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After all that has been said so far, the Gospel and the first Epistle might very well seem to have been the work of the same person; but on a closer view it is clear that in all probability the two writings had different authors. A number of important expressions occur only in the Epistle which the author of the Gospel would have had opportunities of using as well had he been familiar with them. But, above all, the convictions to which the Epistle gives 209expression bring it nearer than the Gospel to the ordinary, simple faith of the Church.

Jesus second coming from heaven, at which he will bring eternal happiness, in ii. 28, as amongst primitive Christians in general, is expected to take place on a definite day as an objective event; on the other hand, when the Evangelist speaks of a second coming of Jesus after his death, he does so only in the sense that it will be identical with the coming of the Holy Spirit into the hearts of believers, which of course happens at very different times (xiv. 16-18, 26-28). The Epistle follows the old idea closely in expecting that on that great day in the future all men will rise from the dead and come before the bar of judgment (iii. 2; iv. 17). In the Gospel this idea is found only in particular passages, for example in v. 28 f., or in a clause which is perhaps disturbing, or at least can always be dispensed with, “and I will raise him up at the last day,” vi. 40, 44, 54, 39 (on this account perhaps added by another person, in order to make the book more acceptable to simple believers); but his principal idea on this point is that eternal life begins even in this world as soon as a man believes in Jesus, and that such a one will never come into judgment (v. 24). To the writer of the Epistle the most important redemptive act of Jesus seems to be his death (i. 7; ii. 2; iv. 10), as was generally thought since the time of the Apostle Paul; the Gospel gives expression to this belief only in i. 29, 36, and perhaps in xi. 50-52; xvii. 19 b, and assumes everywhere else that Jesus brought redemption by coming amongst men and bringing them that true knowledge which leads to believing in him. In the division which is made between God and the world, the Epistle does not go so far as the Gospel. The Evangelist’s most significant train of thought is to the effect that God does not give his gifts directly to men, but 210to Jesus. Jesus is the first to bestow them upon men (xv. 9 f.); none can come to the Father save through him (xiv. 6). There are not wanting in the Gospel, as we have indicated already (p. 161), sayings which represent the idea, assumed throughout the Epistle (ii. 24; iii. 24; iv. 12 f., 15 f.), that men also can commune directly with God. But the difference is perceptible all the same. Finally, in place of the designation “Logos,” the Epistle (i. 1) has “the Word of Life,” by which one cannot perceive that Jesus is a Being who bears the name Logos and is well known from Greek Philosophy.

It is indeed permissible to think that one and the same person might have expressed himself differently in two works. But the facts of the case are certainly more easily understood if we suppose that we have to do with two different authors; and since, moreover, the Evangelist cannot have been John the Apostle, it is no use insisting that the author of the Epistle can have been no other than he.

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