The impersonal it refers to the Word which gives life, which may denote the gospel, since Word is not as clearly a title for Jesus Christ as in Jn. (see Jn. 1.1, 14
nn.). However, from the beginning (the creation) suggests the preexistence of Christ (see 2.13–14
). As in Jn. 1.14
, the pronoun we indicates the apostolic witnesses, who attest their personal experience of Jesus' earthy life. The theme is that announced in Jn. 1.1–18
This life, described as eternal, which was with God (see Jn. 1.1–2
), has become visible through the incarnation (see Jn. 1.14
The key Gk. term behind the phrase share … in a common life is found only here and in vv. 6–7
in Johannine literature, but is characteristic of Paul (e.g. 1 Cor. 1.9
). However, the idea of life which we share with God and Christ is very Johannine (see Jn. 5.26; 14.6
The joy communicated by Christ is mentioned in Jn. 15.11; 16.22; 17.13
Light and darkness, a frequent antithesis in Jn., signify truth and error and reflect a moral dualism (see Jn. 1.5; 3.19
The common life is not created by human goodwill, but by Christ's redemptive act (see Rev. 1.5
also urges the confession of sins.
One who … will plead our cause (i.e. an advocate): the Gospel of John (e.g.
) calls the Holy Spirit the “advocate.”
Only here and at
in Johannine literature is Jesus called a sacrifice to atone for our sins. The meaning is that by Jesus' death (see 1.7
) God has revealed gracious, loving forgiveness of humanity. The atoning power of Christ's death is limitless.
John 14.15 and 15.10
assert that Christian love implies obedience.
The old yet new command:
see Jn. 13.34
The world here is opposed to God (see Jn. 3.16 n.
) and is exemplified by three common evil tendencies in human beings: lust, avarice, arrogant self-sufficiency.
Antichrist, found only in 1 and 2 Jn., is a personification of “enmity to Christ.”
The presence of the Spirit in the Christian brings knowledge of divine truth (see Jn. 14.26; 16.13–15
The denial of the incarnation is the basic heresy attacked by the author.
promises a new covenant when human beings will be divinely taught and need no other teacher.
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