JOHN, JUDAH, PAUL & ? COMMENTARY SAMPLE PASSAGES AND VERSES

A Sample Passage from the Comments on First John:

The period for the writing of this letter is determined by John A.T. Robinson (Redating the New Testament, The Westminster Press, 1976) to be AD 60-65. Although it is not addressed to a specific village or city, most scholars see it as having been written primarily to address the rise of Gnosticism within the early called-out communities. Nonetheless, it is clear that the many doctrinal statements address the basics of what the "early church" believed about the nature of God, His relationship to us, and how the covenant community should treat one another as well as those outside its local group. Some have simply classified this letter as a sermon. However, based upon the opening line in 2:1, "My little children (born ones), I am writing these things to you (or: for you)," A.E. Harvey writes, "[W]e are reading a real message written to a real congregation.... an essentially private piece of writing.... the whole argument centers around words like 'light,' 'life,' and 'love'..." (The New English Bible Companion to the New Testament, Oxford University Press, Cambridge University Press, 1970, p 758). Tradition associates it with the covenant groups in Asia Minor.

 

William Barclay (The Daily Study Bible Series, the letters of John and Jude, Revised Edition, The Westminster Press, 1976, p 3-12) gives an overview of the varieties of Gnosticism and cites passages here that he saw as representative of the false teachings that were being introduced. He states: "The basic belief of all Gnostic thought was that only spirit was good and matter was essentially evil." He points to 2:19,

"They came (or: come; go; or: went) out from us, but they were not existing out of us (or: they were not [a part] of us), for if they were out of us, they would have remained (dwelt; abided) with us; but [this was] to the end that they may be manifested (caused to appear) that they are not all out of us or from us," (my translation, here and below)

as evidence that the false teachers had formerly been a part of the group, or groups, to whom he was writing. Then he cites 4:1,

"... because many false prophets have gone (or: come) out into the ordered System (world of societal culture, government, economy and religion) and continue there,"

to support the idea that they had been community members, but are now out spreading their views.

 

Some of these teachers may have been Jewish, for they denied that Jesus was the Messiah (2:22). Since "the Gnostic point of view [was] that spirit alone was good and matter was utterly evil" (ibid. p 6), some of these folks denied the incarnation, and these gave rise to "Docetism," from "the Greek verb dokein [which] means to seem... [thus] Jesus only seemed to have a body" (ibid. p 7). In some cases, Gnosticism led to a variety of practices and behaviors that strayed from the teachings given by Jesus, His disciples, and Paul. Examples are: asceticism (deprivation of the body), licentiousness (since the body is evil, its lusts could be satisfied without limit), elitism and exclusiveness (those with gnosis, "knowledge," were "spiritual" and made up a higher class than the "soulish" or "carnal" folks that were not initiated into the secret knowledge, and thus had no "insight") which divided the believers into two groups (this was later manifested in the division of clergy from laity) and promoted prejudice of us, versus them. "The consequence was obviously the annihilation of Christian fellowship" (ibid. p 12).

 

Barclay sums up the Gnostics in this way: "They talked of being born of God, of walking in the light, of having no sin, of dwelling in God, of knowing God" (ibid. p 12). Thus we will find John addressing these specific issues. Two central points of Christian doctrine emerge here: God is Light (1:5) and God is Love (4:8). This second point leads to the core of the Christ event, and its effects, as found in chapter 4:

9. Within this, God's Love is instantly manifested (was at one point made visible) within us (among us), in that (or: because) God has sent (dispatched) His uniquely-born (or: only- begotten) Son as a Representative (Envoy; Emissary) into the ordered System (world of society, culture, religion and government; or: the cosmos; or: = the aggregate of humanity), to the end that we would live (or: can experience life) through Him.

10. Within this exists (or: is) the Love, not that we ourselves have loved [other MSS: not that we ourselves love or accept] God, but in contrast, that He Himself loves us and sends (or: urged toward reunion with us and sent) His Son as a Representative (Emissary): a propitiatory covering around our sins (failures to hit the target; errors; mistakes; deviations).

11. Beloved ones, since thus (or: in that manner) God loves (or: loved) us, we also are constantly indebted (or: under obligation) to habitually love and accept one another.

 

"But it would be wrong to think that this Epistle is no more than a refutation of heresy. There is a very positive aim, as John tells us himself. He writes 'so that you may have fellowship with us... that our joy may be complete' (1:3f).... [It] is thus directed rather at bringing its readers into a state of assurance and a true knowledge of what faith implies" (Leon Morris, The New Bible Commentary, Revised, Edited by D. Guthrie, J.A. Motyer, A.M. Stibbs, D.J. Wiseman, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1970, p 1260). Cf also 5:13, below.

 

Furthermore, Elaine Pagels instructs us with a caution about reading Paul, which would also apply to reading any of the NT authors. In her concluding remarks of, The Gnostic Paul – Gnostic Exegesis of the Pauline Letters,

"To read Paul either way – as hypergnostic or hyperorthodox – is to read unhistorically, attempting to interpret the apostle's theology in terms of categories formulated in second- century debate. On the other hand, whoever takes account of the total evidence may learn from the debate to approach Pauline exegesis with renewed openness to the texts." (Trinity Press International, 1975, p 164)

 

Chapter 1

 

1. The One who was continuously existing from [the] beginning (or: He Who was progressively being parted away from Headship and Rule). The One whom we have listened to, and still hear; the One whom we have seen, and now yet perceive with our eyes (or: in our eyes); the One whom we gazed upon as a public spectacle (as an exhibit in a theater) and our hands handled (felt about for and touched) groping around the Word of the Life

(or: the Logos, which is the Life; the thought which pertains to life; the Idea from the Life; the message which has the character and qualities of the Life; the Reason which belongs to the Life; [note: I have treated ho as the definite article in the first four phrases here and in vs. 3; many treat it as a neuter relative and render it: That which])

 

Dr. Ann Nyland has also rendered ho "The One who... One whom..." in this verse (The Source New Testament, Smith and Stirling Publishing, 2004, p 477). John is speaking of Jesus Christ here, referring to the time of His ministry as a human, as recorded in the gospels. Rendering it "that which," as many do, would make his statement refer to the message that Christ preached. However, the last clause, "our hands handled..." instructs us that John is referring to "the Word of the Life" that appeared as the Man, Jesus.

 

Rudolf Bultmann says "The first expression... apparently means nothing other than what John 1:1 expresses..." (A Commentary on the Johannine Epistles, Edited by Robert W. Funk, Hermeneia, Fortress Press, 1973, p 7-8). My second translation of this sentence, in the parenthetical insertion, expresses the imperfect tense of the verb eimi (being) as a progressive existence, then describes the motion indicated by the preposition apo (parted away from), and finally gives two other semantic meanings of arche (headship; rule). See my expanded translation of John 1:1.

 

As to the Greek logos (Word), the semantic range of this word expands our view to observe that the Christ was Himself the "message," the "idea" and the "reason" which came into the world and manifested in flesh and blood, as verse 2 goes on to indicate. Here, as in John 1:14, "the Word which is the Life" – and the Way to Truly Live (John 14:6) – was incarnated in the life of a Man who could be seen and touched, and who could speak words of life (John 6:63) which folks could hear with their ears. Paul uses this same phrase in Phil. 2:16. Bultmann points out that the "subject matter and person are basically identical" (ibid. p 8). John was speaking of historical, existential experiences as verse 2 makes clear. The verbs of this second sentence all "denote sense perception" (ibid. p 9).

 

We see in this first verse a corporate theme in this letter, and a sense of solidarity, in John's use of the first person, plural, as expressed in the personal pronoun "we." This will be seen again and again.

 

2. And the Life was manifested (or: is brought into the clear light and made visible) and we have seen, and still observe, and are repeatedly testifying (bearing witness; giving evidence) and in a message are constantly reporting to you folks the Life which has the character and qualities of the Age (or: the life of, for and pertaining to the ages; eonian life) which Certain [Life] was continuously existing [oriented and proceeding] toward (or: was face to face with) the Father, and was manifested (or: is made visible) to us, in us, by us, and for us.

 

Again, "the Life" – the life of the Second Man, the eschatos Adam (1 Cor. 15:45), the historical appearance of the logos – which humanity was meant to live, was brought to clear light and made visible (manifested) so that folks could witness it, make observations, and report it to all of humanity – as they have done in the Scriptures such as this letter.

 

In the last clause we again have the same verb of being in the imperfect tense. But here it is followed by the preposition pros, which can be translated as "face to face with," or "toward." I inserted "[oriented and proceeding]" because these two concepts are inherent in the meaning of the preposition. John 1:2 reads "pros God," while here it is "pros the Father." Bultmann notes, "Pate r [Father] is a familiar designation for God in 1 Jn (1:2f; 2:1, 13, 15f, 22-24; 3:1; 4:14) and is used continually in John" (ibid. p 9). As we further unpack this verse, we can observe that since the Life is also the message, it follows that the message directs us "toward the Father."

 

In the last phrase, the personal pronoun "us" (note again, the plurals we and us) is in the dative case with no expressed preposition. Thus, I have given four functions of the dative which make sense to the context, but indicate different aspects of the Life in Its manifestation: It was made visible to them, and through their written report is made visible to us; It was manifested in them (and now, us) and by them – to others folks; It was manifested for them (and us) – i.e., for our benefit.

 

As to the phrase te n zoen te n aio nion, I give the following expansion: "the Life which has the character and qualities of the Age (or: the life of, for and pertaining to the ages; eonian life)." The bold rendering expresses the Jewish conception of the Age of Messiah, the age that they were expecting to come when the Messiah came, and the new quality and character of the life of that age. In the parenthetical alternatives, the first gives a literal translation of the phrase and the second (eonian life) gives a close equivalent in English, based upon the word eon (similar to age: an indefinite period of time). The Greek aio n (age) originally referred to the lifetime of a human. Thus, it came to mean an indefinite period of time – and one which could not be foreseen, as to its duration. Jesus Christ came in the conjunction of two ages (cf Heb. 9:26 and Mt. 28:20, my translation), ending the age of the Law, and beginning the age of the new creation.

 

3. The One whom we have seen, and still now see, and we have heard, and now continue listening to and hearing, we are also constantly reporting to you, to the end that you, too, may be continuously having common being and existence (or: would be progressively holding partnership and participation) with us. And yet, our common being and existence (or: participation; fellowship; partnership; sharing) [is] with the Father, even with His Son (or: as well as with the Son from Him; or, in apposition: and with the Son which is Him), Jesus Christ.

 

Here we should first consider the tense of the first two verbs. They are in the perfect tense, which indicates a completed action of the past with results which continue on into the present time. They had seen Him in the past, and yet they still see Him. How? Perhaps in the same way that Jesus did what He SAW the Father doing (John 5:19-20). Perhaps the experiences were so vivid that in their mind's eyes they could still see Him. Perhaps they could see Him now in members of His body. Paul uses the perfect infinitive of this same verb horao in 1 Cor. 2:2,

"for I decided not to see or know anything among you folks, except Jesus Christ – and this One being one having been crucified (executed on a stake)!"

Another meaning of this verb is "to know" – from having seen! Paul wanted to see Christ within and among the covenant community in Corinth – see Him in their lives; see their lives in union and identity with Him – who laid down His life and was crucified for all (as we see below, in 3:16) – as they laid down their lives for their friends (John 15:13), i.e., a cruciform life.

