Skip to content

More on 1 John and Abiding

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.

One Comment

  1. parishioner wrote:

    Halden,

    If you’ve time, I’d like to ask you about something here which is unclear to me.

    “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.”

    Uh . . . you’ve no doubt noticed my theological ignorance, but that sounds like grounds for orthopraxis over orthodoxy. Is it simply that your post was brief?

    1 John 2:3We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands. 4The man who says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him. 5But if anyone obeys his word, God’s love[b] is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him: 6Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.

    There are those who claim to know him yet do not do what he commands. Then there are those who try to do what he commands and yet make no claim to have a relationship with him– “to know him.” And then there are those (such as at my local Episcopal church) who claim it is impossible “to know him,” yea simply ignorant over-emotionalism (shudder), and Humanism is the presiding idolatrous religion.

    So . . .are you saying one participates in the history of Jesus by a) walking with him in relationship while b) being “faithful to and grounded in the historical narrative of the Gospel,” or are you saying you view those as mutually exclusive?

    Thanks for your patience.

    Friday, March 6, 2009 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

Switch to our mobile site