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Highlights From the Letters of John and of Jude

Highlights From the Letters of John and of Jude

 Jehovah’s Word Is Alive

Highlights From the Letters of John and of Jude

LIKELY written in 98 C.E. from Ephesus, the three letters of the apostle John are among the last of the books making up the inspired Scriptures. The first two letters encourage Christians to keep walking in the light and to fight against the encroachment of apostasy. In the third one, John not only speaks of walking in the truth but also encourages Christian cooperation.

In his letter written from Palestine, probably in 65 C.E., Jesus’ half brother Jude warns fellow Christians about wicked ones who had slipped into the congregation, and he gives advice about how to resist bad influences. Paying attention to the message of the three letters of John and of Jude’s epistle can help us to remain strong in the faith despite obstacles.​—Heb. 4:12.

KEEP WALKING IN THE LIGHT AND IN LOVE AND BY FAITH

(1 John 1:1–5:21)

Intended for the entire association of those in union with the Christ, John’s first letter provides sound counsel designed to help Christians take their stand against apostasy and remain firm for the truth and for righteousness. He stresses the need to keep walking in the light and in love and by faith.

“If we are walking in the light as [God] himself is in the light,” John writes, “we do have a sharing with one another.” And since God is the Source of love, the apostle says: “Let us continue loving one another.” While “the love of God” moves us to “observe his commandments,” we conquer the world through “our faith” in Jehovah God, his Word, and his Son.​—1 John 1:7; 4:7; 5:3, 4.

Scriptural Questions Answered:

2:2; 4:10—How is Jesus “a propitiatory sacrifice”? To propitiate means to “appease,” or to “placate.” Jesus gave his life as a propitiatory sacrifice in the sense that by doing so, he appeased, or satisfied, the requirement of perfect justice. On the basis of that sacrifice, God could extend mercy, and he could pardon the sins of those who exercise faith in Jesus.​—John 3:16; Rom. 6:23.

2:7, 8—What commandment is John speaking of as “old” as well as “new”? John is speaking about the commandment regarding self-sacrificing brotherly love. (John 13:34) He refers to it as “old” because Jesus gave it over 60 years before John penned his first inspired letter. Thus, the believers have had it “from the beginning” of their lives as Christians. The commandment is also “new” in that it goes beyond ‘loving one’s fellow as oneself’ and calls for self-sacrificing love.​—Lev. 19:18; John 15:12, 13.

3:2—What has “not been made manifest” to anointed Christians, and whom shall they see “just as he is”? What has not been made manifest to them is what they shall be like when they are resurrected to heaven with spirit bodies. (Phil. 3:20, 21) However, what they do know is that “whenever [God] is made manifest [they] shall be like him, because [they] shall see him just as he is,” that is, “the Spirit.”​—2 Cor. 3:17, 18.

5:5-8—How did water, blood, and spirit bear witness to the fact that “Jesus is the Son of God”? Water was a witness bearer because when Jesus was baptized in water, Jehovah himself expressed His approval of him as His Son. (Matt. 3:17) Jesus’ blood, or life,  given as “a corresponding ransom for all,” also showed that Jesus is God’s Son. (1 Tim. 2:5, 6) And the holy spirit testified that Jesus is the Son of God when it descended upon him at his baptism, enabling him to go “through the land doing good and healing all those oppressed by the Devil.”​—John 1:29-34; Acts 10:38.

Lessons for Us:

2:9-11; 3:15. If a Christian allows anything or anyone to destroy his brotherly love, he is walking in spiritual darkness, not knowing where he is going.

KEEP “WALKING IN THE TRUTH”

(2 John 1-13)

John opens his second letter by saying: “The older man to the chosen lady and to her children.” He expresses joy at finding “certain ones of [her] children walking in the truth.”​—2 John 1, 4.

After giving encouragement to cultivate love, John writes: “This is what love means, that we go on walking according to his commandments.” John also warns about “the deceiver and the antichrist.”​—2 John 5-7.

Scriptural Questions Answered:

1, 13—Who is “the chosen lady”? John could be referring to an individual woman addressed as Kyria, which is Greek for “lady.” Or he may be using a figure of speech to address a particular congregation in order to confuse persecutors. If the latter was the case, her children would be the members of that congregation and “the children of [her] sister” would refer to the members of another congregation.

