Though 1 John has been traditionally called a letter, it Jacks the salutation and epistolary ending characteristic of letters. In form and content it resembles a theological treatise or sermon, written with obvious affection and concern for the spiritual welfare ofthoseto whom it is addressed.
The author of 1 John does not mention his name; in 2 and 3 John he calls himself "the elder." The close kinship between these letters and the Fourth Gospel invocabulary,literary style, and theological ideas indicates that they came from the same pen.
Though it is impossible to date 1 John with precision, most scholars believe that it was written toward the end of the first Christian century. Whether its circulation preceded, accompanied, or followed that of the Gospel of John cannot be determined,butitis evident that the two are in some sense companions.
This letter has a twofold purpose: to deepenthe spiritual life ofits readers(1.3-4),and to correct the heretical views of certain gnostic teachers who denied that God had really become man in Jesus (4.2; compare 2 Jn.7). Doctrine andethics, theologyandbehavior, are in extricably woven together throughout the letter. The truth is not so much argued as affirmed. Though, in a broad sense, there is order and progression in the Letter, yet thevarious themes are frequently reintroduced, and often blend into one another, like the leading refrains of a great musical composition.