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of My God, and he shall go no more out, and I will write upon him the name of My God, and the name of the city of My God, the new Jerusalem, and My new These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God. I know thy works. Thou art wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked. I counsel thee to buy of Me. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If any one hear My voice and open the door, I will come into him and will sup with him and he with Me. He that overcometh, I will give to him to sit down with Me on My throne, even as I overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.' . . . For the practical comprehension of the place of Jesus, not in the creed or the theology, but in the faith and life of primitive Christianity, these extracts from the epistles to the seven churches are priceless. It does not matter what the speculative Christology of the writer was, or whether he had any such thing; it does not matter, in phrases like 'the beginning of the creation of God' (34), and 'the word of God' (1913), whether we are or are not to trace the influence of Paul or of the Alexandrian philosophers: here we are in contact with the living soul of Christianity, and however He may have been conceived we see what Christ vitally and practically meant for it. In any meaning we can attach to the term, His significance for it was divine. It is impossible to convey any idea of it if we think of Jesus as related to the Church and its members merely in the way in which they are related to each other. The whole conception is the more remarkable in the Apocalypse because the writer shows himself peculiarly sensitive about worship being offered to angels, superhuman though they are (1910, 22), and because the idea of apotheosis, or the bestowing of divine honours on a
human being, is, as his attitude to Cæsar worship shows, one which he regards with the utmost horror. The adoration of the Lamb, an adoration in which not only those who are redeemed to God by His blood participate, but every creature in heaven and earth and under the earth, is in keeping with the divine significance He has for Christian souls. If He sometimes stands between the throne and the Redeemed, as their representative with God, at others He is on the throne, as God's omnipotent love ruling all things on their behalf. The throne itself is the throne of God and of the Lamb, and it is the glory of those who partake in the first resurrection that they become priests of God and of Christ (20). If we add to this that the sum of all Christian hope is the Coming of Christ, and that with His final advent all things are made new, it is unnecessary to say more. The writer's Christology may mingle naively archaic elements like the lion of the tribe of Judah, or the iron sceptre which dashes nations in pieces, with speculative ideas like the first principle of creation or the eternal divine word-it matters not. What his work reveals is that Jesus is practically greater than any or all these ways of representing Him; neither the imagination of the Jew nor the philosophical faculty of the Greek can embody Him; in the faith and life of the seer He has an importance to which neither is adequate; the only true name for Him is one which is above every name.
(b) The Epistles of John
It is convenient to take the epistles of John before the Gospel, not because they are earlier in date, which is improbable, but because they are epistles, and we can see without difficulty the place which Jesus holds in the writer's faith. The interest of these documents is all the
greater that the author himself is deeply concerned to show that that place can be historically justified.
The Christian religion has to do with what he calls eternal life. This life has been manifested, and has become an experience and a possession of men. The writer himself shares in it, and it is his desire and the purpose of his epistle that his readers should share in it also. 'What we have seen and heard we announce to you also, that you also may have fellowship with us: yea and our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son, Jesus Christ' (1. I3). This co-ordination of the Son with the Father, which we have traced in all the New Testament writings from the epistles to the Thessalonians onward, is peculiarly characteristic of the epistles of John. The Son and the Father are terms of absolute significance; there is only one Son as there is only one Father, and the salvation of men depends upon a relation to the Son and the Father in which neither can be conceived apart from the other. 'God has given to us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has the life, he who has not the Son of God has not the life' (1.5"). He who denies the Son has not the Father either, but he who confesses the Son has the Father also (1. 2 23). The perfect Christian life is that of those who abide in the Son and in the Father (1. 2 24). 'We know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding that we know Him that is true, and we are in Him that is true, even in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life' (1. 5 20). This is the language not of theology, but of spiritual experience, and it shows, with a clearness which cannot be mistaken, the place which Jesus holds in the religious life of the apostle. He owes to Him as to God, or he owes to God in and through Him alone, all that he calls truth and life. It is this incomparable significance of Christ,
this experimentally ascertained fact, that He is to God what no other is, and therefore discharges in the carrying out of God's redeeming work functions on which no other can intrude, which is represented when He is designated the only-begotten Son (1. 4). It is perhaps an outcome of it that the apostle never calls Christians sons of God; the title Son is reserved for the Only-begotten, on whom all are dependent for their knowledge of the Father; the other members of the family are not viot (sons) to John, but réxva (children). It even leads to such an unparalleled expression as we find in the salutation of the second epistle: Grace, mercy, peace shall be with you from God the Father, and from Jesus Christ the Son of the Father, in truth and love.
The fellowship with the Father and the Son in which eternal life consists is maintained by walking in the light. When Christians walk in the light, it is made evident in two results: first, their unity is maintained— they have fellowship one with other; second, their holiness is promoted-the blood of Jesus, God's son, cleanses them from all sin (1. 17). Sin is that which mars fellowship with God, and makes it impossible; and if eternal life can only be realised in divine fellowship, then the work of the Son of God, in putting such fellowship within our reach, must be in its very essence a work related to sin. This may be said without exaggeration to be the burden of the first epistle. 'My little children, these things write I unto you that ye may not sin. And if any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous; and He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the whole world' (1. 21f). 'I write to you, little children, because your sins have been forgiven you for His name's sake' (1. 212). These two ideas-the eternal life into which men are initiated by Christ; and the propitiation
for sins on which it is dependent-are combined in the wonderful passage in 1. 4f, where both are interpreted as manifestations of the love of God. 'In this was the love of God manifested in our case, that God hath sent His only-begotten Son into the world that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God but that He loved us, and sent His Son a propitiation for our sins.' When we put these various utterances together we see the universal and absolute significance of Jesus in the faith of the writer. Jesus determines everything in the relations of God and man, not only eventually or once for all, but continuously; His blood cleanses, in the present tense: if any man sin, we have an advocate for the emergency; Christians are those who are in the Son (1. 25), and who abide in Him (1. 2). The full apostolic testimony is that the Father has sent His Son as Saviour of the world (1. 4 1⁄4). It is only excessive familiarity which can deaden our minds to assertions so stupendous. There is nothing like them elsewhere in Scripture. No earlier messenger of God, Moses, Elijah, or Isaiah, has anything analogous said of him. The conception of a prophet does not help us in the very least to appreciate the conception of the only-begotten Son, who is the Saviour of the world because He is the propitiation for its sins. He cannot be understood except as one who confronts men in the truth, love, and power of God-not one of ourselves, to whom we owe no more, at least in kind, than we owe to each other; but one through whom, and through whom alone, God enlightens, redeems and quickens men. The idea of His exaltation is not so constantly expressed as in the epistles of Paul, but His Parousia or manifestation in glory is expected, and the consummation of all Christian hopes is connected with it. The believer is so to live that he may not be