Updated: Mar 26, 2021
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We declare to you what was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the word of life-- this life was revealed, and we have seen it and testify to it, and declare to you the eternal life that was with the Father and was revealed to us-- we declare to you what we have seen and heard so that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. We are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.
This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light and in him there is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with him while we are walking in darkness, we lie and do not do what is true; but if we walk in the light as he himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.
My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and he is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.
This is the Epistle reading selection for the second Sunday of Easter, Year B, according to the lectionary for the Episcopal Church. It will be preceded along with the mandatory Acts reading chosen for this week, which says, “the whole group of those who believed were of one heart and soul.” It will follow a reading from Psalm 133, which sings, “Oh, how good and pleasant it is, when brethren live together in unity!” It will also be accompanied by the Gospel reading selection from John 20, where Jesus said, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.”
A Lesson in Scripture Reading
In the NRSV translation above, I have placed in bold type every use of the word “and.” The Greek word "kai" has been translated as "and." In the first chapter of this letter by John there are ten verses. In those are found twenty-two uses of the word “kai,” with one of those capitalized. Eighteen are translated in the above’s first two blocks. There are three more uses of “kai” found in the two verses read from chapter two [the third block above]. The translation above shows two of them. The NRSV translation above totals 307 words [a Word ‘word count’], with eight percent [8 out of 100] of that total being the word “kai.” That proliferation of "and" comes across like an uneducated youth continuously repeating, needlessly, "you know," in an attempt to communicate.
It needs to be realized that all uses of the word “kai” in the Greek texts of the New Testament need not be translated as “and,” as the word is not God commanding, “And another thing” through His prophets. It is, instead, a signal for the reader to pay close attention to the important statement that follows that 'marker' word. That statement following "kai" can be one word or a series of words.
In the total of twelve verses, there are 54 word segments, where a segment is a series of words clearly separated by punctuation marks, or the presence of the word kai, or both together where punctuation is immediately followed by the word “kai.” In 1 John 1 - 2:2 there are no verses where the word “kai” is absent. One verse [verse 1:4] is only one segment [nine words, excluding kai], but it is begun by the signal word that says that whole verse is important.
Each verse begins a new segment of words. Once begun, a verse can be divided into separate segments, marked by punctuation marks. In a segment of words separated by punctuation marks, there may be the appearance of the word “kai” internal to a segment. While the word “kai” does not present a separate line of thought, it does break the segment it appears in into parts, where its presence denotes important parts of that segment’s statement [line of thought]. In some verses there is a separation by punctuation, immediately followed by the word “kai.” Those separate into a new line of thought, where that new line importantly begins with an impact statement to be noted.
In this specific reading from John’s first letter, the breakdown of the twelve verses is as such:
First verse has 6 segments [4 commas, 1 kai], ending in a dash.
Second verse has 5 segments [2 comma – kai combos, 3 kai], ending in a dash.
Third verse has 9 segments [3 commas, 1 comma – kai combo, 1 period – kai combo,3
kai], ending in a period.
Fourth verse has 1 segment [begun by kai], ending in a period.
Fifth verse has 5 segments [2 commas, 2 comma – kai combos, 1 Kai], ending in a period.
Sixth verse has 4 segments [1 comma, 1 comma – kai combo, 1 kai], ending in a period.
Seventh verse has 5 segments [3 commas, 1 comma – kai combo], ending in a period.
Eighth verse has 3 segments [1 comma, 1 comma – kai combo], ending in a period.
Ninth verse has 4 segments [2 commas, 1 comma – kai combo, 1 kai], ending in a period.
Tenth verse has 3 segments [1 commas, 1 comma – kai combo], ending in a period.
First verse has 5 segments [3 commas, 1 period – kai combo], ending in a period.
Second verse has 4 segments [1 comma, 1 semi-colon, 2 kai], ending in a period.
