Within our pluralistic society, the exceedingly bold declaration that Jesus is the Light is just as controversial as it would have been in John’s pluralistic first century context (5:1). Similarly, one can easily misquote John’s thesis that “God is love” (4:16-17) by making God an impersonal, de-centralized life force, similar to the Buddhist concept of vijñāna. Is light an abstract term, or is Light a person? How do we define love? According to John, we can know God relationally through the person of Jesus (4:17). John asserts that the only true enlightenment is by God’s Holy Spirit, that “testifies that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh” (4:2). Instead of an ephemeral, vaguely spiritual Savior, we have a Savior who did not come by water only (baptism), but by water and blood (birth) (5:6).
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