Monday 11 February 2013

Bible Book:
1 John

1 John 1:1 – 2:6 Monday 11 February 2013


The author of this short but important letter, John, isgenerally believed to be the same person who wrote the Gospel thatbears his name. Although he doesn't identify himself in the letter,its style is akin to the Gospel using simple Greek and containingsimilar contrasting images such as light and dark, love and hate,life and death. The letter was written between AD85-95, some 50years after Jesus' death. You can imagine John, reaching the end ofhis life, wanting to pass on his final words of encouragement andteaching.

Given its date, it would have been addressed to second or third-generation Christians, many of whom would not have been born whenJesus walked the earth, or would not even have met men or womenwhom had been face to face with Jesus.

As such the thrill and excitement of Jesus would have been andgone, only to be replaced by a certain weariness. It is into thisworld that the first few verses of this letter arrive like a boltout of the blue. The punctuation in the NRSV translation doesn'treally do justice to the words. Try reading it again with someexclamation marks added and you can see the impact of thewords.

The phrase "eternal life" can cause some confusion to modernreaders. It is easy to come to the conclusion that the letter isreferring to some spiritual afterlife, but it can also betranslated as 'the age of God'. The Jewish people understoodhistory to be divided into two periods: the present age, with itsdifficulties, pain and injustice; and the age to come, when Godwould put all things right. It is this second age that John isreferring to.

It is through Jesus that we have been given a glimpse of thatfuture age- "this life was revealed and we have seen it and testifyto it" - his words, his actions and his very life and given us asneak preview of what is to come. And this is what John wants toshare.

To Ponder

  • What do you imagine "the age of God" to be like? How would youdescribe it to someone who had no knowledge or understanding of theChristian faith?
  • When your faith becomes weary or discipleship seems a struggle,what encourages or reenergises you?
  • John would have been very old when he wrote this letter. Whatwords or message would you like to pass on to the nextgeneration?

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