To look at each of the places where the word “kai” is written, in order to grasp the fullness of importance, there should be no paraphrasing from translation allowed. In addition, the various ways the Greeks write “the” and pronouns such as “I, we, us, our,” need to be carefully inspected so a general “he” [“he” who?] is not translated. Here, look at where I have used “ours” or “of this” or “this.” Such translations act more definitively, requiring one to look to the text to realize who or what “this” is. Based only on the segments or parts of segments begun by the word “kai,” and the literal translations I provide, see how this forces one to see importance stated, rather than an “oh another thing” addition written.
1:1 “kai hai cheires hēmōn epsēlaphēsan” - “and them hands of ours have touched”
1:2 “kai hē zōē ephanerōthē” - “and this one life was made known”
1:2 “kai heōrakamen” - “and we have seen”
1:2 “kai martyroumen” - “and bear witness”
1:2 “kai apangellomen hymin tēn zōēn tēn aiōnion hētis ēn pros ton Patera” - “and we proclaim to you this life this eternal who were with this one Father”
1:2 “kai ephanerōthē hemin” - “and was made clear to us”
1:3 “kai akēkoamen” - “and have listened”
1:3 “kai hymin” - “and to you”
1:3 “kai hymeis koinōnian echēte meth’ hēmōn” - “and you personally spiritually fellowship may have in company with this one Son of his”
1:3 “kai hē koinonia de hē hēmetera meta tou Patros” - “and this fellowship now this of ours in company with this one Father”
1:3 “kai meta tou Huiou autou” - “and with this one Son same”
1:4 “kai tauta graphomen hēmeis hina hē chara hēmōn ē peplērōmenē” - “and these write we in order that this one source of joy of ours this fulfill”
1:5 “Kai estin hautē hē angelia hēn akēkoamen ap’ autou” - “And exists here this one message which we have comprehended from same”
1:5 “kai anangellomen hymin” - “and we declare to you”
1:5 “kai scotia en auto” - “and spiritual darkness in self”
1:6 “kai en tō skotei peripatōmen” - “and in this moral darkness would conduct life”
1:6 “kai ou poioumena tēn alētheian” - “and not causes this truth”
1:7 “kai to haima Iēsou” - “and this blood of Jesus”
1:8 “kai hē alētheia ouk estin en hemin” - “and this truth not exists in us”
1:9 “kai dikaios” - “and righteous”
1:9 “kai katharisē hēmas apo pasēs adikias” - “and might cleanse us from every kind of unrighteousness”
1:10”kai ho logos autou ouk estin en hemin” - “and this word of this not exists in us”
2:1 “kai ean tis hamartē” - “ and if certain would have sinned”
2:2 “kai autos hilasmos estin peri tōn hamartiōn hēmōn” - “and same appeasement to God exists concerning of them failures ours”
2:2 “kai peri holou tou kosmou” - “and concerning complete of this world”
The only point I want to make from all this painstaking breakdown of what John wrote in his first epistle is this: There is much more than first meets the eye, when holy texts are concerned; and, they should be seen as translated into English as ‘primary school’ ways to learn the Word of Yahweh.
The Apostle John who wrote epistles, including The Apocalypse, was not John the brother of James, sons of Zebedee. John must be seen as a common name, just as the name Mary. More than one person can be named "John." The John who wrote epistles is the same John who wrote one of the four Gospels. That John referred to himself in his Gospel as “the one who Jesus loved.” He also wrote that about Mary Magdalene the same way [and others], with that being a sign of family relationship. Therefore, John was related to Jesus and Mary Magdalene, as the son born between those two parents.
In John’s Gospel, as the last two verses in chapter 21, he wrote: “[John] is testifying to these things and has written them, and we know that his testimony is true. But there are also many other things that Jesus did; if every one of them were written down, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.” (John 21:24-25, NRSV)
Nope. Bigger than that!
In that simplified translation, John said everything he wrote, and therefore anything anyone wrote as direct testimony from one who has been reborn in the name of Jesus [as Yahweh’s Anointed One], everything is “true.” That means every word is divinely inspired, simply because the Greek word written [“aléthés”] means: “unconcealed, true, true in fact, worthy of credit, truthful.”
