Author: Gordon Bland
Udo Schnelle’s Theology of the New Testament and Frank Thielman’s Theology of the New Testament: A Canonical and Synthetic Approach are two of the greatest theologies produced in the early twenty-first century. Despite both works sharing part of their name, the content and approach of each author differ from the other, providing for argumentation and conclusions that are unique and significant for modern theological studies. The structure of Schnelle’s book is first a discussion of his philosophy of how theology should be studied and then he moves through the development of Christian theology through Scripture chronologically. Thielman also starts his book with his views of theology as well, but the rest moves through each book of the New Testament in canonical order.
The Tabernacles Discourse is a memorable event in the Gospel of John, but in the Jewish cultural context, it is an even more dramatic event. Scholars disagree on the Light of the World discourse, whether it belongs to the Tabernacles Discourse or not, as the woman caught in adultery exists between the two exchanges. The oldest manuscripts lack the woman caught in adultery; thus the two exchanges would both occur in the context of the Festival of Tabernacles, providing a further dramatic and provocative exchange.
In this short letter, John begins with a traditional greeting, but this time, he uses his title, “The elder.” His recipient is the church, by which he refers to as “the lady.” This would be a respectful term that uses the typical feminine reference of the church as in the “bride of Christ.” No specific church is named, so it should be assumed per the context of the letter, there was but only a single recipient, so no further name would be needed. John’s purpose of the letter was to protect the faithful from the false teachers that would abuse their hospitality to deceive others and increase their personal gain.
In this short section of John’s letter, with few words, he teaches a significant lesson. The bottom line is that Christians shall not love the world, for it is passing away. It is such a simple statement, but it has a great depth found in the language that is used. While John often speaks of love, this is the one time that love is used in a negative manner.