I John 2.22-28; Psalm 97; John 1.19-28
For the last four days of the Christmas season we read from the 1st chapter of St John’s Gospel and from St John’s first epistle. It is impossible to say whether these two writings come from the same hand, though tradition has attributed them both to John the Son of Zebedee
[cf Matthew 4.21], one of the first disciples called by Jesus.
Tradition has it that after the day of Pentecost John removed himself from the other disciples, establishing a community perhaps in Ephesus. Ephesus had been made capital of the Roman province of Asia Minor by Augustus Caesar in 27 B.C. From that time the city entered into a period of prosperity. It was certainly the largest city in Asia Minor (‘little Asia’, roughly modern-day Turkey) and was a very important commercial centre. The Greek historian Strabo declared that Ephesus was second in importance only to Rome itself.
There are three epistles attributed to St John in the New Testament. They may or may not have been written by the same person, who calls himself simply ‘the Elder’ (in Greek, presbyter, the word from which the English word priest is derived) in II and III John. Today’s reading reminds that these letters, whoever wrote them, are polemic in character. They call readers away from the teachings of an enemy called ‘the liar’ and ‘the Antichrist’ who is said to be trying to lead others astray from the belief that Jesus is the Christ, the Anointed One of God.