Saturday Series: John 16:8-9

John 16:8-9

In this continuing study on sin in the Johannine writings (Gospel and Letters of John), we turn now to the Paraclete saying in 16:7-15. This is the fourth (and final) such saying in the Last Discourse, the prior three coming in 14:16-17, 25-26, and 15:26-27. I have recently discussed these in some detail in a set of notes and articles, part of the series “Spiritualism and the New Testament”. The term “Paraclete” is an anglicized transliteration of the descriptive title parákl¢tos (para/klhto$), which means “(one) called alongside” —that is, to give help or assistance. It is a title of the Spirit, which Jesus promises will come to the disciples, after he has been exalted and has returned to the Father in heaven.

In 1 John 2:1, the only other occurrence of parákl¢tos in the New Testament, it is Jesus himself who is referred to as “(one) called alongside”, to give help to believers, specifically through the act of interceding before God the Father on believers’ behalf (in matters related to sin). In 14:16, the first Paraclete-saying in the Gospel, the Spirit is referred to as “another parákl¢tos“, implying that Jesus was the first. Indeed, in many ways, the Spirit-Paraclete continues the work of Jesus in and among his disciples (believers). Jesus continues to be present, speaking to believers through the Spirit, teaching them. For more on this, see the articles on the Paraclete-sayings (1, 2, 3, 4).

The final Paraclete-saying (16:7-15) occurs in the last of the three Discourse-divisions (16:4b-28), which has the following general outline:

    • 16:4b-28Discourse/division 3—Jesus’ departure (farewell)
      • The Promise of the Spirit (vv. 4b-15)
      • Jesus’ Departure and Return (vv. 16-24)
      • Concluding statement by Jesus on his departure (vv. 25-28)

The promise of the coming of the Spirit (vv. 4b-15) is thus tied to the departure of Jesus (back to the Father in heaven). He speaks as he does to his disciples because he soon will no longer be with them, at least in a physical sense. And he still has many things he must yet say to his disciples (and all believers), v. 12. For this reason, it is necessary for the Spirit to come, to be present with (“alongside”) believers, and to remain in/among them:

“But I say the truth to you: it bears together (well) for you that I should go away from (you). For, if I should not go away, (then) the (one) called alongside [parákl¢tos] will not come to you; but, if I do travel (away), I will send him to you.” (v. 7)

It is actually beneficial to the disciples (and to future believers) that Jesus should go away (back to the Father). Though he will no longer be present with them physically, as a human being, he can still be present spiritually, through the Spirit. In each of the Paraclete-sayings, Jesus explains certain aspects of the Spirit’s role. He continues that teaching here in verses 8ff:

“And, (hav)ing come, that (one) will show the world (to be wrong), about sin, and about righteousness, and about judgment” (v. 8)

In the previous Paraclete-saying (15:26-27), the emphasis was on the Spirit as a witness—specifically, a witness to the truth of who Jesus is (v. 26). The Spirit will give witness of this to the disciples, but also to the world, through the disciples. The essence of this witness is further explained here, utilizing the verb eléngchœ. The basic meaning of this verb is to show someone to be wrong. It occurs two other places in the Gospel—in 3:20 and 8:46. The first occurrence is close in context to the use here: it refers to a person’s evil deeds being shown to be evil, exposed as such by the light of Jesus Christ—and by the Gospel witness to the truth of his identity as the Son of God. The reference in 8:46, where the verb is used, as it is here, specifically in connection with sin, was discussed in an earlier study.

The Spirit will show the world to be wrong about three things, in particular: sin (hamartía), righteousness (dikaiosýn¢), and judgment (krísis). In the verses that follow (vv. 9-11), Jesus explains the basis upon which the Spirit shows the world to be wrong about each topic. The first topic he addresses is sin; his explanation is short and to the point:

“about sin, (in) that they do not trust in me” (v. 9)

In the prior studies, we have seen how the Johannine understanding of sin entails two distinct levels, or aspects, of meaning. First, there is sin as understood in the general or conventional ethical-religious sense, as wrongs/misdeeds that a person commits. And, second, there is sin in the theological sense, defined as the great sin of unbelief—that is, of failing or refusing to trust in Jesus as the Son of God. Here, the truth regarding sin is clearly defined in terms of the latter (“they do not trust in me”).

Many commentators take the verb eléngchœ here to mean that the Spirit convicts the world of sin, of showing the people of the world to be sinful. While this aspect of meaning is not entirely absent, I do not consider it to be primary here. To be sure, the world (kósmos), dominated as it is by darkness and evil, and being opposed to God, is characteristically sinful. However, what the Spirit does, specifically, is to show the world to be wrong about sin. The world’s view and understanding of sin—that is, the nature and reality of sin—is fundamentally wrong. People may accept the conventional meaning of sin, and even seek to live in a righteous manner, avoiding sin, without realizing the true nature of sin. Even the seemingly righteous people—such as religious Jews in Jesus’ own time, who followed the precepts of the Torah—were sinful, if they refused to trust in Jesus. Indeed, such people commit sin in its truest sense, since they commit the great sin of unbelief.

The explanation regarding the true nature of the judgment (krísis) alludes to this same theological-Christological understanding of sin. According to the conventional view, the judgment occurs at the end of the Age, at some point in the future, when all people will be judged for their deeds (i.e., sin in the conventional ethical-religious sense). However, according to Jesus, and the theology of the Gospel, the world (and its ruler) has already been judged:

“about judgment, (in) that the chief [i.e. ruler] of this world has been judged” (v. 11)

This judgment is based entirely on whether or not a person, when confronted with the Gospel witness, the truth about Jesus, trusts in him. The one who trusts in Jesus, has already passed through the judgment and holds eternal life, while the one who does not trust, has already been condemned. For the key references elsewhere in the Gospel, see 3:19-21; 5:22-24 (v. 24); 8:51; 12:31, 46-50. The subject was also discussed in the previous studies on 8:21ff and 9:39-41 / 15:22-24.

The judgment is realized through the exaltation of Jesus the Son of God. In the Johannine Gospel, the exaltation of Jesus is not limited to his resurrection or ascension; rather, it covers a process that begins with his Passion (suffering and death). This is particularly clear from the setting of the declaration in 12:31. The Son’s mission on earth, and the witness to his identity as the Son, reaches its climax with his death on the cross (19:30). Through his death, resurrection, and return to the Father, the Son is “lifted up”, and Jesus’ identity as the Son of God is manifest to anyone who would believe. This helps us to understand the second of the topics about which the Spirit will show the world to be wrong. In verse 10, Jesus explains the true nature of righteousness (dikaiosýn¢), as being defined in terms of the Son’s return to the Father. In other words, true righteousness is rooted in Jesus’ exaltation and his eternal identity as the Son. Believers experience righteousness only in relation to the Son.

For more detailed discussion on vv. 8-11, see my earlier article and set of notes.

Next week, we will turn our attention to the final two sin-references in the Gospel.

Spirit in the Qumran Texts: 1QH 6:19-33

1QH 6

(Unless otherwise noted, the translations of 1QH are my own.)

It is possible that the hymn beginning at line 12 of column V (cf. the previous notes) continues on into column VI. It has been suggested that the hymn extends through 6:18, or even through line 33 (cf. the discussion by the editors in DJD XL, pp. 77-8, 88-90); however, it may be better to treat 6:19-33 as a separate hymn. In any case, many of the themes in column V continue in column VI; the poems certainly share a number of features and aspects in common.

The difficulty in determining the division of the hymns stems, in large part, from the missing lines (1-11) at the beginning of column VI. Lines 12-18 emphasize once again that those righteous persons, who are able to obtain wisdom and understanding, do so through the mercy and favor of God. There is a strong predestinarian orientation to the Qumran Community, which is expressed here in the Hodayot, in a number of the hymns.

Those who receive the inspired revelation from God are described as “men of truth and the chosen (one)s of righteousness” (line 13); they are characterized by virtues that reflect the fundamental attributes of God Himself, being enabled to pursue wisdom and understanding by God’s spirits: “[(those) searching for insight and seeking understanding […] (the one)s loving compassion and (those) lowly [i.e. humble] of spirit…” (lines 13-14). Through God’s favor—His guidance and protection, given through His spirits—the chosen ones are able to remain faithful to the end, even in the face of affliction and persecution (lines 15-18).

The section (or separate hymn, cf. above) that begins at line 19, opens with a blessing (to God) which makes clear, again, that the ability possessed by the righteous/faithful ones is given to them by God:

“[Blessed are you,] my Lord, the (One) giving [i.e. placing] understanding in (the) heart of your servant, (for him) to gain insight in(to) all these (thing)s, and to have under[standing of…], and to hold himself (firm) against (wicked) deeds, and to bless with rightness all (those) choosing (what is) pleasing to you, [to choose all th]at you love and to abhor all that [you hate]…” (lines 19-21f)

As we have seen, elsewhere in these hymns the same wording from line 9 is used with a Divine spirit (j^Wr) as the object of God’s giving (4:29; 5:36) . The virtue or attribute (here “understanding”, hn`yB!), defined abstractly, can also be personified dynamically as an active spirit. The hymnist could just as well have used the expression “spirit of understanding” (cp. “spirit of knowledge” in line 36). It is thus a gift from God that enables the chosen one to have wisdom and understanding, and to resist the evil influences that lead humans to wickedness. Human begins must choose (vb rh^B*) between what is pleasing to God and what He despises/abhors, but only through the favor and guidance of God is one able to make the right choice (on a regular basis).

