FIRST EPISTLE GENERAL OF JOHN.
Concerning the apostle and evangelist John, to whom this epistle, (or treatise rather,) as well as the gospel which bears his name, has been justly ascribed by all the earliest and best Christian writers without hesitation, see the preface to his gospel. Indeed, that the same person was the author of both works, is evident from the similarity, or rather sameness, of the sentiments and expressions which runs through them both. A great many instances of this are enumerated by Dr. Macknight in his preface to this epistle, a few of which shall be here mentioned.
1 John 1:1, That which was from the beginning, — ο εθεασαμεθα, which we have looked upon concerning the word of life.
1 John 2:6, He who saith he abideth in him, ought himself to walk even as he walked.
1 John 2:8, A new commandment I write unto you.
1 John 3:11, This is the message, that we should love one another.
1 John 2:10, He that loveth, &c., abideth in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him.
1 John 3:8, He who committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning.
1 John 4:9, In this was manifested the love of God, &c., that God sent his only-begotten Son, &c., that we might live through him. 1 John 4:12, No man hath seen God at any time.
1 John 5:13, These things have I written to you who believe, &c., that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe, &c.
John 1:1, In the beginning was the Word. — John 1:14, And, εθεασαμεθα, we beheld his glory. — John 1:4, In him was life.
John 15:4, Abide in me and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, &c., no more can ye except ye abide in me.
John 13:34, A new commandment I give unto you That ye love one another, as I have loved you.
John 11:10, If a man walk in the night, he stumbleth, because there is no light in him.
John 8:44, Ye are of your father the devil; he was a murderer from the beginning.
John 3:16, God so loved the world, that he gave his only- begotten Son, that whosoever believeth, &c., might have everlasting life.
John 1:18, No man hath seen God at any time.
John 20:3, These things are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, &c., and that believing ye might have life through his name.
Various have been the opinions respecting the persons to whom this epistle was addressed. The most probable seems to be, that the apostle did not write to any particular church, but to all the Christians of that age, and in them, to the whole Christian Church in all succeeding ages. As to the time when the epistle was written there is the same uncertainty. Some indeed conclude, from 1 John 2:18; 1 John 4:1, compared with Matthew 24:24, that it was written a little before the destruction of Jerusalem; but several others fix the date at A.D. 90, 91, or 92. There are, however, many reasons for thinking that it was written before the Revelation. In the style of this apostle there is a remarkable peculiarity, and especially in this epistle. His sentiments, considered separately, are exceeding clear and intelligible; but when we search for their connection, we frequently meet with greater difficulties than we do in the epistles of Paul. The principal characteristic of his manner is an artless and amiable simplicity, and a singular modesty and candour, in conjunction with a wonderful sublimity of sentiment. His conceptions are apparently delivered to us in the order in which they arose in his own mind, and are not the product of artificial reasoning or laboured investigations.
His leading design is, “to demonstrate the vanity of faith separate from morality; to sooth and refine the warm and over-zealous tempers of the Christians to whom he writes, into that amiable charity and love, for which he himself was so eminent and illustrious; and to guard and arm them against the snares and efforts of antichrist, the grand apostate and seducer, and of all who were endued with his spirit.”