The Word of Life

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have beheld and handled with our hands—we are writing you1 about the Word of life; 2 and the life was manifested, and we have seen and testify and proclaim to you the eternal life that was with the Father, and that was manifested to us— 3 that which we have seen and heard we also proclaim to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and truly, our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. 4 And we are writing these things to you so that our2 joy may be made complete.

God is Light

5 Now this is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you: God is light, and in him there is no darkness at all. 6 If, then, we say we have fellowship with him but continue to walk in darkness, we are lying and not practicing the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light as he himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son continually cleanses us from all sin. 8 If we say we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just3 to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say we have not sinned, we are making him a liar, and his word is not in us.


  1. See v. 4, 2:1, 7, 12, etc.
  2. Some mss your
  3. Or righteous


An Advocate with the Father

My little children, I am writing you these things so that you will not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an Advocate1 with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. 2 And he himself is the propitiation2 for our sins, and not for ours alone, but also for those of the whole world.3 3 And this is how we know we have come to know him: if we keep his commandments. 4 He who says, “I’ve come to know him” but doesn’t keep his commandments—he is a liar, and the truth is not in him. 5But whoever keeps his word—truly, in him the love of God has been perfected. This is how we know we are in him: 6 He who says he abides in him should also walk just as he walked.

A Commandment New and Old

7 Beloved friends, I am not writing you a new commandment, but an old one, a commandment you’ve had from the very beginning; the old commandment is the message4 that you heard. 8 On the other hand, I am indeed writing you a new commandment, one that is true in him and in5 you, because the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining. 9 He who says he is in the light but hates his brother is in the darkness, and has been even until now. 10 He who loves his brother abides in the light, and in him there is no cause for stumbling. 11 But he who hates his brother is in the darkness, and walks in the darkness, and has no idea where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.

Comfort and Admonition for God’s Family

12 I am writing to you, little children, because your sins have been forgiven you for his name’s sake. 13 I am writing to you, fathers, because you have come to know him who has been from the beginning. I am writing to you, young men,
 because you have triumphed over the evil one.
 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 him who has been from the beginning.
 I have written to you, young men,
 because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, 
and you have triumphed over the evil one.

15 Do not love the world, or the things that are in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the boastful pride of life—does not come from the Father, but from the world. 17 And the world is passing away, together with its lust; but he who does the will of God abides forever.

Perils of the Last Hour

18 Children, it is the last hour; and just as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, so also many antichrists have now arrived on the scene, by which we know it is indeed the last hour. 19 They went out from us, but they never belonged to us; for if they had truly belonged to us, they would have continued with us. But they went out so as to be exposed: to make it clear that none of them belong to us.6 20 But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you all have knowledge.7 21 I haven’t written you because you don’t know the truth, but because you do know it, and because8 no lie comes from the truth.9 22 Who is a liar, if not he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist: he who denies both the Father and the Son. 23Anyone who denies the Son is also without the Father; he who confesses the Son has the Father as well.

24 As for you, let what you heard from the beginning abide in you. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, you also will abide in the Son and the Father. 25 And this is the promise that he himself gave to us: eternal life.

26 I have written these things to you because of those who would lead you astray.10 27 But as for you, the anointing that you received from him abides within you,11 so that there is12 no need for anyone to teach you; but as his anointing teaches you about all things—and is true and is not a lie, and just as it taught you at the beginning—you will abide in him. 28 And now, little children, abide in him, so that when he appears we may have confidence and not shrink back from him in shame at his coming. 29 If you know that he is righteous, you also know that everyone who practices righteousness has been fathered by him.13


  1. Greek Paracletos, one called alongside to help
  2. I.e. a sacrifice that secures forgiveness and turns away wrath
  3. See John 11:51-52
  4. Lit. word
  5. Or among
  6. Lit. be exposed, that all of them are not of us
  7. Some mss you know all things
  8. Or that
  9. Lit. is from the truth
  10. Lit. because of (about, concerning) the ones deceiving you (leading you astray)
  11. Or among you (plural)
  12. Lit. you have
  13. Lit. begotten from him. Some interpreters: born of him; but see 1 John 3:9, 5:1


Children of God

Look at the kind of love the Father has granted to us: that we should be called children of God! And so we are. This is why the world doesn’t recognize us: because it didn’t recognize him. 2 Beloved, even now we are God’s children. As for1 what we will be, that has not yet been revealed; but we do know that when he appears, we will be like him, for we will see him just as he is. 3 And everyone who has this hope fixed on him purifies himself, even as he is pure.

4 Everyone who practices sin is also practicing lawlessness; indeed, sin is lawlessness. 5 And you know that he appeared in order to take away sins, and that in him there is no sin at all. 6 No one who abides in him continues in sin;2 anyone who continues in sin has neither seen him nor known him. 7 Little children, let no one deceive you: He who practices righteousness is righteous, just as he is righteous; 8 but he who practices sin belongs to the devil, for the devil has continued in sin3 from the beginning. And this is why the Son of God appeared: in order to destroy the works of the devil. 9 No one fathered by God practices sin, for his seed4 abides within him; and he cannot continue in sin, because he has been fathered by God.5

Marks of the Believer 

10 This is how the children of God and the children of the devil become evident: Anyone who doesn’t practice righteousness is not from God; neither is he who doesn’t love his brother. 11 For this is the message you have heard from the beginning: that we should love one another— 12 unlike Cain, who belonged to the evil one, and who slew his brother. And why did he slay him? Because his deeds were evil, whereas his brother’s were righteous. 13 Brothers, don’t be surprised if the world hates you. 14 We know that we have passed from death to life because we love the brotherhood.6 He who does not love abides in death. 15 Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer,7 and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. 16 This is how we have come to know what love is: He himself laid down8 his life for us. And we too should lay down our lives for the brotherhood.

