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  Discovery Box

1 John 1:5--3:10

Context
God Is Light, So We Must Walk in the Light

1:5 Now 1  this is the gospel 2  message 3  we have heard from him 4  and announce to you: God is light, and in him there is no darkness at all. 5  1:6 If we say we have fellowship with him and yet keep on walking 6  in the darkness, we are lying and not practicing 7  the truth. 1:7 But if we walk in the light as he himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses 8  us from all sin. 9  1:8 If we say we do not bear the guilt of sin, 10  we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. 1:9 But if we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous, 11  forgiving 12  us our sins and cleansing 13  us from all unrighteousness. 1:10 If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar and his word is not in us. 2:1 (My little children, 14  I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. 15 ) But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate 16  with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous One, 17  2:2 and he himself is the atoning sacrifice 18  for our sins, and not only for our sins but also for the whole world. 19 

Keeping God’s Commandments

2:3 Now 20  by this we know that we have come to know God: 21  if we keep his commandments. 2:4 The one who says “I have come to know God” 22  and yet does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in such a person. 2:5 But whoever obeys his 23  word, truly in this person 24  the love of God has been perfected. By this we know that we are in him. 2:6 The one who says he resides 25  in God 26  ought himself to walk 27  just as Jesus 28  walked.

2:7 Dear friends, I am not writing a new commandment to you, but an old commandment which you have had from the beginning. 29  The old commandment is the word that you have already 30  heard. 2:8 On the other hand, I am writing a new commandment to you which is true in him 31  and in you, because 32  the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining. 33  2:9 The one who says he is in the light but still hates 34  his fellow Christian 35  is still in the darkness. 2:10 The one who loves his fellow Christian 36  resides in the light, and there is no cause for stumbling in him. 37  2:11 But the one who hates his fellow Christian 38  is in the darkness, walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes. 39 

Words of Reassurance

2:12 I am writing to you, 40  little children, that 41  your sins have been forgiven because of his 42  name. 2:13 I am writing to you, fathers, that 43  you have known him who has been from the beginning. I am writing to you, young people, that 44  you have conquered the evil one. 45  2:14 I have written to you, children, that 46  you have known the Father. 47  I have written to you, fathers, that 48  you have known him who has been from the beginning. I have written to you, young people, that 49  you are strong, and the word of God resides in you, and you have conquered the evil one.

2:15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him, 2:16 because all that is in the world (the desire of the flesh and the desire of the eyes and the arrogance produced by material possessions) 50  is not from the Father, but is from the world. 2:17 And the world is passing away with all its desires, but the person who does the will of God remains 51  forever.

Warning About False Teachers

2:18 Children, it is the last hour, and just as you heard that the antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists 52  have appeared. We know from this that it is the last hour. 2:19 They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us, because if they had belonged to us, they would have remained 53  with us. But 54  they went out from us 55  to demonstrate 56  that all of them do not belong to us. 57 

2:20 Nevertheless you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you all know. 58  2:21 I have not written to you that 59  you do not know the truth, but that 60  you do know it, and that 61  no lie is of the truth. 2:22 Who is the liar but the person who denies that Jesus is the Christ 62 ? This one is the antichrist: the person who denies the Father and the Son. 2:23 Everyone who denies the Son does not have the Father either. The person who confesses the Son has the Father also. 63 

2:24 As for you, what you have heard from the beginning must remain 64  in you. If what you heard from the beginning remains in you, you also will remain in the Son and in the Father. 2:25 Now this 65  is the promise that he 66  himself made to 67  us: eternal life. 68  2:26 These things I have written to you about those who are trying to deceive you. 69 

2:27 Now as for you, the anointing 70  that you received from him 71  resides 72  in you, and you have no need for anyone to teach you. But as his 73  anointing teaches you about all things, it is true and is not a lie. Just as 74  it 75  has taught you, you reside 76  in him.

Children of God

2:28 And now, little children, remain 77  in him, 78  so that when 79  he appears we may have confidence and not shrink away from him in shame when he comes back. 80  2:29 If you know that he is righteous, you also know 81  that everyone who practices righteousness has been fathered 82  by him.

3:1 (See what sort of love the Father has given to us: that 83  we should be called God’s children – and indeed 84  we are! 85  For this reason 86  the world does not know us: because it did not know him. 87  3:2 Dear friends, we are God’s children now, and what we will be 88  has not yet been revealed. We 89  know that 90  whenever 91  it 92  is revealed 93  we will be like him, because 94  we will see him just as he is. 95  3:3 And everyone who has this hope focused 96  on him purifies 97  himself, just as Jesus 98  is pure). 99 

3:4 Everyone who practices sin 100  also practices lawlessness; 101  indeed, 102  sin is lawlessness. 3:5 And you know that Jesus 103  was revealed to take away 104  sins, and in him there is no sin. 3:6 Everyone who resides 105  in him does not sin; 106  everyone who sins has neither seen him nor known him. 3:7 Little children, let no one deceive you: The one who practices righteousness 107  is righteous, just as Jesus 108  is righteous. 3:8 The one who practices sin is of the devil, 109  because the devil has been sinning 110  from the beginning. For this purpose 111  the Son of God was revealed: to destroy 112  the works of the devil. 3:9 Everyone who has been fathered 113  by God does not practice sin, 114  because 115  God’s 116  seed 117  resides in him, and thus 118  he is not able to sin, because he has been fathered by God. 3:10 By this 119  the children of God and the children of the devil are revealed: Everyone who does not practice righteousness – the one who does not love his fellow Christian 120  – is not of God.

1 tn The καί (kai) at the beginning of 1:5 takes on a resumptive force, indicated by the phrase “heard from him and announce to you,” which echoes similar phrases in 1:2 and 1:3.

2 tn The word “gospel” is not in the Greek text but is supplied to clarify the meaning. See the note on the following word “message.”

3 tn The word ἀγγελία (angelia) occurs only twice in the NT, here and in 1 John 3:11. It is a cognate of ἐπαγγελία (epangelia) which occurs much more frequently (some 52 times in the NT) including 1 John 2:25. BDAG 8 s.v. ἀγγελία 1 offers the meaning “message” which suggests some overlap with the semantic range of λόγος (logos), although in the specific context of 1:5 BDAG suggests a reference to the gospel. (The precise “content” of this “good news’ is given by the ὅτι [Joti] clause which follows in 1:5b.) The word ἀγγελία here is closely equivalent to εὐαγγέλιον (euangelion): (1) it refers to the proclamation of the eyewitness testimony about the life and ministry of Jesus Christ as proclaimed by the author and the rest of the apostolic witnesses (prologue, esp. 1:3-4), and (2) it relates to the salvation of the hearers/readers, since the purpose of this proclamation is to bring them into fellowship with God and with the apostolic witnesses (1:3). Because of this the adjective “gospel” is included in the English translation.

4 tn The referent of the pronoun “him” is not entirely clear in the Greek text; it could be either (1) God the Father, or (2) Jesus Christ, both of whom are mentioned at the end of v. 3. A reference to Jesus Christ is more likely because this is the nearest possible antecedent, and because God (the Father) is specifically mentioned in the following clause in v. 5.

