Walking in Love - Bible Study

by Tom Bulick and Stephanie Thomas on

Bible Studies 1 document
1 John 1:5–2:6

  • Walking in Love | The Scrolls | June 30, 2024

    Copyright Central Bible Church

The Scrolls is a weekly Bible study written by pastors and other leaders at Central Bible Church, based on that week’s sermon topic. Use The Scrolls as a personal Bible study tool, for family devotions, and for small group discussions. You can read part of it below. The downloadable PDF also includes discussion questions, more in-depth commentary, end notes, and a kids’ page designed for families to study the topic together. This lesson goes with the sermon "Walking in Love."

Jesus’ words to his disciples in the upper room on the night of his betrayal left an indelible impression on John. After washing the disciples’ feet (Jn 13:1-17) and predicting his betrayal (vv. 18-30), Jesus gave the eleven a new command—Satan had entered into Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, and he had gone out into the night. “A new command I give you,” Jesus told them. “Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (vv. 34-35).

John, the apostle, mentions that command numerous times in his first epistle. In 3:11, he tells his readers, “For this is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another,” and in verse 23 of the same chapter, he writes, “And this is the command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us.” Then in 4:7, he tells his readers: “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God,” and in 4:11-12, “Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God, but if we love one another, God lives in us, and his love is made complete in us.” He puts the command a bit differently in verse 21: “And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.”

On brotherly love, just one aspect of Christian morality, one commentator writes: “What is unique to Christian morality is its demand for a brotherly love based on our mutual faith in Christ. Where one or both of these things are missing, there can be no actual manifestation of a truly Christian righteousness (cf. 1 John 3:23)” (Zane C. Hodges, The Epistles of John, 151).

“The elder,” the writer of 2 John, also makes much of the same command. In verses 5-6 of his short letter, he writes: “And now, dear lady, I am not writing you a new command but one we have had from the beginning. I ask that we love one another. And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love.” This observation along with others suggests that the author of 1 John and the author of 2 John, that John, the apostle and John the elder are one and the same, contrary to what some have argued based on a citation of a statement of Papias, the bishop of Hierapolis (c. a.d. 60-c. 130), by Eusebius, a fourth-century Christian historian. Some have argued that the Gospel of John and 1 John were written by John, the apostle, while 2 John and 3 John were written by John, the elder—two different “Johns.” One this matter, one commentator writes: “The writer identified himself as ‘the elder’ (v. 1). The writings of the early church fathers attribute authorship of this epistle to the Apostle John. The early Christians commonly recognized him as the elder in view. We might have expected John to describe himself as an apostle, as Paul usually did, since this was an office of higher authority than elder. However John's apostleship was not open to challenge like Paul's was. There is no evidence that the early Christians questioned John's apostleship as they did Paul's. ‘Elder’ was a more affectionate title, and it undoubtedly represented John's role among the churches, at least unofficially if not officially. He was probably an older man at this time too” (Thomas L. Constable, “Notes on 2 John,” 2024 ed., 1, planobiblechapel.org/tcon/notes/pdf/2john.pdf).

The letter was probably written from Ephesus, perhaps around the same time as 1 John (c. a.d. 90-95). While his first epistle was likely a circular letter sent to various churches in the Roman province of Asia, 2 John may have been sent to a particular church, addressed as “the lady” (v. 1), in the same region. Apparently, John had a twofold purpose for writing: 1) to warn his readers about deceivers and the dire consequences of welcoming them and accepting their teaching (vv. 7-11), and 2) to remind them of the command that they had from the beginning, that they love one another (vv.4-6).

Central Message of the Text: 

Christians are to walk in truth and to love one another just as the Father commanded through Jesus.

Family Talk:

I’m always sad that there are not more words for “love” in the English language. Loving your child is certainly not the same as loving Cheez-Its, but we have no way of differentiating the two with our limited language. I think this is where the action of love comes in, and maybe that’s not such a bad thing. Because we don’t have several different words for love, we are forced to be demonstrative according to the different types and levels of love with our actions and affections. I wouldn’t go to blows at Walmart over a box of crackers, but watch out if you hurt my child in any way. Things will get ugly. One certain way to evaluate myself when it comes to demonstrating love is to put my name in place of “love” or “it” in the 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 passage. Let’s give it a try! “Love is patient.” Now why do we have to start with patience? I can tell you right out of the gate that “Stephanie is patient,” is almost laughable. Carry on: “…love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” How’d you do? I’ve definitely got some work to do. This week let’s read this passage every morning and ask God to work in our hearts and help us love our families well. Praying for you!