The deterministic emphasis, in this regard, is expressed quite clearly in line 22f:

“You have given your servant insight in(to) [… (the) lo]ts of humankind, for (according) to (the) mouth of (the) spirits you made (the lot) fall for them between good and evil, [and] you have established…”

In the expression “mouth of (the) spirits” (twjwr yp), the noun hP# (“mouth”) is presumably used in the abstract sense of “measure, portion”. The idea seems to be that the spirits have been measured/portioned out to different people (cp. the similar wording, applied to Jesus, in John 3:34), so that they will incline toward either the good or the evil. As we have seen, according to the thought-world of the Qumran hymns, there are both good and evil spirits that influence human beings, with people being trapped between the two forces. By nature, the spirit/nature of a human being (“spirit of flesh”) is corrupt, being ruled by a perverting spirit (“spirit of crookedness”). It requires a special gift/favor by God in order to enable a human being to be faithful and righteous. The protagonist of the hymn describes this very dynamic:

“And I (indeed) know, from your understanding, that through your favor to a m[a]n you make [abundant his inheritance] in (the) spirit of your holiness, and so you bring him near to your understanding…” (lines 23b-24)

Here, again, we find the expression “spirit of (God’s) holiness” (vd#oq j^Wr), as representing the principal spirit that God gives to His chosen one, reflecting the fundamental Divine attribute of holiness. God gives His holy spirit to all of His chosen ones, but gives to some a greater portion (i.e., a more abundant “inheritance” [hl*j&n~]). This spirit draws the person toward God’s understanding, bringing him/her near to it (vb vg~n`). Significantly, the protagonist states that it is from God’s own understanding, gifted to him by God’s spirit, that he has obtained his knowledge.

The possession of this spirit, and the inspired wisdom/understanding that it brings, enables a person to remain faithful and righteous in all things. This ethical-religious principle is developed in lines 25-33. It is according to the measure/portion of the person’s “nearness” (being near, brwq) to God’s understanding, that he/she will be faithful. The same expression as in line 22, with the noun hP# (“mouth”) in the abstract sense of “measure/portion”, is used. A person will act righteously, and remain faithful to God, to the extent that God’s holy spirit is present, drawing the person ever closer to God’s own wisdom and understanding.

The final line (32-33) makes clear that this faithfulness is defined in traditional terms, according to loyalty to the covenant (i.e., observance of the Torah precepts and regulations): “I will not bring into the council of [your] tr[uth any] (one) turning (away) [from] your [b]inding agreement [tyr!B=, i.e. covenant]”. It was expected that every member of the Community would be meticulously loyal and devoted to the Torah.

In the next note, we will at the remaining lines (34-41) of column VI.

DJD XL = Discoveries in the Judean Desert, Vol. XL: 1QHodayota, with Incorporation of 1QHodayotb and 4QHodayota-f, by Hartmut Stegemann with Eileen Schuller, translations of texts by Carol Newsom (Clarendon Press: 2009).

Spirit in the Qumran Texts: 1QH 4:37-40

1QHa 4, continued

(Unless otherwise indicated, the translations of 1QH are my own.)

In the remaining lines (37-40) of what survives of the column IV hymn, there occur two key expressions which are most instructive for an understanding of the theology (and anthropology) of the Qumran Community, as expressed particularly in the Thanksgiving Hymns (Hodayot). These parallel, contrastive expressions are:

    • “spirit of flesh” (rc*b* j^Wr) [line 37]
    • “spirit of holiness” (vd#oq j^Wr) [line 38]

The first of these occurs at the end of the third surviving section (ll. 29-37, discussed in the previous note). The psalmist praises God for His mercy and help, recognizing the need for God Himself to act on his behalf, “…for your servant (is) a spirit of flesh”.

The noun rc*B* (“flesh”), in the Old Testament, serves as a designation for a human being, and for human nature in general. By using the term “flesh”, the emphasis is on the createdness of the human nature, in its weakness and limitation (particularly in its mortality). The term is often specifically used to contrast the human being with God. Indeed, “flesh” is that which distinguishes a created (physical/material) human being from God, who is identified with spirit (see esp. John 4:24). Admittedly, this specific distinction is not made precisely in the Qumran texts; but there can be no doubt of the important contrast between God (and the Divine nature) and human “flesh”.

In line 37, the author/protagonist is particularly emphasizing the weakness and limitation of his human nature, which requires God to act on his behalf, delivering and protecting him from sin and the attacks of harmful “spirits”. But, while the use of the word rc*B* (“flesh”) is fully in keeping with Old Testament usage and tradition, the specific expression “spirit of flesh” is peculiar. Indeed, for readers familiar with the spirit/flesh contrast in the New Testament (especially in Paul’s letters), the expression may seem quite contradictory. How, indeed, can there be a spirit of flesh?

I think that the expression can be understood on several levels. First, there is the basic idea of a person’s material body (“flesh”) being animated by a spirit (or “soul”). In other words, “spirit of flesh” can simply serve as a way of referring to a living human being. Secondly, the “spirit” also reflects an operating mindset (and will) that governs the flesh (i.e., body) of a person. The spirit directs and influences the life and action, thought, etc, of a human being. Thirdly, “flesh”, in the anthropological sense, can connote, not only human weakness and limitation, but can also be used in the more negative sense of a human nature corrupted by sin and evil. This last aspect of meaning comes close to the starkly negative meaning of “flesh” (sa/rc) in the letters of Paul.

Until recent decades, there were many attempts by scholars to ascertain the origin and background of Paul’s distinctive use of the term “flesh”. Parallels in contemporary Judaism were difficult to find—that is, until the discovery, reconstruction and publication of the Qumran scrolls. In a number of those texts, including here in the Hodayot, we find a negative anthropological use of the term “flesh” (Heb. rc*B*) that resembles Paul’s usage in a number of ways. This will be discussed further as we continue through these notes.

In the context of the 1QHa column IV hymn, the contrast to the expression “spirit of flesh” is found at the beginning of the next (fourth) section (lines 38-40f). As mentioned in the previous note, sections 2 and 3 (ll. 21-28, 29-37) each begin with a praise/blessing of God, praising Him for what He has given to the hymnist/protagonist. In line 29, specific mention is made of the “spirits” God has given to (i.e., placed “in”) him. These spirits are apparently the means by which God guides and protects the person. The wording in line 38 is parallel, both in form and meaning:

“[Blessed (are) you, God Most High, that] you have sprinkled (the) spirit of your holiness over your servant, [and have] purified (the) […] of his heart”

The verb form htwpynh can be derived either from [Wn I (“wave, shake”) or [Wn II (“sprinkle”); I have opted for the latter (cp. Schuller/Newsom, p. 19; DJD XL, p. 74). On possible restorations for the lacuna in line 38, cf. DJD XL, p. 72).

If various “spirits” have been placed within in the hymnist, as a representative of the faithful/righteous Community, then also the spirit of God’s holiness has also been “sprinkled” over him. The expression vd#q) j^Wr is sometimes translated “holy spirit”, but this can be misleading (particularly for Christian readers); a proper rendering is “spirit of holiness” (cf. Romans 1:4). This pattern of expression (“spirit of…”) occurs frequently in a number of the Qumran texts, as we shall see. The particular construct genitival pattern likely was influenced by Old Testament usage—particularly the sequence in Isaiah 11:2.

There are many such spirits that come from God (cf. above on line 29), however the spirit of holiness (vd#q)) is especially associated with God Himself, reflecting the important Divine attribute/characteristic of holiness (Lev 11:44-45; 19:2; 20:7, 26; 2 Kings 19:22; Psalm 71:22; 77:13; 78:41; 99:3ff, 9; Isa 1:4; 6:3, etc). Even so, the specific expression “spirit of holiness” is quite rare in the Scriptures, occurring only in Psalm 51:13[11] (“spirit of your holiness”) and Isa 63:10-11 (“spirit of His holiness”); cf. also Daniel 4:8-9, 18; 5:11. The expression here in line 38 essentially matches that in Psalm 51:13: “(the) spirit of your holiness” (;v=d=oq j^Wr), i.e., “your holy spirit”.

The faithful/loyal Israelite (that is, member of the Community) is made holy by the spirit of God’s own holiness—the chief of the “spirits” that are given to the individual. This enables the human being, with his/her corrupted “spirit of flesh” (cf. above), to remain pure (i.e. holy) and faithful to the covenant (lines 39-40). The “spirit of flesh” is restored to purity, so that the human spirit is now able to receive knowledge and insight from God, and to follow the Instruction (Torah) without stumbling. The author of the hymn, as an exemplar for the Qumran Community, represents all the Community members. Just as he is made holy by God’s holy spirit, so are all those who join the Community. The spirit of holiness is given to the member—an event and dynamic that is symbolized in the ritual of the Community (to be discussed esp. in the upcoming notes on the Community Rule documents).

The column IV hymn apparently ended with line 41, since the remainder of the column (at the bottom of the page leaf) was left uninscribed (see the information given in DJD XL, pp. 77-8). A new hymn must have begun at the top of the next leaf (column V); however, lines 1-11 of column V are lost, with another hymn beginning at line 12. The short hymn at the beginning of column V presumably ended on line 10 or 11.

In the next note, we will begin looking at the hymn in column V, which may extend (partway) through column VI. There are important spirit-references in this hymn which will allow us to build upon our notes thus far. In particular, the expression “spirit of flesh” is repeated (cf. above), as is the idea of God giving a holy/righteous spirit to the author (protagonist) of the hymn.

