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The Oxford Study Bible Study Bible supplemented with commentary from scholars of various religions.

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Commentary on The First Letter of John

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1.1–4 : The prologue.

1 :

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 .

2 :

This life, described as eternal, which was with God (see Jn. 1.1–2 ), has become visible through the incarnation (see Jn. 1.14 ).

3 :

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 ).

4 :

The joy communicated by Christ is mentioned in Jn. 15.11; 16.22; 17.13 .

1.5–2.27 : God is Light.

5 :

Light and darkness, a frequent antithesis in Jn., signify truth and error and reflect a moral dualism (see Jn. 1.5; 3.19 ).

7 :

The common life is not created by human goodwill, but by Christ's redemptive act (see Rev. 1.5 ).

9 :

James 5.16 also urges the confession of sins.

2.1 :

One who … will plead our cause (i.e. an advocate): the Gospel of John (e.g. 14.16–17 ) calls the Holy Spirit the “advocate.”

2 :

Only here and at 4.10 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.

5 :

John 14.15 and 15.10 assert that Christian love implies obedience.

7–8 :

The old yet new command: see Jn. 13.34 .

16 :

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.

18 :

Antichrist, found only in 1 and 2 Jn., is a personification of “enmity to Christ.”

20–21 :

The presence of the Spirit in the Christian brings knowledge of divine truth (see Jn. 14.26; 16.13–15 ).

22–23 :

The denial of the incarnation is the basic heresy attacked by the author.

27 :

Jeremiah 31.33–34 promises a new covenant when human beings will be divinely taught and need no other teacher.

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