1 John 1:1-4 Discussion Guide
Certainty Discussion: (pick and choose from the following questions)
Describe a time when you were certain of something and turned out to be wrong. What are you certain of now? What do you feel like you ought to be more certain of, but are not? How does reading news, personal experiences, hearing opposing views affect what you are certain of? What does it mean to be certain?
Theme Discussion: A central them of John’s letters is certainty. We cannot simply dismiss his certainty as being naive or not “modern.” He lived in a world where personally and culturally there was much uncertainty. John’s certainty was directed related to his experience with Jesus Christ. What makes our current historical setting feel uncertain?
Read: 1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life— 2 the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us— 3 that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. 4 And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.
Q1: There will be many more statements of certainty in his letter but from this opening passage where do you find some of his sources or reasons for certainty?
Who was John Discussion:
-He was one of Christ’s closest friends (along with James, Peter).
-He was a fisherman.
-He was called a “Son of Thunder.”
-He was a pillar in the early church.
-Jesus, from the cross, asked him to take care of his mother.
-He wrote the gospel of John, three letters, and Revelation.
Q2: How do these facts of John’s life help us understand his certainty and why we should take him seriously as a subject matter expert on Jesus?
The Three Tests Discussion:
John gives three “tests” of knowing whether you are born again. These are: Theological (right doctrine or truth about who Jesus is), Moral (right lifestyle of holiness that aligns with Jesus), Social (right relationships that indicate we are living in line with God’s love).
Q3: How should we avoid trying to apply these tests to others in order to judge them? How can we use these tests to help others and ourselves evaluate our growth in Christlikeness?
Koinonia Discussion: John equates fellowship with salvation – fellowship with God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the church. Fellowship is translated from the Greek word “koinonia.” Fellowship, for most people, doesn’t create a mental image that corresponds to what koinonia is. Fellowship for most people is surface-level interaction. Friendly, fun, but not deep. If you are familiar with the Lord of the Rings, Tolkien called the ones tasked with saving middle earth as the “fellowship of the ring.” They were diverse, but joined together in an epic mission. Their relationship would be forged in difficulty, triumph, suffering…life lived together. Our fellowship with the Triune God and his body, the church is a shared life. It is deep communion, joint participation. There is nothing surface about it.
Q4: How closely does your relationship with God resemble “koinonia”? Why or why not?
Q5: How closely does your relationship with Christians in your Church resemble “koinonia?”? Why or why not?
Q6: How is certainty connected to “koinonia”? How can growth in this kind of covenant closeness to God and to one another also grow your certainty of faith?