Original Research

Early Christian spirituality according to the First Epistle of John: The identification of different ‘lived experiences’

Dirk G. van der Merwe
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 69, No 1 | a1286 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v69i1.1286 | © 2013 Dirk G. van der Merwe | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 22 June 2012 | Published: 27 March 2013

About the author(s)

Dirk G. van der Merwe, Department of Christian Spirituality, Church History Missiology, University of South Africa, South Africa


The interest in this article is early Christian spirituality. The word ‘spirituality’ is used here denoting ‘a lived experience’. Therefore, the article focuses on religious experience in an early Christian community as explicated in the first chapter of the First Epistle of John. Three different lived experiences are denoted here, culminating in the last one: ‘having fellowship with the divine’. The first two experiences (experience through physical senses, experience through spiritual senses) pave the way to establish fellowship with the divine. For the author of 1 John, the purpose (ἵνα) of these lived experiences is to have (ἵνα) complete joy, another form of experience. These three lived experiences express three different configurations of spirituality.


John; First Epistle; spirituality; lived experiences


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