Tuesday 07 January 2014

Bible Book:
1 John

1 John 3:11-21 Tuesday 7 January 2014


Christmas does not end at midnight on Christmas Day! TheChristmas season runs from Christmas Eve all the way to Epiphany on6 January and then the season of Epiphany lasts until Candlemas on2 February, when we celebrate the presentation of Christ at thetemple.

During these seasons the themes of light in darkness and lovemade flesh are prominent, so it is fitting that we have moved fromthe Christmas narrative into the first epistle of John, whichshares these themes.

The letter is organised into four sections by theme, in thestructure ABBA. The A-sections concern witness and the B-sectionsare about love. The first A-section (1:1 -2:14) concerns the witness to God who is the light, and a callto live in the light. The first B-section (2:15 -3:10) follows on from this, calling believers not to love theworld. Our passage today opens the second B-section (3:11 -4:13), which offer a balance to the last section. Instead ofloving the world, believers are to love one another (verse 11). Thesecond A-section (4:14 - 5:20) returns to the idea of witness,but this time the witness is to God who is love, with a promise ofeternal life for those who live in the love of God.

In contrasting love for one another with love of the world,which leads to hatred of one another, the writer refers to Cain(verse 12), who killed his brother Abel in (Genesis 4:1-16), out of jealousy of Abel'srighteousness. This offers both an explanation of why believersmight find themselves hated by the world and also as an exhortationnot to be like Cain.

This passage is concerned with the question of how believers canbe sure that they have "passed from death to life" (verse 14). JohnWesley, too, was concerned with how believers could be sure thatthey were saved. The answer was simple: if they cared about whetheror not they were saved, then they were! In the same way, for thewriter of this letter, the believer's own heart is the confirmationthat they live in God's eternal love.

To Ponder

  • Does your heart sometimes condemn you?
  • How do you return to loving in truth and action?
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