Schuller/Newsom = Eileen M. Schuller and Carol A. Newsom, The Hodayot (Thanksgiving Psalms): A Study Edition of 1QHa, Early Judaism and Its Literature Number 36 (Society of Biblical Literature: 2012)
DJD XL = Discoveries in the Judean Desert, Vol. XL: 1QHodayota, with Incorporation of 1QHodayotb and 4QHodayota-f, by Hartmut Stegemann with Eileen Schuller, translations of texts by Carol Newsom (Clarendon Press: 2009).

August 13: 1 John 2:20

1 John 2:20

Having considered the use of the title “the holy (one) of God” in Jn 6:69 (the confession by Peter, cp. Luke 9:20 par) in the previous note, I wish to examine now the same title (“the holy [one]”) in 1 John 2:20. In the previous discussion, I had mentioned that, within the Johannine theological context, the title “holy one of God” in Jn 6:69 contained an allusion to the important association between the Son (Jesus) and the holy Spirit of God. It is worth giving further consideration to the point by examining the evidence in the Gospel.

First, we have the Paraclete-saying in 14:25-26, in which the Spirit-Paraclete is specifically referred to as “the holy Spirit” (v. 26). In point of fact, the adjective a%gio$ is rather rare in the Gospel of John, occurring just five times. In addition to Peter’s confession (here, 6:69), and one occurrence in the Discourse-Prayer of Jesus (17:11, addressing God the Father), it is only used in three references to the Spirit (with the full, qualifying expression “[the] holy Spirit”, [to\] pneu=ma [to\] a&gion).

It is significant the way that these three Spirit-references frame the Gospel narrative, in relation to the ministry of Jesus (the incarnate Son of God) on earth:

    • 1:33—at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, part of the Johannine version (cf. also verse 26) of the saying by the Baptist (cp. Mark 1:8 par), alluding to the promise of Jesus’ giving the Spirit to believers: “(he) is the (one) dunking [i.e. baptizing] in (the) holy Spirit”.
    • 14:26—the Johannine narrative of Jesus’ ministry is structured around the great Discourses, culminating in the Last Discourse (13:31-16:33), in which Jesus gives the final teaching to his close circle of disciples (and true believers); the Paraclete-sayings deal with the coming of the Spirit, following Jesus’ teaching to this effect in the earlier Discourses—cf. the Spirit-references in 3:5-8, 34f; 4:10-15 [7:37-39], 23-24; 6:63.
    • 20:22—at the end of Jesus’ ministry, following the fulfillment of his mission (and his exaltation), Jesus finally gives the Spirit to his disciples (the first believers).

It is only natural that holy one of God (Jesus) would give the holy Spirit of God, particularly since the Son (Jesus) possesses the fullness of the Spirit, having received it from the Father (3:34-35). This Christological dynamic makes the use of the title “holy (one)” in 1 John 2:20 particularly intriguing:

“But you hold (the) anointing [xri=sma] from the holy (one) [o( a%gio$], and you have seen [i.e. known] all (thing)s.”

There is some debate among commentators as to whether the title o( a%gio$ (“the holy [one]”) refers specifically to Jesus (the Son) or God the Father. In the previous note, I discussed the use of the title “holy one” (in Hebrew, the use of the substantive adjective vodq* corresponds with a%gio$ in Greek). In the Old Testament Scriptures, almost exclusively it is used as a title for God the Father (YHWH)—particularly in the expression “the Holy One of Israel” (most frequent in the book of Isaiah)—and only very rarely is applied to human or angelic beings as God’s consecrated servants (Num 6:17; Psalm 106:16; Dan 8:13); the same usage is attested in the subsequent Jewish writings from the first centuries B.C./A.D.

By contrast, in the New Testament, “[the] holy one” ([o(] a%gio$) is predominantly a title, with Messianic significance, that is applied to JesusMark 1:24 [par Lk 4:34]; Acts 2:27 and 13:35 [citing Ps 16:10]; Rev 3:7, and of course in John 6:69 (cf. also 10:36); the Messianic context of these references was discussed (and established) in the previous note. Only in Rev 16:5 is the title used in its more traditional religious-historical aspect, as an epithet of YHWH. Interestingly, as I had mentioned, the adjective a%gio$ is actually rather rare in the Johannine writings (Gospel and Letters), occurring just five times in the Gospel and once (here) in 1 John. In the Gospel, once it is applied to Jesus the Son (6:69), once to God the Father (17:11), and three times to the Spirit (i.e., “[the] holy Spirit,” 1:33; 14:26; 20:22).

Overall, the New Testament and Johannine usage favors o( a%gio$ (“the holy [one]”) here as a title of Jesus Christ (the Son).

Rather more certain, in my view, is the conclusion that the term xri=sma (“anointing”) here (and in v. 27) refers to the presence of the Spirit. The noun xri=sma occurs nowhere else in the New Testament, so there is little opportunity for comparative examination of word-usage. However, for reasons I detailed in the earlier article on 2:18-27, the anointing which believers received (v. 27) is best understood as a reference to the Spirit. Most likely, in common with other early Christians, the Johannine churches viewed the believer’s baptism as representing the moment when he/she received the Spirit (cf. Jn 1:33); to view the baptism as an ‘anointing’ by the Spirit was natural, drawing upon the type-pattern of Jesus’ own baptism (cf. especially the Lukan emphasis of 4:18ff, in light of 3:22; 4:1, 14). Also significant and influential are the Prophetic passages referring to God ‘pouring out’ the Spirit on His people in the New Age (cf. the Introduction to this series for the key passages).

But does the believer receive the Spirit from Jesus (the Son) or from God (the Father)? The immediate evidence from 1 John (3:24; 4:2ff, 13; 5:6-8ff) indicates the latter—that it is God the Father who gives us the Spirit. However, the Gospel emphasizes Jesus’ role in giving the Spirit (cf. above). According to the framework of the Johannine theology—expressed clearly in the Gospel, and only alluded to in the Letters—the Son (Jesus) receives the Spirit from the Father, and then, in turn, gives the Spirit to believers. The Father is the ultimate source, but the Son is the immediate giver; thus, there is a certain variability and interchangeability with how this is expressed in the Johannine writings (cf. for example, the variation in the Paraclete-sayings, in 14:16, 26; 15:26; 16:7b, 13-15).

The focus in 2:18-27 is on the person of Jesus—the Anointed One (xristo/$) and Son of God—and this would tend to confirm the point of reference for the title “holy one”. It also corresponds with the Messianic (and Christological) significance of the title in Jn 6:69, as was discussed in the previous note.

Yet in verse 27, the Divine subject, in relation to the anointing (xri=sma), is expressed more ambiguously:

“But (as for) you, the anointing which you received from him, it remains in you, and you do not have a need that any (one) should teach you; but, as his anointing teaches you about all (thing)s, and is true and is not false, and even as it (has) taught you, you must remain in him.”

The phrase “the anointing which you received from him” seems to allude back to verse 20; if the title “the holy one” refers to the Son (Jesus), then it is most likely that the pronoun of the prepositional expression “from him” (a)p’ au)tou=) also refers to Jesus. Turning ahead to verse 28, where Jesus is clearly the implied subject of the second clause, the implication is that the pronoun of the expression “in him” (e)n au)tw=|), at the end of v. 27 and beginning of v. 28, likewise refers to Jesus; certainly, there is no obvious indication of a change of reference. For the same reason, it would be simplest to interpret the qualifying subject “his anointing” (to\ au)tou= xri=sma) as meaning the anointing received from Jesus.

In other words, all the third person singular pronouns in vv. 27-28, refer primarily to Jesus Christ (the Son). It is he who gives the anointing (i.e., the Spirit) to believers, having himself received it from God the Father. As noted above, the Father is the ultimate source of the Spirit, but it is given through the mediation of the Son. Just as it was promised that the Jesus would baptize believers in the Spirit, so he anoints them, pouring out the Spirit upon them. Yet the anointing does not simply come from without, like physical liquid poured out on a person, but abides within; this is the clear significance of the use of the verb me/nw (“remain, abide”)—both here and throughout the Johannine writings. The anointing (i.e., the Spirit) remains within (cf. 3:24; 4:13; Jn 14:17), and is the means by which believers remain in the Son; and, in turn, it is through the presence of the Son that we remain in the Father (and He in us). This is the essence of the Johannine theology; even though it is expressed more clearly and precisely in the Gospel, the theology is equally present, in an implicit and allusive fashion, throughout 1 John.

 

August 12: John 6:69

John 6:69

Verse 69 represents the second part of Peter’s confession (on the first part, v. 68, see the previous note), which forms the climactic point of the great Bread of Life Discourse-Narrative in chap. 6. It holds a place in the Johannine Gospel similar to that of the more famous confession in the Synoptics (Mk 8:29 par, cf. below). The two parts are related syntactically as comprising a single confessional statement:

    • “You hold (the) utterances of (the) Life of the Age(s) [i.e. eternal life]
      and
    • we have trusted and have known that you are the holy (one) of God.”

The verbs pisteu/w (“trust”) and ginw/skw (“know”), though commonly used by early Christians (in a religious and theological sense), are especially prominent in the Gospel of John. The verb pisteu/w occurs 98 times (out of 241 in the entire NT), while ginw/skw is used somewhat less frequently (57 out of 222 NT occurrences). There is a special emphasis on knowing the truth (8:32, etc), which is defined in the Christological sense of trusting in Jesus (as the Son of God)—in this way, one “knows” the Son, and, through him, knows God the Father as well (7:28-29; 8:14ff, 19, 28; 10:14-15, 27, 38; 14:4-7ff, 20; 15:15; 17:3, 7-8, 23ff).