5 tn The key to understanding the first major section of 1 John, 1:5-3:10, is found in the statement in v. 5: “God is light and in him there is no darkness at all.” The idea of “proclamation” – the apostolic proclamation of eyewitness testimony which the prologue introduces (1:2, 3) – is picked up in 1:5 by the use of the noun ἀγγελία (angelia) and the verb ἀναγγέλλομεν (anangellomen), cognate to the verb in 1:3. The content of this proclamation is given by the ὅτι (Joti) clause in 1:5 as the assertion that God is light, so this statement should be understood as the author’s formulation of the apostolic eyewitness testimony introduced in the prologue. (This corresponds to the apostolic preaching elsewhere referred to as κήρυγμα [khrugma], although the term the Apostle John uses here is ἀγγελία.)

sn Following the theme statement in 1:5, God is light and in him there is no darkness at all, the author presents a series of three claims and counterclaims that make up the first unit of 1 John (1:5-2:2). The three claims begin with “if” (1:6, 8, 10) and the three counterclaims begin with “but if” (1:7, 9; 2:1).

6 tn The context of this statement in 1:6 indicates clearly that the progressive (continuative or durative) aspect of the present tense must be in view here.

sn The relationship of the phrase keep on walking to if we say is very important for understanding the problem expressed in 1:6. If one should say (εἴπωμεν, eipwmen) that he has fellowship with God, and yet continues walking (περιπατῶμεν, peripatwmen) in the darkness, then it follows (in the apodosis, the “then” clause) that he is lying and not practicing the truth.

7 tn Or “living according to…”

8 tn Or “purifies.”

9 tn BDAG 50 s.v. ἁμαρτία 1 defines this term as “a departure fr. either human or divine standards of uprightness” (see 1 John 5:17 where ἁμαρτία [Jamartia] and ἀδικία [adikia] are related). This word occurs 17 times in 1 John, of which 11 are singular and 6 are plural.

sn From all sin. Sometimes a distinction between singular “sin” and plural “sins” has been suggested: Some would see the singular all sin of 1:7 as a reference to sinfulness before conversion and the plural sins of 1:9 as a reference to sins committed after one became a Christian. This amounts to making 1:7 refer to initial justification and 1:9 to sanctification. But the phrase all sin in 1:7 is so comprehensive that it can hardly be limited to preconversion sins, and the emphasis on “walking” in 1:7 strongly suggests that the Christian life is in view (not one’s life before conversion). In 1 John 1:8 sin appears as a condition or characteristic quality, which in 1:10 is regarded as universal. Apart from forgiveness in Christ it results in alienation from God (2:15) and spiritual death (3:14). But according to 1 John 1:7, cleansing from sin is possible by the blood (representing the sacrificial death) of Jesus.

10 tn Grk “say we do not have sin.” The use of ἔχω + ἁμαρτία (ecw + Jamartia) is an expression limited to John and 1 John in the NT. On the analogy with other constructions where ἔχω governs an abstract noun (e.g., 1 John 1:3, 6, 7; 2:28; 3:3, 15, 21; 4:16, 17; 5:12-13), it indicates that a state is involved, which in the case of ἁμαρτία would refer to a state of sin. The four times the expression ἔχω + ἁμαρτία occurs in the Gospel of John (9:41; 15:22, 24; 19:11) all refer to situations where a wrong action has been committed or a wrong attitude has already existed, resulting in a state of sin, and then something else happens which further emphasizes the evil of that action or attitude. Here in 1 John 1:8 the sense is the same. The author is addressing people who have sinned (resulting in a state of sin), warning them that they cannot claim to be free from the guilt of that sin. The context of 1 John does not imply libertinism (where sins are flaunted as a way of demonstrating one’s “liberty”) on the part of the opponents, since the author makes no explicit charges of immoral behavior against his opponents. The worst the author explicitly says is that they have failed to love the brethren (1 John 3:17). It seems more likely that the opponents were saying that things a believer did after conversion were not significant enough to be “sins” that could challenge one’s intimate relationship with God (a relationship the author denies that the opponents have to begin with).

11 tn Or “just.”

12 tn The ἵνα (Jina) followed by the subjunctive is here equivalent to the infinitive of result, an “ecbatic” or consecutive use of ἵνα according to BDAG 477 s.v. 3 where 1 John 1:9 is listed as a specific example. The translation with participles (“forgiving, …cleansing”) conveys this idea of result.

13 tn Or “purifying.”

14 sn My little children. The direct address by the author to his readers at the beginning of 2:1 marks a break in the pattern of the opponents’ claims (indicated by the phrase if we say followed by a negative statement in the apodosis, the “then” clause) and the author’s counterclaims (represented by if with a positive statement in the apodosis) made so far in 1:6-10. The seriousness of this last claim (in 1:10) causes the author to interrupt himself to address the readers as his faithful children and to explain to them that while he wants them not to sin, they may be assured that if they do, they can look to Jesus Christ, as their advocate with the Father, to intercede for them. After this, the last of the author’s three counter-claims in 1:5-2:2 is found in the if clause in 2:1b.

15 tn There is some dispute over the significance of the aorist tense of ἁμάρτητε (Jamarthte): (1) F. Stagg (“Orthodoxy and Orthopraxy in the Johannine Epistles,” RevExp 67 [1970]:423-32, esp. 428) holds that the aorist is nondescriptive, saying nothing about the nature of the action itself, but only that the action has happened. This is indeed the normal aspectual value of the aorist tense in general, but there is some disagreement over whether with this particular verb there are more specific nuances of meaning. (2) M. Zerwick (Biblical Greek §251) and N. Turner (MHT 3:72) agree that the present tense of ἁμαρτάνω (Jamartanw) means “to be in a state of sin” (i.e., a sinner) while the aorist refers to specific acts of sin. Without attempting to sort out this particular dispute, it should be noted that certain verbs do have different nuances of meaning in different tenses, nuances which do not derive solely from the aspectual value of the tense per se, but from a combination of semantic factors which vary from word to word.

sn So that you may not sin. It is clear the author is not simply exhorting the readers not to be habitual or repetitive sinners, as if to imply that occasional acts of sin would be acceptable. The purpose of the author here is that the readers not sin at all, just as Jesus told the man he healed in John 5:14 “Don’t sin any more.”

16 tn The description of the Holy Spirit as “Paraclete” is unique to the Gospel of John (14:16, 26; 15:26; and 16:7). Here, in the only other use of the word in the NT, it is Jesus, not the Spirit, who is described as παράκλητος (paraklhto"). The reader should have been prepared for this interchangeability of terminology, however, by John 14:16, where Jesus told the disciples that he would ask the Father to send them ‘another’ paraclete (ἄλλος, allos, “another of the same kind”). This implies that Jesus himself had been a paraclete in his earthly ministry to the disciples. This does not answer all the questions about the meaning of the word here, though, since it is not Jesus’ role as an advocate during his earthly ministry which is in view, but his role as an advocate in heaven before the Father. The context suggests intercession in the sense of legal advocacy, as stress is placed upon the righteousness of Jesus (᾿Ιησοῦν Χριστὸν δίκαιον, Ihsoun Criston dikaion). The concept of Jesus’ intercession on behalf of believers does occur elsewhere in the NT, notably in Rom 8:34 and Heb 7:25. Something similar is taking place here, and is the best explanation of 1 John 2:1. An English translation like “advocate” or “intercessor” conveys this.

17 tn Or “Jesus Christ the righteous.”

