I’ll be repeating the book of I John in present-day terminology. It’s not a true translation of the book, as I am not qualified to do so. It will be based on an exegetical study of the book and will lean heavily on the SBL and UBS Greek New Testaments, as well as comparisons with other translations (ESV, NASB, NIV, ERV, NLT). My goal is to reflect the text accurately, and to highlight the intent of the author using concepts and vocabulary in common use today.
This is not an “essentially literal” translation, and should be read as something of a commentary.
This is what you’ve heard from the beginning: you should love each other. Don’t be like Cain, he was evil. He slaughtered his own brother. Why would he do that? Because he did evil things, and his brother was morally pure.
Don’t be surprised, family, if the world hates you. You know you’ve transferred from death to life when you love your Christian family. Those who don’t love their Christian family are still dead.
Anyone who hates their Christian family is a murderer — and you know that no murderer lives forever.
“Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near.”
To prepare the mind for the door and the trumpet of chapter 4, let’s review the Revelator’s response.
John Is Literally Paralyzed By Fear
“When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said: “Do not be afraid.I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One; I was dead, and now look, I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.” 1.17
The Trumpet Of His Voice
“On the Lord’s Day I was in the Spirit, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet..”1.10
“After this I looked, and there before me was a door standing open in heaven. And the voice I had first heard speaking to me like a trumpet said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.” 4.1
Let’s take a second to appreciate this window into the heavenly realm. These precious details should make you hunger for more.
Let’s Speculate For A Moment
Roman cornu found at Pompeii, Public domain
While the “trumpet” is used metaphorically, there’s a particular kind of trumpet that John may have been thinking of. It’s called the Roman Cornu.
This brass signal trumpet was around nine feet long, curved into a “G” shape, and supported by a crossbar. Recently, two of these horns were found by archeologists in the ruins of Pompeii.
These trumpets were used to direct Roman troops on the Roman battlefield. One military strategist by the name Vegetius said,
“The rules (given by blowing the horn) must be punctually observed in all exercises and reviews so that the soldiers may be ready to obey them in action without hesitation according to the general’s orders either to charge or halt, to pursue the enemy or to retire.”
A trumpet that could be heard over the din of battle? That had to be loud.
Click hear to listen to a short example of a perfect replica of a Cornu horn being blown. It’s loud, exciting, and terrifying.
That’ll raise the hair on your neck.
Traveling Through The Door In The Sky
The voice of the Lord was like that of trumpet, and it was calling John to come through a door in the sky (4.1).
We read that John was in the Spirit in Revelation 1.10, but something else seems to be going on here. This is a new experience and even with the help of Inspiration, it’s difficult to describe in a limited human language.
Did John’s body travel through the door as well? That’s anybody’s guess and while on earth— a concrete answer is impossible to find.
Paul hardly even tried to describe his journey into the spiritual world as descriptive terms don’t seem to do it justice (2 Cor. 12.1-4).
The Meaning Of The Door
Was it a portal? Did it have hinges and a knocker? Was it floating?
Before the imagination runs wild, let’s look at a couple of the practical points.
The door, while both symbolic and physical in some respects, represents perspective. John is stranded on an island, but God gives him another vantage point. Seeing things from a spiritual high place can help reorient ourselves. How does God see our lives? What does the church look like from up there? That’s what Revelation 1-3 is all about.
There’s a plan being worked out behind the veil of eternity. Just like Job suffered without knowing the details (Job 1), we can take comfort in the fact that things down here always go according to His plan.
While the details aren’t as colorful as we would like them to be, here’s 3 important facts He would want us to remember.
There’s definitely a way into heaven.
God’s the only one who can open that door.
We should focus on preparing our souls to step across that final threshold.
If you couldn’t confidentially walk into His throne room right now, that should be your number one concern.
“In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.”
God speaks of Himself as simply “I Am.” This is one powerful statement depicts His infinite presence and His existence through every age. What does it mean to know Him? How do you know if you do? To know of Jesus is very different than knowing Him.
John is one of those books in the New Testament that will help us to become better aquainted with the Christ. John paints us a vivid picture of who He was and is on a deeper level than even the three previous books.
