Authentic Faith

Discovering Genuine Christianity

9 studies for individuals and groups from First John

A first century letter to 21st century Christians


The Apostle John is an older man when he writes this letter - First John.  All of the other original 12 disciples are dead.  For about sixty years John witnessed the amazing growth of the church but also saw some of the defections, participated in discussions on issues that threatened to divide the church and he had taught against false teachings/teachers.

John is compelled by God to write this important letter.  There is an urgent need to ensure the church remains true to the teachings of Jesus and his gospel.  It is vital that all Christians in every generation clearly understand what is the heart/core of the Christian faith and grasp/comprehend the nature of the Christian gospel.

In his letter, the Apostle John distils for us in a series of black and white statements the essence of the Christian Gospel:  Jesus is the son of God;  Jesus is the Christ/Messiah;  Jesus is God come in the flesh;  Jesus is the true God and eternal life;  Jesus is the propitiation/atonement for our sins, and not only ours, but also for the sins of the whole world;  God is love;  God is light.

Then there are a series of black and white statements about our response to the Christian Gospel: 

"If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us" [1 John 1:8]; 

"The man who says, 'I know Jesus,' but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him" [1 John 2:4];

“Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him” [1 John 2:15];

“He who does what is sinful is of the devil” [1 John 3:8];

“This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God; nor is anyone who does not love his brother” [1 John 3:10];

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” [1 John 1:9].

  • Make a list of all the things John writes about God: God the father, Jesus/Christ/Son of God and the Holy Spirit
  • Make a list of all the things that genuine Christians do/say
  • Make a list of all the things non-Christians do/say
  • Make a list of all the warnings John gives
  • Underline each time John uses the word love, or light, or darkness

Dr Keith Graham (ed)

Sample of an Individual Study

PERSONAL SELF STUDY #2   I John 1:5-2:2  Facing up to truth    

This is a Bible reference.  A Bible reference identifies which Bible book, in this case 1 John; the chapter in the book [1 John chapter 1] and the verses/sentences in the chapter [1 John chapter 1 verses 1 to 4].  It may help you to use a modern version like the New International Version of the Bible.

Read 1 John 1:5-2:2

(1)   What is the main point of these verses?  Notice how John calls them 'my dear children'

(2)   If we say we have fellowship with God, what evidence will show that our claim is true or false

(3)   "God is light . . .in him is no darkness" verse 5.  What do these statements tell us about God?  List as many characteristics of light as you can.

(4)   "If we confess our sins" verse 9.  Define "sins" and what does it mean to confess our sins?  How does God respond to our confession to him?

(5)   On what basis does God forgive us?  See chapter 2:2

(6)   From these verses in 1 John 1:5-2:2 what have you learned about yourself?

Sample of a Small Group session

SMALL GROUP STUDY #3  1 John 2:3-17 The Christian and the World

Read 1 John 2:3-17 

(1)   People use the expression 'my pet hatred'.  What is your pet hatred?

(2)   What types of people do you find it easier to have a concern for and others you really do not care about at all?  Why?

(3)   List some TV commercials, or sit-coms, or films, or plays, that portray the opposite of what Christ wants us to be? What is their actual message?

(4)   In what ways can we evaluate a person's claim to “know God”?

(5)   Verse 3 speaks of “obeying commandments” and verse 5 “obey His Word.”  Is there a difference between these?  Why or why not? 

(6)   In what areas or things do you struggle to obey God's command, obey God's word? List some of the commands you have read in 1 John up to this point.

(7)   If light and love are the opposite of darkness and hate what does this imply about relating to God?


(8)   Often we focus on ways we fall short of God's will for us.  Think about some of the ways God's nature is reflected in you. List these characteristics and thank God for them.

(9)   When John writes ‘we ought to walk as he walked’ 2:6. Who is being referred to and what does this mean for us?  How do we follow this model?

(10)   John gives us the key to being strong as a Christian.  What is the key and what do you suggest we can do to become 'strong' as a Christian?

(11)   What is one specific way John’s letter challenges you to improve your relationship with God?  How will you try to do that this week?

Group Caring - Opportunity for participants to share praise/prayer points and pray for one another. Jot down the prayer/praise points here and use them to pray for each other as you do the questions for the next study.

To purchase a copy of the Study Guide on First John click on the link below and follow the prompts

Authentic Faith - Discovering Genuine Christianity