I’ve only outlined in my mind a few basic things about the next two points I want to discuss about the canonical context of 1 John, but I’d like your input/thoughts on this before I move on. Think of this as a bit of “collaborative theological exegesis.”
I think that part of canonical context includes 1) identifying 1 John’s “canonical catholicity” (i.e., how 1 John coheres with and “fits” in the canon, especially in light of the other books of the NT; and 2) identifying its unique “canonical contribution.” What I mean by canonical contribution is the unique things that 1 John to brings to the canon (let’s think specifically the NT canon here). What is it that 1 John teaches or reveals that we wouldn’t otherwise know? Or to put it negatively, what are some things we wouldn’t know if 1 John hadn’t “made it” to the canon?
I’ll prime the pump here and make the specific suggestion that 1 John makes a unique contribution in regard to his theology of “testing the spirits” as related to christology. He insists that acknowledgement of Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh is a”definitive” test (though we might debate whether he means this to be the one and only definitive test) to see if a spirit has come from God. I’m not sure whether we would easily derive this anywhere else in the canon, but correct me if I’m wrong.
So what do you think? What has been given in 1 John that we would not otherwise know from the rest of the canon?