The First Epistle of John

Early Millennium American (EMA) Version

 

1 1 THAT which was from the beginning, THAT which was from the beginning in preeminence, THAT which was from the beginning in preeminence of authority—THAT’s what we heard, THAT’s what we beheld with our eyes, THAT’s what we gazed upon and discerned with our eyes, and THAT’s what our hands reached out to touch (and we did touch): the Word of life— 2 And the Life was revealed in our sight, and we saw and testify because we are charged to declare to you the Eternal Life Who was with the Father and was revealed to us— 3 THAT which we saw and which we heard, we announce it so that you may have fellowship with us—and this fellowship we have is with the Father and with the Son Jesus Christ! 4 And we write this to make our joy complete.

 

5 And this is the message that we heard from Him and announce to you: that God is light and there is no darkness in Him at all. 6 If we should say that we have fellowship with Him but the conduct of our life is characterized by moral darkness, we deceive ourselves and we’re living a lie. 7 But if we conduct our lives so that we are continually exposing ourselves to the light of God, we have fellowship with the Truth and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. 8 If we say that we don’t have sin, we lead ourselves astray and the truth is not in us. 9 If we agree with God about how we fail to live up to His standard of righteousness and that we are morally guilty because of it, then He is faithful and just to dismiss our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say that we have no sin, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us. 2 1 My children, I write these things to you so that you don’t sin.  But if anyone does sin, we have Jesus Christ the Righteous One who pleads our case before the Father. 2 That is, He turns away the wrath of God, which is on us because of our sin, and he causes the favor of God to shine on us because of His blood sacrifice.  He does this not exclusively just for us, but for anyone.

 

3 And this is how we know we have come to know Him: if we obey His commands.

4 The person who says he knows Him, but does not obey His commands is a liar and the truth is not in him. 5 Truly, God’s love is maturing in the one who obeys His word.  This is how we know that we are in Him: 6 The one who claims to remain/dwell in Him (Jesus), ought to walk as He walked. 7 Beloved, I am not writing a new command, but an old command of the highest authority that you have had from the very first; this old command is the word (or Word) which you have heard. 8 But in one sense, there is something new about this old command, which is now evident in Him and in you: and that is that the darkness is passing away and the true light is already now shining.

9 Anyone saying that he is in the light, but hating his brother, is still in the darkness.

10 Anyone devotedly and sacrificially loving his brother remains/dwells in the light and there is no cause of stumbling in him. 11 But anyone who hates his brother is in darkness and walks in darkness and is clueless because the darkness blinds him.

 

12 I write to you, little children, because, to protect the reputation of Jesus’ name, your propensity to sin has been forgiven and dismissed. 13 I write to you, fathers, because you have come to know the One who has been from the beginning in the position of preeminent authority.  I write to you, young men [soldiers of the faith], because you have had victory over evil. 14 I have written to you, children, because you have come to know the Father.  I have written to you, fathers, because you have come to know the One who has been from the beginning in the position of preeminent authority.  I have written to you, young men [soldiers of the faith], because you are powerful and the word of God remains/dwells in you and you have had victory over the evil one.

 

15 Do not be devoted to the world, nor the things of the world.  The love of the Father is not in the person who is devoted to the world.  16 Because all the things of the world (the lustful cravings of your body, the lustful desire to see things you shouldn’t be looking at, and the tendency to have an ostentatious lifestyle) are not from the Father, but are of the world. 17 Know this: the world and its lustful cravings are passing away, but the person who does the will of God remains forever. 18 Dear children, do not wait any longer to engage in spiritual battle.  As you have heard, the antichrist is on the move; and now many antichrists have arisen which is how we know that it is time for us to engage.

19 They went out from us, but actually, they were never really part of us.  The fact that they did not remain with us discloses to us that they were never really a part of us.

 

20 Also, you have an anointing from the Holy One so you all can discern the truth about these matters. 21 I write to you to remind you that because you know the truth (or Truth), you can spot false doctrine because it doesn’t look like the truth (or Truth). 22 False doctrine contradicts that Jesus is the Christ; this is the antichrist that denies the Father and the Son. 23 Anything that contradicts or denies the Son has no part in the Father. The person whose message lines up with the Son’s message, does have the Father. 24 As for you, THAT (which you heard) that was from the beginning in the preeminence of authority, THAT must remain in you!  If THAT which was from the beginning in the preeminence of authority (which you have heard) remains in you, then you remain in the Son and in the Father. 25 And this is the promise we have that He Himself promised to us:  eternal life. 26 These things I have written to you concerning those who would lead you astray. 27 And as for you, the anointing you received from Him actively remains/dwells in you so that you do not need anyone to teach you [about Him].  His anointing should teach you everything (and it is true, and doesn’t lie).  In the same way that His anointing teaches you, remain in Him. 28 And now, little children, remain in Him so that when He appears, we should have boldness, and not shame, in His presence. 29 If you are able to recognize what righteousness is (because Jesus is righteous and you know Jesus), then you will also be able to recognize those who are born of Him because they will exhibit the righteousness of Jesus. 

