The Word of Life

1 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—I write1 concerning 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 write these things to you so that our joy may be fulfilled.

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 that 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 keeps on cleansing 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 just2 to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.


  1. See v. 4, 2:1, 7, 12, etc.
  2. Or righteous

The Test of Obedience

2 My little children, I write these things to you that you might not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an Advocate1 with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. 2 And He Himself is an atoning sacrifice2 for our sins, and not for ours alone, but also for those of the whole world. 3 Now by this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments. 4 He who says, “I have come to know Him” but does not keep His commandments—he is a liar and the truth is not in him. 5But whoever keeps His word—truly, in that man the love of God has been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him: 6 He who says that he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.

A Commandment Old and New

7 Beloved, I am not writing you a new commandment, but an old one, a commandment that you have had from the very beginning; the old commandment is the message3 that you heard. 8 On the other hand, I am indeed writing you a new commandment, one that is true in Him and in 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 there is no cause for stumbling in him. 11 But he who hates his brother is in the darkness, and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes. 12 I am writing to you, little children, because your sins are 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 overcome the evil one.
14 I have written to you, children,
because you have come to know the Father.4 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.

Love Not the World

15 Do not love the world or the things 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—is not from the Father but from the world. 17 And the world is passing away, along with all its lust; but he who does the will of God abides forever.

Deceptions of the Last Hour

18 Children, it is the last hour; and just as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have appeared on the scene, by which we know that it is indeed the last hour. 19 They went out from us, but they were not truly of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest, and that all might see that none of them are of us.5 20 But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you all have knowledge.6 21 I have not written to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it, and because no lie is of the truth.7 22 Who is a liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist: he who denies the Father and the Son. 23 Everyone who denies the Son is also without the Father; he who confesses the Son has the Father as well. 24 As for you, let that which you heard from the beginning abide in you.8 If what you heard from the beginning abides in you,8 you also will abide in the Son and the Father. 25 And this is the promise that He Himself promised us: eternal life.

26 I have written you these things because of those who are trying to deceive you. 27 But as for you, the anointing that you received from Him abides within8 you, and you have no need that anyone should teach you; but as His anointing teaches you concerning all things—and is true and not a lie, and just as it taught you at the beginning—you will abide in Him.9

The Children of God

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 is begotten by Him.12


  1. Greek Paracletos, one called alongside to help
  2. Greek ilasmos, meaning mercy seat. As used in the OT, the word denotes a site of reconciliation between God and man, where a blood sacrifice secures the forgiveness of sins and the propitiation of God’s wrath
  3. Lit. word
  4. Traditionally, verse 14 begins here
  5. Lit. that all of them are not of us
  6. Some mss you know all things
  7. Or do know it, and that no lie is of the truth
  8. Or among you (plural)
  9. Or just as it taught you—abide in Him.
  10. Or is born from him, and so throughout the letter; but see 3:9


3 See what kind of love the Father has granted to us, that we should be called children of God; and that is what we are! This is why the world does not recognize us: because it did not recognize Him. 2 Beloved, even now we are God’s children. As for1 what we shall be, that has not yet been revealed; but we do know that when He appears we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him just as He is. 3 And everyone who has this hope fixed upon Him purifies himself, even as He is pure.

Sin and the Child of God

4 Everyone who practices sin is also practicing lawlessness; indeed, sin is lawlessness. 5 And you know that He appeared among us in order to take away our sins, and 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 is of the devil, for the devil has been practicing sin3 from the very beginning. And this is why the Son of God appeared among us, so that He might destroy the works of the devil. 9 No one who is begotten by God practices sin, for His seed abides in him; and he cannot continue in sin, because he is begotten by God. 10 By this the children of God and the children of the devil become evident: Anyone who does not practice righteousness is not from God; neither is he who does not love his brother.

The Test of Love 

11 For this is the message you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another, 12 not like Cain, who was of the evil one and who slew his brother. And why did he slay him? Because his works were evil and his brother’s righteous. 13 Brothers, do not be surprised if the world hates you. 14 We know that we have passed out of death and into life because we love the brotherhood.4 He who does not love abides in death. 15 Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer,5 and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.

16 By this we have come to know love, because He himself laid down6 His life for us; and we ought to lay down our own lives for the brotherhood. 17 But whoever has the world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and withholds his compassion7 from him—how can the love of God be abiding in him? 18 Little children, let us love not merely in word or with tongue, but in deed and in truth.

19 And by this we shall know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our heart before Him, 20 for we understand that whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart and knows all things. 21 Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence towards 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.8 24 And he who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him. And by this 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. sins
  4. Lit. brothers
  5. Lit. manslayer
  6. Or (in) that He laid down
  7. Lit. closes his inward parts from him
  8. Lit. He gave a commandment to us

Test the Spirits

4 Beloved, do not 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 By this you will know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, 3 and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; indeed, this is the spirit of the antichrist, concerning which you have heard that it is coming, and which even now is already in the world. 4 Little children, you are from God, and you have triumphed over them because greater is He who is in you is than he who is in the world. 5 They are from the world; therefore they speak from the world’s point of view,1 and the world listens to them. 6 We are from God. He who knows God listens to us; he who is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error.

The God of Love

7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is begotten by God and knows God. 8 He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. 9 By this the love of God was displayed among us2in that God has sent His only 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 an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has seen God at any time. If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love has been perfected in us.

13 By this we know that we abide in Him, and He in us, because He has given us from 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 trust in3 the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him. 17 By this love is perfected in our midst,4 so that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because just as He is, so also are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment,5 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,” and 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.6 21 Moreover, we have this commandment from Him, that he who loves God must love his brother as well.


  1. Lit. they speak from the world
  2. Or within us, or in our case
  3. Or believe
  4. Lit. with us
  5. Or brings torment; lit. has punishment (or torment)
  6. Some mss how can he love God whom he has not seen?

Triumph Over the World

5 Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is begotten by God; and everyone who loves Him who begot also loves the one who is begotten by Him. 2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments. 3 For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome. 4 For whatever is begotten by God triumphs over the world. And this is the triumph that has triumphed over the world—our faith. 5 And who is he who triumphs over the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?

The Testimony of God

6 He1 is the One who came through water and blood—Jesus Christ; not in connection with the water alone, but with the water and the blood. 7 And it is the Spirit who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth. 8 For there are three that testify: the Spirit, the water, and the blood. And the three testify as one.2 9 If we receive the testimony of men, the testimony of God is greater; for the testimony of God is this: that He himself has testified concerning His Son. 10 He who believes in the Son of God has the testimony within himself; 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 this3 life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have this life.

Confidence, Compassion, and 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, that if we ask anything according to His will, we also know that we have the requests we have made4 of Him. 15 And if we know that He hears us concerning whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions we have asked of Him. 16 If anyone sees his brother committing5 a sin that is not unto death, he should6 petition God, and God7 will give life to him—that is, to those who are not sinning unto death. There is sin8 that is unto death; I am not saying that he should petition God concerning that. 17 All unrighteousness is sin, but there is sin that is not unto death.

God’s Gift of Knowledge

18 We know that no one who is begotten by God practices sin; rather, He9 who was begotten by God keeps him,10 and the evil one cannot11 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 might know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, by being in His Son, Jesus Christ. He13 is the true God and eternal life. 21 Little children, guard yourselves against idols!


  1. Or This
  2. Lit. and the three are unto the one
  3. Lit. the
  4. Lit. asked
  5. Lit. sinning
  6. Lit. will
  7. Lit. he
  8. Or a sin (also v. 17)
  9. Or he
  10. Some mss himself
  11. Lit. does not
  12. Or cling to him
  13. Or This One