The books of fellowship.
Perhaps the same man who wrote a gospel and the man who wrote the book of Revelation also wrote these three small letters. Some think it may have been a different John since he refers to himself as an elder not an Apostle. But as a technicality, the two terms could be used interchangeably given the right circumstance. These were written between 85-95 AD from the city of Ephesus. Although they are grouped together they tend to talk about three different themes and probably were not meant to be grouped together.
The first letter deals with our fellowship with God Himself. This letter has two themes throughout: light versus dark and love versus hate. The second letter deals with our fellowship with false teachers. The third letter deals with our fellowship with other believers. Fellowship is our bond between each other. Bond does not necessarily mean a good thing. The second and third letters are the shortest books in the Bible
John at this time was not the same man he was during the time of his fellowship with Jesus the man. He had stayed in Jerusalem unlike the other Apostles. He stayed because Jesus had told him at the cross to take care of Mary (John 19:25-27). Although he had a few appearances in Acts (all of them with Peter), he is never heard of again after the 8th chapter. That is approximately 35 AD. Paul mentions him in Galatians (49 AD). Peter and James, the other two of the inner circle, had problems. James was martyred in 42 AD and Peter was consistently thrown into prison. John had the duty to take care of Mary on his own. Assumable after Mary had died John then goes on to Ephesus once Jerusalem was destroyed in 70 AD by the Romans and Nero. Tradition says that John dies of old age, perhaps the only one of the 12 that did so. Other books are credited as John but not accepted by the Church.
Some of the main points are:
- What you do in the dark always come out in the light. (1 John 1:6-10)
- Jesus being our advocate is the only way to God (1 John 2:1-2)
- Being children of God has more in store for us than we can comprehend (1 John 3:1-2)
- Love is an action verb (1 John 3:16-18)
- Love is a command (2 John v 5-6)
- Good deeds are a sign of a true believer (3 John v 11)
These books were written to reassure that faith is a real thing. Faith is part of the truth we hold onto and love is part of that faith. There are some side themes in the 3rd letter that talk about hospitality, John was stressing how Christians must walk in the light if we have fellowship. One of the main important ideas written in this set is that truth and love need to go together. Truth without love leads to harshness, yet love without truth leads to insincerity. A Christian should not be alone. We are here for each other. Unfortunately it is also said that Christians are the only army that shoot heir wounded. How can we show love to the world if we do not show love towards one another? Nowhere in history is so much said in so little words. The books of John say it all.