Stephen Smalley’s exhaustive commentary on the Greek text of the letters of John argues that these epistles, together with the fourth Gospel, record and reflect the spiritual history of the Johannine community itself. These letters contain theological, ethical and practical truths that are fundamental to the Christian position in every age: that Jesus is one with God as well as one with us; that love and righteousness are indispensable to the believer who seeks as a child of God to walk in the light; and that unity, however flexible, is a demand laid upon the whole Church at all times.
The Word Biblical Commentary delivers the best in biblical scholarship, from the leading scholars of our day who share a commitment to Scripture as divine revelation. This series emphasizes a thorough analysis of textual, linguistic, structural, and theological evidence. The result is judicious and balanced insight into the meanings of the text in the framework of biblical theology. These widely acclaimed commentaries serve as exceptional resources for the professional theologian and instructor, the seminary or university student, the working minister, and everyone concerned with building theological understanding from a solid base of biblical scholarship.
“A secondary intention behind the composition of 1 John may be regarded as a refutation and correction of the inadequate views (both christological and ethical) which were being espoused by other, heretically disposed members in the Johannine community, of a Jewish or non-Jewish background.” (Page xxviii)
“The declaration, ‘God is light’ (ὁ θεός φῶς ἐστιν), is a penetrating description of the being and nature of God: it means that he is absolute in his glory (the physical connotation of light), in his truth (the intellectual) and in his holiness (the moral).” (Page 20)
“The setting of 1:5–7, with its basic theme of ‘light versus darkness,’ may appear at first glance to be Hellenistic, and indeed gnostic. But the ideas of ‘light’ and ‘darkness’ are also common in Judaism (both in the OT and in the Qumran documents).” (Page 18)
“After the preface (1:1–4) the writer launches forth into his first major section. Under the general heading of ‘living in the light’ he deals first with the subject of God as light (1:5–7), and then with four conditions for living as a believer (illumined and illumining) in the world (1:8–2:29).” (Pages 17–18)
“The writer of 1 John was thus addressing a community, made up of a number of house-churches in and around Ephesus (see on 2 and 3 John), which was split in three ways. It consisted of the following: (a) Johannine Christians who were committed to the apostolic gospel of Jesus as they had received it; (b) heretically inclined members from a Jewish background; (c) heterodox followers from a Hellenistic (and/or pagan) background.” (Page xxiv)