Another interesting point about 1 John. Unlike the Gospel of John, the epistle does not use “word of God” as a reference to Jesus, rather it is always a reference to the message of about Jesus that the congregation has heard “from the beginning.” However, the language of “word of God” in 1 John is clearly meant to evoke and reference the passages from the prologue of the Gospel that identify Jesus with the Word. What are we to make of this?
Judith Lieu makes a helpful observation, “In 1 John the ‘word of God’ is not a christological title; it is that which one keeps or has heard, just as it is the commandment (2:5-7); it is that which abides in believers (1:10; 2:14). If that which was from the beginning abides in them, then so will they abide in the Son and the Father (2:24). The strong ‘realised’ or present religious experience of 1 John is rooted in the believers’ fidelity to, and participation in, the tradition and life of the community.”
What is interesting here is that this Johannine notion of participation in God is actualized in one’s “abiding” in the narrative of Jesus. By remaining faithful to and grounded in the historical narrative of the Gospel believers come to inhabit the life of God. Thus, participation in God takes the form of faithfulness to and continuance in the story of Jesus. Union with God, in 1 John means participation in the history of Jesus.