Lectionary Year B
April 27, 2003
1 John 1:1-2:2

Step IV: Broader Context


The first generations of Christians is maturing and some members are dead and others are approaching death by the time 1 John appears on the scene. It has grown in attempts to practice the very high principles Jesus left for them. The aging members are gaining in wisdom, born out of experiences, experiments and attempts to remain faithful to original teachings by the Teacher par excellence. Yet, their practices need evaluating and examining, re: those principles and teachings. Consequently, 1 John highlights some of those principles and teachings Jesus generated. Also, 1 John challenges some of the weaknesses, dilutions, if not pollution the Christian movement is noted to have suffered. Evidently, 1 John has a major task, here, for, apparently many mistakes and/or problems have resulted as time began to take its toll on the fledgling movement we know as early Christianity.


Isaiah 43:12f, in the Septuagint, says, in part, “I have declared, . . . you are my witnesses and I am the Lord God, even from the beginning; . . .” This statement could inspire some of the similar references in Johannine literature to “the beginning”. Proverbs 29:13 refers, as could be found referenced in our text at 1:5ff, to light, “The poor and each who abuse them must depend on God for light.” Psalm 32:5 references, as does 1 John 1:9, confession and forgiveness, “So, I confessed my sin and told them all to you. I said, ‘I’ll tell the Lord each one of my sins.’ Then you forgave me and took away my guilt.” In the Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, Joseph and Aseneth 12, we read, as might be alluded to in 1 John 1:1f, “For you, Lord, spoke and they (all things) were brought to life, because your word, Lord, is life for all your creatures.”


Greek speaking philosophers throughout the known world as the first century ends could appreciate any significantly composed literature dispersed communities might appreciate, attend to and/or heed. Such offerings as 1 John contains might well resonate with the Hellenistic world. It must have readily sparked dialogue, debate, discussions aplenty. The several dualisms therein could provoke Hellenists to engage in controversies which were rampant in these communities in those days. We might imagine their deliberating over such topics as light and darkness, truth and deception, just to recite a few. When this literature refers to Jesus as the Logos, those philosophers could surely argue their understandings of the meaning of such a term. The Hellenistic World could certainly appreciate the final phrase in our text, the reference to global-ness.

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