1 John | 1 | 2:1-14 | 2:15-29 | 3:1-10 | 3:11-24 | 4 | 5:1-10 | 5:11-21 | PDF |

These small group studies of 1 John contain outlines, cross-references, Bible study discussion questions, and applications.  Visit our library of inductive Bible studies for more in depth inductive studies on this and other books of the Bible you can use in your small group.

1 John 2:1-14 Online Inductive Bible Study Lesson – Fruit of Genuine Salvation


I. The purpose of the book is to keep us from sinning (1-2)
II. Practice what you preach (3-6)
III. If we have the true light, we will love our brethren (7-11)
IV. Our state in Christ (12-14)

I. The purpose of the book is to keep us from sinning (1-2)

Discussion Questions

  • Why does John call his readers “my little children?”
  • What is John’s purpose in writing the book?
  • What does the word “Advocate” mean? In what way is Jesus our advocate?
  • What does the word “propitiation” mean?
  • So what did our Advocate do for us?


John 20:30-31 – Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

Romans 6:12-14 – Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness. For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace.

Romans 8:12-13 – Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.

John 16:7 – But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.

Zechariah 3:1 – Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right side to accuse him.

Hebrews 4:14-16 – Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven,[a] Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

Romans 8:34 – Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.

Verse by Verse Commentary

1. My little children – This is a term of affection. It shows a close relationship like a father/son. A father loves his children, but also seeks to teach them the truth. A father’s greatest joy is to see his child doing well.

3 John 1:4 Bible Verse

The best kind of pastor/teacher/leader is one who deeply cares for his flock. Throughout the book of 1 John we can see this love and concern seep into the words as John writes them.

In addition, this phrase also shows us that John is the authority. As an eyewitness disciple of Christ, he was chosen as one of the key leaders of the early church. This means that his authority was given to him by God. His readers should listen to what he says like a child should listen to his father. And it reminds his audience to be humble. They should realize that they are still “little”. They have a lot of ways they still need to grow.

Application: Are you little in your own sight? As believers we need to always be moving forward and growing rather than thinking we have already arrived.

2. John has a very clear purpose for writing this letter. What was it? His goal was to keep his audience from sinning. Some people think that 1 John 1:9 is a license to sin. Just keep sinning and keep confessing and God will forgive you. But actually John is writing these things to encourage us NOT to sin.

Some cults throughout history (including the Gnostics), have taught that sin is unimportant. But for believers, we must hate it. We must remember how costly it was for Christ to die just because of our sins. We must remember that practicing sin shows our lives have not changed and we do not belong to God. As believers, our lives are to be different. We are to be new creatures. We are not to follow the old ways of life or the lusts of the flesh anymore. I hope that all of us will take sin seriously. Do not take for granted God’s forgiveness because it is a precious gift.

3. What happens if we do sin ? – Although we should always try our absolute best NOT to sin, we all stumble sometimes. But we still have hope. We have an advocate! An advocate is someone like a lawyer. He is a representative who will argue your case to a higher power to seek justice and/or mercy for you.

In China, there is an interesting term called “guanxi”. Guanxi is having relationship with a higher up person who can help you. It could be a doctor, a politician, or a police officer. If you know this person, he will use his influence to help you at a time when you most need it. For example if you are friends with a doctor he may help you to arrange an earlier date for your surgery or skip a routine line.

As believers, we have somebody much higher up than these people. We have the best guanxi possible, Christ Himself. Jesus is the Son of God. Imagine a person who during golden years of the Han Dynasty was extremely close with the Emperors’ son. That is pretty good guanxi and could really come in handy.

Well, we are brothers of Christ. He will use His influence to plead for us in prayer as He stands at the right hand of God. And what is more, when there is no way for God to have mercy (because He justice demands punishment of sins), He threw Himself in between us and God to sacrifice Himself for us. Did you ever hear of a lawyer who took the punishment for his client? That is what Christ did for us when he offered himself as our propitiation. Propitiation means “appeasement.” He satisfied God’s wrath, God’s need for justice.

II. Practice what you preach (3-6)

Discussion Questions

  • How can you tell if your relationship with God is real or fake?
  • What do you see here about the relationship between the words that we say and our actions?
  • What does it mean to be “in Him”? What does it mean to abide in Him?
  • Are there any other Scriptures you know about abiding in Christ?
  • What does it mean to walk as He walked?
  • Why is the word “walk” used here?
  • What does it convey?


James 2:14 – What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them?

Ephesians 4:1 – As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.

Verse by Verse Commentary

1. In the first chapter we saw two tests of our faith. The first was in verses 1-4 and is about what we believe about Christ. The second was in the rest of the chapter, and was about our understanding and confession of sin. Here we see another test of genuine faith. This test is moral character. If we consistently obey God then that is evidence that our relationship with Him is real. There are many Scriptures on this. Jesus said that you will know a tree by its fruit. James said that faith without deeds is dead. Throughout the Bible, it is consistently taught that sincere faith WILL change how we live.

So what is a real Christian? A real Christian obeys God.

2. In verse 4, John pointedly states that whoever says he knows God, but doesn’t follow Him is a liar. John 10:27-28 says that His sheep hear Him and FOLLOW Him.

John 10:27-30 Bible Verse

John wants each churchgoer and professing Christian to evaluate his own faith to make sure that it is genuine and not just lip service. It is so easy to say that we know God.

Many evangelists also make it easy. They ask people to merely raise their hands or recite a prayer and then declare that they are now saved. Those things are not necessarily wrong, but we need to be careful that when we share the gospel we make sure people understand they need to repent of their sins. True belief in God will bring about a one hundred eighty degree change in the person’s life, not necessarily in everything immediately, but in the general direction.

We could use this verse to examine other people’s lives. “Ha, I knew it. Person X, Y, and Z are not real believers. They are not obeying God’s commands.” But I don’t think this is John’s goal in writing this. He wants us to evaluate our own lives. Do not care about X, Y, or Z.

Application: Are YOU keeping His Word. Or are you being a hypocrite. Am I being a hypocrite? Every one of us needs to ask ourselves that question. We are not a good Christian because we go to church, or talk the right talk. We must serve God from the inside out.

3. If we do obey God’s Word, His love will be perfected in us. What does that mean? His love will change us. We will in turn love Him because He first loved us. And we will love the people around us. If God’s love is in us, this will cast out many sins in our hearts. It will change how we treat other people. It is impossible to force or fake real love over a long period of time. If God’s love is in you, you will show this out in actions consistently.

4. John often uses this phrase “abides in Him.” It is the same phrase and the same concept as in John 15, where John records Jesus’ teaching on abiding in Him. “Abides” talks to the closeness, intimacy, and personal nature of the relationship that we have with Christ.

For example, children learn many things from their parents’ example. As they live with them in the home, they will gradually assume many of the parents’ strengths and weaknesses. If we abide with Christ it is the same way (minus the weaknesses). We will gradually become more and more like Him and “walk in the same manner as He walked.” One reason Christ came was to give us an example of how to live. Many young people wear bracelets with the phrase WWJD on it. This of course stands for “What Would Jesus Do?” It is a reminder to