1 John 1
I have an NASB Study Bible that I bought used from Amazon and I keep it in my car. So this morning, before work, I was reading it and jotting down my thoughts.
My Study Bible says that John was writing to believers during a time when Gnosticism was emerging as an intellectual cult. This was interesting for me because Gnosticism was actually one of the belief systems I dabbled in when I turned away from Christianity.
Anyway, Gnostics were attempting to answer the question of whether God could have had a physical body (Jesus). As they believed that physical bodies were evil and full of sin, they proposed that Jesus was some form of phantom or temporary appearance of God.
Because Gnostics believed the body was evil and only the spirit was pure they tended to live immorally thinking that it didn’t matter what they did in the flesh as long as their spirits were pure. They did as they pleased.
So with that in mind, John’s opening to this letter where he stresses several times,
“what we have heard”, “what we have seen”, “what we have looked at”, “and touched with our hands”
makes more sense. He is refuting the teachings of Gnosticism.
It’s believed that the apostle John wrote this letter, through he is not mentioned specifically as the author. He was probably nearing the end of his life and would probably have been the only living apostle left. Christianity would have been around 50-60 years old at this point.
John relays the truth that God is Light and in Him there is no darkness at all.
John uses the phrase “if we say” because even in the 1st century phrases and words were being twisted from their original meanings. He is correcting the “Christian” terminology.
John is showing believers what the phrases mean and what they mean when used incorrectly.
“have fellowship with Him”
“walk in the light”
“we have no sin”
“confess our sins”
“we have not sinned”
John is using examples of what to say and what not to say to convey God’s truth.
We’ve seen this quite a bit through emails when we are trying to make our thoughts clear to one another.
I may use a phrase in a way that means on thing to me but means something different to you, then we have a misunderstanding.
Slang words mess up our language completely and interfere with communication.
So Chapter 1 is an opening to the letter where John begins by addressing the absurd notion that Jesus was some sort of phantom. He then goes on to begin to correct the meanings of some newly Christian phrases and terms that have strayed from their original meanings.
Christianity is only 50-60 years old now. Long enough for some children to reach adults within Christian homes and it is already being challenged in its phrases and wordings and John is trying to get it back on track before he dies.
I looked through this first chapter and looked up a few words but I didn’t find anything weird or interesting in word study. I’m not sure I would have come to the whole John working on correcting Christian phrases on my own but I used my study bible this morning in the car and after reading it’s notes on the subject and then reading the chapter through that filter, it did fit.