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.
Author: Gordon Bland
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.
The epistle’s recipients are not known for sure, with some arguing Jewish converts, and others arguing for gentiles. However, it can be concluded that the recipients were first-century Christians who were experiencing a situation that was causing them to have concerns—perhaps the persecution under Nero. The author, historically believed to be Peter, wanted to reassure the readers of their salvation and to encourage them to persevere through their trials.
The book of Hebrews has been a great source of theological and pastoral direction for the Christian church since the first century. At the same time, it has been a contested book as the author is unknown, and the audience is still not fully understood. While many have attributed authorship to Paul, it is unlikely, and at best, the safest speculation is that the audience is a Hellenistic Judeo-Christian community.
The Letter to the Hebrews in Social-Scientific Perspective is deSilva’s attempt to gain further insight into this epistle by examining the authorship and audience based on the hints found in the text. He asserts the interpretation of this letter stands upon understanding the community to whom it was written and what precipitated such a response. These desired details are sparse, so deSilva posits that the missing information may be found in external sources.