>> But as it has become apparent to me that all you are going to do isproof text toward a predetermined conclusion
Isn't this what everybody is trying to do, particularly when it comes
to 1 John?
Following, for example, Colin Kruse and almost all the other recent
commentators, there appears to be a consensus that John was writing to
a particular 'Johannine Community', where the teaching had a peculiar
'Johannine slant'. Unfortunately, the followers were in danger of
being lead astray by the false teaching of ‘secessionists’.
Kruse takes 1 John 2v19 'They went out from us' as the conclusive
proof of the existence of this community, and the problems therein as
the motivation for writing the letter. His whole exigesis seems based
around the idea of 'mirror reading' assuming the existence of this
If there is one thing which persuades me against the Johannine
community, it is using 1 John 2v19 in favour of it.
In the first six chapters of his gospel, John shows Christ revealing
himself to larger and larger numbers. The punch line occurs after the
long discourse in chapter 6, when practically all the followers leave.
This is the punch line of a large section of John's gospel. The
prominence given illustrates John's attitude towards the problem. The
phenomenon of 'they went out from us' therefore is not something which
subsequently sprung up and not something peculiarly Johannine, but
something which John had seen and understood right from the beginning
even when Christ was still in the flesh, and which was characteristic
of the whole Christian community right from the beginning, not the
prerogative of a Johannine sect and not something which developed
Crucially, note that they went out not because of false teaching, but
precisely because of Christ’s teaching. They were not lead astray;
they left precisely when they understood what it was all about.
Much of the exegesis on 1 John seems firstly to grasp at straws to
take a tenuous line to establish the existence of a specific Johannine
community and, afterwards, exegetes the letter assuming its existence.
It is very difficult to find a single page in the commentary by Colin
Kruse which does not contain the word 'secessionist' and makes claims
about what the secessionists were doing based on what John seems to be
speaking out against and to understand 1 John in this light. Note that
the word 'secessionist' does not appear once in 1 John.
Yet it is difficult to leave a first course on John's letter at any
theology college without fervently believing by the end of it that
there is a secessionist hiding behind every lamppost.
At the college where I tried studying, the mistaken interpretation of
1 John, that it was written to strengthen weak believers in danger of
being lead astray by false teaching arose through a mistaken view of
pastoring; in some sense the pastors formed a spiritual a team of
wiser and better people and the ordinary church goers were the weak
and feeble Christians in danger of being lead astray. The angle on 1
John showed a real spiritual arrogance.
John M. Noble