Category: Exegetical Study
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.
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.
While Peter wanted to build tents for Elijah, Moses, and Jesus on top of the mountain, he was frozen in fear as the Spirit of God laid upon them. It is not always necessary for action to take place, but instead, observation and worship can be what is necessary. There is no reason for the faithful to fear circumstances, for God approaches them with His love, mercy, and grace. Bask in His presence, and His ordained will becomes clear. Sometimes, He wants us to learn from Him so that we may grow in our spiritual lives and our faith.