 

The second verb means to listen and to hear. They had heard Him in the past, and they were still listening to Him speak within their spirits, and through members of the communities. They still listened to the teaching and message which He had spoken, as well. They were hearing Him now through the voice of the Spirit, the effect of the Breath of God that hovered over them and moved within them (they being the "new creation" of which Paul spoke in 2 Cor. 5:17) just as it had in Gen. 1:2.

 

It was this constant seeing and continued hearing that created a common participation with one another, and with God: the Father and the Son. The word koino nia has the root meaning of common being and existence (which the work of Christ founded in making the "new creation" – Eph. 2:10; Gal. 6:15; 2 Cor. 5:17) which becomes the basis of active fellowship, participation and partnership among the members of the community and with God. This is what Paul referred to in 1 Cor. 3:9,

"For we are God's fellow-workers (or: we are co-workers of and from God; we exist being co- workers who belong to God). You folks are God's farm (or: field under cultivation), God's building (or: construction project; structure, or act of building)."

All this comes from "seeing Him" and seeing what He is doing; from "hearing Him" and doing what He tells us to do. The term "Christ" means "anointed," and it is a picture of God's Spirit coming into union with a human. The new common existence, fellowship and participation with God are expressions of being in union with Him (cf John 14-17).

 

Barclay says of this verse that it gives one of the objects of writing this letter, which is, "to produce fellowship with men and fellowship with God" (ibid., p 21). The following verses bear this out. Bultmann comments that the motif of koino nia is characteristic of the letter, signifying a way of living. (ibid. p 13) This mode of life is a common existence in a covenant community. It is a common being in the Spirit into Whom, and into Which, we have been immersed to the point of saturation,

"For we, ourselves – within the midst of one Spirit (or: in union with one Breath-effect and Attitude) – are all submerged into one body (or: were all immersed into, so as to be enveloped by, one body) whether Jews or Greeks (or: Hellenists), whether slaves or free folks – and we all are (or: were) made (or: caused) to drink one Spirit (or: spirit; Breath-effect; Attitude)" – 1 Cor. 12:13.

 

4. And so we ourselves are proceeding in writing these things, to the end that your joy [other MSS: our joy] would continually exist having been filled up and then continue full.

 

This is an echo of John 15:11, 16:24 and 17:13. Note the present subjunctive "would continually exist" paired with the perfect passive "having been filled up and then continue full" – as John speaks the purpose of this writing (to the end that) into the lives of the recipients.

 

Other manuscripts read "our joy," and there are good witnesses for both readings. The differences are in one letter of the word. It is the echoes of John, cited above, that lead me to the reading "your," and Griesbach's text has this reading. William Barclay's NT translation also reads "your" here. However, the more recent texts read "our." Whichever was original, the joy of the Lord is for all! In either case, it is one of the purposes for writing the letter.

 

5. And this is the message (or: And it is this message) which we have heard – and still hear – from Him, and we are continually bringing back tidings (or: announcing again) to and among you people that God continuously exists being (or: is) Light, and within Him darkness and obscurity do not exist – not even one (or: and so, there is absolutely no dimness or shadiness in Him).

 

Note that John points to a single topic (stated in the last half of the verse) as he says "this is the message," or, "it is this message." And here the reader is drawn back to the gospel of John, once again, 1:4-9,

4. Within It (or: Him), life was continuing and progressively existing (or: In It was life [as a source]; [Aleph, D and others witnesses read present tense: In union with it there

continues being life; Life progressively exists within the midst of It]). And the life was

continuing being, and began progressively existing as, the Light of mankind (or:

Furthermore, the Light progressively came to be the life known as "humanity," and was

for human beings; or: Then the life was existing being the light from the humans).

5. And the Light is constantly shining in the dim and shadowed places, and keeps

on progressively giving light within the gloomy darkness where there is no light

(or: within the midst the obscurity of The Darkness where there is no light of The Day; or:

= in the ignorant condition or system).

And yet the darkness does not grasp or receive it on the same level (or:

Furthermore, the Darkness did not take it down, so as to overcome it or put it out; or: =

the ignorant condition or system would have none of it, nor receive it down into itself [in

order to perceive it]; But that darkness does not correspondingly accept It nor

commensurately take It in hand so as to follow the pattern or be in line with Its bidding).

 

6. A man came to be (was birthed), being one having been sent forth with a mission, as a representative, from God’s side (or: having been commissioned as an

emissary and sent forth from beside God; having been sent forth to the side, as an

envoy, whose source was God); a name for him: John.

7. This one came into a testimony (or: went to witness; came for evidence), to the end

that he may give testimony (be a witness; show evidence) about The Light, so that all

humanity (or: everyone) would at some point come to believe and trust through him

(or: by means of it).

8. That person (= He) was not The Light, but rather [he came] so that he could give

testimony (would be a witness; should present evidence) about The Light.

 

9. It was (or: He was, and continued being) the True and Genuine Light which (or:

Who) is continuously (repeatedly; progressively) enlightening (giving light to) every

person (or: human) continuously (repeatedly; progressively; constantly; one after

another) coming into the world (or: the ordered system of culture, religion, economics

and government; or: the universe)

(or: It was the real Light, progressively coming into the world {organized system}, which is progressively enlightening {or: shedding light on} every human).

 

With this passage of John to instruct us as to his use of the word "light," let us now open the aperture to receive more light into our camera as we consider what John means by, "God continuously exists being (or: is) Light." I have rendered the verb both as an ontological statement (exists being) in expressing John's metaphor, and also as a simple copulative (is).

 

As we consider the above passage in John 1, it seems that John's use of this language about Light – in referring to the Christ, the incarnate expression of the Logos – is metaphorical. He is obviously not speaking of sunlight or the light given off by energy, although we can draw analogies from both. I suggest that the light spoken of both in John's gospel and in this letter is the light of Truth (which can also be translated "Reality") and Knowledge (gnosis). And since many scholars have suggested that this letter was written to counter the influence of Gnosticism within the Christian communities, I think that we can conclude that this is how John is using the word "light." It is in this same sense that Jesus said,

"I Myself am (or: continuously exist being) the Light of the world

(or: of the cosmos; of the ordered system; of the dominant cultural, political, economic and religious arrangements; of the universe; of ‘the theater of history’ – Walter Wink). The one habitually and progressively following Me can by no means walk around (= under no circumstances live their life) within the darkness (or: the dim and shaded areas; the gloom and obscurity due to the lack of the Light of the Day; the [realm] of the shadows; [note: = ignorance; = that situation which existed before the Light came; or, could also refer to the dim condition within the holy place of the Temple, or to the darkness of death, blindness or the womb]), but, to the contrary, he will possess (have; hold) the Light of 'the Life!' (or: the light which is life.)" – John 8:12

C. Baxter Kruger adds insight to the meaning of this statement by Jesus, "'I am the light of the cosmos,' both the source and the meaning, the rhyme and the reason of the existence of all things. It is in Jesus – and in what became of humanity and creation in him – that we see the gracious and joyful purpose of the triune God in calling forth the universe and human existence" (The Shack Revisited, Faith Words, 2012, p 159, emphasis original).

 

Bultmann points us to 4:8 and 16, below, where we have the expression, "because God continuously exists being Love (or: for God is Love and Acceptance)." And then he reminds us of John 4:24, "God [is] spirit (or: Breath; Wind; a Breath-effect and Attitude)," and comments that these expressions "rather express what God means for man.... the real meaning of light is the luminosity man needs in order to find his way in his daily as well as his spiritual life" (ibid. p 16).

 

We must recall that "light" is a part of the creation (Gen. 1:3-5), in its literal use. Likewise is "spirit," which can also be rendered "wind; breath-effect." Each of these words is a human word used to help us to understand the nature, essence and sphere of the divine. I will admit to a strong penchant for seeing 4:8 and 16 as being ontological, still, "love (agape )," too, is a human word used to describe what most consider the highest quality of being of which we can conceive, and 1 Cor. 13:4-8a gives us a good picture of the nature of God. Yet with all the above considered, it is with these words of Paul to Corinth that we should think about the qualities and essences of God, or as Paul Tillich terms Him, the Ground of Being – for "being," too, is a part of creation.

 

But now to the last phrase of our verse, "and within Him darkness and obscurity do not exist – not even one (or: and so, there is absolutely no dimness or shadiness in Him)." In Gen. 1:2 we see that darkness is mentioned before light, and in vs. 4 there, after light was created in vs. 3, we find that Yahweh had to separate between the light and the darkness. Paul references this in 2 Cor. 4:6,

"because the God suddenly saying (or: the God Who once was saying), "Light will shine forth (give light as from a torch; gleam) from out of the midst of darkness (dimness and shadiness; gloom and the absence of daylight)!" [is] the One who shines forth within the midst of our hearts, with a view to illumination of the intimate and experiential knowledge of God's glory – in a face of Christ

(or: [is] He Who gives light in union with our hearts, [while] facing toward an effulgence and a shining forth which is an intimate knowing of the praise-inducing manifestation whose source and origin is God, and which is God, [while] in union with face to face presence of Christ [other MSS: Jesus Christ])."

 

Darkness is a part of the creation, which came out of God (e.g., Rom. 11:36), but it does not exist in Him Who is Light. But we see in Gen. 1 and Paul, above, that He initially put light within the midst of darkness. It is from this that Paul draws his analogy, using it as a metaphor – as does John in this letter. But what is John saying here? We can get a hint from 2:8 where we find the expression

"the Darkness (the obscure dimness of the realm of the shadows and of lack of the light of the Day; [note: a figure of the ignorance of the prior system and realm]) is progressively being caused to pass by, and the True Light (or: = real knowledge and understanding; = Light of the new Day) is already (before now) progressively shining and appearing."

As you see, in my translation I gave a note and two paraphrases to help the reader, and I think that these "shed light" upon the last phrase of this verse. In John 1:5, above, the Light that shined in the Darkness was Jesus speaking Truth and Reality into the shadows, dimness and gloom of the old covenant (Heb. 8:5; 10:1) and the ultra-religious Phariseeism of Galilee and Judea. We can observe another witness in John 3:

19. "Now this continues being the (or: So there continues being the same) process of the sifting, the separation and the decision (the evaluation; the judging), because the

Light has come (or: has gone) into the world (the aggregate of humanity; the ordered

system and arrangement of religion, culture and government; or: the system of control

and regulation), and yet mankind loves the darkness (or: the people love the dimness

of obscurity and gloom; or: the humans loved the realm of the shadow) rather than the

Light, for their works (deeds; actions) were continuing to be bad ones (unsound

ones; wicked ones; laborious ones; toilsome ones that created bad news; wrongful ones),

20. "for everyone [who is] habitually practicing (or: performing) worthless things

(base, mean, common, careless, cheap, slight, paltry, sorry, vile things or refuse) is

continuously hating (regarding with ill-will) the light, and is not coming (or: going) to

the light (or: the Light), so that his works (deeds; actions) may not be tested and put

to the proof (and thus, exposed and perhaps reproved).

21. "Yet the one habitually doing the truth (constantly constructing the real;

repeatedly making the genuine) is constantly coming (or: going; moving) toward the

light (or: the Light), so that his works (deeds; actions) may be set in clear light and

manifested, because they exist being ones having been worked and accomplished

(or: performed as deeds) within God (or: that it is within God [that they are] ones having

been acted out)."