18 tn A suitable English translation for this word (ἱλασμός, Jilasmos) is a difficult and even controversial problem. “Expiation,” “propitiation,” and “atonement” have all been suggested. L. Morris, in a study that has become central to discussions of this topic (The Apostolic Preaching of the Cross, 140), sees as an integral part of the meaning of the word (as in the other words in the ἱλάσκομαι [Jilaskomai] group) the idea of turning away the divine wrath, suggesting that “propitiation” is the closest English equivalent. It is certainly possible to see an averting of divine wrath in this context, where the sins of believers are in view and Jesus is said to be acting as Advocate on behalf of believers. R. E. Brown’s point (Epistles of John [AB], 220-21), that it is essentially cleansing from sin which is in view here and in the other use of the word in 4:10, is well taken, but the two connotations (averting wrath and cleansing) are not mutually exclusive and it is unlikely that the propitiatory aspect of Jesus’ work should be ruled out entirely in the usage in 2:2. Nevertheless, the English word “propitiation” is too technical to communicate to many modern readers, and a term like “atoning sacrifice” (given by Webster’s New International Dictionary as a definition of “propitiation”) is more appropriate here. Another term, “satisfaction,” might also convey the idea, but “satisfaction” in Roman Catholic theology is a technical term for the performance of the penance imposed by the priest on a penitent.

sn The Greek word (ἱλασμός, Jilasmos) behind the phrase atoning sacrifice conveys both the idea of “turning aside divine wrath” and the idea of “cleansing from sin.”

19 tn Many translations supply an understood repetition of the word “sins” here, thus: “but also for the sins of the whole world.”

20 tn The translation of καί (kai) at the beginning of 2:3 is important for understanding the argument, because a similar καί occurs at the beginning of 1:5. The use here is not just a simple continuative or connective use, but has more of a resumptive force, pointing back to the previous use in 1:5.

sn Now. The author, after discussing three claims of the opponents in 1:6, 8, and 10 and putting forward three counterclaims of his own in 1:7, 1:9, and 2:1, now returns to the theme of “God as light” introduced in 1:5. The author will now discuss how a Christian may have assurance that he or she has come to know the God who is light, again by contrast with the opponents who make the same profession of knowing God, but lack the reality of such knowledge, as their behavior makes clear.

21 tn Grk “know him.” (1) Many take the third person pronoun αὐτον (auton) to refer to Jesus Christ, since he is mentioned in 2:1 and the pronoun αὐτός (autos) at the beginning of 2:2 clearly refers to him. But (2) it is more likely that God is the referent here, since (a) the assurance the author is discussing here is assurance that one has come to know God (all the claims of the opponents in 1:5-2:11 concern knowing and having fellowship with the God who is light); (b) when Jesus Christ is explicitly mentioned as an example to follow in 1 John 2:6, the pronoun ἐκεῖνος (ekeinos) is used to distinguish this from previous references with αὐτός; (c) the καί (kai) which begins 2:3 is parallel to the καί which begins 1:5, suggesting that the author is now returning to the discussion of God who is light, a theme introduced in 1:5. The author will now discuss how a Christian may have assurance that he or she has come to know the God who is light.

22 tn Grk “know him.” See the note on the phrase “know God” in 1 John 2:3 for explanation.

23 tn The referent of this pronoun is probably to be understood as God, since God is the nearest previous antecedent.

24 tn Grk “in him.”

25 tn The Greek verb μένω (menw) is commonly translated into contemporary English as “remain” or “abide,” but both of these translations have some problems: (1) “Abide” has become in some circles almost a “technical term” for some sort of special intimate fellowship or close relationship between the Christian and God, so that one may speak of Christians who are “abiding” and Christians who are not. It is accurate to say the word indicates a close, intimate (and permanent) relationship between the believer and God. However, it is very important to note that for the author of the Gospel of John and the Johannine Epistles every genuine Christian has this type of relationship with God, and the person who does not have this type of relationship (cf. 2 John 9) is not a believer at all (in spite of what he or she may claim). (2) On the other hand, to translate μένω as “remain” removes some of these problems, but creates others: In certain contexts, such a translation can give the impression that those who currently “remain” in this relationship with God can at some point choose not to “remain”, that is, to abandon their faith and return to an unsaved condition. While one may easily think in terms of the author’s opponents in 1 John as not “remaining,” the author makes it inescapably clear in 2:19 that these people, in spite of their claims to know God and be in fellowship with God, never really were genuine believers. (3) In an attempt to avoid both these misconceptions, this translation renders μένω as “reside” except in cases where the context indicates that “remain” is a more accurate nuance, that is, in contexts where a specific change of status or movement from one position to another is in view.

sn The Greek word μένω (menw) translated resides indicates a close, intimate (and permanent) relationship between the believer and God. It is very important to note that for the author of the Gospel of John and the Johannine Epistles every genuine Christian has this type of relationship with God, and the person who does not have this type of relationship (cf. 2 John 9) is not a believer at all (in spite of what he or she may claim).

26 tn Grk “in him.” Context indicates a reference to God since a different pronoun, ἐκεινος (ekeinos), is used later in the same verse to indicate a reference to Jesus. See the note on “Jesus” later in this verse.

27 tn That is, ought to behave in the same way Jesus did. “Walking” is a common NT idiom for one’s behavior or conduct.

28 tn Grk “that one.” Context indicates a reference to Jesus here. It is clear that ἐκεῖνος (ekeinos) here does not refer to the same person as αὐτῷ (autw) in 2:6a. The switch to ἐκεῖνος indicates a change in the referent, and a reference to Jesus Christ is confirmed by the verb περιεπάτησεν (periepathsen), an activity which can only describe Jesus’ earthly life and ministry, the significance of which is one of the points of contention the author has with the opponents. In fact, ἐκεῖνος occurs 6 times in 1 John (2:6; 3:3, 5, 7, 16; and 4:17), and each one refers to Jesus Christ.

29 sn See John 13:34-35.

30 tn “Already” is not is the Greek text, but is supplied for clarity.

31 tn “In him” probably refers to Jesus Christ since the last third person pronoun in 2:6 referred to Jesus Christ and there is no indication in the context of a change in referent.

32 tn The clause beginning with ὅτι (Joti) is often taken as (1) epexegetical or (2) appositional to the commandment (ἐντολήν, entolhn) giving a further explanation or clarification of it. But the statement following the ὅτι is about light and darkness, and it is difficult to see how this has anything to do with the commandment, especially as the commandment is related to the “new commandment” of John 13:34 for believers to love one another. It is far more likely that (3) the ὅτι clause should be understood as causal, but this still does not answer the question of whether it offers the reason for writing the “new commandment” itself or the reason for the relative clause (“that is true in him and in you”). It probably gives the reason for the writing of the commandment, although R. E. Brown (Epistles of John [AB], 268) thinks it refers to both.

33 sn The reference to the darkness…passing away and the true light…already shining is an allusion to John 1:5, 1:9, and 8:12. Because the author sees the victory of light over darkness as something already begun, he is writing Jesus’ commandment to love one another to the readers as a reminder to (1) hold fast to what they have already heard (see 1 John 2:7) and (2) not be influenced by the teaching of the opponents.

34 tn Grk “the one saying he is in the light and hating his brother.” Here καί (kai) has been translated as “but” because of the contrast present in the two clauses.

35 tn Grk “his brother.” Here the term “brother” means “fellow believer” or “fellow Christian” (cf. BDAG 18 s.v. ἀδελφός 2.a). In the repeated uses of this form of address throughout the letter, it is important to remember that sometimes it refers (1) to genuine Christians (those who have remained faithful to the apostolic eyewitness testimony about who Jesus is, as outlined in the Prologue to the letter, 1:1-4; an example of this usage is 2:10; 3:14, 16), but often it refers (2) to the secessionist opponents whose views the author rejects (examples are found here at 2:9, as well as 2:11; 3:10; 3:15; 3:17; 4:20). Of course, to be technically accurate, in the latter case the reference is really to a “fellow member of the community”; the use of the term “fellow Christian” in the translation no more implies that such an individual is genuinely saved than the literal term “brother” which the author uses for such people. But a translation like “fellow member of the community” or “fellow member of the congregation” is extremely awkward and simply cannot be employed consistently throughout.

