What Shall We Call Each Other? Part Two: The Issue Of Self-Designation In The Johannine Letters And Revelation -- By: Paul Trebilco

Journal: Tyndale Bulletin
Volume: TYNBUL 54:1 (NA 2003)
Article: What Shall We Call Each Other? Part Two: The Issue Of Self-Designation In The Johannine Letters And Revelation
Author: Paul Trebilco


What Shall We Call Each Other?
Part Two: The Issue Of Self-Designation In
The Johannine Letters And Revelation1

Paul Trebilco

Summary

This paper discusses the ‘self-designations’ for their readers which were used by the Johannine Letters and Revelation. The key terms used in the Johannine Letters are ‘brother and sister’ and ‘children of God’ and in Revelation ‘saints’ and ‘servants’. It is argued that in the case of the Pastorals (drawing on our earlier discussion in Part One) and the Johannine Letters these designations are also being used by the readers, whereas the ‘world-shaping’ nature of John’s work means that we cannot say that the key terms that he adopts in order to refer to his readers were currently being used by them. Following these discussions, conclusions are reached with regard to early Christian communities and how they perceived their identity.

I. Insider Terms Designating Members Of The Group In The Johannine Letters

1. Terms Probably Used Only By The Author Of The Readers

The author of the Johannine Letters regularly addresses readers as τεκνία (little children),2 or less frequently παιδία (children).3 These two terms of endearment, which are only used as terms of address, may be more indicative of the relationship of the author to the readers,

whom he considers his spiritual children and over whom he wishes to assert his authority, rather than an indication of a term that the readers would have used more generally of one another to designate other members of the group.4 Thus, these two terms indicate how the author designates other members of the group; but they cannot be seen as ‘insider language’ of anyone else in the community.

Another term5 which is used exclusively by the author to address his readers is ‘beloved’ (ἀγαπητοί), which is used ten times in the Letters.6 1 John 4:7, 9–11 is interesting in this regard:

Beloved (ἀγαπητοί), let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. ... God’s love was rev...

You must have a subscription and be logged in to read the entire article.
Click here to subscribe
visitor : : uid: ()