Darkness is a metaphor for a negative and ignorant way of living, just as "walking about... within the midst of and in union with the Light" (vs. 7, below) is a positive and enlightened way of life. Paul contrasts these two metaphors in Eph. 5: 8, speaking ontologically,

"for you folks were once existing being darkness (dimness; obscurity; gloom; shadiness), yet (or: but) now [you are] light, within and in union with [the] Lord [= Christ or Yahweh],"

and then continues in vs. 11,

"do not continually participate together (involve yourselves in joint communion or community; or: Stop having fellowship together) in unfruitful acts (works; deeds; performances) of the Darkness (dimness in the shadows; gloom and obscurity)," connecting the metaphor with conduct.

 

In Col. 1:13 Paul again uses the figure of darkness, this time contrasting their past existence with that of Christ's reign (the eschatological presence of the Messiah's kingdom),

He who drags us out of danger (or: rescued us) forth from out of the midst of the authority of the Darkness (from Darkness's jurisdiction and right; from existing out of gloomy shadows and obscure dimness; = the privilege of ignorance), and changes [our] position (or: transported [us], thus, giving [us] a change of standing, and transferred [us]) into the midst of the kingdom and reign of the Son of His love."

It was the previous arrangements of our lives – those which had authority over us – which he here has termed "the Darkness." (see my comments on this verse in Peter, Paul and Jacob, Harper Brown Publishing, 2012). In 1 Thes. 5:5 Paul again uses an ontological contrast, but there expands the contrast to darkness in the compound phrase: "... sons of (= associated with and having the qualities of) Light and sons of (= associated with and having qualities of) Day!"

 

Jesus, the Christ who brought the new creation into existence, proclaimed in John 12:

46. "I, Myself a Light, have come into, and am now within, the world (the organized

system of religion, culture and government; the ordered and adorned arrangement; or:

secular society; or: the cosmos, or universe), to the end that everyone (all people; all)

[each] one habitually trusting and progressively believing into Me – can not (should

not; may not; would not) remain (abide; dwell) within the midst of the Darkness, or in

union with dim shadiness or obscurity."

 

6. If we should up and say that we are continuously having common being (or: constantly enjoying fellowship, participation and partnership) with Him and yet may be habitually walking round about (= living our lives) within the Darkness and the dim realm of shadows [note: a figure of ignorance, or the obscure previous way of seeing reality; the existence before the Breath-effect vibrated over us], we are constantly lying (speaking falsely) and are not in the habit of doing the truth (or: are not constructing, practicing or producing reality).

 

I again inserted an interpretive note when I translated this verse, instructing the reader as to the meaning of the figurative language about darkness and pointing back to Gen. 1:2. As discussed above, John is referencing the prior environments of those in the called-out communities, and whether their involvement had been in Judaism or paganism, prior to the coming of the Light to them, darkness was upon the faces of their lives.

 

Bultmann points out here that the dualistic language of "constantly lying (speaking falsely)" and "doing the truth" corresponds to the dualism in the metaphors of "Light" and "the Darkness" (ibid. p 19) and instructs us about what John means by "constructing, practicing or producing reality." In this last clause I have painted in the semantic range of the verb normally just rendered "do," here used in its present tense form. Truth, or reality, is here contrasted "lying (speaking falsely)," and this latter refers to something that is unreal. Bultmann also associates darkness and lying (the unreal) with death, connecting 2:11 (the person habitually hating constantly exist within the Darkness) with 4:20 (If anyone may up and say, "I am constantly loving God," and yet may be habitually hating his brother, he is a liar) and 3:14 (The person not habitually loving continues remaining with the Death). (ibid. p 19)

 

Observe, also, that John associates the idea of "common being (or: constantly enjoying fellowship, participation and partnership)" with the living of our lives (seen in the common metaphor of "walking around"). The life of a covenant community is one of interactions and relationships between its members, not just coming together for a "meeting." Shining the Light to "the world" about them will also involve interaction and relationship – and sometimes partnership – with those with whom the group associates in daily living. It is the prejudiced religious mindset that seeks to withdraw and not be involved with those outside one's own group. We see the contrast to this religious mindset (as demonstrated by the prejudice of the Pharisees) when considering the mindset of loving inclusion as demonstrated by the words and behavior of Jesus.

 

7. Yet if we keep on walking about (= continue living our life) within the midst of and in union with the Light, as He exists (or: is) within the Light, we constantly have common being and existence (or: hold common fellowship, participation and enjoy partnership) with one another, and the blood of Jesus, His Son, keeps continually and repeatedly cleansing us (or: is progressively rendering us pure) from every sin (or: from all error, failure, deviation, mistake, and from every [successive] shot that is off target [when it occurs]).

 

Verse 7a brings into focus our behavior – how we live. The Light is a sphere of living our lives and is also the sphere of our "common being and existence." It is the sphere within which God and Christ have their existence. Here God is not just Light, but resides "within" the light of authentic living; within the light of the reality of the new arrangement (or: covenant; cf Heb.8:6-13) of the new creation (cf 2 Cor. 5:17). The message – the Logos – of the Life (vs. 1) is in fact the very life in union with which, and in the midst of which, we are called to live and move and have our existence (Acts 17:28).

In proceeding to unpack the last half of this verse we must keep in mind the present tense of the verb "cleansing." Following Catholic theologians (e.g., Thomas Aquinas) justification is a doctrine that involves continued forgiveness of sins throughout the believer's life. The traditional Reformed view of this verse is that "the blood of Jesus" refers here to the once-for-all sacrifice of Christ on the cross. When justification (dikaiosune ) is rightly understood as "being turned in the right direction (or: being rightwised – Bultmann's term)" or "being placed in the Way (Christ) pointed out" (W.E. Chamberlain, An Exegetical Grammar of the Greek New Testament) which involves "right relationship" (Barclay, and others) or "fairness and equity," the forensic notion of both Catholics and Protestants quickly disappears. Note again that the clause that we are considering here is following a discussion about common being and existence, fellowship, partnership and common participation (koino nia). It is primarily a horizontal setting that is in view, although a setting that is located within the midst of God, as manifested in His Light. The message is about God bringing us into union with Him so that we can live "rightly" with other people, and treat them with love, fairness and equity. It is the cruciform life of a follower of Jesus (Matt. 16:24). The good news never speaks of God having to be reconciled to us. The message is for US to be reconciled to Him (2 Cor. 5:18-20). God loves us and even loves human society (the world – John 3:16). Brian Zahnd is instructive here:

"The world is not just an aggregate of individuals; it is also civilization and human society

as a whole, and God intends to save it. Thus Jesus is the savior of souls (individuals)

and the savior of the world" (Beauty Will Save the World, Rediscovering the Allure &

Mystery of Christianity, Charisma House, 2012, p 99, emphasis original).

 

Now I will agree that the shedding of Christ's blood was both a historical and an "eternal" act, since 2 Cor. 5:19 tells us that God was within the midst of, and in union with, Christ reconciling the aggregate of humanity (and society) to Himself. Our being cleansed by His blood reaches back to the Christ event that changed history and ended the age of the Law, bringing about a new creation. However, I would suggest that vs. 7b can have another application that is based upon our participation with one another, and with Him. The metaphor of a body has been used to describe the called-out community. The life of a body is within the blood (Lev. 17:14). Christ is the resurrection and the life (John 11:25) and we must drink in His life-blood (John 6:51-56) in order to have His life within us – it becomes our food. But "blood" is also a metaphor, a symbol, of giving one's life for one's friend – as John 6:51 indicates in speaking of "the bread of life" that Jesus gave "for the life of the aggregate of humanity (the world)."

 

The body of Christ has life within it because His blood (within which is His life) circulates through every member, bringing life to each cell and carrying off the waste. As the members of the body come together in fellowship and inter-participation with one another, His life, via His Spirit and His Word (both of which are life) flows from member to member, both feeding and repeatedly, continuously cleansing each member from mistakes and failures. Keep in mind that John has been speaking about living our lives in the Light (another bringer of life). Our koino nia is a source of life and cleansing, as His life-blood is drunk-down through the fellowship of our common being. He came that we might have Life. The shedding of the blood of animals, so that we can eat their flesh, is a means of providing life to us. And so was the cross (at Passover) a sign and a figure to us: it proclaimed our deliverance and fed us for our journey out of bondage and into His promises.

 

Another thought on the two parts of this one verse: the first part speaks in corporate terms of a way of life, using the metaphor of Light to describe the character and quality of the covenant community. Perhaps we should see the second part, about His blood, as being the blood that created the covenant community – that it is this new arrangement (Matt. 26:26-29), this new covenant, which is being referenced as the vehicle for carrying away from the community the error and wrong direction of thought, cleansing it from the infection of the false teachings. My friend John Gavazzoni pointed here to Paul's "house-building" term used in Eph. 4:

16. – from out of Whom (or: out from the midst of Which) all the Body (or: the entire body) being continuously fitted and framed together (made a common joint by a word; laid out and closely joined together) and constantly being knit together and caused to mount up united through every fastening (or: joint) of the supply of rich furnishings (or: through every assimilation of the full supply of funds; through every touch {kindling; setting on fire} of the completely supplied requirements) in accord with (or: down from; commensurate to) the operation (operative, effectual energy) within [the] measure of each one part [other MSS: member], is itself continually making (or: is for itself progressively producing and forming) the growth and increase of the Body, [focused on and leading] into house-construction (or: unto building [up] and edification) of itself within the midst of, and in union with, love.

 

Here in vs. 7 John may have in mind the thoughts that Paul had shared with the Corinthians about when the community came together for covenant meals, that some were behaving poorly towards others, not discerning that they were all coming together as Christ's body (1 Cor. 11:17-34). It was within that context that Paul was addressing "tearing splits (= separations into cliques; divisions) continually inherent among [them]" (vs. 18). And it was within their fellowship that they were partnering with the life (figured by the blood) of Christ, figuratively drinking it with Him in a new way, within the kingdom (Matt. 26:29).

 

8. If we should up and say that we have no error (or: do not periodically possess deviation or hold sin and mistake), we are continuously leading ourselves astray (or: deceiving ourselves and driving ourselves off the Path), and the Truth is not (or: reality does not exist) within us.

9. If it would be our habit to confess (admit; avow; say the same thing as; speak in accordance with; or: would continue in agreement [about]) our error (our failure; our mistake; our sin), He is constantly faithful and just (fair; in accord with the Way pointed out and in right relationship; rightwised), to the end that He would at once send away for us (or: dismiss or pardon and cause to flow away in us) the errors ([some MSS add: our] failures, mistakes and deviations) and then would cleanse [other MSS: He will cleanse] us from all injustice

(all that is contrary to the Way pointed out; every unrighteousness; all unfairness, inequity and unrighteous relationships; every behavior that is turned in the wrong direction).

10. If we would say that we have not failed to hit the target (or: sinned; made a mistake; erred; deviated), and exist thus, we habitually make Him a liar (one who utters falsehood), and His Word (Thought; Idea; message; Logos) does not exist among (or: is not within) us.