Action and Assurance

17 But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and then withholds his compassion9 from him—how can the love of God be abiding in him? 18 Little children, let us not love in word or tongue, but in deed and truth. 19 And in so doing we will know that we belong to the truth, and will assure our hearts before him; 20 for we know that whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and that he knows all things. 21 Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before10 God; 22 and whatever we ask, we receive it from him, because we keep his commandments and do the things that are pleasing in his sight. 23 And this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and that we love one another, just as he commanded us.11 24 Now he who keeps his commandments abides in God, and God in him. And this is how we know that he abides in us: We know it by the Spirit whom he has given to us.


  1. Lit. And
  2. Lit. All who abide in him do not sin
  3. Lit. for the devil sins
  4. I.e. God’s seed
  5. See note 13, chapter 2
  6. Lit. brothers
  7. Lit. manslayer
  8. Lit. love, that (because) he laid down
  9. Lit. closes his inward parts from him
  10. Lit. to, towards
  11. Lit. he gave a commandment to us
  12. Lit. abides in him, and he in him


Testing the Spirits

4 Beloved, don’t believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see if they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2 This is how you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, 3 whereas every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. Indeed, that is the spirit of the antichrist: You1 have heard that it is coming, and even now it is already in the world. 4 Little children, you are from God; and you have overcome them, for greater is he who is in you than he who is in the world. 5 They are from the world, so they speak from a worldly point of view,2 and the world listens to them. 6 We are from God: He who knows God listens to us, whereas he who is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we recognize the spirit of truth and the spirit of error.

Knowing the God of Love

7Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves has been fathered by God, and knows God. 8 He who does not love, does not know God, for God is love. 9 This is how the love of God was displayed among us:3 He sent4 his uniquely begotten Son into the world so that we might live through him. 10 In this is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation5 for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also should love one another.

12 No one has seen God at any time; but if we love one another, God abides in us, and his love has been perfected in us. 13 This is how we know we are abiding in him, and he in us: because he has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. 16 And we have come to know and trust6 the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him. 17 That is how love is perfected among us,7 so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; for just as he is, so too are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear; for fear involves punishment,8 and he who fears has not been perfected in love. 19 We love because he first loved us. 20 If someone says, “I love God,” but hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen.9 21 Moreover, we have this command from him, that he who loves God must love his brother as well.


  1. Lit. antichrist, which
  2. Lit. they speak from the world
  3. Or within us; in our case
  4. Lit. God has sent
  5. See note on 2:2
  6. Or believe
  7. Lit. with us (i.e., with regard to our relations with the brotherhood)
  8. Or brings torment; lit. has punishment (torment)
  9. Some mss how can he love God whom he has not seen?


Faith, Love, and Obedience

5 Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been fathered by God; and everyone who loves the Father1 who begot, also loves the child begotten2 by him. 2 This is how we know that we love the children of God: when we love God and keep his commandments. 3 For this is true love for God,3 that we keep his commands; and his commands are not burdensome. 4 For all who have been fathered by God overcome the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world: our faith. 5 Who, then, can overcome4 the world, except he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?

The Manifold Testimony of God

6 He5 is the one who came through water and through blood: Jesus Christ. He did not come by the water alone, but by the water and the blood. And the Spirit is the one who testifies to this, because the Spirit is the truth. 7 For there are three that testify: 8 the Spirit, the water, and the blood. And the three testify as one.6 9 If we receive the testimony of men, the testimony of God is greater. For this is the testimony of God: that he himself has testified about his Son. 10 He who believes in the Son of God has the testimony within himself. But he who does not believe God has made him a liar, because he has not believed the testimony that God has given concerning his Son. 11 And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and that this life is in his Son. 12 He who has the Son has this7 life; but he who does not have the Son of God does not have this life.

Confidence in Prayer

13 I have written these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know you have eternal life. 14 And this is the confidence we have towards him: If we ask anything that accords with his will, he hears us. 15 And if we know he hears us in whatever we ask, we also know we have the requests we have made of him.

16 If anyone sees his brother committing a sin that does not lead to death,8 he should ask, and God9 will give him life—that is, to those whose sin does not lead to death. There is sin10 that leads to death; I am not saying he should petition God concerning that. 17 All unrighteousness is sin, but there is sin that does not lead to death.

The Manifold Knowledge of the Saints

18 We know that no one fathered by God practices sin, but that he who was fathered by God keeps him,11 so that the evil one cannot take hold of him.12 19 We know that we are from God, and that the whole world lies in the power of the evil one. 20 And we know that the Son of God has come and given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true. And we are in him who is true by being in his Son, Jesus Christ. This13 is the true God and eternal life.

21 Little children, keep yourselves from idols!


  1. Lit. him
  2. Lit. him who was begotten
  3. Lit. is the love of God
  4. Lit. And who is it who overcomes
  5. Or This
  6. Lit. and the three are unto the one
  7. Lit. the
  8. Or result in death; lit. sinning a sin not towards (to) death
  9. Lit. he
  10. Or a sin (also v. 17)
  11. Some mss he who has been fathered by God keeps himself
  12. Lit. and the evil one does not take hold of (cling to) him
  13. Or He