We & Us
In general the word “we” has two possible meanings. First, “we” may mean “us” as distinct from “you.” Second, it may signify “you and I.”
We find both senses of “we” in the first chapter of the First Epistle of John. Indeed, this chapter is divided exactly in half by these two uses of the word “we,” which appears at least once in every single verse.
Let us begin by looking at the first half of 1 John 1, carefully noting “we” each time we find it: “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life—the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us—that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have communion with us; and truly our communion is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. And these things we write to you that your joy may be full. This is the message which we have heard from him and declare to you, that God is light and in him is no darkness at all” (1:1–5).
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Patrick Henry Reardon is pastor emeritus of All Saints Antiochian Orthodox Church in Chicago, Illinois, and the author of numerous books, including, most recently, Out of Step with God: Orthodox Christian Reflections on the Book of Numbers (Ancient Faith Publishing, 2019).
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