sign up with a friend, your Life Group, or your family, and let’s dig in!
Make sure to download our Harris Creek App and turn on push notifications, or visit us at biblereadingplan.org and sign up to receive the BRP in your inbox. Also, don’t forget to follow us on Instagram (@harriscreek) for some fun, creative ways to interact with the readings.
Let’s Go, Church!
1, 2, and 3 John are three different books attributed to the same author: the Apostle John. John, at this time, was overseeing a network of churches around Asia Minor (modern-day Turkey). Likely written somewhere between 80-95 AD, he was trying to address a crisis that had hit the first century church. There had been a recent exodus of believers who claimed Jesus wasn’t actually the Messiah or the son of God, so John put pen to paper in order to reassure these Christians that they could remain confident in the faith. The result is what we know today as the books of 1, 2, and 3 John.
While the titles are similar, there are some distinct differences between these books. For example, 1 John isn’t as much of a letter as it is a long piece of prose with a more general audience. Unlike some of Paul’s letters that were written to a specific congregation (Romans, Philippians, Ephesians, etc.), this one is more general in scope and appears to have been written for multiple of the congregations John was responsible for shepherding.
On the other hand, the next two books are more like traditional letters. While 2 John is phrased as if it’s written to a particular woman, it is likely written to an entire church (although it could have been written to a woman and her family). John’s purpose in writing this book was to warn of the deceivers who tell falsehoods about the life of Jesus. His third and final letter was written even more specifically to a man named Gaius, an early church leader. The book of 3 John is full of instructions for him on how to be hospitable to others and pursue Truth.
As we read, remember to keep a journal handy. Grab a highlighter. Underline verses. Circle words that stand out. Commit these words to memory! While these three books are short, they are packed with truth that can help us further pursue Jesus with all that we are.
Read 1 John 1
The Incarnation of the Word of Life
1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. 2 The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. 3 We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. 4 We write this to make our joy complete.
Light and Darkness, Sin and Forgiveness
5 This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. 6 If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.
8 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.
The opening chapter of 1 John lays the foundation for the entire book. John’s focus here isn’t on converting people to the faith. Instead, this letter is written to inspire confidence and reassure a group of believers who need to be reminded of what is true. The churches around Asia Minor were in turmoil after losing a number of people who had ultimately rejected the deity of Christ. As he mentions in the very beginning of this letter, John is able to provide a firsthand account of the life and ministry of Jesus. He saw it, he experienced it, and he wants to share those experiences with his readers.
The central theme of this passage is walking in the light (v. 7). John presents a binary choice here: We can either walk in the light or walk in the darkness. If we claim to be followers of Christ, but our lives, words, and actions don’t reflect that, then we are living in the darkness. If we consume the pleasures and comforts of the world and our lives aren’t bearing fruit (see John 15), then we may not be in fellowship with God. It’s a sobering thought, but that’s exactly why John said it.
So what does it mean to walk in the light? Fortunately for us, John gives us the answer. Step one is to acknowledge that we are sinful and have fallen short of the standard God set. He says that those who claim to be sinless are only deceiving themselves (v. 9). Step two is to confess those sins because “He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (v. 9). This is why confession of sin is so important.
If we act like we have it all together all of the time, we’re only fooling ourselves (but we’re definitely not fooling God). Confession within the context of a biblical community also provides us with the accountability we need to continue to pursue righteousness at all costs. Because of the gospel, we are able to live lives free of sin and condemnation and have right standing with God. That’s what it means to live in the light.
- Where are you currently bearing fruit in your life?
- 1 John 1 tells us that God is faithful to forgive our sins. Is it difficult for you to believe that God actually forgives all of your sins? Why or why not?
- Is confession of sin a regular part of your life? How has that led to freedom from sin?
“The more isolated a person is, the more destructive will be the power of sin over him, and the more deeply he becomes involved in it, the more disastrous is his isolation. Sin wants to remain unknown. It shuns the light. In the darkness of the unexpressed it poisons the whole being of a person. This can happen even in the midst of a pious community. In confession the light of the Gospel breaks into darkness and seclusion of the heart.”
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together