 

Now as we approach John's thought in vss. 8-10, let us keep in mind the context of what has just been said, before: common existence, corporate fellowship, participation and partnership (koino nia), vs. 6-7, which is either within the Light (the truth, reality and proper conduct of the new covenant) or within darkness (vss. 5-6 – which is a metaphor for ignorance, wrong behavior and false teachings).

 

These verses have traditionally been read as applying to individuals – and a secondary reading can apply in this way. But the context instructs us that up to this point John is speaking corporately, and that these verses are addressing corporate issues of error and deviation.

 

Hamartia is an archery term that refers to endeavoring to hit a target, but making some mistake in our aim or release of the arrow and thus deviating and missing the goal of our endeavor. By seeing this term through the eyes of traditional Christian doctrine (via a limited translation which does not instruct us as to the core idea of the term) and the concepts of individual piety, I suggest that we have strayed from the point that John was making as he addressed covenant communities. Consider that the messages that were sent to the seven congregations in the Book of Revelation were primarily spoken to the corporate bodies; to the entire community of each city (see my translation and the careful rendering of the personal pronouns, which were mostly singular, addressing the issues not to individuals but to the entire group as a unit).

 

The communities addressed in this letter had errors introduced into them by false teachers (folks who were in darkness and spoke lies and falsehoods), and they were being led astray into Gnosticism, or perhaps, what later became introduced into orthodoxy. The confession of error and deviation (vs. 9) is a corporate issue. He is not talking about making personal confessions to a priest or even to the group. This would not have been appropriate in a society that had honor versus shame as a core value. Folks would have been embarrassed to do this – just as they are today, and so continue to carry a sense of guilt.

 

Note in 9b that their admitting the error of these false teaching would cleanse the group of all injustice: all that is contrary to the Way pointed out; every unrighteousness; all unfairness, inequity and unrighteous relationships; every behavior that is turned in the wrong direction. The false elitism and divisive, prejudiced individualism, characteristic of some Gnosticism, was resulting in behavior that was contrary to the Way of Christ – which is a life of cruciform love, in covenant community. The "sin" was a corporate problem, just as was the improper table conduct in Corinth, cited above.

 

By claiming that they had no errors or deviations (had not failed to hit the target) they were making Christ and God a liar, for their behaviors were contradicting His Word, message and idea. If we do this (notice the corporate "we"), we show that His Word is not in existence within our group ("among us").

 

Chapter 2

 

1. My little children (born ones), I am writing these things to you (or: for you) to the end that you may not fail to hit the target (deviate from the goal; sin). And if anyone should at some point fail (or: suddenly commit sin, make a mistake or deviate), we constantly have One called alongside to help, give relief and guide us toward the Father (or: we continuously possess a Paraclete, face to face with the Father): Jesus Christ, [the] One in accord with the Way pointed out (or: a Just One; [the] Righteous One; [the] Fair One who is in right relationship with all; a Rightwised One; [the] right one; a Person that is turned in the right direction).

 

There are two ways in which we can understand John's use of the word "little children." The first is in its literal sense, for the good news brought by Jesus began social change with these new covenant communities. Children were being addressed directly in letters (cf Col. 3:20; Eph. 6:1, 2) – something that was unheard-of in secular societies of that time and culture.

 

The second is the metaphorical sense such as when Paul spoke to the Corinthians in 1 Cor. 3:1-2, indicating that their spiritual development was like new believers. Also, there is Heb. 5:12-13 where when folks should have grown in Christ so as to be teachers, they were still categorized as babies, "untried (inexperienced) pertaining to [the] Word of the Way pointed out (from the message of fair and equitable dealing or an idea about rightwised relationships; also: = in regard to the idea of, and the reason derived from, covenant membership."

 

Taking this second use a step farther, and considering the foregoing context of the previous chapter (and recall that there were no chapter divisions in the Greek texts, so verse 1 is continuing the thoughts just expressed in the previous verses), John is likely classifying many of the recipients of this letter as little children. The noun teknia is the diminutive form, so he is not just calling them children, but "My little children..." The possessive pronoun shows that he is taking a position of a father to these folks – just as Paul did in 1 Cor. 4:15. Then he expresses another purpose for writing this letter: "that you may not fail to hit the target (deviate from the goal; sin)." Vss. 8-10 have assured the group(s) that they had missed the goal, but he is now writing that this should no longer be the case. At the same time, individuals who were "little born ones," in either sense mentioned above, would receive positive encouragement in hearing this read to them.

 

But not to worry, the situation is bright, for, "we constantly have One called alongside to help, give relief and guide us toward the Father." Jesus is always available to us (we need not wait for some "end-time return"), and He functions as our Paraclete. He is "face to face with the Father," for they both have made their dwelling place with us (John 17:23). In fact, Paul refers to the called-out communities as "God's temple." Barclay says, "A parakle tos has been defined as 'one who lends his presence to his friends'" (Barclay, ibid. p 38).

 

Now note here His qualifications for being our Paraclete: He is "in accord with the Way pointed out (or: a Just One; [the] Righteous One; [the] Fair One who is in right relationship with all; a Rightwised One; [the] right one; a Person that is turned in the right direction)." He is the perfect Guide for literal young children, and for folks who are new to the Way. He is turned in the right direction (toward the Father), so folks can follow Him with confident assurance. He is One who is in right relationship with all, so He will bring concord and unity to the communities. The deviant teachers should not be followed. Jesus the Messiah will be with their spirits, as their Guide and Assistant. They "constantly have" (the present tense) Him. What assurance John imparts – and what awareness of His presence being with them.

 

The personal possessive pronoun "His" in vs. 7, above, shows that the following personal pronoun "He" in vs. 9 is referring to God, where the adjective "just (fair; in accord with the Way pointed out and in right relationship; rightwised)" is applied to Him – just as it is applied to Jesus in this verse. In the following verse we see an example of what this "justice" and "right relationship" implies.

 

2. And He Himself exists continually being a cleansing, sheltering cover around our mistakes and errors, sheltering us from their effects so that we can be in peaceful and rightwised relationships (or: being the act by which our sins and failures are cleansed and made ineffective, effecting conciliation [to us]), yet not only around those pertaining to us (or: having their source in us), but further, even around the whole ordered System (secular realm and dominating world of culture, economy, religion and government; or: universe; or: aggregate of mankind)!

 

Jesus the Messiah exists as our covering. In this He exemplifies what is right and just – what is the Way pointed out for one that is rightwised. "Covering or shelter" is the literal meaning of hilasmos (which is usually rendered "propitiation" or "propitiating shelter" or "atoning sacrifice"). This word is used only here and in 4:10, below, in the NT. Nyland renders it here "the means for taking away our sins," (ibid. p 478). In His commentary on the book of Romans (The Moffatt NT Commentary), C.H. Dodd suggests that the word signifies to cleanse and remove. This word is used in the LXX for the Heb. kaphar, which is often rendered "atonement," e.g., in Num. 5:8 and Ps. 130:4 (in other places, such as Lev. 1:4, we find the verb form prefixed by ex-), but the literal meaning of this noun is "a covering" or "a shelter." A related word, hilaste rios, is the word for the "mercy seat," the cover of the ark of the covenant (Rom. 3:25; Heb. 9:5). We find the verb form (hilaskomai) only in Lu. 18:13,

"But the tax collector (or: tribute contractor), standing far off (= remaining at a distance, in the background), continued unwilling even to lift up his eyes to heaven (or: unto the atmosphere or sky) – and in contrast kept on beating (striking) his chest, repeatedly saying, 'O God, at your mercy seat let me, the failure (the one who has missed the goal; the sinner), be sheltered and cleansed!,'"

and in Heb. 2:17,

"... so that He might become a merciful and a faithful (or: loyal) Chief Priest (Leading, Ruling or Beginning Priest) [in regard to] the things toward God, into the [situation] to be repeatedly and continuously overshadowing the failures (mistakes; errors; misses of the target; sins) of the People with a gentle, cleansing shelter and covering."

 

In this context, we should consider 1 Pet. 4:8,

"because love is constantly covering (habitually throwing a veil over; progressively concealing; [and with other MSS: will be covering]) a multitude of failures (mistakes; errors; misses of the target; sins)." [Prov. 10:12]

– especially considering that "God is Love."

 

I rendered the preposition peri literally, "around," giving a more graphic picture of the act of covering in order to provide shelter. And with this picture, Ezk. 16:8 comes to mind, where Yahweh "... spread His hem (or: skirt) over [Jerusalem] and covered [her] nakedness... and entered into covenant with [her]..." This was describing Yahweh's entering into covenant with Israel, using the metaphor of making her His wife. These last two references, which include Israel's story, should be kept in mind when seeking to understand vs. 2, above. Before it was a covenant with one nation, Israel. But now we see that the new covenant and the new covering include "the whole aggregate of mankind," or as Bultmann puts it, "the whole of the human world" (ibid. p 23). We see a similar thought expressed in John 1:29, where it says that the Lamb of God is the One "continuously lifting up and carrying away the Sin of the world, and removing the sin which belongs to and is a part of the System."

 

The giving of His life to us was sufficient to place a covering around all of humanity, and make them all His. You see, when Israel sacrificed an animal to the Lord, the animal became Yahweh's as a symbol signifying that Israel belonged to Yahweh. Here it is a better sacrifice (Heb. 9:23) that includes a covering for everyone with a "better covenant" (Heb. 7:22; 8:6). It is now a situation of "the hearts [not the mercy seat of the ark] having been sprinkled from a consciousness of evil" (Heb. 10:22).

 

Barclay comments, "There is in the New Testament a strong line of thought in which the universality of the salvation of God is stressed. God so loved the world that he sent his son (John 3:16). Jesus is confident that, if he is lifted up, he will draw all men to him (John 12:32). God will have all men to be saved (1 Tim. 2:4)." (Barclay, ibid. p 40, emphasis original)

 

Bultmann notes that kosmos (world) does not have the same meaning in this verse as it does in 2:15, below, but rather as how the idea is found in Rom. 3:23f ("You see, all at one point veered off the mark {or: all folks deviated; or: everyone fails; everyone sins}..."), 2 Cor. 5:19 ("God was existing within Christ {or: God was and continued being in union with [the] Anointed One} progressively and completely transforming [the] world to be other [than it is] in Himself, to Himself, for Himself and by Himself, not accounting to them {not putting to their account; not logically considering for them; not reasoning in them) the results and effects of their falls to the side (their trespasses and offences}...") and 1 Tim. 2:6 ("the One giving Himself a correspondent ransom {a ransom in the place of and directed toward the situation} over [the situation of and] on behalf of {or: for} all {everyone; all humanity and all things}...") and then suggests that in this verse it refers to "the whole of the human world, as in John 1:29; 3:16f; 4:42; 12:47" (Bultmann, ibid. p 23).

 

3. And so within this [situation], if we could be continuously watchful and would habitually keep, guard, observe, and maintain His implanted purposes and internalized goals (or: inner projections of destiny), we [would] progressively know through experience and continue to recognize with insight, because we have come to know Him, and we now experience Him intimately with insightful knowledge.

(or: So in union with this [relationship] – should we constantly maintain His impartations

from the finished product, and would observe His inward directives of destiny – we progressively know by experience, and recognize by insight, that we have known Him.)

 

We should not miss the solidarity with them that John expresses with the plural "we." I suggest that this is more than a rhetorical devise (the "epistolary we"). What he is saying applies to everyone – all are one body in Christ.