36 tn See note on the term “fellow Christian” in 2:9.

37 tn The third person pronoun αὐτῷ (autw) could refer either (1) to the person who loves his brother or (2) to the light itself which has no cause for stumbling “in it.” The following verse (2:11) views darkness as operative within a person, and the analogy with Ps 119:165, which says that the person who loves God’s law does not stumble, expresses a similar concept in relation to an individual. This evidence suggests that the person is the referent here.

38 sn The one who hates his fellow Christian. The author’s paradigm for the opponents portrays them as those who show hatred for fellow Christians (Grk “brothers,” but not referring to one’s physical siblings). This charge will be much more fully developed in chap. 3, where the author will compare the opponents to Cain (who is the model for one who hates a brother, since he ultimately murdered his own brother). In 1 John 3:17 the specific charge against the opponents will be failing to give material aid to a brother in need.

39 sn 1 John 2:3-11. The section 2:3-11 contains three claims to intimate knowledge of God, each introduced by the phrase the one who says (participles in the Greek text) in 2:4, 6, and 9. As with the three claims beginning with “if” in the previous section (1:6, 8, 10), these indirectly reflect the claims of the opponents. Each claim is followed by the author’s evaluation and its implications.

40 sn I am writing to you. The author appears to have been concerned that some of his readers, at least, would accept the claims of the opponents as voiced in 1:6, 8, and 10. The counterclaims the author has made in 1:7, 9, and 2:1 seem intended to strengthen the readers and reassure them (among other things) that their sins are forgiven. Further assurances of their position here is in keeping with such a theme, and indeed, the topic of reassurance runs throughout the entire letter (see the purpose statement in 5:13). Finally, in such a context the warning which follows in 2:15-17 is not out of place because the author is dealing with a community that is discouraged by the controversy which has arisen within it and that is in need of exhortation.

41 tn The ὅτι (Joti) that follows all six occurrences of γράφω/ἔγραψα (grafw/egraya) in 2:12-14 can be understood as introducing either (1) a causal clause or (2) a content clause (if content, it could be said to introduce a direct object clause or an indirect discourse clause). Many interpreters have favored a causal translation, so that in each of the six cases what follows the ὅτι gives the reason why the author is writing to the recipients. Usage in similar constructions is not decisive because only one other instance of γράφω followed by ὅτι occurs in 1 John (2:21), and that context is just as ambiguous as this one. On other occasions γράφω does tend to be followed by a noun or pronoun functioning as direct object. This might argue for the content usage here, but it could also be argued that the direct object in the six instances in these verses is understood, namely, the content of the entire letter itself. Thus the following ὅτι clause could still be causal. Grammatical considerations aside, these uses of ὅτι are more likely introducing content clauses here rather than causal clauses because such a meaning better fits the context. If the uses of ὅτι are understood as causal, it is difficult to see why the author immediately gives a warning in the section that follows about loving the world. The confidence he has expressed in his readers (if the ὅτι clauses are understood as causal) would appear to be ill-founded if he is so concerned about their relationship to the world as 2:15-17 seems to indicate. On the other hand, understanding the ὅτι clauses as content clauses fits very well the context of reassurance which runs throughout the letter.

42 tn “His” probably refers to Jesus Christ. Note the last reference was to Jesus in 2:8 and before that in 2:6; also the mention of sins being forgiven suggests Jesus’ work on the cross.

43 tn See the note on “that” in v. 12.

44 tn See the note on “that” in v. 12.

45 sn The phrase the evil one is used in John 17:15 as a reference to Satan. Satan is also the referent here and in the four other occurrences in 1 John (2:14; 3:12; 5:18, 19).

46 tn See the note on “that” in v. 12.

47 sn The versification of vv. 13 and 14 (so also NAB, NRSV, NLT) follows that of the NA27 and UBS4 editions of the Greek text. Some English translations, however, break the verses between the sentence addressed to children and the sentence addressed to fathers (KJV, NKJV, NASB, NIV). The same material has been translated in each case; the only difference is the versification of that material.

48 tn See the note on “that” in v. 12.

49 tn See the note on “that” in v. 12.

50 tn The genitive βίου (biou) is difficult to translate: (1) Many understand it as objective, so that βίος (bios, “material life”) becomes the object of one’s ἀλαζονεία (alazoneia; “pride” or “boastfulness”). Various interpretations along these lines refer to boasting about one’s wealth, showing off one’s possessions, boasting of one’s social status or lifestyle. (2) It is also possible to understand the genitive as subjective, however, in which case the βίος itself produces the ἀλαζονεία. In this case, the material security of one’s life and possessions produces a boastful overconfidence. This understanding better fits the context here: The focus is on people who operate purely on a human level and have no spiritual dimension to their existence. This is the person who loves the world, whose affections are all centered on the world, who has no love for God or spiritual things (“the love of the Father is not in him,” 2:15).

sn The arrogance produced by material possessions. The person who thinks he has enough wealth and property to protect himself and insure his security has no need for God (or anything outside himself).

51 tn See note on the translation of the Greek verb μένω (menw) in 2:6. The translation “remain” is used for μένω (menw) here because the context contrasts the transience of the world and its desires with the permanence of the person who does God’s will.

52 sn Antichrists are John’s description for the opponents and their false teaching, which is at variance with the apostolic eyewitness testimony about who Jesus is (cf. 1:1-4). The identity of these opponents has been variously debated by scholars, with some contending (1) that these false teachers originally belonged to the group of apostolic leaders, but departed from it (“went out from us,” v. 19). It is much more likely (2) that they arose from within the Christian communities to which John is writing, however, and with which he identifies himself. This identification can be seen in the interchange of the pronouns “we” and “you” between 1:10 and 2:1, for example, where “we” does not refer only to John and the other apostles, but is inclusive, referring to both himself and the Christians he is writing to (2:1, “you”).

53 tn See note on the translation of the Greek verb μένω (menw) in 2:6. Here μένω has been translated as “remained” since it is clear that a change of status or position is involved. The opponents departed from the author’s congregation(s) and showed by this departure that they never really belonged. Had they really belonged, they would have stayed (“remained”).

54 tn Because of the length and complexity of the Greek sentence, a new sentence was started here in the translation.

55 tn The phrase “they went out from us” is not repeated a second time in the Greek text, but constitutes an ellipsis. For clarity it is necessary to repeat it in the English translation.

56 tn Grk “in order that it may be demonstrated.” The passive infinitive has been translated as active and the purpose clause translated by an infinitive in keeping with contemporary English style.

57 sn All of them do not belong to us. The opponents chose to depart rather than remain in fellowship with the community to which the author writes and with which he associates himself. This demonstrates conclusively to the author that they never really belonged to that community at all (in spite of what they were claiming). 1 John 2:19 indicates that the departure was apparently the opponents’ own decision rather than being thrown out or excommunicated. But for John, if they had been genuine believers, they would have remained in fellowship. Now they have gone out into the world, where they belong (compare 1 John 4:5).

