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1, 2, & 3 John

12.29.2010

There’s no better proof in my view that these epistles are written by the same John who wrote the Gospel than this description from the ESV Study Bible of the letters’ style:

The rhetoric…is challenging.  John rarely sustains a clear line of argument for more than a few lines or verses.  He wanders from subject to subject, unencumbered by any discernible outline…His style of thought has been termed circular rather than linear.  It has also been termed symphonic, in that he states themes, moves away from them, and then revisits them with variations.

Does this sound like any proto-hippie gospel writer that you know?  To me, this description supports the position (as I understand it) of William Black and Daniel Kirk that a disproportionately Pauline faith is too Euro-centric in that it limits itself to the linear, rational structures of thought.  The works of John are ample evidence that our faith is not limited to one cultural intellectual paradigm.

I’ve always thought of 2 and 3 John as odd books to include in the Bible.  If there are 66 works that we’re prepared to say reveal God’s will and Word direct through the Holy Spirit, it seems odd to include these two.  One theory about their inclusion is that they were written together with 1 John as a packet.  By this token, John would have sent a packet of letters to his friend Gaius, including a personal letter to him (3 John), a letter to be read out to Gaius’ larger congregation or ‘lady’/kyrie (2 John), and a broader treatise to be shared with all of the local churches (1 John).  There’s no proof that this is what happened, but it’s a useful way to understand how these three letters relate to one another.

I’ll end with a memory verse from 1 John:

1:9 | If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

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From → [memory], [overview]

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