3:2 Dear friends, we are God’s children now, and what we will be 1 has not yet been revealed. We 2 know that 3 whenever 4 it 5 is revealed 6 we will be like him, because 7 we will see him just as he is. 8
1 John 3:14Context
3:14 We know that 9 we have crossed over 10 from death to life 11 because 12 we love our fellow Christians. 13 The one who does not love remains in death. 14
1 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.
2 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
3 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.”
4 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.”
5 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.
8 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.
9 tn The first ὅτι (Joti) clause, following a verb of perception, introduces an indirect discourse clause giving the content of what the readers are assumed to know: that they have passed over from death to life, that is, that they possess eternal life. The author gives a similar reassurance to his readers in 5:13. Alternation between the verbs οἶδα (oida) and γινώσκω (ginwskw) in 1 John is probably a matter of stylistic variation (of which the writer is extremely fond) rather than indicative of a subtle difference in meaning.
10 tn This verb essentially means “to transfer from one place to another, go/pass over,” according to BDAG 638 s.v. μεταβαίνω 1.
sn In John 13:1 the same Greek verb translated crossed over here is used to refer to Jesus’ departure from this world as he returns to the Father. Here it is used figuratively to refer to the believer’s transfer from the state of (spiritual) death to the state of (spiritual) life. This use is paralleled in John 5:24, where Jesus states, “the person who hears my message and believes the one who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned, but has crossed over (same verb) from death to life.”
12 tn The second ὅτι (Joti) clause in 3:14 is also related to οἴδαμεν (oidamen), but in this case the ὅτι is causal, giving the reason why the readers know that they have passed from death to life: because they love the brothers.
sn Because we love our fellow Christians. This echoes Jesus’ words in John 13:35, where he states, “by this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” As in 1 John 2:3 and 5, obedience becomes the basis for assurance. But the relationship between loving one’s fellow Christian (Grk “brother”) and possessing eternal life goes beyond a proof or external test. Our love for our fellow Christians is in fact a form of God’s love for us because as far as the author of 1 John is concerned, all love comes from God (cf. 4:7-11). Therefore he can add the next line of 3:14, “the one who does not love remains in death.” Why? Because such a person does not have God’s love residing in them at all. Rather, this person can be described as a “murderer” – as the following verse goes on to do. Note also that the author’s description here of the person who does not love as remaining in death is another way of describing a person who remains in darkness, which is a description of unbelievers in John 12:46. This provides further confirmation of the spiritual state of the author’s opponents in 2:9-11.
14 sn The one who does not love remains in death. Again, the author has the secessionist opponents in view. Their refusal to show love for the brothers demonstrates that they have not made the transition from (spiritual) death to (spiritual) life, but instead have remained in a state of (spiritual) death.