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1 John 1





Today we start a brand new book: 1 John.  I am not sure how familiar you are with this.  So, I thought I might give you just a little background before we dive into chapter one.

The author of 1 John also authored The Gospel According to John, 2 John, 3 John, and Revelation.  He is one of the more prolific New Testament writers.  Another interesting thing about this guy is that he referred to himself as the “one whom Jesus loved” two different times in The Gospel According to John. (John 13:23; John 21:20)  When we first encounter this identification, I think it kind of chaffs.  It would be one thing for someone else to say that John was the disciple whom Jesus loved.  But the only place we find this is in John’s own writing.  John is actually saying this about himself.

Honestly, I think our first response is more like “that’s egotistical” or “who does he think he is”.  But if we can get past that weird emotion, there is a great truth here.  First, we need to agree that Jesus did indeed love John.  So, John was actually accurate when he described himself that way.  Second, Jesus loves us in the same way.  So, it would be just as accurate for us to describe ourselves this same way.

I suspect we could be egotistical or arrogant with this.  But we could just as easily be very accurate.  Jesus does love us.  If we ever got that figured out, that would change everything.

As John opens this letter, he is intent on making sure we know that Jesus is real.  He talks about the physical encounters he had with Jesus.  He speaks of the fact that God has gone above and beyond to make Jesus “manifest” which means openly known.  Think about this.  God’s purpose in sending Jesus to this earth was that we might know Him.  

From there John goes on to talk about fellowship.  This is an interesting word.  Typically, we Baptists think you have to have fried chicken to have a fellowship.  But the original word, Koinonia, actually refers to sharing life together.  In many places, it is actually translated partnership.

John talks about the opportunity we have to share life with and be partners with God the Father and Jesus the Son.  That is a staggering thought.  God doesn’t need us.  He can do whatever He chooses completely by Himself.  He is in need of nothing or no one.  But He has chosen to share His life with us through Jesus.  And He has called us to partner with Him in the work of the Gospel.  

John also talks about how that fellowship creates fellowship between believers.  Christ followers have much in common.  We believe in one God.  We believe in one Son, Jesus.  We believe in one way to salvation: Jesus.  There is much that connects us.  

But we must never forget that the thing that connects us at the deepest point is that as Christ followers, we are called and equipped to share life together.  We get to be partners as we move through this life.  Space does not permit me to write about this here, but I would encourage you to do a study of the “one another” statements in the New Testament.  We really do get the incredible opportunity to go through life with other Christ followers.  And that’s pretty cool.

Posted by Joe Ligon with






I have no way of knowing how much you know about this short book/letter that was written by Paul to a man named Philemon.  It doesn’t get a lot of publicity for some reason but it really is a theologically rich book.  Let me give you a little background and then we will look at some really cool theology.

When Paul wrote this book/letter, he was a prisoner in Rome.  He wrote to a dear friend of his, Philemon, who lived in Colossae.  The human link between these two was a runaway slave name Onesimus.  

It appears that Onesimus may have robbed his master, Philemon, and ran off to Rome to get lost in the crowd.  It is estimated that there were possibly tens of millions of slaves in the Roman Empire at this time and there would have been an untold number of slaves that had escaped their masters.  So, it would have been an easy thing for a runaway slave like Onesimus to get lost in the crowd.

Through God’s amazing providence, Onesimus met Paul in Rome.  And Paul led him to the Lord.  Much of the rest of the letter has to do with whether Philemon should allow Onesimus to stay with Paul and help him or whether Paul should Onesimus back to Philemon.  There all kinds of social issues at play in the decision that would have had far reaching implications.

I want you to skip down to verse 17.  Here Paul says to Philemon that whatever Onesimus owes should be charged to Paul’s account.  And Paul promised to take that debt upon himself and pay it.  Now let’s use this and let me help you walk through some theology.

First, notice that Paul did not suggest Philemon ignore the Onesimus’ crimes or forget about the debt that he owed.  Instead Paul assured Philemon it would all be paid. 

It takes more than love to solve this problem.  Love must pay a price.  God does not save us by His love.  He loves the whole world but the whole world is not going to be saved.  God saves us by His grace which is love that is willing to pay a price, love that is willing to make a sacrifice.

Our sin created a huge debt that we could not repay, not in a million years.  So, Jesus went to the cross and died for our sin, paying that debt for us.  

This is what is called imputation.  To impute means to put on account.  When Jesus hung on the cross my sins were put on His account and He paid the debt of my sins which is death.  When I accepted Jesus as my Savior, His righteousness was put on my account.  

At that point, Jesus can say to the Father, receive this one as you receive me because I have paid his debt.  In verse 17, Paul challenged Philemon to receive Onesimus as he would receive Paul.

Wowzers!  My sin was put on Jesus’ account.  Jesus’ righteousness was put on my account.  And now God receives me as He received Jesus. 

What a Savior!  What a glorious Savior!

Posted by Joe Ligon with

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