Peter’s confession of trust in Jesus is centered on the title “the holy (one) of God” (o( a%gio$ tou= qeou=). In the Old Testament Scriptures, “holy (one)” (vodq*) is used almost exclusively as a title of YHWH (Job 6:10; Prov 9:10; Hos 11:9, 12; Hab 1:12; 3:3; Ezek 39:7), where it typically occurs within the expression “the Holy (One) of Israel” (2 Kings 19:22; Psalm 71:22; 78:41; 89:18; Jer 50:29; 51:5). It is used most frequently in the book of Isaiah (1:4; 5:19, 24; 10:20; 12:6, et al.), while in later Jewish writings the substantive “Holy One” continues to be used almost entirely as a Divine title (e.g., Sirach 4:14; 23:29; 43:10; 47:8; 48:20; Baruch 4:22, 37; 5:5; 2 Macc 14:36; 1 Enoch 1:2; 93:11; 97:6). The title itself relates to the fundamental attribute of holiness (Josh 24:19; 1 Sam 2:2), which Israel, as God’s people, must maintain as well (Lev 11:44-45; 19:2; 20:7, 26; Deut 7:6, etc).

Only on rare occasions in the Old Testament is the substantive “holy (one)” applied to a human being, in reference to the consecrated priests (Num 16:7; Psalm 106:16), while in Dan 8:13 vodq* refers to a heavenly (angelic) being. In Prayer of Azariah 12, the title “holy one” is applied to Israel. In Old Testament and Jewish tradition, it was common to refer to both heavenly beings and righteous Israelites as “holy ones”; the Qumran texts make a good deal of this parallelism, identifying the Community as the “holy ones” on earth, who act in consort with the “holy ones” in heaven—both groups functioning as end-time representatives of God.

The only Old Testament parallel to the specific title “the holy one of God” is found in Psalm 106:16— “(the) holy (one) of YHWH” (hwhy vodq=)—referring to the special status of the high priest Aaron. The adjective ryz]n`, which similarly denotes a consecrated individual, separated out for special service to God, has comparable meaning when used as a substantive “consecrated [i.e. holy] (one)”. In Judg 13:5, 7 and 16:17, we find the expression <yh!ýa$ ryz]n+ (“consecrated [i.e. holy] one of God”), which is quite close to the corresponding Greek here in Jn 6:69. Most English versions transliterate ryz]n` (i.e., “Nazir[ite]”) rather than translate it; on the Nazirite vow, cf. the regulations in Numbers 6 (cp. Amos 2:11-12).

Thus, for the historical background of the expression “holy one of God”, we find two lines of religious tradition: (a) the sanctified status of the (high) priest, and (b) those set apart for service by the Nazir(ite) vow. In the New Testament, the latter is related to John the Baptist, where, in the Lukan Infancy narrative, it refers to his eschatological/Messianic status, fulfilling the figure type of the prophet Elijah (Lk 1:15-17; cf. also vv. 76ff). In the Gospel of John, as elsewhere in the Gospel tradition, it is Jesus, rather than John the Baptist, who fulfills the Elijah figure-type (1:21, 25); for more on this subject, cf. Part 3 of the series “Yeshua the Anointed”.

Other occurrences of the title “holy (one)” in the New Testament confirm its significance as a Messianic designation that is applied to Jesus. It occurs once in the Synoptic Tradition (Mk 1:24 / Lk 4:34), in the context of Jesus’ miracle-working power—as a sign that he fulfills the role of Messianic Prophet (in the manner of Elijah, cf. the references in Lk 4:24-27, in the context of vv. 18ff). In Acts 2:27 and 13:35, the expression “holy one” in Psalm 16:10 (where the Hebrew adjective is dys!j* rather than vodq*) is clearly intended as a Messianic reference, applied specifically to the resurrection of Jesus (cf. vv. 24, 30-31ff, 36). The title also has a Messianic (Davidic) significance in Rev 3:7.

These factors, taken together, make it all but certain that here, in v. 69, Peter similarly uses the title “the holy one of God” in a Messianic sense—though it is not immediately clear which Messianic figure type is primarily in view. The immediate context of the Feeding Miracle (vv. 1-14) suggests a Messianic Prophet (like Elijah); however, the Bread of Life Discourse (as well as the wider literary context of the Johannine Gospel) indicates that a Prophet like Moses is intended. Yet the reference in verse 15 also raises the possibility that a royal (Davidic?) Messiah may be in view as well. In any case, the Messianic identity of Jesus is very much the focus of Peter’s confession in the Synoptic Gospels:

“You are the Anointed (One) [i.e. the Messiah]”
(Mk 8:29)

The Lukan version corresponds generally with the Johannine tradition here:

“You are the Anointed (One) of God” (Lk 9:20)
“You are the Holy (One) of God” (Jn 6:69)

From the standpoint of the Johannine theology, the title “holy (one)” also refers to Jesus’ identity as the (pre-existent) Son of God, sent to earth from heaven by God the Father. This gives to the Messianic title a deeper Christological significance, as is suggested by Jesus’ statement in 10:36:

“…(the one) whom the Father made holy [vb a(gia/zw, i.e. set apart, consecrated] and sent forth into the world”

This statement is connected with a more direct declaration of his essential identity as God’s (eternal) Son: “I am [e)gw\ ei)mi] (the) Son of God”. The Johannine theological and literary context (esp. in the Prologue) clearly connects this Divine Sonship with a strong pre-existence Christology, rather than the earlier Christology which explained the Sonship almost entirely in terms of Jesus’ exaltation (to God’s right hand in heaven) following his death and resurrection. In the Johannine writings, the confession of the true believer combines both titles— “Anointed One” and “Son of God” —with this distinctive Christological understanding, giving new meaning to the older forms.

In this regard, the main Johannine statement (in the Gospel) is not the confession by Peter, but the one by Martha in 11:27:

“I have trusted that you are the Anointed (One), the Son of God, the (one) coming into the world.”

The Gospel concludes with a similar confessional statement, in 20:31 (cp. 17:3; 1 Jn 1:3; 3:23; 5:20). The combination of titles, of course, also resembles the Matthean version of Peter’s confession, as representing a comparable (theological/Christological) development of the Synoptic tradition:

“You are the Anointed (One), the Son of the living God” (Matt 16:16; cf. 26:63ff)

Finally, I would suggest that, from the Johannine theological standpoint, the title “holy one of God” also alludes to Jesus’ association (and identification) with God’s holy Spirit. In addition to the immediate context of the Spirit-saying in v. 63 (the Christological significance of which has been examined, in detail, in recent notes), there are other aspects of the Johannine writings (Gospel and First Letter) which seem to bear this out, including the intriguing use of the title “holy one” in 1 John 2:20. I will discuss this verse in the next daily note.

*   *   *   *   *   *

Textual Note on Jn 6:69—There is some variation in the manuscripts (and versions) with regard to the text of title in Peter’s confession (cf. above). The text followed above, o( a%gio$ tou= qeou= (“the holy [one] of God”), would seem to have decisive manuscript support, representing the reading of Ë75 a B C* D L W al. In other witnesses, the title was expanded in various ways, most likely as a harmonization with the Matthean form (16:16) of the Synoptic version of Peter’s confession (cp. Mk 8:29; Lk 9:20), or with the local Johannine confessional statements in 1:49; 11:27. Cf. the brief note in the UBS/Metzger Textual Commentary (4th revised edition), p. 184, and in the various exegetical-critical commentaries (ad loc).

August 9: John 6:63 (8)

John 6:63, concluded

“…the utterances which I have spoken to you are Spirit and are Life.” (v. 63b)

In this final note on Jn 6:63, we will examine the second part of the verse (b) in terms of the second Christological difficulty (related to the Bread of Life Discourse, cf. the disciples’ reaction in v. 60) outlined in the prior notes—namely, the idea that is necessary to eat Jesus (as “bread from heaven”). The first Christological difficulty—viz., Jesus’ claim of having come down from heaven (i.e., his heavenly origin)—in relation to v. 63b, was discussed in the previous note.

(2) The need to eat Jesus (as “bread from heaven”)

This aspect of the Discourse (see vv. 27, 32f, 35, 48ff, 50, 51ff) has been discussed in the prior notes, including its specific relation to the statement in v. 63a. Now, we will be looking at v. 63b: “…the utterances which I have spoken to you are Spirit and are Life.”

In applying this statement to the idea of eating Jesus, the most obvious implication is that Jesus’ words in the Discourse to that effect must be understood (and interpreted) in a spiritual manner. If his words (r(h/mata) are Spirit, then they can only be understood correctly in a spiritual way. From the Discourse itself, it is clear that “eating” Jesus means trusting (vb pisteu/w) in him (i.e., as the one sent by God the Father from heaven). This is indicated clearly in vv. 29, 35f, 40, 47; even so, Jesus’ hearers at the time (including his disciples) would have found it difficult to understand the connection. His words became particularly “harsh” (v. 60) once Jesus began to explain this eating in terms of eating his flesh (v. 51). Some of those who heard him naturally asked, “How is this (man) able to give us [his] flesh to eat?” (v. 52).

Modern commentators continue to be “tripped up” (v. 61) over this point, but for a different reason—as many take more or less for granted that the eucharistic language in vv. 51-58 refers to a physical eating of the (sacramental) bread (i.e., in the Lord’s Supper ritual). Against this understanding, verse 63 suggests that a spiritual interpretation of the Supper is intended.

