Saturday

14 January 2017

“And now, little children, abide in him, so that when he is revealed, we may have confidence and not be put to shame before him at his coming.” (v. 28)

Psalm: Psalm 12


Background

Jesus said, "Whoever has seen me has seen the Father" (John 14:9). In 1 John, we only have one side of the argument, but it would appear that false teachers have made negative statements about Jesus as the Christ and thus in the letter writer's estimation have earned the title of antichrist (verse 22). The others would not have agreed with his assertion, no doubt seeing themselves as Christians, indeed better Christians than the writer was. But the readers are recalled to the traditional teaching: "Let what you heard from the beginning abide in you" (v. 24). If they hold on to that teaching, they will live in an intimate relationship with both Father and Son, which will bless them with God's promise of eternal life. These words are an echo from the beginning of the letter (1 John 1:2).

Trying to encourage their readers to remain steadfast and not be deceived by those teachers who appear to be still among them, the author reminds them of their anointing (verse 27). This refers back to verse 20. But might this not lead to arrogance, and assumption that having been anointed, there is nothing to learn? If in referring to anointing, the writer is asking them to think back to their conversion and Baptism, which included anointing, and may well be also reminding them of the teaching they received as new Christians. That would be something to hold on to and the means of refuting error. But also if there was more than a physical anointing with oil at Baptism, but an anointing with the Holy Spirit, then perhaps he is emphasising the Spirit's gift of discernment. Put the two together, and they would have the means to refute the false teaching they had received.

Verse 28 rounds off the chapter and leads into the next, which will be about Christian lifestyle, returning to the importance of the forgiveness of sin and emphasising the importance of love. Once again we see the pastoral heart of the writer, addressing the readers as "little children". But now having referred to the heretical teachers as the antichrists who will be part of the end times, he speaks of the coming of Christ. The author emphasises the importance of being in a relationship with Christ, living with him each day, so they will not be ashamed when he comes.


To Ponder

  • What is the most important piece of Christian teaching you have received? What was its source - eg a book, a sermon, a conversation?
  • How do you discern what is true or false in Christianity?


Bible notes author: The Revd Richard Bielby

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