The usage of “true” says, “what can't be hidden,” and that “stresses undeniable reality when something is fully tested, i.e. it will ultimately be shown to be fact (authentic).” (HELPS Word-studies) That definition of “true” is why I have displayed what John wrote in this letter as I have. It is “truth” that has been concealed in simplistic language, the same whether one is reading with a Greek language brain or with an English language brain. It is “truth” that stares one right in the face and cannot be seen, unless one takes the time to look for the unconcealed “truth.”
When John then wrote, “if every one of them were written down, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written,” this must be seen as a reference to the knowledge Jesus passed onto his Apostles. That goes well beyond the forty days the physically resurrected Jesus spent with them, before they became Apostles on Pentecost. It speaks of the depth that Jesus pointed out to his disciples was written in the Hebrew texts.
When one realizes John wrote in hindsight about times when he was young, after having matured in Christ, it speaks of all the Gospels and all the Epistles as well. To write everything so explicitly clear that there could never be any doubt as what Scripture says, no one would have time to live, much less evangelize, if always either writing or reading that endlessly written. Therefore, divine texts are written according to divine syntax, which allows the truth to be ever-present, but requiring a desire that seeks the truth. [Seek and you will find.]
The segment of words that the NRSV has translated as saying “if every one of them were written down” is written in Greek as this: “ean graphētai kath’ hen”. That translates literally to say, “if scripture should stand written according to one.” The word “one” needs to be seen as only “one” way for scriptures to be read, based on one way they are written. If that were to be the case, then “the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.” That means a lot is stated in a little, with there being [divinely placed] another way to read scripture. That other way is what I call divine syntax; and, that includes “kai” being a marker word.
In the translation of the NRSV above, there are 23 presentation of “we.” Greek manufactures forms of words [verbs mostly] that mutate from the root word because of case, mood, tense, and number [simply put]. The third person plural is the intent, such that “we” becomes the translation into English. This means that John wrote in the third person plural, such that everything he wrote was similarly done by other Apostles. The use of “we” must be seen as an indication of the spread of Christianity, where many people were just like John, with all doing the same writings, so others could find the truth in their words.
From the simplicity of the NRSV translation, it becomes important to see how John first wrote about the presence of Jesus within his body of flesh [and others, as "we"], which is how he wrote about spiritual contact with God, so he and the others were all reborn as Jesus resurrected in their flesh. From that, the second block places focus on those who have not been so transformed, as they walk alone [their souls in their bodies of flesh], so the truth of the Word does not appear to them. That lack of spiritual insight is stated as “darkness.” The presence of Jesus within one’s being, from a soul having married Yahweh and been merged with His Holy Spirit, becomes the light of truth shining forth. This contrast needs to be seen.
Finally, when the two verses from the second chapter are read, the focus is then placed on one’s need to cease sinning and become righteous in one’s life actions. Righteousness is not something possible by those who walk in darkness and cannot see the truth of the Word. This means one has to return to the first block and realize becoming righteous in one’s actions is totally controlled by one being filled with God’s Holy Spirit and made to be Jesus reborn.
Here, John refers to “little children.” This means those who cannot see the light of truth are those with childish brains and ‘children’s church’ mentality about spiritual matters. The affection, as “children of John,” says Jesus was speaking through John to the readers of his letters, as the children of God in need of careful teaching. To be one of the children of God, one must grow into a maturity of spiritual awareness and righteous ways. This says the reader needs to admit a need to be taught, so one can receive the spirit of truth.
In the season of Easter, when one must grasp the time is set aside for being taught to enter ministry, it is important to realize there are few teachers of scriptural meaning. Few realize the truth, therefore few can be taught how to see the truth for themselves. Many offer reasoning and memorized opinions, which are then expressed as opinions dearly held. Many opinions are contrary to the light of truth. This becomes a problem when that approach to adult 'children' acting like ministers, when the maturity of Jesus Christ has yet been attained. Therefore, the Easter season is about letting the old self die, so a new self ["little children"] can join with the Holy Spirit and the truth known by Jesus reborn become the guiding light that leads one away from darkness and towards eternal salvation. That state must be reached before one can entertain any ideas of ministry.