He’s the Bread of life, Light of the world, the Gate, Good Shepherd, Resurrection and Life, the Truth, and the Vine. All of these titles found within the book teach us a little more about the Savior of the world. There are seven “I Am” statements in John referring to Jesus and three hundred throughout the entire Bible. They begin in Genesis and end in Revelation, and in many books in-between. You just can’t read very far without discovering something very profound about it’s Writer.
He’s eternal. God’s desired response to this is simply for us to believe, respond, and live with our minds and hearts prepared to live with Him. When Jesus describes Himself as the “I Am” it makes the religious leaders want to kill Him in John 8. To know Jesus, to really know Him, is something that many people have not fully understood. Even as Jesus walked among us mortals and witnessed His miraculous power there were still several that didn’t realize what it meant to follow Him Luke 9:57-62.
While it’s true that everyone is made in the image of God, few reflect the Father’s image. Those that know Jesus introduce others to Him. With the knowledge that we are imperfect, let’s not forget that we also have the ability to have a relationship with Him. I am flawed and I am weak, but the Great I Am is interested in who I am.
By the grace of God, I am His child. He is the bread of life that sustains us, the light that guides us, the gate we’ll walk through, and the truth that will save us. It’s not how great I am, but how great the Great I Am is. Do you know Jesus?
One of the most concise and beautiful teachings about God is in John. He plainly states some awesome things, full of impact and depth.
“The Word existed in the beginning…” This, along with other statements made in this context, highlights how tragic it is that the world systemically rejects him. There was only a “beginning” because of him.
“…the Word existed with God, and the Word was God. He existed in the beginning with God, who created everything through Him. Nothing that exists was created without Him.” God took a demotion to save us (Heb. 2.9). The same one who used the Father’s power to fabricate reality.
“Life came from Him…” Humans only had the power to take life away from the source of life because He let them.
“…and this life was humanity’s light.” His selflessness gave us hope for a better existence.
“This light shined through the darkness, and darkness can’t smother it.” Evil is on borrowed time and it knows it. Jesus put a countdown on the existence of evil. When its time runs out, it’ll never bother His people again (II Pet. 3.13; Rev. 20.12-15).
We deal with real problems thanks to darkness. What Jesus did wasn’t just a nice gesture. He destroyed the very possibility of darkness, creating a reality in which His own – made eternally perfect through His sacrifice – can never mess things up again. I want to live in that kind of reality with that kind of God.
God speaks of Himself as simply “I Am.” This one powerful statement depicts His infinite presence and His existence through every age. What does it mean to know Him? How do you know if you do? To know of Jesus is very different than knowing Him.
John is one of those books in the New Testament that will help us to become better aquatinted with the Christ. It’s the last of the gospels that paints us a vivid picture of who He was and is on a deeper level than even the three previous gospels. He’s the Bread of life, Light of the world, the Gate, Good Shepherd, Resurrection and Life, the Truth, and the Vine. All of these titles found within the book teach us a little more about the Savior of the world.
There are seven “I Am” statements in John referring to Jesus and three hundred throughout the entire Bible. They begin in Genesis and end in Revelation, and in many books in-between. You just can’t read very far without discovering something very profound about its Writer. He’s eternal. God’s desired response to this is simply for us to believe, respond, and live with our minds and hearts prepared to live with Him.
When Jesus describes Himself as the “I Am” it makes the religious leaders want to kill Him in John 8. To know Jesus, to really know Him, is something that many people have not fully understood. Even as Jesus walked among us mortals and we witnessed His miraculous power, there were still several that didn’t realize what it meant to follow Him (Luke 9:57-62).
While it’s true that everyone is made in the image of God, few reflect the Father’s image. Those that know Jesus introduce others to Him. With the knowledge that we are imperfect, let’s not forget that we also have the ability to have a relationship with Him. I am flawed and I am weak, but the Great I Am is interested in who I am. By the grace of God, I am His child. He is the bread of life that sustains us, the light that guides us, the gate we’ll walk through, and the truth that will save us. It’s not how great I am, but how great the Great I Am is. Do you know Jesus?
Perhaps it is inevitable that someone as well-known as Jesus Christ would be subject to so much misinformation. Think about how things are said about Jesus that are not true. John’s gospel begins in a different way. His audience was wider than just Jews, just Romans, or just Greeks. His was truly a universal gospel, so he was writing to the whole world. In just the first several verses of his gospel, he affirms several things people subsequently denied about Him.
