Three NT Epistles which tradition ascribes to St John, the Apostle and author of the Fourth Gospel. Modern scholars who defend the apostolic authorship of the Gospel commonly also admit that of the First Epistle; among those who reject it, opinion is divided. The Second and Third Epistles were not generally admitted as authentic in antiquity, and many modern critics assign them to a different author from that of the First Epistle.
The First Epistle reflects many of the themes of the Fourth Gospel, and the writer stresses the continuity of Christian tradition and experience. ‘False brethren’ are denounced for denying that Jesus Christ ‘has come in the flesh’, as well as for flouting the demands of righteousness and love. The author urges the ideal of sinless perfection in language that suggests that Christians cannot, and presumably therefore do not, sin, but there are equally emphatic statements that we do sin, and need and receive forgiveness. Some scholars infer that there must have been more than one writer; others ascribe the awkwardness to the need to attack contradictory positions. The Second Epistle insists on the need to profess right doctrine and avoid communion with the teachers of error, and the Third on hospitality.
On 1 Jn. 5: 7 f. see Johannine Comma.
Subjects: Biblical Studies.