Fake or For Real?

What do you do when you have tested positive for covid, are starting to feel better, but are still recovering and needing to self isolate? Two words: BOX SET!

While I had a few days off in this position, I found myself watching an episode of Fake or Fortune on iPlayer. If you’ve never seen it before, it’s captivating: a member of the public approaches the programme with a piece of art, painting, sculpture, watercolour or image… and asks that the work be assessed as to whether it is a genuine work or art or not. Fiona Bruce and Philip Mould help investigate often with surprising results. Wow. You can imagine the people’s reactions either way.

I watched someone with a car-boot sale-bought-statue see it authenticated to be a genuine Elizabeth Frink piece – and they were of course delighted! Someone else with a watercolour they were hoping was by Cezanne was left bitterly disappointed. Knowing nothing about art, I think my enjoyment was partly how diligently and scientifically the research was done to try and authenticate… and of course a part of me wanted to see people’s faces at the moment of truth! Why? Because it matters! Is something the real deal or not?

It’s a curious Biblical fact that the only book of the Bible which actually tells us is by ‘John’ is Revelation (see Revelation 1:1). However, the author of Revelation is almost certainly not the same author of the Fourth Gospel – which church tradition says is by ‘John’, but the Gospel itself doesn’t. The literary style, language, grammar, themes, and likely date of composition are all completely different – like chalk and cheese. The writer of the Fourth Gospel let’s call him ‘John’ to avoid confusion) however is almost certainly the same author as 1 John, 2 John and 3 John – the three letters in the New Testament: same style, date, language, themes as the Gospel – theologians and biblical scholars are in solid agreement on this.

Does it matter who wrote what? Whose signature is at the end? Check out the opening of John’s first letter:

“We declare to you what was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the word of life – this life was revealed, and we have seen it and testify to it, and declare to you the eternal life that was with the Father and was revealed to us we declare to you what we have seen and heard so that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ” (1 John 1:1-4).

What mattered to John (he of the Gospel and letters), is not whether anyone knew exactly who he was… it was making known who Jesus Christ was. So he writes about seeking, hearing, looking, touching, testifying. For John the power of the presence of God in Christ was all that mattered.

Thanks be to God for those early ‘Followers of the Way’ – who knew Jesus and shared what this was like. May we also know the love of God through the life of Jesus, and share it too – so the reality of God’s love – for you, for me, for the world – can be known.

Rev. Paul Tabraham


Excerpt taken from Emmanuel Magazine November 2023. The magazine, published ten times annually, features articles contributed or authored by our members. It includes a delightful blend of testimonials, devotions, book reviews, prayers, jokes, upcoming events, and more. Grab your copy of the latest magazine at the church foyer. If you prefer to receive a copy by mail or email, feel free to reach out to us.