Bible Study

1 John Bible Study, Day 3: Complete Joy

Today’s passage: 1 John 1:4

Focus verse: We write this to make our joy complete. (1 John 1:4)

John uses the pronoun we a lot in this letter, over forty times in its short five chapters. Later we’ll see him use we as inclusive language to embrace all those who follow Jesus.

Yet other times, especially in the opening, we refers to himself and a group of unidentified others who join him in penning this epistle.

John now says that their purpose in writing is to make their joy complete. On the surface it strikes me as a self-centered reason. It’s as if he’s not writing for our benefit, but for his, quite simply to experience complete joy. 

Yet when we’re doing what God calls us to do, joy should be the outcome. As we obey him fully, it’s reasonable to expect that we’ll have complete joy.

The word joy appears in over half of the books of the Bible. John uses it in all three of his letters, as well as in his biography of Jesus.

Joy is more than happiness. Some people are often happy, but they’re not as often joyful. We can think of joy as an immense satisfaction or an intense, ecstatic happiness. We can experience joy in an accomplishment or in a situation. 

For example, I feel joy each time I complete a book to share with others. It’s an outcome of being obedient and answering God’s call to do my part to advance his kingdom.

Whether it’s few people or many—I pray that it’s many—I know that my words will affect others on their journey with Jesus. This fills me with joy. 

Even more so, joy fills me knowing that my books are a legacy. They can continue to encourage others in the future, even after I move from this earth to live with Jesus eternally. This gives me even more joy. I might say it makes my joy complete.

In addition to accomplishments, situations can also fill me with joy. 

These seldom occur when I’m alone. They happen when I’m with others, enjoying community with them. It’s times of Christian fellowship—the kind John writes about—that fill me with joy.

In this way, fellowship and joy connect, with God-honoring fellowship producing God-given joy.

Another situation that fills me with joy doesn’t occur when I’m savoring a spiritual connection with people. Instead, it’s when I’m connecting with God.

Though I need to be in the company of others to interact with them, I can interact with the Almighty at any time. 

Sitting with him and basking in his presence in the spiritual realm fills me with joy, an indescribable joy. In fact, I had a time of fellowship with him as I sought his direction on what to write for this chapter.

And the results fill me with joy.


  1. If our fellowship doesn’t produce joy, what needs to change? 
  2. How can we make our joy complete?
  3. How can we help others experience joy?
  4. How do you define joy?
  5. In what ways can we experience joy when we fellowship with God?

Discover more about joy in 2 John 1:4 and 12. Read what Jesus says about joy in John 15:11, John 16:19–24, and John 17:13.

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Discover practical, insightful, and encouraging truths in Love One Another, a devotional Bible study to foster a deeper appreciation for the two greatest commandments: To love God and to love others.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.

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