 

3  1 Do you see what amazing love the Father has given to us?  We are called the children of God—and it’s true, we are!  The reason the world doesn’t know us is because the world doesn’t know Him.  2 Beloved ones, we are already children of God, but we still don’t see all that we will become.  We know that if He appears, we will be like Him because we will see Him as He is.  3 And those who are expecting this (to become like Him when He appears) are being purified as He is pure. 

4 Whoever conducts his life in order to fall short of God’s righteous standard, sins and is breaking God’s laws; for sin is lawlessness.  5 Furthermore, you know that the reason He came into this world was to carry away sin (our sin, because there is no sin in Him). 

6 Anyone who remains in Him is not falling short of God’s standard of righteousness.  Anyone whose primary life motivation is characterized by falling short of God’s standard of righteousness [like he prefers things that way] does not recognize Jesus nor does he know Jesus.  7 My Dear Children, let no one deceive you about this:  Do you understand what makes Jesus righteous?  Well, if that same righteousness characterizes a person’s life, then that person is righteous.  8 The person who conducts his life in order to fall short of God’s righteous standard is of the devil because this sort of lifestyle proceeds from the Devil who sits in the highest position of authority over the sinful realm.  The Son of God appeared so that He might break this satanic bondage.  9 Everyone who is born of God is not primarily motivated to fall short of God’s righteous standard because the seed of God remains/dwells/abides in him [i.e.—like we are embryos fertilized with the Holy Spirit] and is not able to have the primary motivation to fall short of God’s righteous standard—because he has been born of God.

 

10 This is how you can tell the difference between the children of God and the children of the devil: Everyone who is not living in righteousness is not of God, and he is not devotedly and sacrificially loving other Christians.  11 For we have heard this message from the Originator of all authority to get us to love each other devotedly and sacrificially, 12 not like Cain, who was of the evil one, and happily slew his brother.  And what are we to learn from this?  That his works were evil, but the works of his brother were righteous. 

 

13 My brothers, don’t be surprised if the world hates you.  14 We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we devotedly and sacrificially love the brethren [our brothers and sisters in Christ]; the one who does not devotedly and sacrificially love remains/dwells in death.  15 Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer and you know that no murderer has eternal life remaining/dwelling in him.  16 By this we know what devoted and sacrificial love is: He laid down His life for us; and so too we ought to lay down our life for our brothers and sisters in Christ.  17 If anyone has the worldly necessities of life and sees that his brother is in real need of them, but refuses to have compassion for him, how can God’s love dwell/remain/abide in him?  18 Dear children, let’s not just say that we love, but let’s really do it.

 

19 & 20. We can tell that we are from the Truth when we realize that God, who is greater than our heart and knows everything, does not condemn even when we feel like condemning.[*]  21 Beloved, if we do not have a condemning heart, then we are at peace before God. 

 

22 There are some things we will need in order to do what He asks us to do and so we can do what is pleasing in His sight—we should ask Him for those things and then take them up from Him.  23 And this is what He asks of us:  (1) that we rely on the name and reputation of His Son Jesus Christ, and (2) that we devotedly and sacrificially love the brethren [our brothers and sisters in Christ] as He has charged us to do.  24 Whoever does what He charges us to do remains/abides/dwells in Him and He in them.  And by the outworking of the [Holy] Spirit, Whom He gave to be in us—we know by This Spirit that He [Jesus] remains in us.

 

4       1 Beloved, do not rely on every spirit or new idea you come across, but investigate each one to see if it’s from God, because many false prophets [and deceiving philosophers] have gone out into the world.   2 And this is how you can know that a particular spirit or new idea is from God:  a spirit or new idea is from God if it lines up with the priorities and intents of the reasons for Jesus Christ coming down here to be a real human being.  3 And in contrast, any spirit or new idea that does not line up with all the consequences of the fact that Jesus is from God—that spirit or new idea is from the antichrist (which, as I have written above, is coming and is even now already in the world). 

