1 John and Echoes of Genesis 1-4

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    1 John 3.12, with its reference to Cain slaying his brother (Gen. 3.9) is the one overt reference to the Hebrew Scriptures, and has, in the past, been taken to be the only OT reference in the letter. But by placing 1 John against Gen. 1-4, it would appear that the writer had a larger OT context in mind, as can be seen below. (Passages in parentheses gain depth of meaning in the nexus of Gen. 1-4, but do not clearly by themselves point to it.)

1 John   Genesis  
1.1 From the beginning   1.1 In the beginning
1.5   Light in darkness    1.4 God separated the light from the darkness
1.8,10  If we say we have no sin [twice]  3.12,13 Adam blames Eve; Eve blames serpent
2.7a  New/old commandment    2.17 One commandment to Adam [Rabbis said Adam had Torah under form of one Commandment – cf. Robin Scroggs, The Last Adam.]
2.7b  … from the beginning 1.1  In the beginning
2.8-11 The darkness is passing away,  and the true light already shines 1.3-4
2.11c   The darkness has blinded his eyes 3.11 The eyes of both were opened
2.13 From the beginning 1.1
2.14 From the beginning 1.1
2.16 Lust of flesh, lust of eyes and the  pride of life   3.6  [Tree] good for food, delight to eyes,  desired to make one wise [B.F.Westcott?]
2.19 They went out from us 4.16  And Cain went out from the presence of the LORD
2.20a But you have been anointed by the Holy One, 2.7 God … breathed into his nostrils the breath of life
2.20b and you know all things. 3.5 Knowing good from evil
(2.26 These things I have written unto  you  concerning them that would lead you astray.) 3.1-6  Serpent leads astray)
2.28 … that if he shall be manifested  we may have boldness and  not be  ashamed before him at his coming. 3.7-10 Adam and Eve hide from each other and from God when he walks in the garden.)
Let no man lead you astray.
He that sins is of the devil, for the devil sins from the beginning.
3.11 For this is the message which you have heard from the beginning that  we should love one another, 1.1 [And see on 1 John 2.7a above]
3.12  not as Cain was of the Evil One, and slew his brother. And wherefore slew he him? Because his works were evil and his brother’s  righteous. 4.8

(3.15 Whoever hates his brother is a  murderer. 4.8-11)
4.18  There is no fear in love, but perfect  love casts out fear, because fear  has punishment, and he that fears  is not made perfect in love. 3.10

3.11 ff.
[cf. John 13.1; 19.30; 20.19-23]
4.20  If a man says, ‘I love God’, and  hates his brother, he is a liar; for  he that loves not his brother whom he has seen cannot  love God whom he has not seen.


Man as God’s [visible] image
5.2b-3 Keep his commandments …  not burdensome.    3.17 Because you … have eaten of the tree, of which I commanded you, saying you shall not eat of it, cursed is the  ground for your sake ….
(5.8 There are three who bear witness:      
the Spirit,  
and the water, 
and the blood. 


And the spirit of God was moving over the face of the waters.
A flood went up from the earth and watered the whole face of the ground.
The LORD God breathed into his  nostrils the breath of life.)
(5.11   And the witness is this, that God  gave unto us eternal life, and this life is in his Son 2.9 
The tree of life
‘Lest he … take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever.)
5.16a If any man see his brother sinning  a sin not unto death … 3.4  You will not die
5.16b   There is a sin unto death ….       2.17 ‘In the day that you eat of it you shall die.’
5.18 … the Evil One touches him not.  3.3 ‘You shall not eat of it, nor touch it, lest you die.’
5.19 … the whole world lies in the Evil One.  3 [3.17: ‘cursed is the ground because  of you’.]
5.21 Little children, guard yourself from  idols. 1.26-27  [I.e., only ‘image’ allowed to man is his brother, whom he is to love]