How Christians Should Love Each Other

About this letter

Most students believe that John wrote this letter. He was the apostle John, who also wrote the Gospel of John. And John also wrote the letters called 2 John and 3 John.

These three letters contain ideas very like those in John’s Gospel. They have the same kinds of words. The Gospel tells people about Jesus, and how to know God. These letters are for people who know God. They tell those people how he wants them to live. The Gospel and these letters all speak about God’s love and light. John wrote the Gospel to say that Jesus is the Son of God. He wanted them to know, and to believe that Jesus had died for them. He wanted them to become Christians. But these letters were for people who were already Christians. John wrote this letter against false teaching that some Christians had heard.

Chapter 1

1 We want to tell you about the person who is God’s message to people. He is the person who gives people proper life. He was before the beginning of the world. We heard him speak. We saw him with our own eyes. We watched him and we touched him.

2 He showed himself on this earth. We saw him and we are telling you about it. We are telling you that he is the person who gives eternal life. From long ago he was together with God the Father, and he has shown himself to us. 3 We ourselves are united with God the Father, and Jesus Christ his Son. And we want you to be of the same mind as us, as you trust him. That is why we are telling you about the person whom we have seen and heard.

4 We are writing so that together we may be completely happy.

John is writing with authority. He is saying that he was with Jesus, the Word of God (God’s message). He knows Jesus. And he knows what Jesus taught.

5 Jesus Christ gave us a message and this is the message: God is good and clean like light. There is nothing dark about him. 6 Now, someone may say that he is united to God. But he may still do things that do not please God. Then what he says is not true. He is living as if he were in the dark. What he does shows that he does not want to obey God’s rules. 7 But when we do right things, it is like living in the light. God is always in the light. (He always does what is good and right.) When we live like this we are really united together. The death of Jesus, the Son of God makes us clean. He removes sin from us and he makes us clean in front of God. 8 We may say that we never do wrong things. But then, we are making a mistake. We may really believe that we never sin. Then we do not understand that God’s words are true. 9 But if we tell God about our sins then he will forgive us. He will take away from us all our sins. God is true and fair. So, he will do what he promised. And he will do what is right. 10 God says that all people have sinned. But we may say that we have never sinned. Then we are saying that God is not telling the truth. We have not accepted his word at all.

Chapter 2

1 I am writing to you who are like dear children to me. I am writing this because I do not want you to sin. But if you do sin, tell him. Then God will forgive you. God our Father forgives us. He does this because a completely good person asks him to do it. That person is Jesus Christ. 2 He died to take the punishment for our sin. He not only died to take the punishment for our sins. He died to take the punishment for the sins of all people everywhere.

3 We can be sure that we have become people who know Christ. And I want to tell you how we can be sure. It is when we obey his rules. 4 Someone may say, ‘I know Christ.’ If he does not obey Christ’s rules, that person is lying. He does not know him. He has not obeyed the truth which he tells us in his rules. 5 But we should do the things that Christ said. Then we will show that we love God. By this we know that we live in him. 6 A person may say that he lives in God. Then he must live as Jesus did.

7 Dear Christian brothers, love each other. When I say this, I am not giving you a new rule. It is the old rule that you had for a long time. We gave it to you when you began to obey Christ. You have already heard this message. 8 But there is something new about it. The life of Christ shows us that this rule is new. Your lives also show that it is new. The life of Christ shows us the truth about God. And this truth is already shining in your lives. It is like a light that people can see. You did bad things before. They are like the dark, which is becoming less and less. 9 A person may say that he is in the light. He says that he obeys God. But, he may hate another Christian. Then he is still living as if he were in the dark. 10 Whoever loves other Christians is living in the light. He never causes other Christians to sin. 11 But a person may not love other Christians. He is like someone who is living in the dark. He does wrong things and he does not know God’s rules. Because he does not know God’s rules, he is like a blind person. He cannot see where he is going.

12 Dear children, I am writing to you because God has forgiven all your sins. God did this because of Christ. 13 I am writing to you who are like fathers. I am writing to you because you have known Christ for a long time. He was before the world began. I am writing to you who are like young men because you have beaten Satan. I write to you, my children. I am writing to you because you have become people who know God, our Father. 14 I write to you, fathers, because you know Jesus Christ. He was before the world began. I write to you young men because you are trusting Christ well. God’s word is always in your minds and you have beaten Satan.

