All you need is love. (All together now).

Signpost for Sunday 6 May 2018: Acts 10:44-48; Ps 98; 1 John 5:1-6; John 15:9-17.

The author of John is fond of using the word love. So I thought it would be fun to see how he actually compared with the rest of the Bible. I turned to my concordance and found that the entry for ‘love’  covered six closely packed columns of tiny print, divided into more than ten categories, such as ‘ love – noun’, ‘love – verb’, ‘love of God’, ‘his love’, ‘my love’, ‘your love’, ‘loved’, ‘loves’, etc. The fine print beat me in the end, so I confined my search to the five largest categories, and found as follows.

John uses ‘love’ on average every 1.7 pages of text. The rest of the biblical authors use it on average every 9.7 pages. This is a huge discrepancy, considering that Paul is a pretty heavy user too: six times in 1 Corinthians:13 alone.

Counting the use of ‘love’ in John’s first letter was not too hard; I counted 48 in nine pages, 22 of them on a single page (1 John 4:7-17).

I freely confess that I have been indulging in a trivial pursuit, and it was harder than I expected, and not much fun. But I got a good overview of  ‘1 John’ in the process and was able to put this week’s portion of the context of the whole of this very important letter.

It’s clear from several comments that John is addressing a deeply divided community. It certainly looks as though he was confronting a situation similar to the sort of angry reactions that are threatening to divide the Anglican Communion right now, about the ordination of homosexual people.

John’s argument with his quarrelsome ‘children’ is based on four attributes of God: God is light; God is love; God is spirit; God is revealed in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. The first verse reminds us that ‘Christ’ is not just a title added to the name of Jesus, but a statement of faith. Jesus is demonstrated to be God’s ‘anointed son’ by reason of his resurrection. Our faith in this fact is “the victory that has overcome”.

So, all of our doings, our relationships, decisions, even our disagreements, should be based on three crucial verses in John 4; numbered 11,12,13. Read them in the light of John 15:16. I’m now finding myself astounded at how well John’s writings hang together.


From the collected Signposts of Brye Blackhall


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