I posted last month saying that I’m getting more regular pulpit time. I’ll be preaching again next week and posting my passage notes then. In the meantime, today we started working our way through 1 John in Sunday School. I decided to post my notes here, too. So when this is done in a couple of months, you’ll basically have a verse-by-verse commentary of the book.
So let’s get right into it. Not only is this going to be an analysis of the book, it’s also going to serve as something of a case study of how to read your Bible–that’s a field that Bible scholars call “hermeneutics.” So you’ll see me giving you several hermeneutical tools that you can apply as you study other books. And the first such tool is, naturally, reading in context. But “context” doesn’t only mean the verses right before and right after whatever verse you are in. It doesn’t even just mean the paragraphs before and after (although that’s a lot better than just the verses before and after). One of the major contexts is the purpose of the book. Why was the author writing? What was he trying to get his readers to understand? What’s the big idea he was addressing?
That’s really important, because if you get it right, much of the book will explain itself. But if you get it wrong, you’ll likely end up with hopeless contradictions within the book and with other books of the Bible. If you’ve ever found yourself reading and suddenly you come across a verse or passage that feels like it came out of nowhere and just doesn’t belong, that’s probably because you have missed the author’s overall point. We’ll see in just a bit how that works in 1 John as our example.