58 tc πάντες (pantes, nominative plural in “you all know”) is read by א B P Ψ sa. A C 049 33 1739 Ï latt sy bo have the accusative πάντα (panta, “you know all things”). The evidence favors the nominative reading, but it is not overwhelming. At the same time, the internal evidence supports the nominative for a variety of reasons. A scribe would naturally tend to give the transitive verb a direct object, especially because of the parallel in the first half of the verse. And intrinsically, the argument seems to be in balance with v. 19: The “all” who have gone out and are not “in the know” with the “all” who have an anointing and know that they are true believers. Further, as R. E. Brown points out, “the fact of their knowledge (pantes), not the extent of its object (panta), seems best to fit the reassurance” (Epistles of John [AB], 349). Brown further points out the connection with the new covenant in Jer 31 with this section of 1 John, esp. Jer 31:34 – “they all [pantes] shall know me.” Since 1 John alludes to Jer 31, without directly quoting it, this is all the more reason to see the nominative as original: Allusions are often overlooked by scribes (transcriptional evidence), but support the intrinsic evidence. Thus, the evidence is solidly (though not overwhelmingly) behind the nominative reading.

sn The statement you all know probably constitutes an indirect allusion to the provisions of the new covenant mentioned in Jer 31 (see especially Jer 31:34). See also R. E. Brown, The Epistles of John [AB], 349.

59 tn The interpretation of the three ὅτι clauses in v. 21 is very difficult: (1) All three instances of ὅτι (Joti) may be causal (so NASB, NIV, NEB). (2) The first two may be causal while the third indicates content (declarative or recitative ὅτι, so KJV, RSV, TEV, NRSV). (3) However, it is best to take all three instances as indicating content because this allows all three to be subordinate to the verb ἔγραψα (egraya) as compound direct objects. The author writes to reassure his readers (a) that they do indeed know the truth (first two uses of ὅτι) and (b) that no lie is of the truth (third use).

60 tn See the note on the first occurrence of “that” in v. 21.

61 tn See the note on the first occurrence of “that” in v. 21.

62 tn Or “the Messiah”

63 tc The Byzantine text, almost alone, lacks the last eight words of this verse, “The person who confesses the Son has the Father also” (ὁ ὁμολογῶν τὸν υἱὸν καὶ τὸν πατέρα ἔχει, Jo Jomologwn ton Juion kai ton patera ecei). Although shorter readings are often preferred (since scribes would tend to add material rather than delete it), if an unintentional error is likely, shorter readings are generally considered secondary. This is a classic example of such an unintentional omission: The τὸν πατέρα ἔχει of the preceding clause occasioned the haplography, with the scribe’s eye skipping from one τὸν πατέρα ἔχει to the other. (Readings such as this also suggest that the Byzantine text may have originated [at least for 1 John and probably the general epistles] in a single archetype.)

64 tn The word translated “remain” may also be translated “reside” (3 times in 2:24). See also the notes on the translation of the Greek verb μένω (menw) in 2:6 and in 2:19. Here the word can really have both nuances of “residing” and “remaining” and it is impossible for the English reader to catch both nuances if the translation provides only one. This occurs three times in 2:24.

65 tn It is difficult to know whether the phrase καὶ αὕτη ἐστιν (kai Jauth estin) refers (1) to the preceding or (2) to the following material, or (3) to both. The same phrase occurs at the beginning of 1:5, where it serves as a transitional link between the prologue (1:1-4) and the first major section of the letter (1:5-3:10). It is probably best to see the phrase here as transitional as well; thus καί (kai) has been translated “now” rather than “and.” The accusative phrase at the end of v. 25, τὴν ζωὴν τὴν αἰώνιον (thn zwhn thn aiwnion), stands in apposition to the relative pronoun ἥν (Jhn), whose antecedent is ἡ ἐπαγγελία (Jh epangelia; see BDF §295). Thus the “promise” consists of “eternal life.”

66 tn The pronoun could refer to God or Jesus Christ, but a reference to Jesus Christ is more likely here.

67 tn Grk “he himself promised.” The repetition of the cognate verb “promised” after the noun “promise” is redundant in English.

68 sn The promise consists of eternal life, but it is also related to the concept of “remaining” in 2:24. The person who “remains in the Son and in the Father” thus has this promise of eternal life from Jesus himself. Consistent with this, 1 John 5:12 implies that the believer has this eternal life now, not just in the future, and this in turn agrees with John 5:24.

69 sn The phrase those who are trying to deceive you in 1 John 2:26 is a clear reference to the secessionist opponents mentioned earlier in 1 John 2:19, who are attempting to deceive the people the author is writing to.

70 sn The anointing. The “anointing” (χρῖσμα, crisma) which believers have received refers to the indwelling Holy Spirit which has been given to them at their conversion.

71 sn The pronoun could refer to God or Jesus Christ, but a reference to Jesus Christ is more likely here.

72 tn This use of μένω (menw) has been translated “reside” both times in 2:27 because it refers to the current status of believers.

73 sn The pronoun could refer (1) to God or (2) to Jesus Christ, but a reference to Jesus Christ is more likely here.

74 tn Grk “and is not a lie, and just as.” Because of the length and complexity of the Greek sentence, a new sentence was started here in the translation.

75 tn Or “he.”

76 tn The verb may be read as either (1) indicative or (2) imperative mood. The same verb is found in the following verse, 2:28, but the address to the readers there seems clearly to indicate an imperative. On analogy some have called for an imperative here, but others have seen this as suggesting an indicative here, so that the author is not repeating himself. An indicative is slightly more likely here. Up to this point the thrust of the author has been reassurance rather than exhortation, and an indicative here (“…you reside in him”) balances the indicative in the first part of 2:27 (“the anointing which you received from him resides in you…”). With the following verse the author switches from reassurance (the readers at the time he is writing still ‘remain’; they have not yet adopted the teaching of the opponents) to exhortation (he is writing so that they will ‘remain’ and not succumb to the deception of the opponents).

77 tn Again, as at the end of 2:27, the verb μένετε (menete) may be read as either (1) indicative or (2) imperative mood. At the end of 2:27 the translation opted for an indicative because the author had been attempting to reassure his readers that they did indeed possess eternal life, and also because an indicative at the end of 2:27 balances the indicative reference to the “anointing” residing in the readers at the beginning of the verse. With the return in 2:28 to the eschatological note introduced in 2:18, however, it appears that the author switches from reassurance to exhortation. At the time he is writing them, the readers do still “remain” since they have not yet adopted the heretical teaching of the opponents. But now the author wants to forestall the possibility that they might do so at some point, and so he begins this section with an exhortation to the readers to “reside/remain” in Christ. This suggests that μένετε in the present verse should be read as imperative rather than indicative, a view made even more probable by the following ἵνα (Jina) clause which states the purpose for the exhortation: in order that at the parousia (second advent) when Jesus Christ is revealed, the readers may have confidence and not shrink back from him in shame when he appears.

78 sn A reference to Jesus Christ is more likely here. Note the mention of the second coming (second advent) at the end of this verse.

79 tn In this context ἐάν (ean) does not indicate uncertainty about whether or not Christ will return, but rather uncertainty about the exact time when the event will take place. In the Koine period ἐάν could mean “when” or “whenever” and was virtually the equivalent of ὅταν ({otan; see BDAG 268 s.v. ἐάν 2). It has this meaning in John 12:32 and 14:3.

