1:9 But if we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous, 1 forgiving 2 us our sins and cleansing 3 us from all unrighteousness.
1 John 2:2Context
2:2 and he himself is the atoning sacrifice 4 for our sins, and not only for our sins but also for the whole world. 5
1 John 2:29Context
2:29 If you know that he is righteous, you also know 6 that everyone who practices righteousness has been fathered 7 by him.
1 tn Or “just.”
2 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.
3 tn Or “purifying.”
4 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.”
5 tn Many translations supply an understood repetition of the word “sins” here, thus: “but also for the sins of the whole world.”
6 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.
7 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.