In some worship services, the congregation repeats the words of one of the creeds or confes sions of the church on a regular basis. When the familiar words of the Apostles' Creed are spoken again, those who have gathered to worship are reminded of truths that the church has cherished throughout history. Some churches instruct young people and new converts through a series of classes, structured around a review of the "great truths" of Scripture and perhaps one of the classic catechisms of the church. And many churches use songs and choruses that invite their hearers to "tell me the old, old story" or "sing them over again to me." Reciting the foundational truths that Christians believe and hold dear need not be mindless repe tition. Rather, when the church together recites, sings, studies or listens to the words of creed, confession, hymn or Scripture, read or recited repeatedly, it is also reminded of the faithfulness and constancy of God. We can depend on God to be the same from the beginning. This assur ance of God's stability and faithfulness comes to light in 2:12-14.
Because the Elder is probably quoting familiar, creedlike statements in 2:12-14, many translations (including the NIV) set these lines off to look like a quotation. Just as we might quote a hymn, creed or verse of Scripture to remind ourselves what we believe and to what we are committed, so here the author quotes these lines to serve just such a purpose. John cites the lines at this point to take his readers back to the beginning of their faith, and to remind them of what they have always believed. He has talked about the message that they have had from the beginning (1:1; 2:7), and now he summarizes its content at greater length. His readers are to remember who they are and what they have been given.
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