New Testament Sunday School Lesson 44 (JF): 1-3 John

1-3 John seem to be letters written to different churches in the region of Ephesus mostly in response to a group of apostates whom we call Gnostics. Most scholars believe that John wrote these letters before he wrote the Gospel of John, though that is not a unanimous opinion. There are, for example, some who believe that at least 1 John was written after the Gospel of John, and some such as Stephen Smalley (Word Biblical Commentary, vol. 51) argue that the John’s gospel was written before any of the letters.

There is also dispute as to whether all four documents (Gospel of John and 1-3 John) were written by the same person. Though few doubt that 2 and 3 John have the same author, there is more disagreement about the authorship of the other two. For these study materials, however, I will not worry about that concern. I will refer to John as the author of all three of these letters as well as the Gospel of John.

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