1 John exists as a kind of quiz for believers to take to ensure them that they possess eternal life (1John 5:13). By looking at the characteristics John attributes to a person who knows Jesus, believers are able to come to assurance that they have authentic faith. This is important because John’s audience was being influenced by a new heresy that combined some basic Christian ideas with some “new knowledge.” John claims that the teachers of this “new knowledge” are “antichrists.” The danger they pose to the church is so great that John tells his audience not even to welcome them into their homes (probably house churches) or to greet them, lest they take part in their work.
The new heresy that was developing claimed that matter was evil and claimed that spirituality was achieved through special extra-biblical knowledge. The result of this teaching for some was the belief that anything done in the physical/material world was inconsequential since it was all sinful. These teachers taught that overt sinful behavior was acceptable because nothing done in the physical realm had spiritual value For some of the followers of this new teaching, spiritual truth had no effect physical life. The final result was a highly individualistic approach to relationship with God. The followers of this new teaching felt freed up to pursue base sinful lifestyles while baring no responsibility for the negative impact their sinful patterns had on others.
1 John makes a critical connection for all believers of every age. John connects truth and love. In fact the reader of 1 John cannot help but notice that John moves back and forth between the themes of truth and love as though they are essentially the same topic. The critical take away for us is that the authentic gospel leads believers into a knowledge of God (1 John 2) which produces a real and abiding love for Jesus and those who follow Jesus. In 1 John 4:8, John concludes that “anyone who does not love, do not know (the root for knowledge) God…” Here is the real special knowledge for the believer. Knowledge equals love.