Ever experience doubts as to the truth behind your faith? You’re not alone. Sometime after John wrote his gospel, some members of the church had subscribed to certain beliefs about the person and work of Christ that were unacceptable to John and other church fathers. These new beliefs involved a denial that Jesus was the Christ come in the flesh, (4:2-3) and that his death was necessary for the forgiveness of sins (5:6-7). A sharp disagreement arose which resulted in the secession of those who embraced these new and heretical views. (2:1-9) In the resulting confusion among believers loyal to the Gospel, the believers began to question whether they really knew God, were experiencing eternal life, and whether they were really in the truth.
Of course this is not just a 1st century phenomenon. False teaching about God and Jesus abounds today as well, and it may create confusion and doubt among the strongest believers. John writes to reinforce the assurance of all believers by providing us with the criteria to evaluate false claims, and thus be reassured that we are standing on the truth. “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.” (5:13).
The First Letter of John: Assurance Series