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Re: The Anonymity of 1 John

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  • khs@picknowl.com.au
    Dear Ken, You asked about the anonymity of 1 John. You may not be too keen on my rather speculative ideas but, as no one else has responded to your question,
    Message 1 of 2 , Sep 23, 2001
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      Dear Ken,

      You asked about the anonymity of 1 John. You may not be too
      keen on my rather speculative ideas but, as no one else has
      responded to your question, may I offer the following.

      I suspect that 1 John is anonymous because it was written at a
      time when its author, the Apostle John, could have been in
      considerable danger if he was identified. The danger came
      about because he had written a book which, if it fell into Roman
      hands, could only be understood by them as treasonous. That
      book was the Revelation – of which, I suspect, very few copies
      were made at the time of the events and personages
      (particularly Nero) it was thought to have been indicating. I
      suspect that only the apostles had copies at that time.

      1 John, then, was a circular letter from John to support and
      encourage the faithful – especially those in Asia but no doubt
      more broadly – in the light of the Revelation and what the
      apostles expected was about to happen (i.e. severe
      persecutions followed by Christ's return – `Children, it is the last
      hour' 2:18; the `antichrists' of 2:18-19 were primarily the
      Nicolaitans [cf. Rev 2:6,15]).

      My hunch is that Ephesians (written by Paul in Ephesus
      following his two years in Rome - '...we are not contending
      against flesh and blood...' [6:12]) and 1 Peter (written by that
      apostle in Rome [1:6; 4:12; 5:10]) were written for the same
      reason, and the three may well have been circulated together,
      especially in Asia. I believe the Revelation and the three epistles
      mentioned were all written in 62AD.

      For the same reason John was not named – but was called the
      Beloved Disciple – in the Gospel for which he was largely
      responsible. I think that gospel was written in 68, soon after
      Nero's death and the apostle's release from Patmos, but too
      close to the events of the previous four years for John to risk
      being identified with the John of Patmos (Rev 1:1,4,9) should a
      copy of the Revelation be sited by someone unsympathetic to the
      faith.

      Sincerely,

      Kym Smith
      Adelaide
      South Australia
      khs@...
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