Lectionary Year B
May 14, 2000
I John 3:16-24
Step II: Disposition
(LE) Step II. Disposition
A. Genre: Although this book is entitled The First Epistle of John which would lead
one to assume this was a letter, the structure of the book does not support this as the
genre. Contrary to 2 and 3 John, 1 John does not have the usual features of 1st century
letters. Neither the author nor the recipients are identified. In most first century letters
there is a blessing or a greeting beginning the letter and a concluding greeting; none of
these characteristics are found in 1 John.. First century letters usually also contained
personal references and allusions that would indicate a specific recipient; 1 John includes
neither of these.
1 John is, therefore, considered a probable circulating homily or sermon that was
intended to have a wide audience. W.G. Kummel prefers to think of it as a tractate
engaged in some sort of polemic, a kind of manifesto that addresses specific theological
issues across a general front. [Note]
B. and C. Questions (and where they fall in the exegesis process) Stream of
What does it really mean "to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters," especially
when Christ is given us as an example? Is this, perhaps, one of the images (of sacrifice)
preventing some people from embracing the love commandment and the message of the
gospel ? I am not suggesting that the gospel should be watered down to be made more
palpable, but I do wonder if the author of John is calling us to sacrifice or to be like
Christ as He was in His ministry -- self -giving? Would this image of self-giving be
faithful to the scriptures and. perhaps, renew our commitment to doing the work of
Christ? (I:A, C and V:B)
What does it mean to have compassion for someone -- knowing that I have chosen to
translate kleisv ta splagxna as compassion? How does this fit into my thinking we are
called to more than feeling, but to action? Is there another word -- perhaps, "acts of
loving kindness" -- that might produce a more appropriate/accurate image of what this
passage seems to be saying? (I:A, C and V:B)
What does it mean that if our hearts donít condemn (judge) us then we can have
confidence before God? Is confidence before God tied to anything else in this passage? I
think of repentance (human act) and forgiveness (God act) as what allows one to come
before God with confidence (our prayer of confession followed by assurance of pardon in
our liturgy). (IV)
What does it mean "we receive from Him whatever we ask"? How is this tied to pleasing
God? Does God grant everything we desire or only if it is Godís will? There must be
some connection related to conforming or transforming our will to Godís will. (IV)
Is it enough to believe in Jesus? Or does this belief have the additional component of
confession? I am particularly interested in the semantic range of pisteuw. (I:A, C; IV;
Note: Introduction of the New Testament. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1975. pg. 437.
(EM - supplement on Step)
Genre: Teaching Exhortation
use of subjective "let us"
use of "should," "obey"
thematic on the Christian life
images of truth, command, and love
1. JC laid down life
2. we laid down life for others
GOD'S LOVE ABIDES in US:
1. see need
2. help brother or sister
LET US LOVE --->
1. Not in word or speech
2. in truth and action
we are FROM truth
reassure our hearts
God is greater than our hearts
receive what we ask-we obey, please
1. believe in name of Son Jesus Christ
2. love one another
1. we abide in him (God)
2. God abides in us by Spirit
Are we only to loving one another and following God's commands?
We are called to help see and not refuse help, but what if we can't even
"see" the need?
Which commands do we obey- -the 10 commandments, golden
rule, Sermon on the Mount, great commission, all of the above?
the relationship of the example in verses 11-16 of do not murder to
When does the Christian tradition (or does it at all) move from God's gift
of love in Jesus Christ to God's love actualized in us (v.24)?
"work" in Reformed theology?
What does love in "truth and action" (v. 18) look like?
How does John use
the term "truth?"
Is there a difference between laying your life down for someone and
filling a need they have? (Are they synonymous?)
Is this a pre- or post- Pentecost text?
Who is our brother or sister (in need)?
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