The writer of the book was the Apostle John and was probably written around A.D. 90. The theme of the book is “that ye may know that ye have eternal life” with 1 John 5:13 as it’s theme verse. We also understand that it was written to Christians with many references to “little children.”
According to Scofield, there are two principle divisions in the book of 1 John; “The family relationship with the Father,” and “The family with the world.” In the first three verses, we see that because Jesus took upon flesh and was made in the likeness of men (Philippians 2:5-10), we can now have fellowship with the Father and that our joy can be full. It is a joyful life to serve a living Savior.
In order for the believer to have the fullness of joy, he must live a life separated from sin and the world, and “separated unto the gospel of God.” (Romans 1:1) As Christians, we will still fall. Acts of sin will still occur in our lives. The joy of our salvation may be temporarily lost, but our salvation never lost. Our fellowship with the Father would be hindered, and the Holy Spirit quenched, but we remain His “little children.” 1 John 1:9 is a powerful, and comforting verse; “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Our joy and fellowship can be restored with Christ, our advocate.
In chapter two, we see that as children of God, though undeserving of His love, He did love us and we should also love one another. We are also warned not to love the world or the things that are in the world. The world is temporal, but the love of our Father is eternal. And beginning in verse 18 of chapter two, we see the warnings against false teachers that would deny the deity of Christ, and finish the chapter by knowing how fellow Christians can know one another. I like to illustrate with the fact that it is not a natural thing for me to love others. However, as a born again believer, with the power of the Holy Spirit, and the fruits being evident in my life; I can now love show compassion, and truly care for others. These fruits are only of the Spirit of God.
In chapter three, we begin to see that those that are able to live in continuous sin, unrepentant, and un-remorseful, were never truly born again. If a child of God sins, several things take place within that individual. First, they feel guilt and the lose of joy in their salvation. Second, if they continue a while in sin without confession and repentance, the Lord will chasten those He loves. Thirdly, if a Christian remains too long in sin, the Lord will take him home early, a premature death.
In conclusion, as “little children,” we have fellowship with the Father because of Christ. We have joy and purpose because of the love of God, therefore we should also love one another. We should not love the world, or sin; but rather reckon that we have a heavenly citizenship and are constantly being conformed the to the image of Christ. Because of this, we have confidence that we are the children of God, and we abide in Him, and He in us.