Welp…it’s been over two years since I’ve written anything on my blog, and before that it was quite a long time, too. Life gets busy…you know how it is. There’s been a lot of times I’ve felt like I should be writing something, but a small voice inside said I didn’t have anything important to say and no one would care even if I did. But recently, I’ve been thinking about why I started this blog so long ago…and the reason was that I was learning as I spent time in God’s word. I learned even more when I digested it and regurgitated it (sorry for the graphic illustration) in writing. In other words, writing out what He is teaching me is more for my benefit than anyone else’s. So I’m hoping to get going again and to start writing here more.
Interestingly, about 4 years ago, I enrolled in seminary. So I’ve been learning more over the last few years than ever before, and yet I’ve written less (here, at least) than before. I’m currently in the middle of taking Biblical Greek, and I decided that as a part of learning Greek I should spend time reading the Greek NT and using that during my devotions. That’s what I began this week, and I am reading 1 John. This post will share what I’ve been reading and my thoughts on what it means and how I think the Spirit is prompting me to apply it. I’m following a format of my own design – I spend time reading the verse in Greek (I’m still new to it, so it takes me a lot of time and I still use helpers like dictionaries and English translations). I write out my own translation, then add my thoughts below. So what you see here is basically just my daily devotional. It won’t always contain application (sometimes those are personal!).
1 John 1:1
Ὃ ἦν ἀπ’ ἀρχῆς, ὃ ἀκηκόαμεν, ὃ ἑωράκαμεν τοῖς ὀφθαλμοῖς ἡμῶν, ὃ ἐθεασάμεθα καὶ αἱ χεῖρες ἡμῶν ἐψηλάφησαν περὶ τοῦ λόγου τῆς ζωῆς–
That which (was) from the beginning, which we heard, which we saw with our eyes, which we looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the word of life
John speaks of his closeness to Christ – he heard, saw, touched Him. He’s qualifying his message as one of authority. He has the authority to tell them the truth about Christ because he knew Him, saw Him, heard Him, was physically with Him.
1 John 1:2
καὶ ἡ ζωὴ ἐφανερώθη, καὶ ἑωράκαμεν καὶ μαρτυροῦμεν καὶ ἀπαγγέλλομεν ὑμῖν τὴν ζωὴν τὴν αἰώνιον ἥτις ἦν πρὸς τὸν πατέρα καὶ ἐφανερώθη ἡμῖν–
and the life was made manifest (RSV)/revealed (NET), and we saw and testify and proclaim (announce – NET) to you the eternal life that was with the Father and (was) made manifest/revealed to you
Jesus Christ = Eternal Life; John is saying that his message is a revelation of what was revealed to him when he saw Christ firsthand.
Christ was with the Father – He is a separate person (theology nerd-alert)
1 John 1:3
ὃ ἑωράκαμεν καὶ ἀκηκόαμεν, ἀπαγγέλλομεν καὶ ὑμῖν, ἵνα καὶ ὑμεῖς κοινωνίαν ἔχητε μεθ’ ἡμῶν. καὶ ἡ κοινωνία δὲ ἡ ἡμετέρα μετὰ τοῦ πατρὸς καὶ μετὰ τοῦ υἱοῦ αὐτοῦ Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ.
That (which) we saw and heard, we proclaim to you, so that you may have fellowship with us also. And our fellowship (is) with the Father and with His son Jesus Christ.
John’s reason for writing: he wanted his reader to have fellowship with him (plural – them…) as He had fellowship with the Father and Son.
NET translation note: κοινωνία = shared, genuine association (personal note: NOT proximity, but authenticity)
1 John 1:4
καὶ ταῦτα γράφομεν ἡμεῖς, ἵνα ἡ χαρὰ ἡμῶν ᾖ πεπληρωμένη.
And this we write, so that our/your* joy may be complete (fulfilled, NET).
*NET notes that this is a textual variant – some manuscripts have “our”, others have “your”. So either John’s purpose was to fulfill his own joy, or to fulfill his readers’ joy.
John notes another purpose, or at least a hopeful result, of his writing: to fulfill joy.
So, what did I get from these devotionals (I did these over a couple of days)? First, John wanted his message to be considered authoritative. I don’t think this means he was going to smack them in the face with his authority, but I wonder if perhaps there were some people teaching in Christ’s name who knew nothing of Christ’s true teachings and were spreading false gospels. John is saying, “Look, I was there. I saw Him. I heard Him. I even touched Him. You’re not going to get a more accurate message of Christ’s teachings than what I’m about to give you. Who am I to tell you what to do? I’m the best thing you’ve got if you want the truth.”
Second, I see John telling his readers why he is writing them. He wants them to have 2 things: fellowship and joy. Fellowship is a word used too flippantly in church today (at least, IMO). People say they’re having a fellowship time, or that they enjoy “fellowshipping” with others on Sunday mornings. But I don’t think that’s what the word means. I like the NET note that says that κοινωνία (koinonia) is “shared, genuine association.” I noted that this does not mean proximity, but authenticity. You can go to church with a group of people for years and years (proximity), and be no closer to them in an authentic relationship than you are with complete strangers. The question is: how do you get that authenticity?
Finally, John wants either his own or his readers’ joy to be complete. I’m not sure I have a good grasp on what this means or what it looks like. I’m hoping that it becomes clearer as I move through the book.
So, that’s what I have for now. I’ll hopefully keep going with it…it’s been rewarding, both getting into the Greek, and working to make it more than rote translation, but to use the translation for devotional time in God’s Word.