15 Whoever loves the wrong values of this world cannot also love God our Father. So I tell all of you, do not love the wrong values of this world. 16 When people only want to please themselves, this is wrong. Sometimes people want to have all the things that they see. This is wrong. Sometimes people want to tell other people what great things they have done. Sometimes they want to tell them how rich they are. This is also wrong. None of these ideas comes from the Father. They come from loving the wrong things in this world. 17 God has begun to destroy the wrong things in this world. Those who want bad things will die. But those who do what God wants will live for ever.

18 Dear children, the world will soon end. You have heard that the enemy of Christ will appear. You now see that many enemies of Christ have already appeared. This shows us that the world really will soon end. 19 These enemies of Christ who used to be in our group no longer meet with us. They never really were Christians. If they had really been Christians, they would have remained with us. But they left. And so they showed that they were never really Christians. 20 But Christ has given you the Holy Spirit. Because of this, you all know what is true. 21 You do know that it is true. That is why I am writing this letter to you. Yes, you can be sure that the truth does not include anything false.

22 I will tell you who is the worst liar. It is the person who says that Jesus is not the Christ. When a person says that, he is refusing to believe in the Father of Jesus. He also refuses to believe that Jesus is the Son of God. Anyone who talks like this is the enemy of Christ. 23 Whoever believes that Jesus is the Son of God is united to God the Father. Whoever refuses to believe this is not united to the Father. 24 Always remember what you first heard about Christ. If you always remember that message you will remain united to God the Son and his Father. 25 Then he promises that we will receive eternal life.

26 Some people are trying to lead you away from what is true. I am writing these things to you about those people. 27 But the Holy Spirit, whom Christ gave, is still in you. So, you do not need anyone else to teach you what is true. The same Holy Spirit shows you all the things that are true. There is nothing false in what he shows you. So, I say to you, remain united to Christ. Remain united to Christ as the Holy Spirit has told you to do.

28 Dear children, remain united to Christ. Then, when he comes back to this world, we will be brave. We will not be afraid to meet him. 29 Christ does what pleases God. You know that. So you should know that everyone who pleases God is his child.

John tells Christians that they must live “in the light”. He means that they should do everything that God wants. They must love each other. If they live like this, they will be like Jesus. People will see Jesus shining through them, like a light. The Devil (Satan) is trying to make them do bad things. Then they would be like a person who is living in the dark. But believers in Jesus can do what God wants. God’s word shows them how to live. Then they can win the fight with Satan. The light of Jesus beats the dark of Satan. Satan rules “the world” (the world of people who do not know God. They do not obey what Jesus Christ taught). People who are united with Christ are God’s children. They do not believe what the false teachers say.

Some people say that they are Christians. But they do not believe in Jesus. They do not believe that he is the Christ, the Son of God. They do not know God. They do not know what is true. They do not have the life of Jesus in them. They do not have eternal life.

Chapter 3

1 Think about how much God the Father loves us. He calls us his children. And we really have become children of God. The people of this world do not know God as Father. So they do not understand that we are his children. 2 Dear friends, we are already children of God. We do not know yet what we will become in the future. We do know that Christ will return to this world. Then we will see what he really is. And then we will become like him. 3 Christ does not sin. So everyone of you who hopes to become like Christ ought to keep himself clean from sin.

4 If a person continues to sin, he is choosing not to obey God’s rules. Sin is when we choose not to obey God. 5 You know that Jesus came into the world so that he might take away our sins. You know that he has never sinned. 6 A person who is united to Christ does not go on sinning. But if a person goes on sinning, he really does not know Christ at all. He does not understand who Christ is.

7 Dear children, be careful not to make this mistake. Do not let anyone lead you away from the truth. God sees as good only those people who do good things. People like that please God as Jesus Christ pleases God. 8 But some people go on doing what is wrong. Those people belong to the Devil. The Devil has been doing wrong things from the start. This is why the Son of God came. He came to destroy everything that the Devil had done.

9 No person who is a child of God should continue to sin. This is because God has given him a new life. He cannot continue to sin, because he is a child of God. 10 This is how we know who are the children of God. And this is how we know who are the children of the Devil. Some people do not do what is right. They are not his children. And people who do not love other Christians are not God’s children.

11 Since you began to obey Christ, you have heard God’s message. He says that we should love each other. 12 We should not be like Cain. He belonged to the Devil. He did things that were wrong. He even killed his brother. His brother did things that pleased God. That is why Cain killed him.

13 So, my Christian brothers, do not be surprised when people of this world hate you.

14 We know that we are no longer like dead people. We have become people who have life from God. We know this because we are now loving our Christian brothers. If someone does not love other Christians, he is still like a dead person. 15 Some people hate other people. Anyone like that is like someone who kills people. You know that a person like that does not have the eternal life.