He is eternal (1-2)–“In the beginning was the Word” (see also 1:15,30).
He is deity (1)–“The Word was God”
He created everything (3,10)
He became flesh (14)
He came to show us God, the Father (18)
His coming was to take away the sins of the world (29)
He is the Son of God (34)
There are those even in religion that say Jesus was a created being rather than being co-eternal as God. There are those who would reject the idea of the worship of Jesus being acceptable, though He is expressly called God. There are those who say that everything came into being by the process of evolution rather than Moses’ record (Gen. 1-2) being carried out by the Word (Col. 1:16-17). There are those who say God could not become flesh, since flesh is evil. There are those who deny the inspiration of Scripture, and thus would deny the New Testament actually records Jesus showing us the Father or otherwise communicating His will.
It is incorrect to say that we can accept the biblical record of Jesus without faith. He existed eternally before becoming flesh. He was born of a virgin. He lived a totally sinless life. He died a death that satisfied God’s justice as a substitute for our sins. He was buried in a tomb, but was raised from the dead to live forevermore. He appeared to many of His disciples over forty days before ascending to heaven from which He will some day come again to judge the entire world. How can we say it takes no faith to follow Jesus? Instead, we should say that it takes more faith to embrace any competing explanation. The leading candidate to rival the biblical account is godless evolution. Try examining that with any level of care without discovering the infinitely greater amount of faith to explain how random chance and mindless, amoral matter produces the meticulously orderly, complex universe filled with intelligent life.
Sometimes we are benefited by going back to basics. John one is written so simply and straightforwardly, yet it contains some of the biggest, broadest truths which so many reject. May we reflect carefully on the power of those truths so that it causes us to live better and differently!
I’m gonna be honest. I am not a fan of winter. It’s cold, snow is terrible, It’s freezing, and I hate snow. The worst thing about winter is that It gets dark at like 3 pm. In the summer you have these nice long, warm days but In the winter you got about 6 hours of daylight before it gets dark again.
Darkness is referred to quite a bit in scripture and many times it is used to describe sin. For example, “Walking in darkness” = walking in sin. “Living in darkness” = living in sin.
As Christians we are described as being taken out of darkness (sin) to walk in light (righteousness) (Ephesians 5).
But how did we get to this point? We read in John 8:12, “Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
Because of Christ and His sacrifice and love for us we can now have the light of life. Without Christ we are forever in darkness, but with Christ he is our light that leads to salvation.
The choice to follow Christ means that our standard is The Light. Notice, He says, “will not walk in darkness…” This word is skotia which is described as, “the state of being devoid of light, darkness, gloom.” When we choose to live like the world, there is no light in us. When we remove Christ as our guide and live in sin, we are plunged into darkness.
But if He is our standard of living, in hard times we will have light, when we lose a loved one we will have light, and when we face difficult decisions we will have light.
The question we need to ask ourselves is this, “Do we prefer darkness over light? Do we prefer sin over righteousness?” The choice is ours, and each one of us makes this decision every day.
You may be asking what all of this has to do with the pandemic going on right now…well a bat started this whole thing, and bats live in caves, caves are dark and living in darkness is living in sin. Don’t be a bat.
We all love a good piece of bread. Whether it’s garlic bread, cheesy bread, or just plain bread, everyone loves it. Bread is the greatest invention of all time, maybe ever (can you tell I wrote this before lunch?).
Jesus is described as being our spiritual bread. In John 6:35 Jesus is the “bread of life.” And in verse 32 He is called “the bread out of heaven.” Why would Jesus be called bread? When we take a closer look at these two verses, we can notice a few reasons why.
“Jesus then said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but my Father gives you the true bread from heaven” (John 6:32). There’s an analogy given by John that helps us to wrap our mind around Jesus being the Bread. Moses provided manna in the wilderness for Israel (bread from heaven), and Jesus (the bread) was sent from heaven to feed us spiritually.
It was amazing growing up with mom, THE Kathy Pollard, as the cook. And many times we would describe her food as “out of this world.” When we think of Christ, the Bread out of Heaven, He is literally out of this world.
Point is, we need to be feeding ourselves with this Bread. We need to be consistently meditating on God’s word, continually making it apart of who we are, and courageously manifesting it in our everyday lives.
“Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst” (John 6:35). Two words in this verse are in the present tense– “comes” and “believes.” This means that for Jesus to be our bread we must continually come to Him and believe. Jesus is nourishment to those who are spiritually starved, mentally broken, and emotionally lost.
No matter how much bread we physically eat, it will never compete with how full and complete we will be in Christ. Are we turning to Him?
How great to say with David, “I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord” (Psalm 122:1). Another psalm also urges, “Come, let us worship and bow down, Let us kneel before the Lord our Maker” (95:6). Both verses are the attitude of a redeemed, transformed heart. Worship is not a substitute for daily living, and we may find ourselves primarily or solely focused on assembling to the neglect of Christian duty or evangelism. But, though those be true, we cannot lose sight of the importance of fulfilling God’s command for His people to faithfully worship Him (John 4:24; Heb. 10:24ff). More than that, as recipients of His grace, we will want to come before Him with what He wants, giving Him our best from an enthusiastic heart. What can help us do that?
A–TTENDANCE (It puts us in the right position–for ourselves, each other, and God)
B–RETHREN (There’s a community, communion, and camaraderie in worship)
C–HILDREN (Is there anything sweeter than seeing and hearing them worship?)
D–ELIVERANCE (Delivered for a few moments from the profane, delivered for a lifetime by the Prince of Peace)
E–FFORT (Hardwork, dedication, and preparation truly pay off!)
F–AITHFULNESS (Obedience, consistency, and holiness fuels acceptable worship)
G–OSPEL (Bible-centered worship highlights the best news of all time)
H–EAVEN (Worship better prepares us for it, reminds us of it, and gives us a foretaste of it)
I–NTEREST (See “attendance” and “faithfulness”; At some level, you can’t fake this)
J–ESUS (We lift Him up, obey Him, and center everything around Him in every service)
K–NOWLEDGE (We seek to know God more and understand Him better, in part, by worship)
L–ISTENING (To God, through His Word, and each other, through the various acts)
M–EMORIES (Young or old, each occasion provides an opportunity to make more of them)
N–OTHING (What’s more special, important, fulfilling, and encouraging)
O–PPORTUNITY (Different places and times have been forbidden from what we get to do multiple times per week)
P–ARTICIPATION (Not just in the door and in a seat, but actively taking part)
Q–UALITY (Not measured by voice quality or dynamic speech, but the very best we can with what we bring)
R–ESPONSE (Each time we assemble to worship, we are responding to God and His gospel)
S–ACRIFICE (You cannot properly define worship without it; It may be a sacrifice to come, but it must be an offering when you do)
T–OGETHERNESS (Worship means fellowship and building our common bond)
U–RGENCY (Feeling a pressing need to be here, and then to act on what we hear)
V–ISITORS (These take note of how much worship means to us; They can see and sense it)
W–ONDERFUL (God knew we needed worship, and that can touch us deeply) X–RAY (Worship should lay our hearts bare and show us ourselves) Y–OU (The presence of everyone, including you, spells the difference!) Z–EAL (Passion and enthusiasm is observable, by others and, most of all, by God!)
Maybe we cannot fully grasp all of why God wants us worshipping Him, but He, as our Creator, knew we would need it to draw us closer to Him and each other. Let’s never let anything occupy a higher place in our hearts!
Moses was a murderer, Rahab was a liar,
David was an adulterer and to murder he did conspire,
Gideon and Timothy were timid, Peter a confirmed denier,
Paul wrecked havoc on the church, so full of hate and ire.
God, from time immemorial, has used the earthen vessel,
Sons of thunder or deceivers– like Jacob, who an angel did wrestle.
Just like Abraham and Isaac, very human if chosen and special
Barak, Samson, Jephthah, who with flaws their faith did nestle
From cover to cover, Scripture shows that God works through sinners
Preachers, prophets, kings and elders, saints and great soul-winners
It helps us who would serve today, to be better enders than beginners
To not let sin defeat us, to go from offenders to God defenders
Perhaps you have a sinful past or there’s guilt here in your today
A habit, sin, or weakness, crimes of deeds, thoughts, or what you say
Look back to men and women of old, they willed for they knew The Way
Conquer through Christ your old man, get busy, trust in God and obey!