CPH is pleased to announce the release of the twenty-third volume in the Concordia Commentary series, available now. The new commentary covers 1, 2, and 3 John. These epistles represent the singular voice of an extraordinary theologian. John, the last living apostle, writes to his “children.” For decades John has served as the elder father of the house churches of Asia Minor, but during his exile, false teaching has persuaded some to abandon the faith and the life of the community of the beloved. At least one house church’s leader has presumed to advance his own teaching at the expense of the apostle’s instruction. Knowing that his days are numbered, John sends a general epistle, 1 John, together with its introductory cover letter, 2 John. In order to address the errant leader’s conduct, he also sends a situation-specific, personal and pastoral addendum, 3 John. Rallying the faithful so that none would be lost to the ongoing threat of deception, John urges his children to confess by the Spirit in this last hour the man Jesus as the Son of the Father, come in the flesh in truth and love. The fulfillment of God’s historic dealings with His people of old is Jesus’ atoning sacrifice of Himself. Through His shed blood, a cleansing flood, God confers the life of the age to come.
The author of 1–3 John, Dr. Bruce G. Schuchard, is Professor of Exegetical Theology at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, Missouri, where he also serves as Dean of Advanced Studies. Following is a brief interview with Dr. Schuchard that highlights his passion for sharing the Word of God and exploring the writings of the apostle and evangelist John.
How did you become interested in the Johannine Epistles?
“My interest in the works of the apostle and evangelist St. John began when I was a doctoral candidate. The focus of my work then was the form and the function of the explicit citations of the Old Testament in the Gospel of John. Since then I have enjoyed teaching a regular class on the works of John and the remaining Catholic Epistles here at Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, Missouri. I continue to enjoy the study of all of John’s works.”
What events in your life or ministry helped you gain insight into these Epistles?
“My early work as a pastor for seven years in a small-town congregation in rural Iowa provided me with firsthand knowledge and understanding of the everyday challenges of pastoral ministry. The regular phenomenon of persons ‘going out from us’ because ‘they were not of us’ (1 John 2:19) did much to prepare me for the distinctive concern of the apostle in the construction of his three letters.”
What was the best part about writing a commentary? And the most difficult?
“I learned a lot. The study of the Word of God, especially of the apostle and evangelist St. John, never grows old. But the writing of a full-scale commentary on any work of the Scriptures is a very demanding enterprise, requiring years of dedicated time and focus. Many nights, weekends, and holidays were spent in the writing of 1–3 John. I owe my family and colleagues at Concordia Seminary a debt of gratitude for their support of the many years that I was absent from other things in order to complete the work of this commentary.”
How do you hope your commentary will influence the ministry, preaching, and teaching of pastors?
“The church’s one foundation is her Lord and His life-engendering and life-sustaining Word. My hope and prayer is that the work of this commentary will bring to ever greater light the saving power of the Word of God so that God’s people might be sustained in their walk of faith till the day of the return of our Lord in glory.”
Why did you go into the ministry? What led you to move into the education of future pastors?
“I first pursued the study of theology not because I knew that it would necessarily lead to a life of service as a pastor or as a seminary professor, but because I wanted to understand the things of God better, and because I hoped and prayed that such knowledge would empower me for a life of service in whatever God chose for me next. God then called me first to a life of service as a pastor of His Church. I now teach, advise, and administrate the graduate programs at Concordia Seminary. I am thankful for this opportunity for service, and pray that it would contribute as God wills to the faith and life of His people.”
What activities do you enjoy outside the classroom/pulpit?
“I continue to enjoy the regular study of the Word of God, the love of my family (father, Marvin; mother, Marianne; brothers, Ron, Dale, and Jeff; wife, Sheryl; children, Will and Lydia), and getting out every once in a while to enjoy a little recreation.”
What is next on your research/writing agenda?
“I plan to return to my first love, the study of St. John’s Gospel. I hope that the future will also provide opportunity to add to my study interests, to my writing, and to my teaching time spent with the Revelation of St. John.”