1 John 2:28–3:10: Hope
Over the course of a lifetime of following Jesus, the Apostle John faced many painful discouragements. John was at the cross, watching when his master died (John 19:26–27, 35). Early in his ministry, John was imprisoned with Peter for preaching the gospel (Acts 4), and he had a difficult ministry that included pastoring his people through schisms (1 John 2:18–19) and in the face of rebellious members in the church (3 John 1:9–10).
When King Herod began to persecute the early church, he killed John’s brother James (Acts 12:2). In fact, tradition holds that John outlived all the other apostles (his closest friends), after most of them (if not all) were martyred for their faith. John himself was not martyred, but he was banished to the island of Patmos “on account of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus” (Revelation 1:9). John had to live out his remaining days in lonely exile after everyone he loved best had died.
John was thoroughly acquainted with sorrow, adversity, and grief, and he faced constant threats because of the message of the gospel he faithfully preached. Still, John’s writings (his Gospel, his three letters, and the book of Revelation) are filled with hope, joy, and peace. John, then, has something important to teach us about how to have hope in the midst of all the suffering we face in our lives.
In the previous chapter, we looked at John’s warnings to persevere in the face of dangers from the world and from within the church, but Christianity isn’t about learning how to grit our teeth or to keep a stiff upper lip. In other words, the point isn’t merely to survive. Our heavenly Father wants something better for us than living every moment of our lives on the verge of collapsing under the pressure of discipleship. Remember, Jesus said his yoke is easy and his burden is light (Matthew 11:30). The gospel is a message of hope.
1. Why do you think John places so much emphasis on abiding in God, and on having God abide in us? How does that change the way we approach God and the way we think about our relationship with him?
2. What effect does it have to know you are God’s child now? What would be different if maintaining your status as a child of God were still in question?
3. How can we gaze upon Jesus now, even before he fully appears? Are you taking advantage of those opportunities to do so?
4. What would it look like in your life to pursue purifying yourself and practicing righteousness in ways you are not currently?