16 This is how we know what love is. Christ gave his own life and he died for us. This shows us how we should really love other people. We ought to give our lives for other Christians. 17 Think about someone who has enough to buy all that he needs. That person knows another Christian. The other Christian does not have enough to buy all that he needs. He may refuse to help that poor Christian. Then he cannot say that he has God’s love for that other Christian. 18 Dear children, let us not only show love for each other by what we say. Let us show love by really helping each other.

19 Then we will know that we really belong to God. We will be doing what is true. This will make us not afraid to come to God. 20 Our thoughts may say that we are bad. But God knows much more than we know in our thoughts. God knows everything.

21 Dear friends, our thoughts may not say that we are bad. Then we are not afraid to come to God. 22 And God gives us everything that we ask. He does this because we obey his rules. And we do what pleases him. 23 He said that we must do this. We must believe that Jesus Christ is his Son. And we should love each other, as he said. 24 Anyone who obeys God’s rules is united to God. And God is united to him. God sent his Spirit to live in us. So we know that God is united to us.

Christians should love their Christian brothers and sisters. They should even be ready to die to save them. Their love will show the world that God lives in them. They have his Spirit. His Spirit helps us to do what God wants us to do. This pleases God.

Chapter 4

1 Dear friends, many people are travelling about who say that they have the Holy Spirit. But they are saying what is false. The messages that they give do not come from God. So, find out if the Holy Spirit gave them the message. If not, do not believe their message.

2 You can know that a person has the Spirit of God in him. This is how you can know it. Ask him if Jesus Christ came into the world as a human baby. If he says ‘Yes’, he has the Spirit of God. He belongs to God. 3 But some people say that Jesus did not come as a human baby. And anyone who says that does not have the Spirit of God. That person has a false spirit from the enemy of Christ. You have heard that this false spirit was coming to this world. And it is already in the world.

4 But, dear children, God has sent you. You have shown that these people are wrong. You have been able to do this because the Holy Spirit in you is powerful. He is more powerful than the spirit who rules the world. 5 Those wrong people do not know God. They are people of this world. So, they teach like other people who do not know God. So the people of this world believe what they teach. 6 But God has sent us. Everyone who knows God believes our message. But anyone whom God has not sent will not believe it. By this, we know if a person has the Spirit of God. A person may teach the truth that the Holy Spirit teaches. Then he believes our message. There is a different spirit, which teaches false things. Anyone with that spirit does not believe our message.

7 Dear friends, we should all continue to love each other. God makes us able to love other people. So, everyone who loves other people is a child of God. And he knows God. 8 Anyone who does not love other people does not know God. We know this because God shows his love in everything that he does. 9 This is how God showed his love for us. He sent his only Son into the world, so that we could have eternal life because of him. 10 We did not love God first. Rather, he loved us first. He sent his Son to die, to take away our sins. 11 This shows how much he loved us. So, dear friends, we should all love each other.

12 Nobody has ever seen God. But, if we love each other, he really lives in us. And he can love people completely in us. 13 God has given us his Holy Spirit. Because of this, we know that we are united to God. And we know that he is united to us. 14 We have seen that God the Father sent his Son to this world. Jesus saves the people of the world. We tell everybody that this is true. 15 Anyone who tells people that Jesus is the Son of God is united to God. God is also united to that person. 16 And we know well that God loves us. We also trust him to love us all the time. God always shows love. If a person continues to love God and people, he is united to God. And God is united to him.

17 This is how God loves people completely in us. Then, we will be safe on the day when God will judge all people. We can be sure about this. We have remained united to God, as Jesus did. So, we will not be afraid on that day. 18 Any person who knows that God loves him will not be afraid of God. This love causes us not to be afraid. Some people are afraid of God. They think that he will punish them. So, if someone is afraid of God, he is not completely trusting God. He is not completely trusting that God loves him.

19 We are able to love God and people because God first loved us. 20 Think about someone who hates other Christians. That person may say that he loves God. If he says that, he is telling a lie. He does not love the Christian that he can see. So, he cannot love God that he has not seen. 21 So this is what God has told us to do. He has told us that anyone who loves God should also love other Christians.

It is very important to know the difference between true spirits and false spirits. Some teachers say that Jesus was not really a man. They do not have God’s Spirit. What they teach is false. The love of God is not in them. God gives us his love, so that we can love him. He gives us love for other Christians, too.

Chapter 5

1 Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is a child of God. We may love someone who is a father. If we do, we will also love the child of that person. 2 This is how we know that we really love the children of God. We know it when we love God and obey his words. 3 Because, if we really love God, we will obey his words. And, it is not difficult for us to obey his words. 4 This is how we can refuse to live like people of this world. It is by believing in Jesus Christ. 5 Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Son of God can refuse to live like the people of this world. Nobody else can.