The shift from the motif of “bread” to “flesh” represents a narrowing of focus—from the Son’s incarnate “stepping down” (to earth as a human being) to the fulfillment of his mission through his death (as a human being). While the idiom of eating is the same in both instances, the emphasis of the “bread” motif is on Jesus’ heavenly origin (“bread from heaven”), while that of “flesh” (and “blood”) is on his sacrificial death. In both instances, “eating” refers to trust in Jesus (cf. above)—i.e., trust in his heavenly origin (“bread [from heaven]”) and trust in his sacrificial death (“flesh [and blood]”).

Trust results in receiving the Spirit, which the Son gives/sends to believers, having himself received it from the Father (3:34f). Only when the believer has come to be born “from above” (3:3-8)—that is, from the Spirit—is he/she able to recognize the heavenly origin and spiritual nature of Jesus’ words (cf. 3:31ff), and to begin to grasp their true meaning. Spiritual words can only be understood in a spiritual way (cp. 1 Cor 2:13ff).

In 4:10-15, the very idiom of eating/drinking is applied to the idea of believers receiving the Spirit, as the parallel in 7:37-39 makes clear. It is fair to assume that the “living bread” in chap. 6 (vv. 51) has a correspondingly similar meaning as “living water” in 4:10f; 7:38. In both instances the living (zw=n) nourishment is given by Jesus (4:10, 14; 6:27, 33, 51), just as he gives the Spirit (1:33; 16:7b; 20:22; cf. also 3:34f). Elsewhere in the Gospel, it is life (zwh/) that the Son (Jesus) gives (5:21, 26; 6:33, 57; 10:28; 17:2, etc). There is certainly a very close connection between Life and the Spirit, as stated here in v. 63.

Thus, what the believer takes in (i.e., ‘eats’ or ‘drinks’) is the Spirit, which is also living (zw=n)—which refers to the Divine/eternal life (zwh/) that God possesses. The Son gives life, but so does the Spirit (according to v. 63a); the implication is that the Son gives life through the Spirit. However, in the Bread of Life Discourse, the “living” bread is not just given by the Son, it is identified with the person of the incarnate Son (Jesus) himself. From the standpoint of the Johannine theology, this is best understood by the principle that the Son (Jesus) is present in the believer through the Spirit. Thus, one “eats” Jesus by trusting in him, and thus receiving the Spirit, which gives eternal life that the believer possesses (“holds”) within; the eternal Son (Jesus), who is life (1:4; 14:6), is also personally present through the indwelling Spirit. In so doing, one also eats/drinks the “flesh/blood” of Jesus, meaning that the life-giving (and cleansing) power of his death is communicated to believers, through the Spirit (cf. the earlier note on 1 Jn 1:7ff).

But what relation does this have to the specific words (r(h/mata) uttered by Jesus? In a sense, the believer also ‘eats’ these words, though in the Johannine idiom this is expressed more properly through the idea of the word(s) abiding within the believer, utilizing the key-verb me/nw (“remain, abide”). As discussed in the previous note, the singular noun lo/go$ can refer both to (1) a specific saying or teaching by Jesus, and (2) to the living/eternal Word of God (of the Johannine Prologue, 1:1-2, 14) with whom Jesus (the Son) is personally identified. In 1 John 1:1, these two aspects are blended together with the traditional use of lo/go$ to refer to the “account” of Jesus (i.e., the Gospel). The words abide through the presence of the abiding Word, though the repeated exhortations (in the Gospel and First Letter) indicate the importance of believers holding firm to the teachings (and example) of Jesus which they received. For the key Johannine references in this regard, using the verb me/nw, cf. 5:38; 6:27, 56; 8:31; 14:17; 15:4-10; 1 Jn 2:14, 24, 27-28; 3:9, 24; 4:12-13, 15-16; 2 Jn 2, 9. The words give life because the abiding Word gives life; both are Spirit, and must be understood and recognized according to the Spirit.

In the next daily note, we will look briefly at the confessional statement by Peter in verse 68.

 

August 6: John 6:63 (6)

John 6:63, continued

“The Spirit is the (thing) making (a)live, the flesh does not benefit anything!” (6:63a)

As I have discussed, there are two aspects of Jesus’ teaching in the Bread of Life discourse which would have caused difficulty for his disciples (v. 60): (1) the claim by Jesus that he has come down from heaven (implying a heavenly origin) [v. 41f], and (2) the idea that people need to eat Jesus (as “bread from heaven”) [v. 52]. Both points can only be understood from the standpoint of the Christology of the Gospel. In the previous note, we looked at the contrastive (Spirit/flesh) statement in v. 63a in terms of the first Christological aspect; today we will consider the second aspect.

Even without verses 51-58, the idea that people need to “eat” Jesus would have been difficult to understand (see the reaction in v. 41f). When one includes the eucharistic language of vv. 51-58, and the specific image of eating (human) flesh and drinking (human) blood, the concept would have seemed especially grotesque and offensive (see v. 52). The disciples’ response (in v. 60) surely indicates something of the same reaction.

When Jesus’ declaration in v. 63a is considered in relation to this particular difficulty (stated rather clearly in v. 52), the Spirit/flesh contrast takes on a different level of significance. In an earlier article (cf. also the supplemental note), I discussed this verse in the particular context of the Johannine understanding of the Eucharist (i.e. the Lord’s Supper rite). When verse 63 is read in relation to the eucharistic language of vv. 51-58, it strongly suggests a spiritual (rather than sacramental) interpretation of the Supper. We shall now follow up on this discussion, looking at the matter from a Christological standpoint.

If, from a Christological standpoint, “Spirit” (pneu=ma) designates the Divine nature and status of Jesus (as the eternal Son of God), then “flesh” (sa/rc) refers to the Son’s (incarnate) life and existence as a human being; cf. the discussion in the previous note. The implication, then, of the statement in v. 63 (“the flesh does not benefit anything”) is that one does not actually, physically, eat Jesus’ human flesh. I would maintain that this premise extends even to the physical consumption of the eucharistic bread (symbolizing the flesh). It is only the Spirit, not the flesh, that has life-giving power.

Why, then, is it necessary to eat Jesus’ flesh? It is important to understand the connotation of the terms “flesh” (sa/rc) and “blood” (ai!ma) in the theological context of the Discourse. As indicated above (and in the previous note), sa/rc refers to the Son’s life and existence as a human being; the term ai!ma (“blood”) takes this point further, by referring specifically to Jesus’ death (as a human being). This conceptual terminology is relatively rare in the Johannine writings, but, where it does occur, it has a vital significance that is emphasized by the author—Jn 19:34f; 1 Jn 1:7; 5:6-8; cf. also Rev 1:5; 5:9; 7:14; 12:11; 19:13. It is also a sacrificial death, which possesses the cleansing (and life-restoring) power of a sacrificial offering for sin (1 Jn 1:7; Rev 1:5; cf. Jn 1:29). This idea is expressed or alluded to repeatedly in the Bread of Life Discourse—especially in vv. 53-58.

According to the principle expressed in v. 63a, the efficacious power of Jesus’ sacrificial death (his “blood”) is communicated to believers by the Spirit. There are two components to this teaching:

(1) It is communicated to believers

In the Discourse, “eating” the living bread of Jesus means trusting (vb pisteu/w) in him; this is clearly stated or expressed throughout the discourse—vv. 29, 35f, 40, 47.

(2) It is communicated by the Spirit

The clearest indication of this, apart from v. 63 itself, is the parallel between the motif of “living bread” (v. 51) and the “living water” of 4:10-15; 7:37-39. In each instance, the motif refers to something, given by Jesus, which the believer consumes (eats/drinks), and which has the Divine/eternal attribute of “living” (zw=n). Since the Gospel writer understands the living water as referring to the Spirit, almost certainly the living bread has the same point of reference. The Son possesses the fullness of the Divine Spirit, having received it from the Father (3:34f); just as God the Father is Spirit (4:24), so also is His Son. The Life he possesses from the Father, the Son is able to communicate to believers (1:4ff; 5:26; 14:19, etc). This is expressed most clearly in the Discourse by the statement in verse 57:

“Just as the living [zw=n] Father sent me forth, and I live [zw=] through the Father, (so) also the (one) eating me—even that (one)—will live [zh/sei] through me.”

At the physical level of human existence (“flesh”), life is given/maintained through the eating of material food (“bread”); similarly, at the Divine level (of the Spirit), life is given (and preserved) through the eating of spiritual food. One “eats” the bread/flesh of Jesus himself, in a spiritual way, through the Spirit. This corresponds precisely with the contrast in 3:3-8, between an ordinary (physicial/biological) human birth and spiritual birth (“out of [i.e. from] the Spirit,” e)k pneu/mato$).

Once the believer receives the Spirit, it abides/remains (vb me/nw) within, functioning as a continuous source of (eternal) life which the believer possesses, even during his/her existence (as a human being) on earth. For this language and imagery here in the Discourse, cf. vv. 27, 35, 53, 55-57; elsewhere in the Gospel, esp. 3:34-35; 4:14; 7:38f; 14:17; cf. also 1 Jn 3:24; 4:13.

In the next daily note, we will examine the second part of verse 63[b], according to the same two Christological aspects by which we examine v. 63a.

August 1: John 6:63 (1)

John 6:63

“The Spirit is the (thing) making (a)live, the flesh does not benefit anything! (and) the utterances which I have spoken to you are Spirit and are Life.”

This famous Spirit-reference in John 6:63 has featured as an important part of recent discussions in the series “Spiritualism and the New Testament” —cf. the article and supplemental note. I thought it worth giving more consideration to this provocative reference, looking at it particularly from a Christological standpoint. In the prior studies, the emphasis tended to be exegetical and interpretive. The mention of Jesus’ words (“utterances” r(h/mata) has naturally led commentators to explain v. 63 in relation to the words of Jesus in the Bread of Life Discourse (vv. 22-59)—that is, the statement in v. 63 further expounds the message and teaching(s) of the Discourse. Beyond this, the specific contrast between Spirit and flesh (sa/rc) has been understood, in various ways, as an explication of the use of sa/rc in vv. 51-58.

