The word “fellowship” means literally, “sharing.” A life of intimate sharing of ourselves with God and with each other.
John write 1,2,3 John from Ephesus near the end of the 1st century. He lived out that century, spending his last 25 or 35 years in Ephesus, except for a time of exile to the isle of Patmos.
Background: The latter part of the 1st century saw serious persecutions of the church. From the crowning of Domitian in A.D. 81, persecution became state policy. Although harassment was less intense in Domitian’s last years, it flared again under Trajan, who ruled from A.D. 98 to 117.
Despite the suffering of the church, John’s warm pastoral letters do not deal with expernal dangers. John seems confident that if God’s people hold fast to Christ, and live a life of love, their Christian experience will be vital and healthy. It is the inner life of the people of God which is most significant. “He that is in us,” John says, “is greater than he that is in the world” (1 John 4:4). If we live in intimate relationship with the Lord, we too will overcome the world (5:1-5).
We are invited by God to a unique experience of shared life with him. John’s Gospel reports that Jesus promised “the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me.” When a disciple asked how Jesus intends to show himself to us and not to the world, Jesus replied that the person who “loves me, he will obey my teaching… and we (Jesus and the Father) will come to him and make our home with him” (John 14:19-24). John’s first epistle can be understood as an explanation of Jesus’ answer: as an outline of the life style which enables a believer to experience living fellowship with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ (1 John 1:1-4).
It’s an invitation to joy. John stresses the fact that his experience with Jesus has had an continuing impact in his life. He is over 80 as he writes, yet even now John continues to have fellowship with God the Father and his Son Jesus. It is this continuing fellowship John wants other Christians to share. He knows that fellowship with God is our only hope to know real joy. His words are designed to guide us into that fellowship and thus into joy.