80 tn Grk “at his coming.”

sn Have confidence…shrink away from him in shame when he comes back. Once again in the antithetical framework of Johannine thought (that is, the author’s tendency to think in terms of polar opposites), there are only two alternatives, just as there are only two alternatives in John 3:18-21, a key section for the understanding of the present passage in 1 John. Anyone who does not ‘remain’ demonstrates (just as the opponents demonstrated by their departure from the community in 2:19) that whatever profession he has made is false and he is not truly a believer.

81 tn The mood of γινώσκετε (ginwskete) may be understood as (1) indicative or (2) imperative. It is better to understand the verb here as indicative, because in 1 John “knowledge” is something one has as a result of being a believer (2:3, 5, 20, 21; 3:16, 19, 24; 4:2, 13; 5:2) rather than something one has to be exhorted about. The change in verbs from οἶδα (oida) to γινώσκω (ginwskw) is another example of Johannine stylistic variation.

82 tn The verb γεννάω (gennaw) presents a translation problem: (1) should the passive be translated archaically “be begotten” (the action of the male parent; see BDAG 193 s.v. 1.a) or (2) should it be translated “be born” (as from a female parent; see BDAG 194 s.v. 2)? A number of modern translations (RSV, NASB, NIV) have opted for the latter, but (3) the imagery expressed in 1 John 3:9 clearly refers to the action of the male parent in procreating a child, as does 5:1 (“everyone who loves the father loves the child fathered by him”), and so a word reflecting the action of the male parent is called for here. The contemporary expression “fathered by” captures this idea.

83 tn The ἵνα (Jina) clause is best understood (1) as epexegetical (or explanatory), clarifying the love (ἀγάπην, agaphn) that the Father has given to believers. Although it is possible (2) to regard the ἵνα as indicating result, the use of ποταπήν (potaphn, “what sort of”) to modify ἀγάπην suggests that the idea of “love” will be qualified further in the following context, and this qualification is provided by the epexegetical ἵνα clause.

84 tn “Indeed” is not in the Greek text but is supplied to indicate emphasis.

85 tc The phrase καὶ ἐσμεν (kai esmen, “and we are”) is omitted in 049 69 Ï. There seems to be no theological reason to omit the words. This has all the earmarks of a classic case of homoioteleuton, for the preceding word (κληθῶμεν, klhqwmen, “we should be called”) ends in -μεν (-men).

tn The indicative mood indicates that the verb ἐσμέν (esmen) at the end of 3:1a is not governed by the ἵνα (Jina) and does not belong with the ἵνα clause, since this would have required a subjunctive. If the verb ἐσμέν were subjunctive, the force of the clause would be “that we should be called children of God, and be (children of God).” With ἐσμέν as indicative, the clause reads “that we should be called children of God, and indeed we are (children of God).”

86 tn Lexically it is clear that this phrase indicates reason, but what is not clear is whether (1) τοῦτο (touto) refers to what follows, (2) to what precedes, or (3) to both (as with the ἐν τοῦτο [en touto] phrases throughout 1 John). Διὰ τοῦτο (dia touto) occurs 15 times in the Gospel of John, and a pattern emerges which is so consistent that it appears to be the key to the usage here. Six times in the Gospel of John (5:16, 18; 8:47; 10:17; 12:18, 39) the phrase refers to what follows, and in each of these instances an epexegetical ὅτι (Joti) clause follows. Nine times in John (1:31, 6:65, 7:21-22, 9:23, 12:27, 13:11, 15:19, 16:15, 19:11) the phrase refers to what precedes, and in none of these instances is it followed by a ὅτι clause. The phrase διὰ τοῦτο is used three times in the Johannine Epistles. In two of these (1 John 4:5, 3 John 10) there is no ὅτι clause following, and so the διὰ τοῦτο should refer to preceding material. Here in 3:1 there is an epexegetical ὅτι clause following, so the διὰ τοῦτο should (unless it is the only exception in the Gospel of John and the Johannine Epistles) refer to what follows, that is, to the ὅτι clause itself. This is indicated by the colon in the translation.

87 sn The pronoun him is a clear reference to Jesus Christ (compare John 1:10).

88 tn The subject of the third person singular passive verb ἐφανερώθη (efanerwqh) in 3:2 is the following clause τί ἐσόμεθα (ti esomeqa): “Beloved, now we are children of God, and what we shall be has not yet been revealed.”

sn What we will be. The opponents have been revealed as antichrists now (2:19). What believers will be is to be revealed later. In light of the mention of the parousia in 2:28, it seems likely that an eschatological revelation of the true character of believers is in view here.

89 tc The Byzantine text, the Syriac Peshitta, the Bohairic Coptic, and one ms of the Sahidic Coptic supply δέ (de) after οἴδαμεν (oidamen) in 3:2b. Additions of coordinating conjunctions such as δέ are predictable variants; this coupled with the poor external credentials suggests that this addition is not likely to be original.

tn The relationship of 3:2b to 3:2a is difficult. It seems best to regard this as a case of asyndeton, although the Byzantine text, the Syriac Peshitta, the Bohairic Coptic, and some mss of the Sahidic Coptic supply δέ (de) after οἴδαμεν (oidamen) in 3:2b. This addition is not likely to be original, but it does reflect a tendency among scribes to see an adversative (contrastive) relationship between 3:2a and 3:2b. This seems to be an accurate understanding of the relationship between the clauses from a logical standpoint: “and what we shall be has not yet been revealed; but we know that whenever he should be revealed, we shall be like him.”

90 tn The first ὅτι (Joti) in 3:2 follows οἴδαμεν (oidamen), a verb of perception, and introduces an indirect discourse clause which specifies the content of what believers know: “that whenever it should be revealed, we shall be like him.”

91 tn In this context ἐάν (ean) does not indicate (1) uncertainty about whether or not what believers will be shall be revealed, but rather (2) uncertainty about the exact time the event will take place. In the Koine period ἐάν can mean “when” or “whenever” and is virtually the equivalent of ὅταν (Jotan; see BDAG 268 s.v. ἐάν 2). It has this meaning in John 12:32 and 14:3. Thus the phrase here should be translated, “we know that whenever it is revealed.”

92 tn Many take the understood subject (“he”) of φανερωθῇ (fanerwqh) as a reference to Jesus Christ, because the same verb was used in 2:28 in reference to the parousia (second advent). In the immediate context, however, a better analogy is ἐφανερώθη τί ἐσόμεθα (efanerwqh ti esomeqa) in 3:2a. There the clause τί ἐσόμεθα is the subject of the passive verb: “what we shall be has not yet been revealed.” From a grammatical standpoint it makes better sense to see the understood subject of φανερωθῇ as “it” rather than “he” and as referring back to the clause τί ἐσόμεθα in 3:2a. In the context this makes good sense: “Beloved, now we are children of God, and what we shall be has not yet been revealed. We know that whenever it shall be revealed, we shall be like him, because we shall see him just as he is.” This emphasizes the contrast in the verse between the present state (“not yet been revealed”) and the future state (“shall be revealed”) of believers, and this will of course take place at the parousia.

93 sn Is revealed. It may well be that the use of the same passive verb here (from φανερόω, fanerow) is intended to suggest to the reader the mention of the parousia (Christ’s second coming) in 2:28.

94 tn The second ὅτι (Joti) in 3:2 is best understood as causal, giving the reason why believers will be like God: “we shall be like him, because we shall see him just as he is.”