 

I expanded tereo in the first clause (watchful... maintain) to inform the reader of the semantic range of this verb. The present subjunctive suggests that we can constantly do this. The direct object of this verb is the word entole which is composed of the preposition en (within; and in composition: inner; internal) and the word telos (purpose; goal; destiny; finished product; end in view; final outcome). In common use it can mean a command, but when an officer gave a command to a soldier, he was implanting his purpose into him. When an owner gave a precept or an instruction to his slave, he was imparting his immediate goal into him/her and that instruction had to be internalized for the slave to carry it out. But our Father deals with us as children and friends, so I have chosen to emphasize the characteristics of the action, giving a picture of its mechanics, rather than simply using a common word that carries with it either a military or an owner-slave connotation. When God speaks to us, He projects an inner goal or destiny into us, implanting His Seed (Word) into our soil. He inserts a destiny into us.

 

Next in this verse, we come to two forms of the same verb gino sko (to know by intimate experience and have insight). In its first use here it is a present indicative. However, since I placed the dependent clause first and since it is in the subjunctive, I have added "[would]" to correspond to the "if" of the dependent clause, and thus to conform to English syntax. John is saying that "if we could do this, then we would "progressively know through experience and continue to recognize with insight." We would have increased knowledge and insight "because we have come to know Him, and we now experience Him intimately with insightful knowledge." It is in this last clause that we meet this same verb, but here it is in the perfect tense – which describes an action completed in the past but with present and continuing results. It is based upon the established experience of knowing Him that "watching... keeping... maintaining" His implanted purposes and internalized goals bring us progressive knowledge and continued insight. The "if-clause" suggests that progressive knowledge and continued insights are dependent upon tending the things that He has placed within us. This is like the metaphor of "abiding in the Vine" (John 15:1-10) where He says to His students, "Whenever you may observe, watch over, guard and keep My implanted goals, you will be remaining (abiding; dwelling) with the midst of and in union with My love..." (vs. 10).

 

Here Bultmann points out that "The theme of fellowship with God is now replaced by the theme of the knowledge of God.... [which] forms a substantive unity with the fellowship with God..." and later states that "There is no knowledge of God which as such would not also be 'keeping the commandments'." (ibid. p 24, 25).

 

4. The person who keeps on saying, "I have come to know Him by experience," and yet is not habitually keeping (observing) His implanted goals (impartations of the finished product within; inward directives), is a liar (exists being one who speaks falsehood) and God's Truth (the Reality of God; the Genuine Actuality which is God) is not (or: does not exist) within this one.

 

This statement could apply to anyone who claims to be a part of God's called-out covenant community but is not existentially living his or her life in accord with the truth and reality of the qualities and characteristics of the Life in Christ, namely in self-giving love. We could relate this to the parable of the sheep and the kids in Matt. 25. If we don't recognize Him in His brothers and give ourselves into their need, we are not ready for participation in His reign and have need of His purging fires in our lives.

 

Considering the spiritual environment that John has been addressing, this verse probably referred to the Gnostics among them – those who claimed to have a special knowledge. He says that their claims and their teaching are lies. The requirements of the "if-clause" of vs. 3 must be met if one is to have experiential knowledge of Him: of the truth and reality which is the Christ, and which was implanted, imparted, inserted-within through the Word of Christ's destiny within humanity.

 

5. Yet whoever may be habitually keeping (attentively guarding to observe) His Word (Thought; Idea; message), truly (or: actually; in reality) within this person God's Love has been perfected and brought to its goal (or: the love which is God has been matured, finished and reached its purposed destiny). In this we constantly know experientially that we continuously exist within the midst of Him, and in union with Him.

 

Note that "God's Love" is the goal of the above "if-clause" in vs. 3, and of the "may be" of the first clause here. Note also that "His Word" explains the content of His imparted goal, inner directive and implanted destiny. It is keeping and observing His message – i.e., living out His idea of a loving covenant community that reaches out to others (a cruciform corporate-life) – that lets us know that our existence is in union with Him, and that we are in the midst of the Way, the Truth and the Life (John 14:6). It gives proof to us, by our own experience, that we have been placed in the Way pointed out: that we have been rightwised into being fair, equitable and in right relationship with Him and with humanity. John has here given a practical, simple definition of what Paul termed dikaiosune , and what theology has termed "justification." It is a living state of being, not a "forensic fiction."

 

Bultmann sheds additional light, here, "...God's reality and his love are identical, as stated in 4:8, 16: ho theos agape estin ('God is love').... the tou theou ('of God') [in the last phrase of vs. 5, above] is not an objective genitive ('love for God'), but rather a subjective genitive ('God's love for men')" (ibid. p 25, brackets mine). He further notes that when it speaks of "has been perfected" it "means that brotherly love is brought to fulfillment..." (ibid. p 26).

 

6. The person habitually speaking [thus, as though] to be constantly abiding (remaining; dwelling) within Him, is continuously under obligation himself also to go on walking about (= behaving and conducting his life) just as That One (or: on the level and in the sphere as [He]) walked (or: walks; = lives His life).

 

Again, we are instructed that the ideas of "abiding (remaining; dwelling)" – cf John 15:1-13 – and of being "within Him" means living our lives "just as" He lived His life. "Jesus is thus referred to as the model and the foundation of Christian conduct" (ibid., p 26). Cf John 13:15.

 

Or, since the verb "walked," in reference to His life, is in the aorist tense, it can be translated as a simple, English present, "walks." This would infer that John was speaking of His living His life within us, His body, and this would suggest an ontological sense of being in union with Christ (vs. 5, above) – not just an agreement of our will with His.

 

7. Beloved ones, I am not writing an implanted goal (impartation of the finished product within; inward directive of purpose) new in kind or quality to you (or: for you), but rather an old implanted goal (impartation of the finished product within; inward directive of destiny) which you folks have continually had (or: were habitually holding) from [the] beginning. The old implanted goal (impartation of the finished product within; inward directed destiny) is the Word (Thought; Idea; message) which you folks heard (or: attentively hear [and thus obey])!

 

In other words, he is saying, "This is nothing new to you, it is what was told to you from the start. You have had this idea placed in your minds with the first message you heard about the Christ, and it has been this very Truth that you were habitually holding." Recall the words of Jesus in John 13:34,

"I am giving to you men a new implanted goal (an inward purposed directive different

from that which had been formerly; an impartation of a finished product and destiny that

is new in kind and character): that you folks are to be continuously and

progressively loving (or: should constantly love) one another, just as (correspondingly

as; to the same level as; in the sphere as) I love you folks so that you also may

constantly (or: would habitually) love one another,"

so we see that what John is speaking of here is indeed the original goal of Christ's covenant community. In fact, for the Jews of the recipient communities, the idea of loving one's neighbor dates at least to Lev. 19:18.

 

8. Again, (or: Once more) I am writing to you an implanted goal (impartation of the finished product within; inward directive) new in kind and quality, which is (exists being) true (actual; real; genuine) within Him, and within you [other MSS: us], that the Darkness (the obscure dimness of the realm of the shadows and of lack of the light of the Day; [note: a figure of the ignorance of the prior system and realm] is progressively being caused to pass by, and the True Light (or: = real knowledge and understanding; = Light of the new Day) is already (before now) progressively shining and appearing.

 

In the message brought by Jesus quoted with the previous verse, we see that the folks participating in the new reality of the reign of God are told to love and accept one another "just as" Jesus, the Good Shepherd, loves them. He loved the whole aggregate of humanity and gave His life for all. This was beyond Lev. 19:18 which was an injunction that applied only to those of their own community (their neighbors). Not only that, His teaching called His students to love their enemies and pray for their persecutors (Matt. 5:44). This was certainly a revolutionary idea.

 

John is adding something more to the message here. Not only has the Christ come and given Light to the world, but with this dawning of the eschatological Day of the Lord (or, Christ), "the Darkness is progressively being caused to pass by." The old order of the previous age of ritual and animal sacrifice at a physical temple is about to vanish (John 4:21-24). Also see Heb. 8, beginning with vs. 6, "But now..." on through vs.13:

"In thus to be saying "new," He has made the first (or: former) "old," and that [which is] progressively growing old and obsolete (failing of age), [is] near its disappearing (vanishing away)."

The "True Light" which embodies the "true gnosis (knowledge; insight)" is "already progressively shining and appearing" as the message of the Christ spreads throughout the world. What had been looked for by the prophets of old was now present and growing. Nothing else needed to be sought through mystic experience or secret knowledge. The Reality of the kingdom of God had arrived and His sovereign influence was in action.

 

9. The person who keeps on speaking [thus, as though] to be within the Light, and yet is constantly hating (or: regarding with ill-will) his brother (or: = fellow believer; or: fellow member of his society), is a liar and continues being within the Darkness (the obscure dimness of the realm of the shadows and lack of the light of the Day; = prior night) until the present moment.

 

It was "the Darkness" that was the state of existence (both in Judaism and in the pagan religions) before the coming of the Christ – "the Light" (John 1:4-9; 3:19-21). Hate and ill-will are the very opposite of Love and acceptance, just as darkness is the opposite of the Light. It was the hate that killed the Christ, just as hating another person makes one a murderer (3:15, below). A person cannot be in union with the Light and be hating others. So the person who claims to be a Christian but hates someone else is really not a Christian, but is lying and is in darkness.

 

With regard to the false teachers, assuming that they were teaching Gnosticism, John is calling them liars because in their elitism they actually had ill-will toward those that they considered to be "average" believers within the community. John is saying that what they presume to be enlightened "knowledge" was nothing more than the darkness (ignorance) that existed before the advent of the Light. (cf Matt. 5:21-22)

 

10. The person habitually loving (seeking accepting reunion with) his brother constantly abides (remains; dwells; = has his home) within and in union with the Light, and there exists no snare (trap-spring; stick upon which bait is put; = cause for stumbling) within him.

Love is the quality and character of God and of His Light (Christ). It is the opposite of hate and darkness. Here John gives further instruction of how we can know that we are within Christ, and "in union with the Light." When we are really operating in love there will be no cause for stumbling within us, causing us to stumble; no trap-spring within us to ensnare or stumble other folks. If we are always "seeking accepting reunion" with people, we are on the right track – we are walking in the Light of the Way.

 

11. But the person habitually hating (or: repeatedly having ill-will toward) his brother (or: = fellow believer or fellowman) constantly exists within the Darkness (the obscure dimness of the realm of the shadows, lacking of the light of the Day) and so continuously walks about amidst the Darkness, and has not seen so is not aware where he is progressively departing (or: habitually going away), because that Darkness blinds (or: blinded) his eyes.

 

Again, hate is a sign of darkness. It is an absence of love and acceptance of people. When we are in darkness we are not being led by God's Spirit; we are not existing as "sons of God" because we are hating folks. We thus do not know where our life is going and are ignorant of our destiny. We are not participating in the rightwised conduct, the peace or the Spirit-generated joy of kingdom (Rom. 14:17). The false teachers were "blind guides" (Matt. 23:16-26), as were the Pharisees. Much of the divisive teaching of Christianity with the "us and them" mentality which results in exclusion of others has continued this same tradition of darkness. Elitism and prejudice have been the plague of every religion.

