1 John 2:18-27 (4/15/13)
The letter we call 1 John doesn’t say who it’s from or to; however, it’s had the name “John” attached to it from very early days. In my opinion, even the most superficial reading of the Greek tells you it’s written by the same person or group of persons as the Gospel of John, which is probably one reason for this attribution. I suspect the main reason, however, is that the early compilers of the Bible knew for sure who had written it. Two points leap out at us:
- The writer or writers say in Chapter 1 that they have seen, heard, and touched Jesus, which suggests that at least one of them was a close disciple; and
- The topics of the letter are almost exclusively love and belief, which are also the topics of the Gospel of John.
Another huge concern in this letter, however, as in several others, is that false teaching had arisen within the Church. In this letter, John warns his readers against the teachers bringing the new idea that Jesus was not the Christ, and he tells them to stick with what they already know: the truth of Jesus Christ, who gives us eternal life.
1 John 5:13-21 (4/16/13)
Tonight we are all praying for the victims in Boston, for their families, for the first responders, for the medical personnel, and for the city and the nation in this time of disaster and uncertainty. We thought of that right away, and we were eager to do it. John puts a tremendous and much more difficult responsibility on our shoulders: to pray for our fellow-sinners whenever we see them committing a sin.
John says to pray for our “brother,” that is, a member of the Church. Now, we may not think of the person who committed this crime as a brother, but since we don’t know who it was, we don’t know that he wasn’t a past or current church member. I don’t know – and neither does anybody else – what the “sin that leads to death” is, so we don’t know that the person who committed this crime is beyond the scope of prayer. And finally, we may not think this person is deserving of our prayers, but God disagrees.
This is, of course, an extreme example. The love required by the gospel is
extreme. So yes, by all means continue to pray for the victims, their families, and everyone who is taking care of them. But spare at least a moment to pray for the repentance and salvation of the perpetrator.
Reader Question: Do you think John may be talking in 1 John 5:16-17 about blaspheming the Holy Spirit, as stated in Mark 3:29 and Luke 12:10?
2 John (4/17/13)
Answer: That’s what many people (including me, most of the time) think, but the fact is that we don’t know.
Have you heard the old joke that the Iliad
was not written by Homer, but by another blind Greek of the same name? 2 John was written by “the Elder,” and since the second century there have been two candidates: John and John. This is another thing we don’t know
, but it’s not very important, because if there were two Johns, the second one was an avid student of the writings of the first one.
The letter of 2 John tells all Christians to love one another and to practice the truth by following the commandments, just as taught by Jesus and recorded in the Gospel of John.
Later, false teachings arose in the Church, and one of them was the Greek idea that spirit is good and matter is bad. Since Jesus was good, this idea argued, he couldn’t have been made out of matter. The first chapter of 1 John (written by the disciple) addresses this problem with its insistence that the writer or writers had heard, seen, and touched Jesus – he was really real! 2 John also tells the believers to shun a particular set of deceivers, namely, the ones who denied the physical reality of Jesus.
3 John (4/18/13)
Here’s a tip: Don’t do things, or fail to do things, that your fellow-Christians are going to be tut-tutting about 2000 years from now!
John (or possibly John, as I mentioned yesterday) is a figure of authority in the Church. He is confident that Gaius will do as asked in sending his visitors on their way “in a manner worthy of God.” He is mildly annoyed that Diotrephes has flouted his authority, and he plans to reprimand him for it.
To me, the most interesting statement in this little letter is verse 12:
“Demetrius has received a good testimony from everyone, and from the truth itself. We also add our testimony, and you know that our testimony is true.”
This is almost exactly like John 21:24,
“This is the disciple (John the disciple) who is bearing witness about these things, and who has written these things, and we know that his testimony is true.”
It’s pretty clear that in John 21:24, someone other than John the disciple is speaking. I wonder if it’s John the Elder?
Mark 6:3; Jude (4/19/13)
The writer of the book of Jude claims only that he is a slave of Jesus Christ and the brother of James, but, as we already saw, James is the brother of the Lord.
Jude – like John, Peter, and Paul – is especially concerned about the teaching of false doctrine and urges his readers to stick with what they know. He refers to a couple of non-canonical books, the Assumption of Moses and the book of Enoch, to show what harm can come from unsound doctrine [see below!].
I particularly like vss. 24-25: “Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen!” This is one of the most beautiful of the doxologies, my favorite, and a wonderful way to end the Bible. It’s not Jude’s fault that Revelation got tacked onto the end.
Reader Comment: I read your commentary as saying the Assumption of Moses and the Book of Enoch are unsound doctrine. I feel like Jude’s two comments about them come across as if they are truths. ????
More of The Rest of the Story
Response: Well, I do read the study tips over before I send them out, but sometimes they don’t make any sense anyway. Thanks to this reader for giving me the chance to clarify.
In the two non-canonical books of The Assumption of Moses and Enoch, people are doing things they ought not to be doing. They get into trouble. Jude uses these people as examples of what can happen if you do things you ought not to be doing, and he connects their behavior to unsound doctrine. In both cases, however, he says that they will be rebuked or judged by the Lord; it’s not our job. Our job is to “have mercy on those who doubt; save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh.”
So our fellow-reader is right, Jude’s comments do come across as if he thinks they are truths. Remember, though, that Jews and early Christians did not consider these books to be scripture, so he may have been using them in the same way that I sometimes use the events in novels as examples in the study tips.
Week 1. Beginning of Life As We Know It
Week 1. More on the Beginning of Life As We Know It
Week 2. God Builds a Nation – Abraham … But Not Lot
Week 2. God Builds a Nation – Isaac…But not Ishmael or the sons of Keturah
Week 2. God Builds a Nation – Jacob…But not Esau
Week 3. Joseph Preserves Two Nations
Week 4. Deliverance
Week 4. More on Deliverance
Week 5. New Commands and a New Covenant
Week 6. Wandering
Week 6. More on the Wandering
Week 7. The Battle Begins
Week 8. A Few Good Men...and Women
Week 9. The Faith of a Foreign Woman
Week 10. Standing Tall, Falling Hard
Week 11. From Shepherd to King
Week 12. The Trials of a King
Week 13. The King Who Had It All
Week 14. A Kingdom Torn in Two
Weeks 15 and 16. God's Messengers and The Beginning of the End
Week 17. The Kingdoms' Fall
Jeremiah, Prophet of the Exile
Story 19. The Return Home
in the Old Testament
Story 21. Rebuilding the Walls
Story 22. The Birth of the King
Story 23. Jesus’ Ministry Begins
Story 24. No Ordinary Man
Story 25. Jesus, the Son of God
Story 26. The Hour of Darkness
Story 27. The Resurrection
Story 28. New Beginnings
James, Brother of the Lord
John and Jude
Story 31. The End of Time
Copyright 2013 by Regina L. Hunter. All rights reserved. This page has been prepared for the web site by RPB.
Opinions expressed on this page are solely those of the
author, Regina Hunter, and may or may not be shared by the sponsors or the
Bible-study participants. Thanks to the
Holy Spirit for any useful ideas presented here, and thanks to all the readers
for their support and enthusiasm. All
errors are, of course, the sole responsibility of the author.
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