Lectionary Year B
May 7, 2000
1 John 3:1-7

Step II: Disposition


This part of 1 John is the first part we have considered that begins to seem like it might be epistolary. Not that it has a greeting or a salutation, merely that it reads like a love letter. Not by format, rather by content, it expresses love from God and for recipients. Love letters can be repetitious for emphases' sake, they can speculate, re: what the recipient(s) might be thinking, wondering, questioning, fearing, hoping, misunderstanding, etc. The pericope at hand does these things. The author(s) seem(s) to state truths in terms of certainty about God and it makes suggestions that aim to jog the recipients' memories, re: what they surely must know or at least believe, re: who they are - God's children - and that there is more, albeit unknown and that they are pure, too, and who and what the Deity is and does - righteous and takes away sins. These truths are lovingly generated and shared equally lovingly. This passage could pass for a love note.


Again, we can hardly help notice how many subjects get addressed in these short paragraphs. Do all these various subjects really theologically if not naturally follow one another? Do they necessarily properly come in this order? Hasn't He already been (verse 2) revealed both by the time 1 John was written and by now for us? I believe He abides in me and I am absolutely certain I sin yet. Remember, "All sin and fall short of God's glory"? Hasn't that truth got to come into conversation with 1 John 3:6? Surely. How does His righteousness differ from ours (when we do the right)? Why is Christ's name never mentioned in this passage?

This pericope begins with an invitation to the recipients to take note of God's abundant love that issues in their being, appropriately, called God's children. Then it says that these recipients are unknown by the world because of the world's unfamiliarity with God. Next, it reiterates their being God's children in the present and projects that there is more to come, mysterious though it remains. Subsequently, it confirms the recipients' similarity with God. Thereafter, it mentions hope in that truth and the resultant purity hope generates. Following that topic, we get a brief essay on sin and lawlessness. Therein, we read how God takes away sin. Thereupon, God abiders are said not to sin. It concludes by specifying that doing the right brings the doers righteousness, as is righteous Divine.

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