The sixth cycle tells us that love for our brothers is evidence of eternal life. Those who are consumed by hatred are not the children of God, and this bluntly contradicts the false claim to divine favour made by post-Pentecostal Judaism.
The Judaism of the first century was no longer the religion of Moses. Although Pharisaism began as an effort by purists against Hellenisation, by Jesus’ time it had become an unbiblical, elitist cult. The defining characteristic of the Jewish leaders was not holiness but hatred. They not only despised the Gentiles but also loathed and mistreated their own common people, the ones who had crowded together to hear the words of Jesus.
This is the context into which John speaks, and to apply his words correctly they must first be interpreted correctly. It is not a “generic” hatred which John condemns but that which is incited by the righteous deeds of those who truly know God in those who do not. John’s letters are not merely an encouragement to the saints but also part of an ongoing lawsuit against the Temple, which eventually led to its destruction.
TRANSCENDENCE (Creation – Initiation – Genesis)
- Beginning a new “major” cycle, John begins with a Genesis motif, however here it is not the source of Creation but the result. So it seems the epistle consists of two columns of five, like the Ten Words, and this cycle corresponds to the Covenant oath which was not to be taken in vain.1For the architecture of the Ten Commandments, see God-In-A-Box.
- Although it seems to be a paradox that “evidence” of eternal life must be commanded, this is explained by the fact that the Word bears fruit only in those who truly possess that life. Like the ground, God speaks and the saints bring forth fruit. The evidence of life is our response to the Word of life.
- This time John not only alludes to Cain in line 5 (Trumpets/Hosts/Plagues) in his description of false brothers, but actually mentions him by name. Genesis 3 speaks of the ground bringing forth thorns and thistles. Since the fruit of the land and the fruit of the womb are forever linked, Cain is the human equivalent of those thorns and thistles, things which crawl along the ground like a serpent, and draw blood from human flesh.
HIERARCHY (Division – Delegation – Exodus)
- The second stanza continues the discussion of Cain, but moves to an Exodus theme: the division between the kingly Egyptian firstborn and God’s priestly firstborn (the Israelite shepherds), which must be understood in the light of Genesis 4.
- This stanza seems to follow the festal process, since this highlights the method behind the word order:
Sabbath refers to the harvest festival worship at which Cain and Abel were the leaders. Passover speaks of the murder of Abel the shepherd. Firstfruits speaks of Cain being the first from the womb. Pentecost opens the laws of God. Trumpets is the prophetic legal witness of the blood of the first martyr. Atonement is the acceptance of Abel’s faithful service, and Booths is his heavenly inheritance. When this letter was written, the blood of Abel was yet to be avenged upon the last generation of murderous “Cainites,” Israel’s false brothers, the Edomite Herods (Matthew 23:35).
ETHICS: Priesthood (Ascension – Presentation – Leviticus)
- The Leviticus stanza concerns the passage from the death to life, so the matrix theme is the order of sacrifice. In line 3 it puts the saints, as the firstfruits, upon the Bronze Altar. At the centre, the “Pentecostal” holy fire is given its own fivefold expression, and in line 5 the New Covenant “fragrance” is the Altar of Incense in the court of God. Aligned with the first century pattern, this step within the stanza brings the apostolic testimony to an end. Line 6 corresponds to the destruction of the Temple and its animal sacrifices, and line 7 to the cutting off of Jerusalem and the Covenant office of the Jews.
- Architecturally, the stanza recapitulates the movement of the High Priest on the Day of Atonement, as indeed the book of Leviticus does: John moves, with our High Priest, Jesus, from the old nation of Israel under judgment, into the Most Holy Place, a symbolic grave, and back out again into a new Israel not only motivated by love, but also authorised to call down the curses of the Mosaic Covenant upon the Covenant breakers.
ETHICS: Kingdom (Testing – Purification – Numbers)
Everyone (Creation / Sabbath)
hating his brother, (Division / Passover)
a murderer is; (Ascension / Firstfruits)
does not have life eternal (Conquest / Atonement)
in him abiding. (Glorification / Booths)
- Just as the sins of the flesh (murder and adultery) occur at the centre of the Ten Words, so the reference to murder appears at Testing. In the Bible Matrix icons (see the books) the icon at Testing is the serpent, and John is alluding to the fact that Judaism had become a synagogue of satan, who was a murderer from the beginning. Like satan, the Jews wielded the Law of God, which was intended for good, as a weapon against those whom they hated. Worship of a false god in the Garden (the Edenic Sanctuary) leads invariably to division and bloodshed in the Land.
- Relating this to the book of Numbers, King Balak hired the prophet Balaam to curse Israel. He eventually succeeded by tempting the men to commit adultery with Midianite women, forcing God’s hand in judgment.
- In this stanza, the word “abides” again appears in the final line, referring to the eternal dwellings of the righteous and the wicked.
ETHICS: Prophecy (Maturity – Transformation – Deuteronomy)
- One of the prominent themes at Maturity is legal witness, and the Greek gives us the word martyr. Deuteronomy was Moses’ final witness to a new generation of Israel, but John’s point here is the example of Jesus as the opposite of Cain.
- The placement of Jesus’ life laid down at Ethics (under the law, on our behalf) and the lives of the saints laid down at Succession is poignant. Jesus was cut off that we might have an inheritance, and we do the same for others.
- As the fulfilling of the law, this stanza is a breathtaking miniature of the (anticipated) structure of the epistle, arranged like the Ten Words as two columns of five, the left being Word (Adam / Priest) and the right being Response (Eve / People). Every so often, the beauty revealed by this method of analysis brings me to tears, and the love expressed in this tiny crystalline literary fragment did so today:
(No other gods)
|we have known love,
(No false oaths)
(Honouring parents / Living long in the land)
|OATH/SANCTIONS||and we ought…
|for our brother,
(No false witness)
(No coveting house)
|to lay down.
(No coveting contents)
OATH/SANCTIONS (Conquest – Vindication – Joshua)
- The Joshua stanza speaks of that inheritance, and here the saints are the ones who are truly rich, able to bless or curse others. Before the Reformation, Christian nations were the rich in the world, and the Reformation passed that mantle to Protestant nations. Christianity taught generosity to the world. But as our faithfulness to the New Covenant Oath, the name of Jesus, and our Gospel witness, fade, so does our wealth and our ability to bless. The words of the prophets to Israel’s fading glory before the exile are very relevant to us today.
SUCCESSION (Glorification – Representation – Judges)
- John once again refers to the saints as children in the Succession stanza. But the overall theme is the book of Judges, the legal representatives of God. As Spirit-filled elohim, there must be integrity between our words and our deeds, or we are no better than the hateful Pharisees and the Herods who murdered the first Christians.
- Since it follows the Covenant pattern, the stanza perhaps represents the process of growth in spiritual maturity from childhood to adulthood, ending with those truly able to discern between good and evil (Hebrews 5:14).
- It is interesting that “tongue” appears in the central line, which corresponds to Pentecost.
If you are new to this method of interpretation, please visit the Welcome page for some help to get you up to speed.
References [ + ]
|1.||↑||For the architecture of the Ten Commandments, see God-In-A-Box.|