 

12. I am writing to you, little children (or: young born ones), that the failures (mistakes; sins; deviations; situations of missing the goal) have been sent away (or: caused to flow away; put away; divorced; forgiven) for you through His Name (or: because of the Name which is Him)!

 

Whether he is referring to the work of the cross, in the phrase "through His Name"/ "because of the Name...," or whether John is speaking prophetically in the Word of this letter, saying that he, John, is sending away the mistakes of the group, is not certain. Recall that Jesus said to His disciples in John 20:23,

"If you folks should send away (dismiss; allow to depart; forgive; pardon; divorce) the mistakes (sins; errors; failures) of certain ones, they have been sent away for them (or: have been and remain pardoned in them; have been dismissed or divorced by them). If you would continue holding fast and controlling (or: should keep on grasping and exercising strength; or: can restrain, hinder, hold back) those of certain ones, they have been and continue being held fast and controlled (seized; grasped; restrained)."

Whichever, and perhaps both, we are here instructed in the power and authority of His Name, and he is referring to the results as a statement of fact.

 

See the discussion on "little children" in 2:1, above. He may here be speaking of categories of development within the group, or of age levels, or simply expressing intimate affection.

 

A word about "His Name" seems appropriate here. "The Jews used the name in a very special way. The name is not simply that by which a person is called; it stands for the whole character of a person in so far as it has been made known to men" (Barclay, ibid. p 53). Ps. 9:10 tells us, "Those who know Your Name put their trust in You." This signifies that they knew His nature. In the same way, Ps. 25:11 lays claim to Who He is in the plea for pardon: "for the sake of Your Name" – i.e., "Your reputation." Ps. 31:3 bases a request for guidance "for the sake of Your Name" because Yahweh was David's "mountain crag and stronghold." Ps. 20:7 professes that they "trust in the Name of Yahweh our God" instead of trusting in military might, because His Name represented His power and sovereignty. Thus, here, we see that it is because of the authority that John bears as a member of His body who represent Him, as well as the power inherent in His Name itself, that John can make this statement. His Name equals His Word.

 

13. I am writing to you, fathers (or: parents), that you have by experience known, and now have intimate insight of, the One [Who is] from [the] beginning (or: the Original One). I am writing to you, young men (or: youths), that you have overcome (conquered; are victorious over) the one bringing a gush of misery

(or: the useless, unprofitable situation; the wicked man; the evil one; the bad situation or sorry plight; the worthless man; the pernicious and knavish fellow; the one causing anguish and painful labor; the condition full of harassed toil and annoying perils; the base fellow) – and this now exists as a decided victory.

 

The categories of "fathers," "young men" and "little boys and girls, or servants" (in vs.14) seems to suggest that in this passage he is directing his words to the age-groups that compose the community, recognizing each as significant and important – as opposed to the false teachers who would only recognize the elite of the group: those with the supposed gnosis. The term "fathers" (pateres) has been found in papyrus writing where it referred to both male and female, and thus have I inserted "(or: parents)" as a possible meaning (e.g. cf Nyland, ibid. p 374, note 6, and others).

 

The fathers have experience in knowing Christ. The phrase "the One [Who is] from [the] beginning (or: the Original One)" is a clear reference to John 1:1 where Christ is identified as the Logos (Word). He is reminding them that they have intimate insight into the truth of Christ, so they should not be easily led astray for exotic teachings.

 

He reminds the young people that in Christ they have overcome this unprofitable situation (or: the person who is bringing a gush of misery into their lives; the useless false teacher; the one who is causing anguish and painful labor and harassing toils – the base fellow that is adding unnecessary religious practices to your lives). My bold translation gives the most literal meaning of the word pone ros, and the parenthetical expansions give the full sweep of its semantic range. Unfortunately, traditional doctrines have personified this word as always indicating "the devil." But if we let the context instruct us, we will see that John is most likely referring to the false teachers that were among them.

 

Notice the effect of the perfect tense of "overcome." He is saying that they presently have the victory, and are in a state of being, or in the situation, of having completely overcome it. Again, he is either reminding them of their ongoing victory in Christ, or he spoke prophetically into their lives, bringing release from the worthless situation and knavish person that had brought it about.

 

14. I write to you, little boys and girls, or servants, who might be hit for discipline (or: those of the age for being educated and trained), that you have by experience known the Father; I write to you, fathers (or: parents), that you have by experience known, and now have insight into, the One [Who is] from [the] beginning (or: the Original One). I write to you, young men (or: youths), that you are (or: exist being) constantly strong, and God's Word (Logos; Thought; Idea; message) continuously dwells (abides; remains) within you and you have overcome (conquered; are the victor over) the one bringing a gush of misery (see parenthetical expansion in verse 13, above).

 

I brought the first clause, which addresses again the boys and girls, or servants, into vs. 14 because of the similarities of the dependant "that" clauses in both this and the next clause that addresses again the fathers/parents. The first one speaks of knowing the Father, while the second is a reference to Christ. I suggest here that John is referencing the words of Jesus in John 14:7, 9-11, and I quote vs. 7 here,

"Since you men have personally and experientially known Me (or: If you folks had insight of Me or were acquainted with Me), you will also personally and experientially

know and perceive My Father [other MSS: you would likely have seen and now know

(or: perceive) My Father, as well]. And so from right now (this moment) you are

intimately, experientially and progressively knowing Him (or: gaining insight of Him)

and have seen [Him]."

 

He is likely repeating the last clause about overcoming for emphasis. But here he adds the idea of their being "constantly strong" because "God's Word... dwells" in them as the reason for this. Of this second clause, Bultmann observes, "... the strength of the 'young men' rests on the fact that God's word 'abides [dwells]' in them and determines their existence" (ibid. p 32).

 

15. You folks should not be habitually loving (as indicative: are not normally accepting; as imperative: Stop constantly seeking reunion with) the world (secular realm and the controlling ordered System of culture, religion, economy and government), neither (or: not even) the things within the world (ordered system). If anyone is in the habit of (or: keeps on) loving the world (ordered system of religion, or of secular society), the Father's [other MSS: God's] Love (or: the love which the Father has; the Love which is the Father) does not exist within him,

 

In unpacking this verse, the first thing to realize is the particular meaning of kosmos (world) in this and the following verses. Bultmann (ibid. p 32) points out that John is not here speaking of the cosmos of the physical creation, nor of the world of humanity. Here we need to consider the semantic range that includes those parenthetically inserted in my translation of this verse, above, following the word "world." In vss. 16-17 John explains what he means by his use of this word. Many false ideas have stemmed from a Gnostic reading of this verse, coupled with the Platonic ideas about essences – that the true and real are only in the realm of "spirit" or in a "heaven beyond the blue sky." Barclay quotes C.H. Dodd in his definition of kosmos here: "Our author means human society in so far as it is organized on wrong principles, and characterized by base desires, false values and egoism" (ibid. p 56).

 

The verb form agapate is in the present tense, but this can be a subjunctive, an indicative or an imperative – as my expanded rendering shows. John is either affirming that they are not, saying that they should not, or telling them to stop. The expanded meanings of "loving" – accepting; seeking reunion with – are the central ideas of what John is saying. They should stop accepting what their local culture or the Roman rule say are right, and accept the message that Jesus brings. They should not repeatedly seek reunion with the systems of religions from which they have been called out. As a new creation community they are not normally embracing the norms of the secular society or the economics of the systems in which they live. They are living by kingdom norms and the economics of giving. Recall vs. 5, above, and the relation of God's love to keeping His Word (= living His message).

 

If someone IS "in the habit of, or keeps on, loving" these arranged systems, then it is evident that they are not in union with "the Father's Love," and this love is not an existential part of their being. The term "Father" is in the genitive case, and the varied renderings present the potential function which the genitive can express.

 

16. because everything within the world (ordered but dominating System of the secular and the religious) – the flesh's over-desire

(full passion of the alienated human nature; lust of the estranged self; earnest wants of the false persona that was conformed to the System), and the eyes' over-desire, and the arrogant ostentation (haughty, presumptuous or pretentious egoism) pertaining to living (= the biological and sociological life we live), is not out of the Father as a source (or: does not proceed from the Father), but rather is continuously forth from out of the world (the ordered System of society, culture and religion),

 

So here John's language about love and the "world" is explained. The parenthetical expansion gives insights to the meaning of "the flesh's over-desire." Alienation and estrangement give rise to desires for reunion, which in itself is good, but which the state of being alienated and estranged from God distorts into "over-desire," and lust. The allurements of the System (be this system a religious one, or a secular one) draw us towards conformity to itself. This is why Paul said,

"And stop constantly conforming yourself to (or, as passive: Then quit being repeatedly fashioned or patterned together by) this age [or, with other MSS: and not to be continuously configured to this age; and not to constantly remodel yourself for this age], but on the contrary, be continuously transformed (transfigured; changed in shape, form and semblance) by the renewing (or: in the renewal; for the making-back-up-new again) of your mind..." (Rom. 12:2).

 

We see in the advertising and media industries of our culture the realities of which John is speaking here. From them arise great and repeated "over-desires" which draw us into accepting and seeking union with the Systems of religion, as well as the Systems of the norms of cultural relating to people. The result is "the love, which many people have, (or: the love of many folks) will be caused to blow cold" (Matt. 24:12) and the Father's love is not to be found in them.

 

As to "the eyes' over-desires," Barclay again cites C.H. Dodd who says this means "the tendency to be captivated by outward show" (ibid. p 58), but this could also refer to desiring to possess the thing at which one looks. The next word, alazoneia, Barclay describes as "the boastful braggart who tries to make himself out a far bigger man than he is" (ibid. p 58).

 

17. and the world (ordered System of religion, society, culture, economy and government) is progressively (or: constantly; repeatedly) being caused to pass along (pass by; pass away), as well as its over-desire (full passion; earnest wants; lust), yet the person constantly doing (or: performing) God's will (intent; purpose; desire) remains (abides; dwells) on into the Age (= the time and sphere characterized by the Messiah).

 

The passing away of this world equates to "the Darkness" that "is progressively being caused to pass by" in verse 8, above. This is an ontological statement, referring to the passing of the previous age that accompanied the dawning of the new creation. It was also an eschatological statement, referring to what was about to happen at "the combination of parts to one end of the age" (Matt. 24:3) and the "conjunction of the age" (Matt. 28:20). It is what Paul referred to in 1 Cor. 7:31b,

"for the outward fashion, mode of circumstance, condition, form-appearance (or: character, role, phase, configuration, manner) of this System (ordered world of culture, religion and society) is progressively passing by (= the present scheme of things is changing and passing away)."

 

Consider well the second half of this verse: it is not speaking of being "whisked away" somewhere, but of remaining and dwelling. This continues on in this new age in which we are presently living and in the body of the Messiah – here, upon the earth. The previous age ended with the death of the Messiah, and this was manifested in that generation by the giving of the Spirit and, in AD 70, with the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple. The old has passed away (2 Cor. 5:17).

 

18. O undeveloped ones or folks of the age to be educated (or: servants, little boys and little girls who might be hit in training and for discipline), it continues being (or: is progressively) a last hour (= an eschaton of the Day, or the closing moment [of the age]), and according as you hear (or: heard) that an antichrist (or: anti-anointing; that which is instead of, or in the place of, Christ or the Anointing) repeatedly comes [other MSS: the anti-anointing (or: antichrist) continuously comes], even now many anti-anointings (or: antichrists; many things or people taking the place of Christ or stand in opposition to the Anointing) have been born and are here (or: have come into existence and are at large), from which fact (or: whence) we constantly know by experience that it continues being a last hour (= a closing moment [of the age]).

