John begins the Gospel by describing the Word who was with God, came to earth, and returned to His Father:

1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2He was in the beginning with God. 18No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father's side, he has made him known. (John 1)

1ἐν ἀρχῇ ἦν ὁ λόγος καὶ ὁ λόγος ἦν πρὸς τὸν θεόν καὶ θεὸς ἦν ὁ λόγος 2οὗτος ἦν ἐν ἀρχῇ πρὸς τὸν θεόν 18θεὸν οὐδεὶς ἑώρακεν πώποτε μονογενὴς θεὸς ὁ ὢν εἰς τὸν κόλπον τοῦ πατρὸς ἐκεῖνος ἐξηγήσατο

The Gospel states the Word is the Son of God, Jesus Christ who was sent. It then narrates how the Son manifested God and brought to mankind the opportunity to obtain eternal life. Based on the Prologue, the reader understands the narrative ends when the Son is reunited with the Father. John's first letter ends with the same summary:

And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true; and we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life. (1 John 5:20)

οἴδαμεν δὲ ὅτι ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ θεοῦ ἥκει καὶ δέδωκεν ἡμῖν διάνοιαν ἵνα γινώσκωμεν τὸν ἀληθινόν καὶ ἐσμὲν ἐν τῷ ἀληθινῷ ἐν τῷ υἱῷ αὐτοῦ Ἰησοῦ Χριστῷ οὗτός ἐστιν ὁ ἀληθινὸς θεὸς καὶ ζωὴ αἰώνιος

The Son of God who was sent is now historically the Son of God who came (i.e the Gospel narrative) and has given us understanding (1:18) so we may know His who is true (and is reunited with the Father).

What strikes me is how the initial relationship "in the beginning" before coming refers to the Word as οὗτος and that is how the letter describes the present-day working relationship of the Son of God and God to bring eternal life. In other words, the only difference between John 1:1-2 and 1 John 5:20 is the physical coming which is now a past event. The use of οὗτος in John 1:2 and then again to end the letter seems to be purposeful.

Does οὗτός at the end of the letter form an inclusio to the beginning of the Gospel?

  • I am not clear as to what you mean by 'form an inclusion'. Do you mean that some (or all) of the epistle was meant to be an addition to the gospel and that anyone who possessed a copy of John's Gospel should literally place the epistle (or a copy thereof) inside the copy of the gospel ? Whilst all that John wrote is edifying and adds to the whole of the gospel of Christ, I cannot see that what you point out is strong enough to assert an addition as though John was editing his gospel account.
    – Nigel J
    Commented May 22, 2020 at 17:18
  • 2
    In literature, an inclusio is a framing device—something occurring at the beginning of a story with the same thing or similar thing happening at the end (or near the end of as story). We can be seen in examples in the Gosels: “God with us” (Mt 1:23) cf. “I am with you” (Mt 28:20). And the word “heavens opened” Gk ‘open’ = σχίζω (Mk 1:10) cf “veil of the temple was rent” (same Gk word σχίζω used for ‘rent’). “This is my beloved Son” (Mt 3:17) cf “Truly this was the Son of God” (Mt. 27:54). Commented May 22, 2020 at 17:52
  • 3
    I think the short answer is NO simply because, an "incluso" must at least be in the same work. Further, one needs more than just a VERY common word - usually a phrase or sentence to form an incluso. A better example might be Gen 1:1 and Gen 2:1 form an incluso of the creation story.
    – Dottard
    Commented May 22, 2020 at 22:35

1 Answer 1


Most all scholars agree that the Apostle John wrote both the Gospel of John and 1st John afterward. If you look at what John summarizes in 1st John, does it matter if he wrote it 20 years, 20 months, 20 days, or 20 minutes after finishing the Gospel of John? The text of 1st John clearly makes an excellent summary of the entire Gospel of John. A rough section outline for a whole account of the Life and Purpose of Christ according to John would be the following:

  • Beginning Abstract Introduction: John 1:1 to John 1:14
  • Concrete Historical Details: John 1:15 to John 21:24
  • Ending Abstract Conclusion: John 21:25 and 1st John 1:1 to 1st John 5:20
  • Addendum Exhortation: 1st John 5:21 (Summary admonition statement based on the summary to Gentiles from the Jerusalem Council debate recorded in Acts 15.)

I personally hold the opinion that John and 1st John were actually a single book. However, for some reason unknown (either accidentally or even purposefully) the book was divided into two parts and separated in the placement of the New Testament. This was done to obfuscate the complete written work of John about the life of Yeshua on earth and ministry of Yeshua the Messiah in an attempt to minimize John’s influence on readers and believers in the centuries that followed. If accidentally done, the Gnostics benefited from the displacement of 1st John far from the Gospel of John. If deliberately done, it was most likely an attack from the Gnostics after John’s death so that Gnosticism could more easily be promoted.

Either way, it is really good for readers of God's Word to read both books together, in this sequence, in our present day and age to best understand the full thoughts and flow that the Apostle John was trying to convey.

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