Date of Award


Degree Type

Master's Essay - Restricted

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




The refocusing of Christian educators upon the centrality of God's redeeming love in the process of salvation is widely manifest. Yet much of the writing upon the subject stops short of the full reality. In recognition that the redemptive action of God flows from love rather than from offended divine justice, man's response is ideally seen to be one of love arising from gratitude for such goodness and proven by a virtuous life. While this is part of the reality, the deepest and most extraordinary aspect of Judao-Christian revelation and its implications for human experience could remain unperceived.

The suggestion of this essay is that the text of I John 4: 12 pierces to the very heart of Johannine soteriology. "No man has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us." In the opinion of the present writer this passage touches upon the substance, process and goal of God's redeeming action, all of which need to be brought into clear focus in religious education.

The substance of the divine saving action is, according to John, God Himself, whom no man has ever seen. The process is a dynamic between two free beings: on the one hand, God who makes Himself present to man in a way that engages man's freedom, and on the other hand, man, who must respond in some way to that Presence. An affirmative response, i.e., human openness to God as He is, results in a communion of life and being. The goal of God's saving action is achieved when His way of acting and being is incarnated in human action and being. The achievement of this goal is manifest when men reach out to one another in love, as God has done to them, not because of external demands, but because of the very being that they share with God. Thus, the communion of life between men is, according to John, the theophany of the God who is Love.

Part One of this. paper will discuss first the background to the Epistle of I John: its authority and destination. Then as a method of approach each of the key notions from the text will be examined in relation to the Old Testament prophetic tradition in which I John is firmly rooted. The notions to be explored are dwelling or presence (meno), love (agape) and completion or fulfillment (teleios). Part Two will explore the meaning of the three notions as used in the general context of I John. Reference will be made to the Fourth Gospel where its elucidation is necessary for the development. The final section of Part Two will analyse the import of the text itself.