Commentators have not examined v. 63 much from the standpoint of the Johannine Christology;

A rare exception is the brief discussion by George Johnston, The Spirit-Paraclete in the Gospel of John, Society for New Testament Studies Monograph Series 12 (Cambridge: 1970), pp. 22-8.

however, in light of the immediate context of Jesus’ question in v. 62, a Christological examination would seem to be warranted.

Admittedly, the question in v. 62 has proven rather enigmatic, the precise thrust of it being difficult to determine—at least for readers and commentators today. Some of Jesus’ disciples themselves had complained about the difficulty of their master’s words: “This word [lo/go$] is hard—who is able to hear it?” (v. 60). While vv. 60ff may represent an originally separate tradition, unrelated to the preceding Discourse, in the literary setting of the Gospel, it can only refer to Jesus’ teaching in vv. 22-59—and, most likely, to the specific words (and the eucharistic language) in vv. 51-58.

But the thrust of the Discourse is Christological. Specifically, Jesus identifies himself as the “bread having come down out of heaven” (v. 41, 51); in contrast to the manna sent by God (through the mediation of Moses), Jesus is the true (a)lhqino/$) bread from heaven (vv. 32-33, 38ff, 55, 58; cf. v. 31; Psalm 78:25; 105:40; Neh 9:15), and the living bread (vv. 35, 48ff, 51ff)—specifically in the sense that it is ‘bread’ which gives (eternal) life to those who ‘eat’ it (vv. 40, 47, 51, 54, 57-58). The implication is that Jesus has come down (vb katabai/nw) from heaven, having been sent from God the Father.

This further implies the pre-existence Christology of the Johannine Gospel—entailing Jesus’ identity as the eternal (and pre-existent) Son (and  Logos) of God. This Christology is expressed most clearly in the Prologue (1:1-18), and again in the chap. 17 Prayer-Discourse (vv. 1-5), but it can be seen throughout the entire Gospel, running as a thread through the Discourses. Earlier in the Discourses, this thematic motif of “coming down” (lit. “stepping down,” vb katabai/nw) was associated specifically with Jesus’ identity as the “Son of Man” (o( ui(o\$ tou= a)nqrw/pou). While the expression “Son of Man,” and Jesus’ use of it, is more common in the Synoptic Gospels, it occurs at a number of points of the Gospel of John as well, indicating that it was a significant part of the Johannine tradition (no less than the Synoptic).

The first Son of Man saying, also utilizing the verb katabai/nw (and its parallel, a)nabai/nw, “step up”) is the enigmatic vision-saying in 1:51. The next occurs in 3:13f, which is more directly relevant to the Bread of Life Discourse. It is worth citing vv. 12-15 together:

“If I told you (about) the (thing)s on earth, and you do not trust, how (then), if should tell you (about) the (thing)s above (the) heavens, will you trust? (For) indeed, no one has stepped up into heaven, if not the (one hav)ing stepped down out of heaven—the Son of Man. And, just as Moshe lifted high the snake in the desolate (land), so it is necessary (for) the Son of Man to be lifted high, (so) that every (one) trusting in him should hold (the) Life of the Age(s) [i.e., eternal life].”

The points of emphasis in these verses are particularly significant for a proper understanding of 6:61-63, in their Johannine literary and theological context. These will be discussed in the next daily note, in preparation for applying the points to the statement in 6:62.

 

Spiritualism and the Opponents in 1 John (Pt 2)

Having summarized (in Part 1) my understanding of the evidence regarding both the opponents in 1-2 John and of the Johannine spiritualism, I will now attempt to bring together the results of my analysis, synthesizing it, to see in what ways the opponents (and the conflict surrounding them) may relate to this spiritualism.

Spiritualism and the Opponents: Synthesizing the Evidence

I will present three specific lines of interpretation, expounding and arguing them as far as the evidence may allow:

    1. The priority of the Spirit in teaching/guiding believers
    2. The abiding presence of Jesus through the Spirit, and
    3. Spiritualistic aspects of the Johannine Christology (i.e., regarding the person of Christ)
1. The Priority of the Spirit in Teaching/Guiding Believers

The key evidence for this particular aspect of Johannine spiritualism is: (a) the Paraclete-sayings in the Gospel (14:16-17, 25-26; 15:26-27; 16:7b-15), and (b) the xri=sma-statements in 1 Jn 2:20, 27. These statements emphasize the role of the Spirit in teaching and guiding believers. This role is suggested by the very title “Spirit of truth” (Jn 14:17; 15:26; 16:12; 1 Jn 4:6, cf. also 5:6), obviously implying the truthfulness of the Spirit’s teaching and witness, but even more particularly by the promises in 14:26 and 16:13:

    • “that (one) [i.e. the Spirit/Paraclete] will teach you all (thing)s”
    • “when that (one) should come…he will lead you on the way in all truth”

In 1 John 2:20f, 27, the “anointing” (xri=sma) that abides/remains in the believer functions in much the same way:

“…you hold (the) anointing from the Holy (One), and you have seen [i.e. known] all (thing)s” (v. 20)
“…the anointing that you received from Him remains in you, and you do not have (any) need that any(one) should teach you…the anointing teaches you about all (thing)s” (v. 27)

The term xri=sma (“anointing”) here is best understood as a reference to the abiding presence of the Spirit, as I discuss in the article on this passage.

The opponents almost certainly shared this Johannine belief with the author of 1 John (and with the Community at large). If so, then it is fair to assume that the opponents, who would have regarded themselves as true believers, understood that they possessed God’s Spirit, and that the Spirit was the primary (and sufficient) source for Divine teaching and instruction. Moreover, they presumably believed also that Jesus (the Son) was himself teaching them through the Spirit (see esp. Jn 16:12-15).

On this basis, with the presumption that the Spirit of Truth (and Jesus through the Spirit) would not (and could not) teach them anything false, the opponents likely regarded their Christology, their understanding of Jesus Christ, to be true, confirmed by the internal witness of the Spirit.

The problem, then, for the Johannine Community, which apparently was experiencing a significant Christological division, was how to reconcile two contrasting (and opposing) views of Jesus with the one Spirit of truth. Significantly, the author does not deny the primacy of the Spirit as the guiding (and authoritative) source of truth, though this might have been useful as a way of combating the opponents. Instead of relying, for example, upon a personal apostolic authority (the noun a)po/stolo$ is essentially absent from the Johannine writings [cf. Jn 13:16]), the author seems to maintain the priority of the abiding (internal) presence of the Spirit, which is available to all believers. I tend to take seriously the author’s statements in 2:20, 27 as representing fundamental declarations of Johannine belief, doubtless understood as a fulfillment of the ‘new covenant’ prophecy in Jer 31:31-34 (vv. 33-34). The same focus on the (internal) witness of the Spirit is found in 3:24 [par 4:13], 4:4, and 5:6-8.

How, then, does the author combat the opponents? He does this two ways. First, in addressing his readers, he effectively treats them as true believers, assuming that they will thus be in agreement with the Community (of true believers)—with whom he also identifies himself. The underlying assumption, thus, is that, as true believers, the readers can trust that the indwelling Spirit will convince them of the truth, and that they will accept the Christology of the author (as representing the view of the Community), rather than that of the opponents.

Along with this rhetorical strategy, the author adds the implicit test that the witness of the Spirit will affirm, and will not contradict, the established witness of the historical (Gospel) tradition—regarding the person and work of Jesus. The author introduces this theme at the very beginning of his treatise, in the prologue (1:1-4), and it continues to run as an underlying thread throughout. In particular, the reality (and significance) of Jesus’ earthly life (as a human being) is emphasized—especially his sacrificial death (i.e., his “blood”, 1:7; 5:6-8, cf. Jn 6:53-56; 19:30). I have previously noted how the opponents combated by Ignatius of Antioch (see esp. his letter to the Smyrneans) seem to have similarly denied/devalued Jesus’ death, and how they resemble the Johannine opponents in certain respects.

Ultimately, the author summarizes the Gospel tradition by way of a trio of Christological confessional statements—in 2:22-23; 4:2-3 [par 2 Jn 7]; 5:5-6f—which he presents as a litmus test to distinguish between the true believers and the opponents.

2. The Abiding Presence of Jesus through the Spirit

A fundamental component of the Johannine theology is that Jesus (God’s Son) abides/remains (vb me/nw) in and among believers through the Spirit. God the Father, present in the Son, also abides in believers (and believers in Him)—cf. 1 Jn 3:24; 4:13, etc. Thus, even after his departure/return to the Father (in heaven), Jesus continues to remain with believers, teaching and guiding them. This is the principal message of the Gospel Paraclete-sayings (14:16-17, 25-26; 15:26-27; 16:7b-15), and it can be inferred from the other Spirit-references in the Gospel as well.

As I discuss above, there is little reason to doubt that the opponents shared this Johannine belief with the author of 1 John (along with the wider Community). This may help to explain how they might come to devalue or relativize the significance of Jesus’ earthly life and ministry. After all, if he continues to remain with believers, continuing to teach and guide, then why should one place such importance on the things he said and did during the short span of his earthly ministry. Moreover, is not his presence in the Spirit greater that his limited presence in the flesh, as a matter of principle (cf. Jn 4:24; 6:63), far surpassing it in importance?

