The Epistles of John pt.1-3 in the Bible Encyclopedia - ISBE

LITERATURE Among the 7 New Testament epistles which from ancient times have been called "catholic" (universal) there is a smaller group of three in which the style alike of thought and language points to a common authorship, and which are traditionally associated with the name of the apostle John. Of these, again, the first differs widely from the other two in respect not only of intrinsic importance, but of its early reception in the church and unquestioned canonicity. THE FIRST EPISTLE I. General Character. 1. A True Letter: Not only is the Epistle an anonymous writing; one of its unique features among the books of the New Testament is that it does not contain a single proper name (except our Lord's), or a single definite allusion, personal, historical, or geographical. It is a composition, however, which a person calling himself "I" sends to certain other persons whom he calls "you," and is, in form at least, a letter. The criticism which has denied that it is more than formally so is unwarranted. It does not fall under either of Deissmann's categories--the true letter, intended only for the perusal of the person or persons to whom it is addressed, and the epistle, written with literary art and with an eye to the public. But it does possess that character of the New Testament epistles in general which is well described by Sir William Ramsay (Letters to the Seven Churches of Asia, 24): "They spring from the heart of the writer and speak direct to the heart of the readers. They were often called forth by some special crisis in the history of the persons addressed, so that they rise out of the actual situation in which the writer conceives the readers to be placed; they express the writer's keen and living sympathy with and participation in the fortunes of the whole class addressed, and are not affected by any thought of a wider public. .... On the other hand, the letters of this class express general principles of life and conduct, religion and ethics, applicable to a wider range of circumstances than those which called them forth; and they appeal as emphatically and intimately to all Christians in all time as they did to those addressed in the first instance." The 1st Epistle of John could not be more exactly characterized than by these words. Though its main features are didactic and controversial, the personal note is frequently struck, and with much tenderness and depth of feeling. Under special stress of emotion, the writer's paternal love, sympathy and solicitude break out in the affectionate appellation, "little children," or, yet more endearingly, "my little children." Elsewhere the prefatory "beloved" shows how deeply he is stirred by the sublimity of his theme and the sense of its supreme importance to his readers. He shows himself intimately acquainted with their religious environment (1 Jn 2:19; 4:1), dangers (1 Jn 2:26; 3:7; 5:21), attainments (1 Jn 2:12-14,21), achievements (1 Jn 4:4) and needs (1 Jn 3:19; 5:13). Further, the Epistle is addressed primarily to the circle of those among whom the author has habitually exercised his ministry as evangelist and teacher. He has been wont to announce to them the things concerning the Word of Life (1 Jn 1:1,2), that they might have fellowship with him (1 Jn 1:3), and now, that his (or their) joy may be full, he writes these things unto them (1 Jn 1:4). He writes as light shines. Love makes the task a necessity, but also a delight...

Link: https://bible-history.com/isbe/J/JOHN,+THE+EPISTLES+OF,+PART+1-3/