Publication Date


Degree Granted


Institution Granting Degree

Westminster Theological Seminary


Atonement, John 1, Second Temple, Judaism


The author of 1 John interprets Christ's death as the atoning sacrifice for the sins of the world (2:2; 4:10). According to 1 John, the Son is the Savior of the world (4:14) in terms of his role as the atoning sacrifice (4:10), and on the basis of his accomplished work of atonement, the Son is the heavenly advocate for believers (2:1), and for his name's sake the sins of the believers are forgiven (2:12).

This study is based upon the premise that this particular interpretation of the Christ event can be best understood against the backdrop of the two Jewish traditions of eschatological forgiveness and atonement, and the early church's concept of realized eschatology. Part 1 focuses upon the hermeneutical milieu of the use of the atonement themes in 1 John. Part 1 is divided into two sections. Part 2 draws together the elements of the two Jewish expectations, and uses them to elucidate the treatment of atonement and forgiveness in 1 John.

We conclude: (1) that Second Temple Judaism had an eschatological expectation that God would restore the fortunes of Israel, and the later OT prophets and at least some Jews during the Second Temple period referred to these in the language of atonement and forgiveness of Israel's corporate sin; (2) that 1 John, building upon the Jewish traditions of forgiveness and cultic atonement in the OT and the Second Temple writings, combined the two traditions in its presentation of the atoning death of Jesus Christ and the forgiveness of sin; (3) that 1 John is distinctive, in comparison with the later OT prophets and the Second Temple literature, primarily in its application of these Jewish elements to the death of Jesus in the new way of universalizing, individualizing, and spiritualizing the national and corporate hopes of Israel; and (4) that this distinctive aspect of 1 John has its roots in the early church's concept of realized eschatology as expressed in the Gospels, which is itself founded upon the kingdom teachings of Jesus.