6 Jesus Christ is the person who came to this world from God's home. John baptised him in water. When Jesus died, his blood flowed out. He showed that he was human not only by his baptism in water. He showed it also when his blood flowed out. The Holy Spirit shows us that these things are true. He always says what is true. 7 So there are three signs. By these three signs, we know that Jesus was really human. 8 These signs are the Holy Spirit, the water and the blood. These signs all show us the same thing. 9 People tell us about things that they know. And we believe them. God is more important than man. And he has told us about things that he knows. He has told us about his Son. So we should believe his word.

10 Someone will believe that Jesus is the Son of God. Then he really will know that these things are true. But someone may not believe what God has said. So he is saying that God does not tell the truth. God is telling us about his own Son. But, this man still does not believe God. 11 God has given us life that never ends. He has given it by his Son. 12 So if anyone is united to the Son of God, he has this eternal life. But anyone who is not united to the Son of God does not have eternal life.

13 I have written these things to you who believe that Jesus is the Son of God. I wanted you to know that you have eternal life. 14 Also, we can be sure of this. We may ask God for something. Then we can be sure that he hears us. Yes, if we ask for something that he wants us to have, he will never refuse us. We can be sure about this. 15 We know that he hears us when we ask him. So, he will give us whatever we ask. We can be sure about that.

16 One Christian may know that another Christian is sinning. So he should pray to God about it. That person may not be doing something wrong that would cause him to die. Then God will answer your prayer. God will cause that person to live. I am only talking about a person who has done something that will not cause him to die. There is a sin that will cause a person to die. I am not saying that you should pray about that. 17 Any wrong thing that a person does is sin against God. But there are sins which do not cause people to die.

18 We know that no child of God continues to sin. Instead, the Son of God keeps him safe. The Devil cannot do something bad to a child of God. 19 We know that we are God’s children. And we know that the Devil rules all those of this world. 20 We also know that the Son of God has come into the world. He gives us understanding so that we know the only true God. We are united to this true God, and to his Son, Jesus Christ. There is no other true God. He is the only person who can give people eternal life. 21 Dear children, be careful not to have anything to do with false gods.

John is writing this letter to help Christians to know God better. John wants them to be sure that they have eternal life. God will give them the good things that he chooses for them. They can ask him, and he will listen. God will save them from the Devil. God will help them to do what is good.

Word List

a man that God chose to lead other Christians and to teach about Jesus.
to put a person into water to show that he wants to obey God.
a blind man cannot see with his eyes.
part of the family of God.
John was an old man. He wrote to his readers as if they were his children.
Jesus Christ, God’s special servant. God chose him to save people from the results of sin.
to do good things and to think good thoughts.
what we call someone that we love.
dear children
John was an old man. He wrote to his readers as if they were his children.
God’s enemy. He is also called Satan.
enemy of Christ
false Christ; someone who is completely against Christ.
eternal life
a special and new life when a person accepts Jesus. This new life will be with Jesus for ever.
very bad. There is nothing good in it.
to believe what God teaches.
what John calls people who have been Christians for a long time.
show love and mercy and not remember bad things against someone.
a book about the good news; the message that Jesus came to save us from the results of sin.
not to like a person at all; not to love someone.
Holy Spirit
one person of the three persons who are God. We cannot see him. He comes to give people the power to do what God wants.
person with authority to decide and say what is good or bad.
person who says something that is false.
to say something that is false.
live (in God)
have God’s life in you; be united with God.
be kind and help a person who does wrong, to show that you love them.
make someone happy.
talk with God; the words that we use to talk with God.
hurt someone who has done wrong things to teach them not to do wrong things again.
God’s enemy. He is also called the devil.
these point to what is right. They show the right things to do.
not to obey God’s rules.
person who does not obey God.
a Christian lady.
Spirit of God
The Holy Spirit.
the part of a person that will always be alive, even after their body is dead; someone that is always alive, even without a body. There are good spirits, like God’s Spirit and God’s servants. And there are bad spirits, like Satan and his servants.
to have faith.
what is true.
be joined to; be of one mind with another person.
things that are good or important.
people who do not believe in Christ.

Book List

Andrew Persson ~ Translator’s helps on 1, 2 & 3 John


English and Greek Interlinear text, Paumari New Testament, A.V., T.E.V. & N.I.V.


© Wycliffe Associates (UK), 1997-2005

This version published March 2005

The translated Bible text has been through Advanced Checking.