 

Peter spoke of the ransom paid by Christ's precious blood: "a flawless (unblemished) and spotless Lamb.... One being set in clear light and manifested upon [the] last part (or: final; [p72 and others read plural: last things, circumstances or aspects]) of the times (or: of the [or: these] successive chronological time periods)" in 1 Pet. 1:18-20. This historically sets the time period of "the last time or days," or as John phrases it here, "a last hour." They knew that they were at the close of one age, and the beginning of the new.

 

Balaam prophesied to Balak in Num. 24:14-19,

"I shall counsel you what this people shall do to your people in the latter days....

A Star will position itself from Jacob; and a Scepter will arise from Israel...

And Israel will do ably. For One from Jacob shall hold sway (or: wield dominion) and

will destroy the survivors of a city (or: fortress)."

This word has long been applied to Jesus as the Messiah, as was Jer. 23:5-6 which speaks of "a righteous Branch" who will reign as King, "And THIS is His name where by He shall be called, 'Yahweh our Righteousness'." Then in vs. 20 we read, "In the last (or: latter end) of the days shall you people understand it perfectly." These are just a couple examples of the long history of the idea of "the last day," which Bultmann says "stem from OT Jewish apocalyptic" literature. (ibid. p 36) Even Jacob used the concept when beginning the prophecies about his sons in Gen. 49:1, speaking first of all about "when the people of Israel would enter into the Promised Land" (Barclay, ibid. p 59). "In biblical thought the last time is the end of one age and the beginning of another" (ibid. p 60).

 

Bultmann rightly says that "the antichrists are the false teachers, and everyone who denies that Jesus is the Christ (vs. 22), who does not 'confess' him (4:3), who does not acknowledge that Jesus has come in the flesh (2 Jn 7)..." (ibid. p 36). Because such folks have arisen within the covenant communities John avers that by experience they are aware that "it continues being a last hour," or, a closing moment of that age. This is another way of saying that the darkness is passing away (vs. 8), and "the true light is already shining" (ibid. p 36).

 

Note the opening phrase of this verse: John is speaking to the entire community(ies) and he is classifying them as folks of the age that still needs to be taught. The next verse continues to speak of the antichrists.

 

19. They came (or: come; go; or: went) out from us, but they were not existing out of us (or: they were not [a part] of us), for if they were out of us, they would have remained (dwelt; abided) with us; but [this was] to the end that they may be manifested (caused to appear) that they are not all out of us or from us.

 

This verse instructs us that the term and concept of "antichrist" does not refer to any one person, it is simply a manifestation of the darkness which comes from time to time but is always caused to flee because of the Light. John wrote here about situations that existed in Asia Minor during his lifetime. These warning concerned what he saw as a present danger to the communities to whom he was writing. Paul prophesied of such situations in Acts 20:

29. "Now I myself have seen and am aware that, after (or: with) my spreading forth as dust and ashes (= going away, so as to be out of reach), heavy (= burdensome and oppressive) wolves will enter into the midst of you folks – folks by habit not sparing (or: treating with tenderness or forbearance) the flock,

30. "and men from among you yourselves (= from your own community) will of themselves stand up, repeatedly speaking things having been thoroughly turned and twisted (things that are distorted and not straight), to progressively drag (or: draw; [D & p41 read: turn]) away the disciples behind (thus: after) themselves."

 

20. And further, you folks continue having the effects (or: constantly hold and progressively possess the results) of an anointing from the set-apart One (or: the Holy One), and so you all have seen and are aware (or: know; perceive; [other MSS: and you know all {those} folks]).

 

In the first clause the verb is in the present tense and means to have, hold and possess, and thus the three renderings which I have provided. Each sense of the linear action of the verb gives a slightly different nuance. Something can continue without being constant. Something can continue or be constant without being progressive. Taken together they give a vital sense to the anointing. As to the semantic range of meaning, a person can have something without holding or possessing it; it can be a possession without him presently having it or holding it. Holding it lends a sense of controlling it in a very immediate sense. Recall that Paul said,

"Also – [the] spirits and attitudes of the prophets are normally humbly aligned with [other] prophets, or, to [the] Prophets (or: breath-effects of those having fore-light are constantly subjected and subjoined to the arrangements [made] by [the] folks having fore-light)." (1 Cor. 14:32)

Now observe that what is had, held or possessed is not the anointing itself, but the effects or the results. This comes from the -ma ending of the Greek word, chrisma. Notice its closeness to christos, Christ. This could be rendered "the effects of Christ," and it would be exactly right. And John here spoke this to the entire community – or to the communities in which this letter was shared. He did not say "Some of you have...," or "The leadership possesses and controls..." He would not likely have known each individual or the personal states of piety or understanding. They constantly had the effects of the anointing and progressively possessed the results of the "Christ-ing" because they were members of the covenant community; they were alive in Christ.

 

The anointing was a symbol, a figure that represented the presence and effective participation of the Spirit of God, the Beath-effect, with a human. This was an ontological union which was intimate to the extent that the believer became "one spirit; one Breath-effect; one Attitude" with the Lord (1 Cor. 6:17). Here, John regards this as a corporate experience because a covenant community is one – they are members one of another (Rom. 12:5).

 

John Gavazzoni has written,

"In fact, there is no such thing as an enjoyment of Christ on a merely individual basis. I think that's a thread that runs through all of Paul's thought. That is not to say, of course, that to receive from the Lord means that we must be in the physical presence of other believers, but that since 'he that is joined to the Lord is one spirit,' the 'mystical body of Christ' factor is always present, so that in some way, others' spirits, in union with Christ's Spirit, are always a part of our personal communion with God." (from a private email)

 

Because of the first clause of this verse, John reminds them that "you all have seen and are aware (or: know; perceive)." Again, this is a corporate awareness, knowledge and perception of what he has just been saying in the previous verses. This verse has often been taken out of context, and poorly translated to suggest that "ye know all things" (KJV). They were aware because they had seen and perceived what he was talking about in vs. 19 and above. Other MSS have all in the accusative, instead of the nominative, and so can read "and you know all [those] folks (or: [them] all)," which makes sense to the context, as well. Again in reference to the false teachers, vs. 27 instructs them that because "the effects of the anointing which you folks received (or: receive) from Him constantly remain (abide; dwell; make their home) within you folks... you continually have no use (or: you are not constantly having a need) that anyone should keep on teaching you (or: be repeatedly giving you a course of lessons; coach you; instruct you)." They did not need these false teachers that left their group(s).

 

Bultmann (ibid. p 37) informs us "that 'anointing' played an important role in Gnosticism, viz., as the sacrament of anointing," citing Rudolf Schnackenburg (Die Johannesbriefe, Frieburg, Herder, p 152 notes 3 and 4). This sheds much light on why John brought this up at this juncture.

 

21. I do not write to you because you do not know the Truth (or: [new] Reality), but rather because you do know it, and because every lie is not forth from the Truth (or: even that all falsehood is not [coming] from Reality).

 

With our understanding enlightened by vss. 19-20, we see that the "lie" refers to the false teachings that had been coming into these communities, and that they were not a part of the true message from the Christ – and the reality was that these communities really knew this. The history of the "church" is rife with such experiences – such as these against which John is writing in this letter – and today such things are in full bloom. Cf the letter from Judah (Jude).

 

22. Which one is (exists continuously being) the liar, if not the person habitually denying (repeatedly disowning; = constantly turning his back), [saying] that Jesus is not the Christ (the Anointed One [= Messiah])? This person is (exists being) the anti-anointing (or: anti-anointed person; the one taking the place of and being in the opposite position of the anointing and of Christ): the one habitually denying (constantly turning his back on) the Father and the Son.

 

At first glance, the first statement might indicate that John is referring to the Jews, specifically, here – and indeed this does historically apply to many of them even to this day who did not accept Jesus as their Messiah. But with the understanding that John is addressing the Gnostic belief that the historical Jesus only "seemed" to be the Christ, that the Christ only came upon Him at His baptism and departed from Him just before He died, we can better understand why John's next sentence refers to such a person as personifying "the anti-anointing" or is "the anti-anointed person." This person, the one who does not see "The Man Jesus Christ" (1 Tim. 2:5) or the Second Man and eschatos Adam (1 Cor. 15:45-47) as the embodiment (incarnation) of God in humanity, is "the one taking the place of and being in the opposite position of the anointing and of Christ."

 

To deny the historical Jesus as the Christ is to also deny "the Father and the Son" because,

"no one is by habit completely or accurately knowing the Son in an intimate and personal way – except the Father – nor does anyone continue having an intimate experiential full-knowledge of the Father – except the Son, as well as to or in whomever the Son in now desiring (wanting) to unveil [Him]." (Matt. 11:27; cf Lu. 10:22)

Also there are the witnesses from the gospel of John,

"The person progressively believing and continuing to put trust into Me is not

continuously believing and placing trust into Me, but rather, into the One sending

Me, and the person continually gazing at and contemplatively watching Me is

continuously looking upon (viewing and contemplating; watching) the One sending

Me." (12:44-45)

"No one is presently going to, or progressively coming toward, the Father, except

through Me (through means of Me, or, through the midst of Me)." (14:6)

"The one having seen Me has seen, and now perceives, the Father!" (14:9)

These fly in the face of those who wish to bypass Jesus or "move beyond" Him as they endeavor to simply discover the god within us, as did the Gnostics of John's day. It is true that our real identity is that of being His children and that it is by His indwelling Spirit that Christ is within us. As Paul quoted in Acts 17:28, "we are also a family of the One (His species and offspring; a family which is composed of the One)."

 

Peter spoke to a same or similar issue,

"as also false teachers will exist (or: be) among you folks, ones who will stealthily

introduce (bring in alongside; smuggle in) destructive choices (or: destructive sects or

schools; heresies marked by, and which pertain to, loss or destruction) even repeatedly

denying (disowning; disclaiming) the Sovereign Owner (or: Absolute Master) having

purchased them (or: buying them at the gathering, or market, place)..." (2 Pet. 2:1)

This is a clear reference to the ransom paid by Jesus. Denying the Son is denying "the Head of the body" (Col. 1:18). Denying the Father is denying all that Jesus taught.

 

We see, below, in 4:2-3 (and in 2 John 7) that these teachers disputed Jesus Christ as "having come and now continuing in flesh." "[A]nd when in 5:6 it is claimed in opposition to them that Jesus came di' hudatos kai haimatos ('by water and blood'), then everything points to the fact that they deny that the Christ is identical with the earthly, historical Jesus.... [which is] the dualism of Gnosticism, which asserts the exclusive antithesis between God and the sensible world" (Bultmann, ibid. p 38). Barclay points out that there are three main confessions of Jesus in the NT: as the Son of God (Matt. 16:16; John 9:35-38); that He is Lord (Phil. 2:11); and that He is the Messiah, here in this verse (ibid. p 68, emphasis original).

 

23. Everyone continuously denying or turning his back on the Son does not even have (or: not even is he possessing; neither holds) the Father. The one habitually speaking like the Son (or: the one continuously confessing and avowing the Son; the one habitually speaking in accord with or saying the same thing as the Son) also constantly has (possesses) the Father.