Again, the author does not in any way deny the fundamental Johannine belief—viz., of the Son’s abiding presence through the Spirit. However, as discussed above, he very much gives emphasis to Jesus’ earthly life (and death) as a human being. The idea of Jesus’ coming “in the flesh” (4:2f; 2 Jn 7) clearly refers to his life and existence as a (real) human being. Whether or not the opponents’ Christology was docetic, they do seem at least to have denied (or devalued) the significance of Jesus’ earthly life. Their denial, according to the author, was focused principally upon Jesus’ human death (“blood”)—its reality and/or importance. In my view, as I have discussed (cf. the article and supplemental notes), the confessional statement in 5:5-6ff informs the earlier ones in 4:2-3 and 2:22-23. In other words, the opponents’ false Christology (according to the author) was rooted in their understanding of his death.

One can see how a strongly spiritualistic view of Jesus (cf below) might tend to avoid emphasizing his death. After all, if “the flesh is not useful (for) anything” (Jn 6:63), how could this not include a person’s death in the flesh? By contrast, the author gives particular emphasis to Jesus’ death, especially in 5:6-8. This passage toward the end of the treatise is matched by the earlier reference in 1:7ff (cf. the earlier note), focusing on the cleansing power of Jesus’ blood. The implication is that this life-giving (and preserving/restoring) power is communicated to the believer through the Spirit. This idea is brought out more directly, it seems, by two passages in the Gospel: (1) the eucharistic language in 6:51-58, read in light of the statement of v. 63; and (2) the allusion to Jesus’ giving of the Spirit in 19:30 (also v. 34) at the moment of his death.

3. Spiritualistic Aspects of the Johannine Christology

It is reasonable to posit that the opponents’ view of Jesus Christ is rooted in the wider Johannine Christology, and represents a particular variation, or development, of it. As such, it is worth considering if there are any spiritualistic aspects of this Christology which may, in some respect, inform the opponents’ view. Here three lines of exploration will be considered briefly:

    1. Pre-existence Christology
    2. The Priority of the Spirit in the Gospel Narrative
    3. Jesus’ Role in the Outpouring of the Spirit
a. Pre-existence Christology

If, as would seem to be the case, the Gospel of John is representative of the Christology of the Johannine churches (when the Letters were written), then this was a pre-existence Christology—that is, characterized by a fundamental belief that identified Jesus Christ as the eternal (and pre-existent) Son of God, existing as such even prior to his earthly life. Once such a Christology had taken root throughout the Community, it created certain difficulties for the understanding of Jesus’ earthly life (as a human being). In particular, it became hard to explain Jesus’ death—indeed, how could the eternal Son of God die like any other ordinary human being?

Two relatively influential Christological trends—which are attested throughout the second and third centuries, but which likely originated sometime near the end of the first century—the Docetic and the Separatist, offered different explanations to navigate around this problem. In the various forms of the Docetic view, Jesus Christ only seemed (or appeared, vb doke/w) to be human, and thus only seemed to suffer an ordinary human death. Alternately, according to the Separationist view, the Divine Son/Christ and the man Jesus were two separate entities, who were joined together at the baptism and then separated at the moment of his death; this can be represented by the coming and departure of the Spirit, respectively (cf. Jn 1:26, 33; 19:30, [34]). Based on the evidence from the Ignatian letters (cf. throughout Smyrneans, also Trallians 10, etc), it is quite possible that the Johannine opponents held a rudimentary docetic view of Jesus, though a separationist view would accord better with the Johannine Gospel itself (cf. below).

The consequences of a pre-existence Christology to the Johannine spiritualism may be even more fundamental. One practical result of this Christology is to shift the focus from Jesus’ human nature to his Divine nature as Spirit (Jn 4:24); the Son receives the fullness of the Father’s Spirit (3:34-35). This is not simply the product of Jesus’ resurrection/exaltation (cp. 1 Cor 15:45; 6:17), it is intrinsic to his eternal identity as the Son (and he returns to it after the resurrection, Jn 17:1-5, etc). Thus the essential spiritual nature of Jesus may be seen as an important component of the Johannine Christology, even though (admittedly) this aspect is not particularly developed in the writings. It would, however, imply that the presence of Jesus (in believers) through the Spirit is the principal way that believers understand and experience him. The Gospel record of Jesus’ limited earthly life (and death), by comparison, could be seen as of only secondary importance. Possibly the opponents’ denial of Jesus Christ “having come in the flesh” is rooted in this basic Christological preference for Jesus as Spirit, rather than as flesh (cf. Jn 6:63).

b. The Priority of the Spirit in the Gospel Narrative

References to the Spirit frame the Johannine Gospel narrative, with the Spirit coming upon Jesus at the beginning of his ministry (1:32-34), and then being released (by Jesus) at the end (19:30, [34]; 20:22). The emphasis on Jesus ‘baptizing’ people in the Spirit (i.e., living water [cf. 4:10-15; 7:37-39], instead of with ordinary water), following the tradition of the Baptist’s saying (1:26, 33; cp. Mark 1:8 par), is a theme that dominates chapters 1-3. The statements about being born of the Spirit (instead of an ordinary human birth [out of ordinary water]) in 3:3-8 (cp. 1:12-13) is part of this thematic development. In the following Discourses of chaps. 4-8, the idea of Jesus giving the Spirit—through the idiom of giving living water/bread—also features as an important theme (cf. 4:10-15, 32ff; 6:35ff, 48ff, 51-58, 63; 7:37-39). Finally, the promise of the Spirit, as the abiding presence of Jesus the Son (and God the Father) with believers, is central to the Last Discourse (particularly in the Paraclete-sayings, 14:16-17, 25-26; 15:26-27; 16:7b-15), and is also alluded to in the chap. 17 Prayer-Discourse.

All of these theological (and Christological) points of reference strongly suggest that believers experience the presence and power of Jesus Christ (the Son of God) primarily, and directly, through the indwelling Spirit. This spiritual primacy of believers’ relationship with God (the Father, and Jesus the Son) is an essential component of Christian spiritualism. It would very much seem to reflect the understanding of the Spirit within the Johannine Community, and likely was influential in shaping the views of the opponents as well.

c. Jesus’ Role in the Outpouring of the Spirit

The Gospel references related to Jesus’ giving the Spirit are documented in section (b.) above, including the idiom of baptizing people in/with the Spirit and the motif of living water—both of which involve the image of pouring out water. There can be no doubt as to the eschatological significance of this imagery, drawn as it is from Old Testament (Prophetic) tradition regarding the pouring out of God’s Spirit upon His people in the New Age of Israel’s restoration (see the passages cited, with links to detailed notes, in the Introduction to this series). The end-time outpouring of the Spirit upon God’s people (believers) is ushered in by the work of Jesus the Anointed One (Messiah/Christ), culminating in his death, resurrection, and exaltation.

The Johannine churches shared this basic belief with all other early Christians. However, the particular emphasis on the Spirit—and on Jesus giving the Spirit to believers—has a special prominence in the Johannine tradition (and its Gospel, cf. above). It may be said that, for most Johannine Christians, the primary role of Jesus—and the purpose of his incarnate mission on earth—was as the giver of God’s Spirit to His people. Though Jesus (the Son) possessed the fullness of God the Father’s Spirit (cf. above), his giving of the Spirit to believers was made possible only after the fulfillment of his earthly mission—culminating in his sacrificial death. This would seem to be expressed clearly enough in the Gospel, and yet the opponents apparently did not recognize the significance of Jesus’ death in this regard. Even if they acknowledged the reality of his human death, they may have denied its importance (and salvific power).

How does this relate to Johannine spiritualism? It is possible that the opponents held that the Spirit was communicated to believers by Jesus apart from his death. This is one way of understanding the significance of the author’s distinction between Jesus’ coming “in/through water” and “in/through blood” (1 Jn 5:6ff). If “water” here refers to Jesus’ baptism, then this was the moment when the Spirit came upon Jesus. Typically early Christians saw a believer’s baptism as the moment when, similarly, the believer received the Spirit (from Jesus). Thus, it is the baptism that holds the significance for receiving the Spirit, not Jesus’ death (“blood”). Again, it is possible that this way of thinking informed, to some extent, the opponents’ view. I am more inclined to think that “in/through water” refers rather to Jesus’ birth as a human being (and “in/through blood” to his death), but I will admit that the water-baptism connection represents a plausible interpretation that must be seriously considered.

Some final thoughts regarding the opponents, and their relation to Johannine spiritualism, will be given in the conclusion to the studies (in this series) on the Johannine writings.

Spiritualism and the Opponents in 1 John (Pt 1)

Having discussed the Johannine ‘opponents’ targeted by the author in 1-2 John, throughout these recent notes and articles, it is now time to consider the possible relationship of these opponents to the Johannine spiritualism, such as it may be discerned in the Johannine writings. It will be helpful first (here in Part 1) to summarize both the views of the opponents and the spiritualistic tendencies of the Johannine Christians (as evidenced by the Gospel and First Letter). Then the data will be applied and synthesized (Part 2), to see what conclusions we might draw.

For a more detailed examination and appraisal of the evidence referenced below, consult the various notes and articles, some of which are cited (with links) below.

The Opponents

In this context, the term “opponents” refers to certain Johannine Christians, whom the author of 1 and 2 John opposes, and whom he regards as false believers. He certainly considers them to be in opposition to the truth—and even to God Himself—calling them by the term a)nti/xristo$ (“against the Anointed”, i.e. antichrist), see 1 Jn 2:18, 22; 4:3; 2 Jn 7. Through their false view of Jesus Christ, they effectively deny the Son of God, thus denying the God the Father as well (1 Jn 2:22-23).

