Jacob Pontormo, detail of "St. John the Evangelist"
(1519), oil on Holz, 173 x 59, Museo della Collegiata, Empoli
First, Second, and Third John, sometimes called the Epistles or Letters of John,
are like trail mix -- concentrated, chewy, and nutritious. As I teach God's
Word, I find myself returning again and again to 1st John.
When John writes these letters he is an elderly man. When he was young, he
was Jesus'"beloved disciple." Now, when he is old, he is passing on the faith
that he learned at Jesus'feet.
He has lived in Ephesus for many years now, teaching and preaching in the
churches around that great provincial capital. In First John he writes with
great affection. Sprinkled through the letter are references to his "little
children" and to his "beloved" friends in Christ.
That doesn't mean he is soft. In First John he:
Refutes enemies of Christ who had infiltrated the church and
spread false and dangerous doctrine.
Challenges believers to reject darkness and live in the light.
Calls for righteous living at the same time as he assures them of
the forgiveness of God.
Underscores love as the greatest and highest commandment of our Lord
All in all, these letters pack a punch to their first century readers as
well as readers in the twenty-first century.
As I have immersed myself in John's letters over these past months, I've
come to know his heart of love for his children in the Lord and his passion
for Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God. I pray that as you study these
letters, that same intensity of love for the brothers and sisters and that
same burning passion for the Gospel of our Lord may be yours in abundance.
Yours in Christ's service,
Dr. Ralph F. Wilson
October 1, 2009
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