 

Our relationship to the Father is shown by the verb echein (have; possess), as in 2 Jn 9.. We saw this same verb in vs. 20, above. There it spoke of "having" the anointing; here it speaks of having "the Father." We can conclude that to have the one is to have the other, and likewise, confessing the Son equates to possessing the Father. Conversely, by turning one's back on or denying the Son (i.e., Jesus, the Human) one denies and turns one's back on God.

 

24. As for you folks, let what you heard from [the] beginning be continuously remaining (abiding; dwelling; staying) within you. When (or: If; If at any time) that which you heard from [the] beginning would remain (should abide; can dwell; may stay and make its home) within you, you also will continue remaining (abiding; dwelling; staying) within the Son, even within the midst of and in union with the Father! (or: you will dwell both in the Son and in the Father).

 

For us, today, John's admonition would be, "Stay with the Scripture and its message." When His Word remains, abides, dwells and stays within us, we – by and through this – continue remaining and abiding "within the Son, even within the midst of and in union with the Father!" This answers to John 15:4-10. This is the goal, our destiny, and it can be our present reality. We can want no more than this. This is the glory. Our understanding of this may increase, and the experience will progress, but it is as we actually live in and with Him that these are actualized. This is the Way, the Truth and the Life.

 

25. And this is (continues being) the Promise which He Himself promised (or: promises) to us [other MSS: to you]: the Life of the Age

(or: eonian life; life into the un-seeable future; age-lasting life; Life having the character and qualities of the Age [of Messiah]; life pertaining to the ages; Life for and on through the ages). [note: in Acts 1:4-5 the “Promise” was the Holy Spirit]

 

The Promise is the coming of the Age of Messiah, when the Holy Spirit indwells the New Humanity – the Last Adam, of whom Jesus is the Head and Source. This is the Life:

"Now THIS is (or: exists being) eonian life (living existence of and for the ages; life pertaining to the Age [of Messiah]): namely, that they may progressively come to intimately and experientially know You, the only true and real (genuine) God – and Jesus Christ, Whom You send forth as an Emissary (or: as well as Jesus [as the] Anointed One, whom You sent off as a Representative)." (John 17:3)

You see, this is the true gnosis, and it is all based upon union with the Father and the Son (John 17:21-26), and it is the true Promise. Today Christians are told that they should have material wealth and possessions. They primarily base this upon the lives of folks that lived under the old covenant – like Abraham or Solomon. But the wealth and possessions that those folks had did not last, and neither did they bring those people into the kingdom. Consider what Jesus said about material wealth,

"It continues being easier for a camel to pass through the midst of a needle's perforation (or: eye; hole bored or worn-through) than for a rich person to enter into the kingdom of God (God's sovereign reign and activities)." (Mk. 10:25; cf Mt. 19:23)

How more plain could He make it? Yet we are repeatedly given OT promises (which applied to Israel, alone) about wealth and abundance, as they ask for money to support their ministries. But seldom do we hear about "the Promise" which He Himself promised.

 

We find expression of this "eonian life," of the Life of the Age, in the covenant communities to which the letters of the NT were written.

 

26. I write these things [other MSS: But I wrote these things] to you about the folks constantly trying to lead you astray (or: periodically causing you to wander; repeatedly deceiving you),

 

So here, again, we find the purpose for his saying these things: to warn them about the false teachers that had been among them – the wolves that Paul spoke of and the

"impious ones, people continuously changing the grace and favor of God into licentiousness, as well as repeatedly denying and disowning our only Sovereign and Lord (or: Supreme Ruler and Owner), Jesus Christ [= Messiah]"

of whom Judah spoke (Jude 4) that "came in unobserved."

 

Being led astray or being deceived was not about immoral living, but about false teaching that would put the focus on the individual and not upon Christ or His body. It caused them to wander away from the Way, or Path, pointed out (the real meaning of "righteousness").

 

27. and the effects of the anointing which you folks received (or: receive) from Him constantly remain (abide; dwell; make a home) within you folks, and you continually have no use (or: you are not constantly having a need) that anyone should keep on teaching you (or: be repeatedly giving you a course of lessons; coach you; instruct you), but rather, just as the effects of His anointing is continuously and progressively teaching you about everything (or: concerning all people), and is continuously true, and real, and is not a lie, even according as it taught (or: as He instructs) you: you are continuously abiding (remaining; dwelling; being at home) within and in union with Him (or, reading as an imperative: be constantly remaining, abiding, staying and dwelling within the midst of Him).

 

Barclay has pointed out something very significant in the first clause of this verse: "In the old days anointing had been the privilege of the chosen few, the priests, the prophets and the kings; but now it is the privilege of every Christian, however humble he may be" (ibid. p 69). And furthermore, its effects constantly remain "within" us. You may have heard some preacher or teacher characterized as having a "strong anointing on" her or him. It is Christ within us and among us that gives us the effects of the anointing. Having a "strong anointing" finds no place in Scripture: you either have it by being "in Him," or you don't yet. I suspect that we have been misled by Darth Vader who said, "The force is strong within this one." This is just another term of religious elitism.

 

Note well that this first clause is once again addressed to the plurality of the group(s). We have the effects of the anointing because of being part of the body of Christ.

 

The context of the second clause is John's message concerning the false teachers: they and we do not need teachers who possess esoteric knowledge or those who give instruction on things that are outside of the message and Word of Christ. But within this message, He gave us teachers of the true Reality (e.g., Eph. 4:11).

 

But as he continued in this verse, we see that the "effect" of His anointing "is continuously and progressively teaching you [and us] about everything (or: concerning all people), and is continuously true, and real." The word panto n is a form of the word "all" that is both neutral and masculine, thus I have given renderings of both. Note that the teaching about everything is progressive. And in this Life we also learn about all people.

 

Yet let us direct our gaze to the focus of all this teaching: it is concerning the present reality of our "continuously abiding (remaining; dwelling; being at home) within and in union with Him" – taking menete as a present indicative. This same spelling can also be an imperative, thus the second rendering as an admonition.

 

28. And now (at the present time; in this moment), little children (born-ones; bairns), you are continuously (or, reading as imperative: keep on) dwelling (abiding; remaining; staying) within and in union with Him, to the end that if (or: whenever) He (or: it) may be manifested (made visible and apparent; shown in clear light) we can (or: may; should; would) have confident boldness (freedom in speaking associated with citizenship; complete outspoken bluntness) and may not feel or receive shame (disgrace; dishonor; humiliation) from Him, within His presence (or: may not be shamed away from Him in the midst of His presence).

 

We have the same verb menete once again. And again, this is either a reminder of their realm of spiritual existence, or an admonition to remain there. But let us open our lens aperture to take in more light on the purpose of our remaining in union with Him, introduced by the phrase "to the end that." Traditional eschatology has put the following clause to some time in the future when Jesus will somehow physically appear either to the "end-time church" or to the world (the traditions vary).

 

I first chose the word "manifested" to trigger association with the KJV rendering of Rom. 8:19 ("the manifestation of the sons of God") in the reader, and because this is a good rendering of the Greek. But the parenthetical expansion should add clarity to this phrase. The literal means to show in clear light. Thus, to be made visible so other folks can see something.

 

In 2 Cor. 4:10-11 Paul uses this same verb in relation to Christ, so let us consider what he says,

"... to the end that the life, also, of Jesus (or: so that also the life which comes from and is Jesus; or: so that Jesus' life) can (may; would) be set in clear light and manifested, within our body (or: in the midst of the body, which is us)!

For we, ourselves – the continuously living ones – are ever being repeatedly handed over into death (or: = continuously delivered into life-threatening experiences) – because of Jesus – to the end that the life, also, of Jesus (or: so that also the life which comes from and is Jesus; or: so that Jesus' life) can (may; could; would) be set in clear light and manifested – within our mortal flesh!"

I suggest that John is meaning something quite similar in vs. 28, here. Note Paul's repetition of the name, Jesus, and note the corporate (and corporal) manifestation to which he refers. Remaining in union with Him gives us the "freedom of speaking" and "confident boldness" that the disciples always sought from the Lord (Acts 4:29, 31; 2 Cor. 7:4) and Phil. 1:20,

"that within nothing will I be put to shame (disgrace; embarrassment), but to the contrary, within all freedom of speech (boldness and public openness which comes from being a citizen) – as always, even now (at the present moment) – Christ will be made great (be magnified; be enlarged) within my body, whether through life, or through death!"

 

Paul, like John here, does not want to be put to shame (they lived in an honor/shame society). I suggest that both were referring to this life, when our life can set His Life in clear light for others to see, and thus will His sons (the called-out, covenant community) be manifested to them, that they are dwelling and abiding within Him – in union with His Spirit. This happens "within His presence" because it is His presence that creates the manifestation of His Life. Recall the illustration of the Vine in John 15. The fruit that Jesus wanted was the manifestation in the branches (us) which was generated by the flow of the sap (figure of the Spirit) from the Vine into the branches. It is the Vine that gives life to the branches and that grows the fruit (the Fruit of the Spirit – cf Gal. 5:22-23).

 

29. If you folks may have come to see (or: perceive), and should now know, that He is continuously One who constantly lives in accord with the Way pointed out (is right, just, fair, rightwised and in right relationship [in covenant]), you continue to know by experience that everyone habitually making or doing fair and equitable dealing (accomplishing that which is right and in accord with the Way pointed out; practicing justice; constructing righteousness; producing rightwised [existence]) has been born and now exists being a born-one (or: now stands begotten), from out of the midst of Him (and: with Him as the Source).

 

John concludes his reasoning on this section of the letter with an ontological metaphor of birth that echoes the reasoning that Jesus gave to Nicodemus in John 3:3-8. There birth "back up again to a higher place (or: being brought to birth again, from above)" resulted in both "seeing" and "entering" the kingdom of God (God's reign and realm – the place of Sovereign activity). In that same chapter, what was mentioned here in vs. 25 ("the Life of the Age [of Messiah]," or "eonian life") is associated there with "habitually trusting and believing" (vss. 15, 16 and 36).

 

In 5:12, below, John says "The one continually holding (or: constantly having; progressively possessing) the Son continuously holds (constantly has; progressively possesses) the Life," and in vs. 23, above, "speaking like the Son" means that one "has the Father." Then in vs. 24, by the message (what was heard) remaining and dwelling within, one will dwell both in the Son and in the Father.

 

Here, in vs. 29, being born from out of Him is demonstrated, or recognized, by "making or doing fair and equitable dealing (or: practicing justice; producing rightwised [existence]; accomplishing that which is right; etc.)." This corresponds to "keeping His implanted goals" in vs. 3, and "keeping His Word/message" in vs. 5.

 

Putting these ideas together we see an association, or an interweaving, of 1) being born of Him, from above; 2) seeing and entering the reign/kingdom; 3) trusting and believing; 4) having the Son – which means having life: the life of the age of Messiah; 5) speaking like the Son – which means having the Father; and, because of being born from Him, 6) constructing fairness and equity and doing what is right. What all these ingredients produce is living in love within the covenant community. Vs. 29 says this happens because we have both seen and now know that Christ is the one who lives in accord with the Way (= covenant living), and those living like Him are living a life in covenant with the called-out community – living in the Light.

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