What we can reasonably know (and reconstruct) about the opponents is summarized by the following points. The information comes entirely from the author(s) of 1 and 2 John, and must be judged as having been presented from the standpoint of a hostile witness. Here is what I believe can be established regarding the opponents:

    • The author has in mind a single and distinct group of Christians.
    • They are/were part of the wider Johannine Community—that is, the congregations within which the Gospel and Letters of John were produced and distributed. This involves a (loose) network of churches over a geographical area; if the traditional location turns out to be correct, this is the region of Asia (Minor), centered around Ephesus.
    • The author treats this group as having separated from the main Community (1 Jn 2:19; cf. also 4:1). This is often regarded as a genuine secession and schism within the Johannine churches—the first such recorded in Church History.
    • It is likely that the opponents were engaged in their own missionary activity, spreading their views and beliefs throughout the network of Johannine congregations, presumably with the hope of converting other believers to their cause (cf. 1 Jn 2:26; 4:1ff; 2 Jn 7ff).
    • The author certainly regarded this missionary work as a dangerous rival to his own, urging his readers (in 2 Jn 8-11) not to support or give hospitality to the opponents; it is likely that the opponents did much the same, responding in a similar manner.
    • The author’s chief objection to the opponents involves their Christology, their view of the person of Jesus Christ, which the author references in 2:18-27; 4:1-6; 5:5-12, and 2 Jn 7ff.
    • The opponents almost certainly affirmed the fundamental Johannine confession (Jn 11:27; 20:31, etc)—viz., that Jesus is the Anointed One (Christ) and Son of God—in spite of the author’s polemical presentation of the matter. However, it is possible that they denied (the importance of) Jesus’ specific identity as the Jewish Messiah (cf. the supplemental notes on 1 Jn 2:22-23).
    • The opponents seem to have denied (or downplayed) the significance of Jesus’ earthly life as a human being. This may have centered on a rudimentary docetic Christology, effectively denying the incarnation of the Son/Logos of God and the reality of his human/earthly life (“in the flesh”); however, the extent of the opponents’ docetism (if such it may be called) remains unclear.
    • What the opponents principally denied (or downplayed) was the reality (and significance) of Jesus’ death. They may have accepted his birth as a human being (i.e., coming “in/through water”), but not his death (“in/through blood”). Alternately, “in/through water” could allude to Jesus’ baptism, focusing on his receiving of the Spirit from God.
    • The emphasis on the reality of Jesus’ sacrificial death would seem to be confirmed by the letters of Ignatius of Antioch (esp. to the Smyrneans); the opponents he combats resemble, in certain respects, the opponents in 1-2 John. The Ignatian ‘docetic’ opponents avoided partaking in the Lord’s Supper rite, apparently considering it to be of little or no importance. Cf. my discussion of the Ignatian evidence in an earlier note, and in the supplemental study on 1 Jn 4:2-3.
    • The author accuses the opponents of failing/refusing to show proper love to other believers (and thus violating the second branch of the great dual-command [1 Jn 3:23]). Their main crime, in this regard, simply involves their departure from the Community (2:19); however, based on 3:16-18, it is possible that the author also considered the opponents to have been neglectful of the material needs of other believers.
    • The claims of Christian sinlessness, which the author refutes in 1:7-2:2 (1:8, 10), may reflect the view of the opponents. If so, it can be difficult to discern the difference between their claims and the author’s own declarations regarding the ‘sinlessness’ of believers (cf. 3:9; 5:18). Cf. my recent discussion on this question.
Spiritualism

The evidence for spiritualism (or spiritualistic tendencies) in the Johannine writings has been discussed and analyzed extensively in the articles of this series. Here I will merely summarize the key results of this analysis.

The Johannine view of the Spirit, on the whole, represent a distinct development of the early Christian understanding. The first-century Christian view, in turn, was rooted in Old Testament tradition—particularly the Spirit references in the later (exilic and post-exilic) Prophetic books. For a list of the key references, with links to detailed notes, see the Introduction to this series. Two aspects of this Prophetic tradition are especially significant, presented in terms of two distinct (but related) ideas which characterize the New Age of Israel’s restoration:

    • God’s Spirit will come upon all of His people, rather than upon specially chosen/gifted individuals alone.
    • Through the abiding presence of the Spirit, God’s Law (Torah) will be written within each person, on the heart/mind; this will ensure that all people will faithfully fulfill the covenant and never again violate God’s Instruction. For this reason, essentially there is no longer any need for a written Torah (since is now ‘written on the heart’), nor for anyone to teach the people about the Torah (and how to observe it).

These are key principles that inform early Christian spiritualism, such as it can be discerned in the New Testament. The principles are applied to the person of Jesus Christ, identified as the Anointed One (Messiah) of the end-time. Through his presence and work on earth (culminating in his death, resurrection, and exaltation), Jesus has ushered in the New Age, in which God’s holy Spirit is poured out on His people (believers), in fulfillment of the Spirit-prophecies.

The Johannine spiritualism, it would seem, was shaped primarily by the Johannine Christology. Of the numerous distinctive points of emphasis, I would isolate three that are fundamental:

    • Jesus’ identity as the Son of God, with his unique relationship to God the Father; while this is common to the broader early Christology, it receives particular emphasis, reflecting a definite theological development, in the Johannine writings. Part of this development involves the shift to a pre-existence Christology, emphasizing Jesus’ existence as God’s Son (in heaven) even prior to his life on earth (see esp. the Gospel Prologue [1:1-18]).
    • Jesus (the Son) continues to remain with believers even after his return to the Father in heaven. His abiding presence (expressed primarily by the use of the verb me/nw) is realized for believers through the Spirit. The Johannine theological expression of this belief (and the basis for it) is best seen in the Paraclete-sayings of Jesus in the Gospel Last Discourse (cf. the detailed notes on 14:16-17, 26-27; 15:26-27; 16:7b-11, and 12-15).
    • Believers are regarded as the offspring (te/kna) or children of God; their/our relationship with God the Father is thus parallel with, and a continuation of, Jesus’ own relationship as God’s eternal Son. The main Johannine idiom used to express this dynamic is the verb of becoming (genna/w), in the specific sense of coming to be born, along with the preposition e)k (“out of, from”); sometimes the preposition alone is used, with the verb implied. This ‘birth’ for believers occurs through the Spirit, as is clear from the famous statements by Jesus in Jn 3:5-8.

All three of these points help to emphasize the priority of the Spirit, in a way that is distinctive to Johannine Christianity. In addition to the Paraclete-sayings, and the statements on being born of the Spirit in 3:5-8 (part of the Nicodemus Discourse), there are two other key passages in the Gospel which are indicative of spiritualism:

    • The Samaritan Woman Discourse (4:1-42), especially to the “living water” statements by Jesus in vv. 10-15, which, based on the parallel in 7:37-39, were certainly understood by the Gospel writer as referring to the Spirit. In addition, we find the statements in vv. 23-24, with their strong emphasis on the priority of the Spirit (cf. the earlier article).
    • The Bread of Life Discourse (6:22-59), which is followed by an exchange, between Jesus and his disciples (vv. 60-71), that includes the spiritualistic declaration of v. 63.

In both Discourses, Jesus speaks of his giving living water/bread for people to drink/eat. In each instance, the context clearly indicates the spiritual nature of what Jesus offers. In the case of the Bread of Life Discourse, it is himself that he offers, alluding to his own presence in believers, and the spiritual nature of this presence (i.e., through the Spirit). This is especially telling, considering the strong eucharistic language in vv. 51-58; a reading of vv. 51-58, in context, and in light of v. 63 (cf. the earlier article), suggests a spiritual interpretation of the Lord’s Supper rite. A non-sacramental understanding of the Supper tradition is very much characteristic of Christian spiritualism. I discuss this possibility of such spiritualistic tendencies, in regard to public worship and the sacraments, for the Johannine Community in an earlier note.

In First John, the Spirit is not explicitly mentioned (by the word pneu=ma) until 3:24, but the central (and climactic) position of this reference (cf. also 4:13) is most significant. It occurs at the very end of the central section of 1 John (2:28-3:24), dealing with the nature of the true believer (in contrast to the false believer, i.e., the opponents). The identity of the true believer is realized, and confirmed, by the abiding presence of the Spirit. Moreover, the three key Johannine points of emphasis, outlined above, can be found running (abundantly) all through the author’s work.

The other important references to the Spirit are found in the three trust-sections—2:18-27; 4:1-6; 5:5-12—that is, the sections dealing with the first branch of the great dual-command, the two-fold duty (e)ntolh/) required of all believers (3:23). The true believer has genuine (and correct) trust/faith in Jesus as the Anointed One and Son of God, while false believers (i.e., the opponents) do not. In all three of these passages it is stated (or indicated) that the internal presence of the Spirit confirms the true view of Jesus Christ held by the true believer. This is most explicit in 5:6-8, but is also alluded to in 2:20-21ff, 27 and 4:2, 4ff. The references in 2:20f and 27, in particular, seem to be reflective of Johannine spiritualism, emphasizing the priority (and sufficiency) of the Spirit, as a source of knowledge and teaching (and religious authority) for the believer. For more on this point, and on the interpretation of the noun xri=sma (“anointing”) as a reference to the Spirit, cf. the article on 2:18-27.

In Part 2, I will attempt to bring together the evidence assembled above, synthesizing the results, to see how the Johannine Spiritualism may relate, specifically, to the views of the opponents, and to the way that the author (of 1-2 John) addresses them.