4 You are from God, dear children, and you have already overcome these spirits and new ideas from the antichrist, because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.  5 These antichristal spirits and new ideas are from the world, and therefore when they babble on, the world listens to them.  6 We are of God.  Whoever knows God resonates with the truth that we speak.  Whoever is not of God finds that the truth we speak clashes with what they believe.  That’s how we can tell the difference between the spirit of truth and the spirit of error. 

7 Beloved, we should devotedly and sacrificially love each other because that kind of love is from God and everyone who loves like that is born of God and knows God.  8 The one who does not devotedly and sacrificially love, does not know God, because God is that kind of love.  9 And how do we know that God loves us?  Because He sent His only begotten Son into this world so that we would be made alive through Him.  10 Don’t be misled into thinking that real love is us devotedly and sacrificially loving God.  The definition of real love is this:  God loved us by sending His Son to be the blood sacrifice that changed the wrath of God into eternal favor toward us.  11 Beloved, since God has sacrificially loved us like this, then we are obligated to devotedly and sacrificially love each other.  12 No one has ever yet gazed upon God; but if we devotedly and sacrificially love each other, then God dwells/abides/remains in us and His love comes to full fruition in us. 

13 This is how we know that we remain/abide/dwell in Him and He in us: because He has given to us of His [Holy] Spirit.  14 Furthermore, we have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son to be the Savior of the world.  15 If the way your life is lived proclaims that Jesus is the Son of God, then God abides/dwells/remains in you and you in God. 

16 We have come to know, and have come to rely on, the devoted and sacrificial love God has for us.  As a matter of fact, God is that kind of devoted and sacrificial love, so whoever’s life is full of (is characterized by) that kind of devoted and sacrificial love, that person continually abides/dwells/remains in God and God abides/dwells/remains in him. 

17 And so, even as we live in this world, because God abides/dwells/remains in us and we in Him, we live in full confidence that we do not face judgment [for how we live].  

18 The kind of love that is devoted to the welfare of others and sacrificially gives to them—fear has no place in that kind of love.  As that kind of love matures, it squeezes out fear because fear comes from a spirit of condemnation and punishment, not a spirit of love.  The process of fearing is just not allowed to complete itself in an environment of devoted and sacrificial love.  19 Because He was lovingly devoted to us and lovingly sacrificed himself for us, so then we are lovingly devoted to, and sacrificially loving [of others].  20 If someone should say that he deeply loves God, yet hates his fellow Christian, he is a liar.  For if someone does not devotedly and sacrificially love a Christian brother or sister whom he can see, that someone is not even able to deeply love God whom he cannot see.  21 God gives us this charge: if we are going to deeply love Him, then we must also devotedly and sacrificially love our Christian brother/sister.

 

5  1 Everyone who lives his life in reliance on the truth that Jesus is the Christ, that person has been born of God.  And everyone who deeply loves God should devotedly and sacrificially love the one who is born of God.  2 When we love God and carry out those things He has charged us to do, then that’s how we know that we really do devotedly and sacrificially love God’s children. 3 And so we see that this is truly a desired outcome of God’s love: that we do not find it a bit burdensome to delight in keeping those things he has charged us to do. 4 Our reliance on God is the key principle to us having victory in overcoming the [temptations and evils of this] world.  5 So, who overcomes the world?  The one who relies on Jesus being the Son of God. 

 

6 Jesus Christ is the One who went through the water and the blood—not the water only, but the water and the blood.  And the [Holy] Spirit is the one who was testifying of this—and we know that the [Holy] Spirit is the Truth.  7 & 8 There are three things that testify to this (and they are all in agreement): (1) the witness of the [Holy] Spirit, (2) the water, and (3) the blood. [†]

                                                                                                                

9 If we give credibility to the opinions and beliefs of men, then doesn’t it make even more sense that we should give more credibility to what God says?  So, we need to pay attention to what God has said about His Son.  10 Whoever relies on the Son of God demonstrates that he really does give credibility to what God says.  But the person who does not do so is calling God a liar because he goes against the truth of God.  11 And this is specifically what God has said to us, “Eternal life is in My Son and I give this eternal life to you.  12 The person who has My Son has this eternal life, but the person who does not have My Son, does not have eternal life.”

