Identity Of The First Epistle Of John: Context, Style, And Structure -- By: Ron J. Bigalke, Jr.

Journal: Journal of Dispensational Theology
Volume: JODT 17:50 (Spring 2013)
Article: Identity Of The First Epistle Of John: Context, Style, And Structure
Author: Ron J. Bigalke, Jr.


Identity Of The First Epistle Of John: Context, Style, And Structure

Ron J. Bigalke

* Ron J. Bigalke, M.Apol., M.Div., M.T.S., Ph.D., state director, Capitol Commission Georgia; author and lecturer, Eternal Ministries; missionary, Biblical Ministries Worldwide; professor of theology and apologetics, Tyndale Theological Seminary; Ph.D. candidate, University of Pretoria, South Africa

In comparison to other New Testament epistles, the First Epistle of John contains a number of significant differences in content, style, and structure. However, there is also a very distinct continuity because the First Epistle of John bears witness to the same Lord and it is imbued with the same authority. The purpose of this article is to elucidate the identity of the First Epistle of John through understanding of its setting (historical context), style (literary type/genre), and structure (unit boundaries).

Historical Context Of The First Epistle Of John

The Johannine Epistles are frequently categorized with the Gospel of John and the book of Revelation as authored by the Apostle John. The five writings would thus comprise the Johannine corpus. However, there is not unanimous agreement with regard to the authorship of the writings. Three viewpoints currently dominate scholarly discussion with regard to authorship of the Johannine corpus.

The first view is that the Apostle John was the sole author of the Gospel, the Epistles, and Revelation.1 The second view is entirely contrary to the first in that three different authors are thought to have composed the Johannine corpus. The assertion is that the Apostle John was an eyewitness to the testimony of Jesus; however, a different individual (nicknamed “the evangelist”) wrote the Gospel of John. The presbyter

(elder), who is also called John, wrote the Johannine Epistles. A third individual wrote the Book of Revelation.2 The third view is somewhat an amalgamation because the assertion is that the author of the Gospel of John and the Johannine Epistles is the same, but the author of the Book of Revelation was a different, second author.3

Among the three viewpoints, the only unanimous agreement is that the same author wrote the Johannine Epistles.4 Indeed, the consensus view is “the author of 1 John is the same as the author of 2 and 3 John.”5 One of the reasons to posit that the Apostl...

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