Piper observes a “peculiarity” of 1 John in which the author refers to truth claims which are held by himself and his readers. The practicality of the Christian faith is taken as an authoritative reality (Piper 1947, 437). Piper details ways in which these references are introduced. He then discusses these beliefs which are considered to be held in common, categorizing them in five groups.
First, Peper lists the credal statements (Piper 1947, 438-439). He makes no significant comments, rather he simply provides the Greek text and reference. He then moves to theological axioms (Piper 1947, 439). These are followed by eschatological prophecies and convictions. Pe\iper notes that these would be like the theological axioms but have a stronger implication of personal piety (Piper 1947, 439). There follow moral commandments and ecclesiastical rules (Piper 1947, 440).
Piper makes it clear that many of hte propositions are introduced as things which the reader has heart. He also notes that there is no reference to written authority but that 2:27 referst o Jesus’ teaching. In his opinion this “may be taken as an indirect confirmation of the fact that we are here in the presence of oral tradition” (Piper 1947, 440). He strengthens this case by noting passages in which various authorities express identical ideas while using different verbal devices. This enhances a concept of orality rather than literary transmission. Piper lists numerous passages in which parallel ideas are expressed in very different words (Piper 1947, 441).
A good deal of the difference Piper observes in these passages of parallel idea but divergent language usage can be explained by regional and dialectical differences. People with different backgrounds express themselves differently (Piper 1947, 443). Piper speaks at some length about Semitisms, such as the unusual use of λύειν meaning “to nullify” (Piper 1947, 443-444).
Piper not only sees the text of 1 John as indicating the oral traditions of the day, but he also considers the vocabulary usage as an indication of an early date. Theological terms which were later associated with the ideas in the Epistle are not used consistently. This suggests the terminological development was still under way (Piper 1947, 445).
Piper analyzes Bultmann’s criticism of the Epistle in some detail. In sum, Piper considers Bultmann to make stylistic differences bear too much significance in terms of analysis of form and redaction (Piper 1947, 448-449).
Piper’s overall conclusion is that 1 John represents an early state of the development of Christian doctrine. The terminology has not yet become stable and much of the work seems to assume a Christian life based largely on obedience to practical rules (Piper 1947, 450).