Problem: Christ is being denied as the only access to the Father and to eternal life.
Solution: The Apostle reassures the believing readers of the Apostolic doctrine by arguing that the antagonists themselves do not have access to the Father through their works.
Theology: The Apostle teaches the readers that fellowship with God is possible only through Christ, the Son of God.
Main Issue: Access to the Father is unattainable by works.
I. The revelation of life has been passed on from God through Jesus, through the Apostles, to believers (1.1-4)
The Apostle employs an interesting literary progression in the first few verses of the letter. He first acknowledges that life originates with the Father. He then demonstrates that the life was manifest in Christ and that the Apostles occupied a front-row seat to this phenomenon. The Apostles, in turn, are proclaiming to fellow-believers—children of God—what was made manifest to them.
II. The Old Testament pointed to Jesus as the promised Son (1.5-3.24)
The commandment from the beginning has remained the same: Believe and love (3.23). So then, access to the Father has never been through works, but by faith grounded in the Revelation. Since the Son has come from the Father as the fullest expression of that Revelation, belief in Him is essential.
A. Light and darkness represent one’s acceptance (light) or denial (darkness) of the Old Testament Revelation of Jesus (1.5-2.11)
B. The readers have acknowledged the Revelation that Jesus is the Christ, and are encouraged to continue to believe in spite of the Antagonists’ deception (2.12-28)
C. The readers are encouraged to follow the Old Testament code of purity and righteousness evidenced in loving one another (2.29-3.24)
III. The Apostle and the Spirit bear witness that Jesus is indeed the Christ (4.1-5.12)
The Apostle, an eyewitness of Christ’s ministry, challenges the antagonist’s suggestion that Jesus was not the Christ. Jesus is the Son of God, and the Apostle has been sent to proclaim that message. Furthermore, the Spirit validates the Sonship of Christ and testifies within the believer of this reality.
A. Believers in Christ acknowledge the Apostolic witness (4.1-6)
B. Believers in Christ love one another out of gratefulness to God in sending His Son (4.7-21)
C. Believers overcome Satan, the world, and sin through Christ (5.1-5)
D. Believers have received the Spirit who testifies to Jesus (5.6-12)
IV. The Apostle offers final exhortations (5.13-21)
The Apostle declares that the believer can exercise confidence in Christ and His work in his behalf. He closes the letter with a brief description of the benefits of belief in Christ.
A. The believer can be confident that his sins are forgiven (5.13-17)
B. The believer can be confident that he has eternal life (5.18-21)