“…to make our joy complete.” 1 John 1:4
John often described himself as the disciple whom Jesus loved. John and his brother, James, worked as fishermen along with Simon (AKA, Peter) and his brother, Andrew. Jesus borrowed Simon’s and Andrew’s boat, from which He taught a large crowd that had gathered there. After He completed the lesson, He instructed Simon, Andrew, James and John that from that point on, they would become fishers of men. (Read Luke 5:1-11)
The first century church was ravaged by a cruel Roman Emperor named, Nero. John was exiled to the island of Patmos, off the coast of Italy. During his days there, he was inspired to record the revelation of end times, as well as three letters to the young movement of Christ followers, words which still ring true today. The first century apologist Irenaeus of Lyons (died in 202AD) is credited with authenticating John’s authorship of the gospel bearing his name, Revelation, and 1,2,3 John (3 letters). Other theologians confirming his conclusions include: Justin Martyr, Tertullian, and Clement of Alexandria.
The introduction of the letter (the entire first chapter) is written in first person plural. It stands to reason there were other Christians leaders banished to the small island, all in an effort to silence the growing Christian movement – a phenomena providing significance to common citizens with no influence, yet who were charged with turning the world upside down. Yet, the mail still got through! The opening lines attest to an experience with which those exiled prisoners shared from the beginning of the movement. John describes in generally accepted scientific arguments his validation of Jesus, as God’s Son: aurally received, visually confirmed, and physically verified the authenticity of the Word of life. Here John is providing a nuance of his previously written record of Jesus’ life, where God breathed into him:
“In the beginning was the Word, and Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through Him all things were made: without Him nothing was made that has been made. In Him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.” (John 1:1-5)
“The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the One and Only, Who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14)
Their sole motivation for providing this record? First, so that the reader would be led to share their communion of spirit – or fellowship. Secondly, providing the record is a work of joy, and others embracing the message completes the joy of those writing the message. Some authors write for the sheer pleasure of spinning a tale, but even they receive great satisfaction when their efforts are validated through the purchase and enjoyment of their creation. The work of John and his fellow prisoners carried much greater significance… eternal significance… nurturing the souls of women and men seeking to walk in the Light.
What makes your joy complete? Is it measured in worldly accolades? Earthly pursuits? Or do you seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness (read Matthew 6:33-34). Do you pray that His Kingdom would come to earth just it is in heaven? What intentional efforts are you making to allow such to occur through your life? When we become the conduit of God’s love, we make His joy complete as, “…Christ in you, the hope of glory!” (Colossians 1:27)
The opening lines seem to be written with such passion, power, and conviction that it’s hard to deny their experience with the Word that became flesh, inspiring them to tell others. Their enthusiasm provokes the reader to continue… I look forward to doing so with you in the weeks to come.
He must increase, we must decrease.