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  • Archive for November 26th, 2011

    The Epistles of John: Living in Truth and Love. 1 John 1 continued

    Saturday, November 26th, 2011 by Elgin Hushbeck

    Week 12: Nov 27, 2011

    This week we had a lot of discussion before continuing 1 John 1:1

    Study

    1:1 – What existed from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we observed and touched with our own hands—this is the[1] Word of life!

    existed from the beginning

    - Last week we saw that the “What” at the start of the verse referred to the totality of Jesus, and the message he brought concerning eternal life. This brings us to the next question. When was the beginning that is being referred to here? Again there are several possibilities.

    1 From all eternity as in John 1:1. One question however, is that this is from (ἀπ) the beginning whereas John 1:1 was in (ἐν) the beginning. It would also seem to be in contrast from the other three clauses that will follow this one.

    2 From the beginning of the world. This is certainly possible but seems a bit arbitrary. Why pick this point as the point to begin. It also has the problem of possibly, but necessarily, implying that Jesus only existed from the creation. So it add little to our understanding of the verse, but introduces a possible problem

    3 From Jesus’ earthly ministry. This is consistent with the other three clauses and since the “What” includes both the message and eternal life, this would make sense as this was the point at which the message of eternal life began to be spread.

    4 From the beginning of the apostles teachings. This is also largely consistent with the time frame of the three clauses yet to come. However it would shift the focus from the totality of Jesus and the message of life that he embodied, to more of an emphasis on the message, i.e., this is the message we have taught from the beginning. And while this is consistent with the timeframe, it would conflict with the see and touch aspects of the “What” discussed in the next verse.

    Given all of this it would seem that it is close between the 1st and 3rd options. The lack of explanation by John, and clear allusion to John 1:1 would seem to argue for the first option. Yet the third option seems to fit a little better. One thing to consider is that they may have been conflated in John’s mind. The main point being stressed here is the lack of change. Whether one sees this as from the beginning of Jesus’ Ministry or from all eternity ultimately matters little, and it may not have mattered to John as he wrote.

    Questions and Discussion.

    The class began with a question concerning the judgment seat of Christ: Since none of us are perfect and all have sinned and fallen short, even as Christians, will this be a judgment that we should fear? This developed into a long discussion on the balance between love and judgment and the nature of forgiveness that would be impossible to recreate here, however it does foreshadow some issues that we will be covering later in the study. In the end I argued that while our life will be judged at the judgment seat of Christ, this will not be a time of fear. I am not sure we have the words for the emotions what we will be feeling, it will be a time of sadness for all the times that we failed our savior, but it will be a time when we experience true forgiveness and as such our sense of failure will be, I believe, overwhelmed by the love of Christ and at that point we will understand both his sacrifice and his forgiveness in ways that we can’t now. So while I do not believe it will be a time of fear, like most of the afterlife, we cannot really say what it will be, for now we see through a glass darkly. (1 Cor 13:12)

    Next week we will continue in 1 John 1

    If you have question or comments about the class, feel free to send me an email at elgin@hushbeck.com and be sure to put “Epistles of John” in the header.

    See here for references and more background on the class.

    Scripture taken from the Holy Bible: International Standard Version®. Copyright © 1996-2008 by The ISV Foundation. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED INTERNATIONALLY. Used by permission. www.isv.org

    Note: Some places I have modify the text from the ISV version. Passages that I have modified have been noted with and * by the verse number and the ISV text is included in a footnote.


    Footnotes:
    1 v1:1 Lit. about the