2011-11-06 - 1st John
The Epistles of John ~ Part 1
Glenn Barker notes that unlike Paul's writings, there is very little internal detail to use as a basis for developing a background to the epistle. As a result the only information we have is early church tradition. This is not best source material, but nevertheless should be considered.
The text does give a clear picture of the John's concern over a growing schism within the Christian community. Individuals had broken away from the local body. These people were endeavoring to pull believers away from the church. The differences between the two groups related to disagreement over the Sonship of Christ, and rejection of Christ's coming in the flesh. These divergent teachings also denied the authority of Christ's commands and personal sinfulness. Additionally, other teachings of the Apostles were rejected. We will be examining these as we study the letter.
John, in his arguments, seems to be speaking against a specific group of teachers. This sect could have been espousing a heresy identified as Gnosticism. Certainly much of what was taught by Gnostics is consistent with what John was speaking against. This system was not well defined, but was ...
"... characterized by belief in the evil of matter, in mediating beings, and in salvation through knowledge." 2
Understanding these points, it becomes clear why this group would reject the Incarnation.