95 sn The phrase we will be like him, because we will see him just as he is has been explained two ways: (1) believers will really become more like God than they now are, and will do this through seeing God as he really is; or (2) believers will realize that they are already like God, but did not realize it until they see him as he is. One who sees a strong emphasis on realized eschatology in the Gospel of John and the Epistles might opt for the second view, since it downplays the difference between what believers already are in the present age and what they will become in the next. It seems better, though, in light of the statement in 3:2a that “what we will be has not yet been revealed” and because of the reference to Christ’s parousia in 2:28, that the author intends to distinguish between the present state of believers and what they will be like in the future. Thus the first view is better, that believers really will become more like God than they are now, as a result of seeing him as he really is.

96 tn “Focused” is not in the Greek text, but is supplied for clarity.

97 sn The verb translated purifies (ἁγνίζω, Jagnizw) is somewhat unusual here, since it is not common in the NT, and occurs only once in the Gospel of John (11:55). One might wonder why the author did not use the more common verb ἁγιάζω (Jagiazw), as in John 17:19, where Jesus prays, “On their behalf I consecrate myself, so that they may also be consecrated in the truth.” It is possible that there is some overlap between the two verbs and thus this is another example of Johannine stylistic variation, but the verb ἁγνίζω is used in the context of John 11:55, which describes ritual purification for the Passover, a usage also found in the LXX (Exod 19:10-11, Num 8:21). In this context the use of ἁγνίζω would remind the readers that, if they have the future hope of entering the Father’s presence (“seeing him as he is” in 3:2), they need to prepare themselves by living a purified lifestyle now, just as Jesus lived during his earthly life and ministry (cf. 2:6 again). This serves to rebut the opponents’ claims to moral indifference, that what the Christian does in the present life is of no consequence.

98 tn Grk “that one.” Context indicates a reference to Jesus here. The switch from αὐτός (autos) to ἐκείνος (ekeinos) parallels 1 John 2:6 (see note there). Since purity of life is mentioned in the context, this almost certainly refers to Jesus in his earthly life and ministry as the example believers should imitate (a major theme of the author throughout 1 John).

99 sn 1 John 3:1-3. All of 3:1-3 is a parenthesis within the present section in which the author reflects on what it means to be fathered by God, a subject he has mentioned at the end of 2:29. The sequence of the argument is then resumed by 3:4, which is in opposition to 2:29.

100 sn Everyone who practices sin. In contrast to the πᾶς ὁ (pas Jo) + participle construction in 3:3 (everyone who has, πᾶς ὁ ἔχων [pas Jo ecwn]) which referred to believers, the use of everyone who practices sin (πᾶς ὁ ποιῶν τὴν ἁμαρτίαν [pas Jo poiwn thn Jamartian]) here refers to the author’s opponents. A similar use, referring to the opponents’ denial of the Son, is found in 2:23.

101 sn The Greek word ἀνομία (anomia) is often translated “iniquity” or “lawlessness” and in the LXX refers particularly to transgression of the law of Moses. In Jewish thought the ideas of sin (ἁμαρτία, Jamartia) and lawlessness or iniquity (ἀνομία) were often equated because sin involved a violation of the Mosaic law and hence lawlessness. For example, Ps 51:5 LXX sets the two in parallel, and Paul in Rom 4:7 (quoting Ps 32:1) does the same. For the author, it is not violation of the Mosaic law that results in lawlessness, since he is writing to Christians. The ‘law’ for the author is the law of love, as given by Jesus in the new commandment of John 13:34-35. This is the command to love one’s brother, a major theme of 1 John and the one specific sin in the entire letter which the opponents are charged with (3:17). Since the author has already labeled the opponents “antichrists” in 2:18, it may well be that he sees in their iniquitous behavior of withdrawing from the community and refusing to love the brethren a foreshadowing of the apocalyptic iniquity of the end times (cf. 2 Thess 2:3-8). In Matt 24:11-12 Jesus foretold that false prophets would arise in the end times (cf. 1 John 4:1), that lawlessness (anomia) would increase, and that “the love of many will grow cold” (which would certainly fit the author’s portrait of the opponents here).

102 tn Grk “and.”

103 tn Grk “that one.” The context makes it clear that this is a reference to Jesus, because the reader is told “he was revealed in order that he might take away sins.” The connection with Jesus as the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world in John 1:29 provides additional confirmation that the previous use of ἐκεῖνος (ekeinos) in 3:3b should also be understood as a reference to Jesus, as 2:6 was.

sn In Johannine thought it is Jesus, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29).

104 tn The ἵνα (Jina) clause gives the purpose of Jesus’ self-revelation as he manifested himself to the disciples and to the world during his earthly life and ministry: It was “to take away sins.”

105 tn Here the verb μένω (menw) refers to the permanence of relationship between Jesus and the believer, as in 2:27 and 2:28. It is clear that Jesus is the referent of the phrase ἐν αὐτῷ (en autw) because he is the subject of the discussion in v. 5.

106 tn The interpretive problem raised by the use of the present tense ἁμαρτάνει (Jamartanei) in this verse (and ποιεῖ [poiei] in 3:9 as well) is that (a) it appears to teach a sinless state of perfection for the true Christian, and (b) it appears to contradict the author’s own statements in 2:1-2 where he acknowledged that Christians do indeed sin. (1) One widely used method of reconciling the acknowledgment in 2:1-2 that Christians do sin with the statements in 3:6 and 3:9 that they do not is expressed by M. Zerwick (Biblical Greek §251). He understands the aorist to mean “commit sin in the concrete, commit some sin or other” while the present means “be a sinner, as a characteristic «state».” N. Turner (Grammatical Insights, 151) argues essentially the same as Zerwick, stating that the present tense ἁμαρτάνει is stative (be a sinner) while the aorist is ingressive (begin to be a sinner, as the initial step of committing this or that sin). Similar interpretations can be found in a number of grammatical works and commentaries. (2) Others, however, have questioned the view that the distinction in tenses alone can convey a “habitual” meaning without further contextual clarification, including C. H. Dodd (The Johannine Epistles [MNTC], 79) and Z. C. Hodges (“1 John,” BKCNT, 894). B. Fanning (Verbal Aspect [OTM], 215-17) has concluded that the habitual meaning for the present tense cannot be ruled out, because there are clear instances of habitual presents in the NT where other clarifying words are not present and the habitual sense is derived from the context alone. This means that from a grammatical standpoint alone, the habitual present cannot be ruled out in 1 John 3:6 and 9. It is still true, however, that it would have been much clearer if the author had reinforced the habitual sense with clarifying words or phrases in 1 John 3:6 and 9 if that is what he had intended. Dodd’s point, that reliance on the distinction in tenses alone is quite a subtle way of communicating such a vital point in the author’s argument, is still valid. It may also be added that the author of 1 John has demonstrated a propensity for alternating between present and aorist tenses for purely stylistic reasons (see 2:12).

sn Does not sin. It is best to view the distinction between “everyone who practices sin” in 3:4 and “everyone who resides in him” in 3:6 as absolute and sharply in contrast. The author is here making a clear distinction between the opponents, who as moral indifferentists downplay the significance of sin in the life of the Christian, and the readers, who as true Christians recognize the significance of sin because Jesus came to take it away (3:5) and to destroy it as a work of the devil (3:8). This argument is developed more fully by S. Kubo (“I John 3:9: Absolute or Habitual?” AUSS 7 [1969]: 47-56), who takes the opponents as Gnostics who define sin as ignorance. The opponents were probably not adherents of fully developed gnosticism, but Kubo is right that the distinction between their position and that of the true Christian is intentionally portrayed by the author here as a sharp antithesis. This explanation still has to deal with the contradiction between 2:1-2 and 3:6-9, but this does not present an insuperable difficulty. The author of 1 John has repeatedly demonstrated a tendency to present his ideas antithetically, in “either/or” terms, in order to bring out for the readers the drastic contrast between themselves as true believers and the opponents as false believers. In 2:1-2 the author can acknowledge the possibility that a true Christian might on occasion sin, because in this context he wishes to reassure his readers that the statements he has made about the opponents in the preceding context do not apply to them. But in 3:4-10, his concern is to bring out the absolute difference between the opponents and his readers, so he speaks in theoretical rather than practical terms which do not discuss the possible occasional exception, because to do so would weaken his argument.