7—What “coming” of Jesus does John speak of here, and how are deceivers “not confessing” it? The “coming” is not Jesus’ future, invisible coming. Rather, it is his coming in the flesh and his being anointed as the Christ. (1 John 4:2) Deceivers do not confess this coming in the flesh. Perhaps they deny that Jesus ever lived or they reject that he was anointed with holy spirit.

Lessons for Us:

2, 4. Our coming to know “the truth”​—the entire body of Christian teachings that has become part of the Bible—​and adhering to it are essential for our salvation.​—3 John 3, 4.

8-11. If we do not want to lose “undeserved kindness, mercy and peace from God the Father and from Jesus Christ,” as well as the loving association of fellow believers, we should “look out” for ourselves spiritually and reject those who do “not remain in the teaching of the Christ.”​—2 John 3.

BECOME “FELLOW WORKERS IN THE TRUTH”

(3 John 1-14)

The third letter of John is addressed to his personal friend Gaius. “No greater cause for thankfulness do I have than these things,” he writes, “that I should be hearing that my children go on walking in the truth.”​—3 John 4.

John commends Gaius for “doing a faithful work” in assisting visiting brothers. “We . . . are under obligation to receive such persons  hospitably,” says the apostle, “that we may become fellow workers in the truth.”​—3 John 5-8.

Scriptural Questions Answered:

11—Why do some engage in bad conduct? Lacking spirituality, some do not see God with their eyes of understanding. Since they cannot see him with their literal eyes, they act as if he is not seeing them.​—Ezek. 9:9.

14—Who are referred to as “friends”? The term “friends” here includes more than those enjoying close relationships with one another. John uses it to refer to fellow believers in general.

Lessons for Us:

4. Spiritually mature individuals in the congregation experience great joy when they see its younger members “go on walking in the truth.” And what incomparable joy parents experience when they succeed in helping their offspring to become spiritually inclined children!

5-8. Among those who work hard in behalf of their brothers out of love for them and for Jehovah are traveling overseers, missionaries, those serving in Bethel homes or branch offices, and those in the pioneer service. Their faith is worthy of imitation, and they deserve our loving support.

9-12. We should imitate the example of faithful Demetrius and not that of chattering Diotrephes, who was a slanderer.

“KEEP YOURSELVES IN GOD’S LOVE”

(Jude 1-25)

Jude describes those infiltrating the congregation as “murmurers, complainers about their lot in life, proceeding according to their own desires.” They “speak swelling things, while they are admiring personalities.”​—Jude 4, 16.

How can Christians resist bad influences? “Beloved ones,” writes Jude, “call to mind the sayings that have been previously spoken by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ.” He adds: “Keep yourselves in God’s love.”​—Jude 17-21.

Scriptural Questions Answered:

3, 4—Why did Jude urge Christians to “put up a hard fight for the faith”? Because ‘ungodly men had slipped into the congregation.’ These men were ‘turning the undeserved kindness of God into an excuse for loose conduct.’

20, 21—How can we “keep [ourselves] in God’s love”? We can do this in three ways: (1) by building up ourselves on our “most holy faith” through diligent study of God’s Word and by having a zealous share in the preaching work; (2) by praying “with holy spirit,” or in harmony with its influence; and (3) by exercising faith in what makes everlasting life possible​—the ransom sacrifice of Jesus Christ.​—John 3:16, 36.

Lessons for Us:

5-7. Can the wicked escape Jehovah’s judgment? According to the three warning examples listed by Jude, that is impossible.

8-10. We should follow the example of Michael the archangel and show respect for divinely constituted authority.

12. Apostates feigning love are as dangerous to our faith as rocks hidden below water are to ships or swimmers. False teachers may seem to be generous, but they are like waterless clouds in that they are spiritually empty. Such ones are as fruitless as dead trees in late autumn. They face destruction, as do uprooted trees. Wise we are to shun apostates.

22, 23. True Christians hate what is bad. In an effort to save “some that have doubts” out of the fire of everlasting destruction, mature ones in the congregation​—especially appointed overseers—​provide them with spiritual help.

[Pictures on page 28]

Water, spirit, and blood bore witness that “Jesus is the Son of God”