 

13 My purpose in writing these things to you is so that you would know that you have eternal life,  14 and we know He hears us whenever we ask Him for anything that is in accordance with His will,  15 and if we know that He hears us when we ask [for something in accordance with His will],[‡] then we know that we have the things we asked Him for.

16 If you see your brother sinning in a way that’s not going to result in his death, you are to ask [God] to restore him to life and He will (for when the sinning doesn’t result in his death).  There is a type of sin that results in death—I do not say that you should ask about these types of sin.  17 All unrighteousness is sin, but there is a sin that does not result in death.

18 We know that anyone who has been born of God does not fall short of God’s righteous standard, because the One who has been born of God protects him and keeps evil from overtaking him.  19 We know that we are of God; but the whole [rest of the] world lies in the grip of the evil one.  20 But for us, we know that the Son of God comes to us!  He gives us insight to really know Him as the source of Truth, and we know that we are in Him, Jesus Christ the Son of God.  He is the real God and He is eternal life. 

21 Dear children, beware of, and guard yourselves from, the things that would steal God’s rightful place as:

1.      The chief desire of your heart, and

2.      The One you trust to deliver you from threatening circumstances, and

3.      The one to whom you look for blessing and prosperity in your life.[§]

 

 



[*] Verses 3:19 & 20: literally in the Greek: “In this we know that out of/from the truth we are, and/also before him we persuade our heart, that if condemns our heart, that greater is God [than] our heart and knows everything.”  This could render, among others, the following possible translation:  “By this we shall know that we are of the Truth: when we are convinced before God that God, who is smarter than us and more powerful than our guilt, that He has made us not guilty even when we feel guilty.”

[†] Verses 6 through 8 are translated above pretty much literally but don’t seem to make much sense when translated this way because it is unclear in the 21st century American language what is meant by: “the water and the blood.”  It appears that “the water” may be a not-so-obvious-or-well-preserved first century figure of speech for “physical birth” (see the Gospel of John 3:3-5 for an example of where the term “the water” is used to mean “physical birth”).  If this can be assumed here, then verses 6 through 8 above might be better translated: 6 Jesus Christ is the One who not only went through the process of physical birth, but He also fulfilled [the ancient promised covenant of] blood [see Genesis 15, 17 & 22:1-8].  The [Holy] Spirit, who is the Truth, foretold this.  7 & 8 There are three things that testify to this (and they are all in agreement with each other): (1) the witness of the [Holy] Spirit, (2) the way in which Jesus was born [all prophesies fulfilled and the miraculous events surrounding His birth], and (3) the way in which He died [all the prophesies fulfilled and miraculous events surrounding His death].

[‡] Verse 15 is a continuation of the context of thought developed in verse 14.  Some translations leave out this bracketed note and it can result in the reader taking verse 15 as a stand-alone promise that anything they ask God for, they get.  That would be a faulty reading of what is intended in the original Greek.

[§] Verse 5:21 in the Greek is literally (and in its entirety): “Dear children, keep/guard yourselves from idols.”  The problem in translating this verse in these words into English is that, although this may be an accurate best word-for-word translation, it is a very erroneous translation of the meaning as it would be understood by the original (1st century Greek) audience.  The challenge here is that the typical early 21st century American does not understand an idol culture; even worse, s/he is most likely going to misunderstand an idol culture.  The 1st century Greeks hear the word "idol" and it brings back vivid personal memories of the strong pull of evil that oppresses them as they desperately appeal to idols for deliverance from the storms of life--often in the context of attempting to appease the idol with the sacrifice of things (or people) very dear to them.  But the 21st century American attaches a much different connotation to the word idol.  We (those of us who have not lived in an idol culture) see the concept of idol as a primitive silly thing that only inferior people far away or a long time ago had a pretend illusionary fascination with.  Furthermore, to say to a 21st century American, "Guard yourselves from idols," tends to elicit the inner response of: "No problem.  I'm way past that.  I'm above that.  This base is covered.  I'm cool."  That response is the opposite of what the Holy Spirit or John the Apostle were trying to elicit!  But what the Holy Spirit is trying to communicate here is firm warning to much beloved children to be on your guard against those things that would take the place that God should have in your life—especially as relates to seeking security, desire, and prosperity.  These threats and dangers are very real in the modern American culture, but we don’t call them “idols,” we call them: job security, quality health care, financial security, reputation, science & technology, ubiquitous universal communication, etc.—none of which are bad unto themselves, but they become a serious threat to the joyful Christian life when they become the things we trust in instead of trusting in God to provide us the benefits and protection we need.