107 sn The one who practices righteousness. The participle (ὁ ποιῶν, Jo poiwn) + noun constructions in 3:7 and in 3:8a, the first positive and the second negative, serve to emphasize the contrast between the true Christians (“the one who practices righteousness”) and the opponents (“the one who practices sin,” 3:8a).

108 tn Grk “that one.” Context indicates a reference to Jesus here. As with the previous uses of ἐκεῖνος (ekeinos) by the author of 1 John (2:6; 3:3, 5), this one refers to Jesus, as the reference to “the Son of God” in the following verse (3:8) makes clear.

109 sn The person who practices sin is of the devil. 1 John 3:10 and John 8:44 might be cited as parallels, because these speak of opponents as the devil’s “children.” However, it is significant that the author of 1 John never speaks of the opponents as “fathered by the devil” in the same sense as Christians are “fathered by God” (3:9). A concept of evildoers as “fathered” by the devil in the same sense as Christians are fathered by God would imply a much more fully developed Gnosticism with its dualistic approach to humanity. The author of 1 John carefully avoids saying that the opponents are “fathered by the devil,” because in Johannine theology not to be fathered by God is to be fathered only by the flesh (John 1:13). This is a significant piece of evidence that 1 John predates the more fully developed Gnosticism of the 2nd century. What the author does say is that the opponents (“the one who practices sin”) are from the devil, in the sense that they belong to him and have given him their allegiance.

110 tn The present tense verb has been translated as an extending-from-past present (a present of past action still in progress). See ExSyn 520.

111 tn Here εἰς τοῦτο (eis touto) states the purpose for the revelation of God’s Son. However, the phrase offers the same difficulty as all the ἐν τούτῳ (en toutw) phrases in 1 John: Does it refer to what precedes or to what follows? By analogy with the ἐν τούτῳ construction it is probable that the phrase εἰς τοῦτο here refers to what follows: There is a ἵνα (Jina) clause following which appears to be related to the εἰς τοῦτο, and in fact is resumptive (that is, it restates the idea of “purpose” already expressed by the εἰς τοῦτο). Thus the meaning is: “For this purpose the Son of God was revealed: to destroy the works of the devil.”

112 tn In the Gospel of John λύσῃ (lush) is used both literally and figuratively. In John 1:27 it refers to a literal loosing of one’s sandal-thong, and in John 2:19 to a destruction of Jesus’ physical body which was understood by the hearers to refer to physical destruction of the Jerusalem temple. In John 5:18 it refers to the breaking of the Sabbath, in John 7:23 to the breaking of the law of Moses, and in John 10:35 to the breaking of the scriptures. The verb is again used literally in John 11:44 at the resurrection of Lazarus when Jesus commands that he be released from the graveclothes with which he was bound. Here in 1 John 3:8 the verb means, with reference to “the works of the devil,” to “destroy, bring to an end, abolish.” See BDAG 607 s.v. λύω 4 and F. Büchsel, TDNT 4:336.

113 tn The imagery expressed here (σπέρμα αὐτοῦ, sperma autou, “his seed”) clearly refers to the action of the male parent in procreation, and so “fathered” is the best choice for translating γεννάω (gennaw; see 2:29).

114 tn The problem of the present tense of ποιεῖ (poiei) here is exactly that of the present tense of ἁμαρτάνει (Jamartanei) in 3:6. Here in 3:9 the distinction is sharply drawn between “the one who practices sin” in 3:8, who is of the devil, and “the one who is fathered by God” in 3:9, who “does not practice sin.” See S. Kubo (“I John 3:9: Absolute or Habitual?” AUSS 7 [1969]: 47-56) for a fuller discussion of the author’s argument as based on a sharp antithesis between the recipients (true Christians) and the opponents (heretics).

sn Does not practice sin. Again, as in 3:6, the author is making a clear distinction between the opponents, who as moral indifferentists downplay the significance of sin in the life of the Christian, and the recipients, who as true Christians recognize the significance of sin because Jesus came to take it away (3:5) and to destroy it as a work of the devil (3:8). This explanation still has to deal with the apparent contradiction between the author’s statements in 2:1-2 and those here in 3:9, but this is best explained in terms of the author’s tendency to present issues in “either/or” terms to bring out the drastic contrast between his readers, whom he regards as true believers, and the opponents, whom he regards as false. In 2:1-2 the author can acknowledge the possibility that a true Christian might on occasion sin, because in this context he wishes to reassure his readers that the statements he has made about the opponents in the preceding context do not apply to them. But in 3:4-10, his concern is to bring out the absolute difference between the opponents and his readers, so he speaks in theoretical terms which do not discuss the possible occasional exception, because to do so would weaken his argument.

115 tn Both the first and second ὅτι (Joti) in 3:9 are causal. The first gives the reason why the person who is begotten by God does not practice sin (“because his seed resides in him).” The second gives the reason why the person who is begotten by God is not able to sin (“because he has been begotten by God).”

116 tn Grk “his”; the referent (God) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

117 tn The closest meaning for σπέρμα (sperma) in this context is “male generating seed” (cf. BDAG 937 s.v. 1.b), although this is a figurative rather than a literal sense. Such imagery is bold and has seemed crudely anthropomorphic to some interpreters, but it poses no more difficulty than the image of God as a male parent fathering Christians that appears in John 1:13 and is behind the use of γεννάω (gennaw) with reference to Christians in 1 John 2:29; 3:9; 4:7; 5:1, 4, and 18.

118 tn “Thus” is not in the Greek text, but is supplied to bring out the resultative force of the clause in English.

119 tn Once again there is the problem (by now familiar to the interpreter of 1 John) of determining whether the phrase ἐν τούτῳ (en toutw) in 3:10 refers (1) to what precedes or (2) to what follows. If it refers to what precedes, it serves to conclude the unit which began with 2:28. The remainder of 3:10 would then form a transition to the following material (another “hinge” passage). On the other hand, if the phrase ἐν τούτῳ refers to what follows, then the entirety of 3:10 is a summary statement at the end of 2:28-3:10 which recapitulates the section’s major theme (conduct is the clue to paternity), and provides at the same time a transition to the theme of loving one’s brother which will dominate the following section (3:11-24). Although R. E. Brown (Epistles of John [AB], 416) prefers to see the phrase as referring to the preceding material, it makes better sense to refer it to the remainder of 3:10 that follows, and see the entirety of 3:10 as both a summary of the theme of the preceding section 2:28-3:10 and a transition to the following section 3:11-24.

120 tn See note on the term “fellow Christian” in 2:9.

sn Does not love his fellow Christian. The theme of loving one’s fellow Christian appears in the final clause of 3:10 because it provides the transition to the second major section of 1 John, 3:11-5:12, and specifically to the following section 3:11-24. The theme of love will dominate the second major section of the letter (see 1 John 4:8).



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