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1 John 4:14

4:14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son to be the Savior 1  of the world.

1 John 5:6-12

5:6 Jesus Christ is the one who came by water and blood – not by the water only, but by the water and the blood. And the Spirit is the one who testifies, because 2  the Spirit is the truth. 5:7 For 3  there are three that testify, 4  5:8 the Spirit and the water and the blood, and these three are in agreement.

5:9 If we accept the testimony of men, the testimony of God is greater, because 5  this 6  is the testimony of God that 7  he has testified concerning his Son. 5:10 (The one who believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself; the one who does not believe God has made him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has testified concerning his Son.) 8  5:11 And this is the testimony: God 9  has given us eternal life, 10  and this life is in his Son. 5:12 The one who has the Son 11  has this 12  eternal 13  life; the one who does not have the Son of God does not have this 14  eternal 15  life.

1 tn Because σωτῆρα (swthra) is the object complement of υἱόν (Juion) in a double accusative construction in 4:14, there is an understood equative verb joining the two, with the resultant meaning “the Father sent the Son to be the Savior of the world.”

2 tn This ὅτι (Joti) is best understood (1) as causal. Some have taken it (2) as declarative, giving the content of the Spirit’s testimony: “and the Spirit is the One who testifies that the Spirit is the truth.” This is certainly possible, since a ὅτι clause following the cognate verb μαρτυρέω (marturevw) often gives the content of the testimony (cf. John 1:34; 3:28; 4:39, 44). But in the Gospel of John the Spirit never bears witness on his own behalf, but always on behalf of Jesus (John 15:26, 16:13). There are, in fact, some instances in the Gospel of John where a ὅτι clause following μαρτυρέω is causal (8:14, 15:27), and that is more likely here: “and the Spirit is the One who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth.”

3 tn A second causal ὅτι (Joti) clause (after the one at the end of the preceding verse) is somewhat awkward, especially since the reasons offered in each are somewhat different. The content of the second ὅτι clause (the one in question here) goes somewhat beyond the content of the first. The first ὅτι clause, the one at the end of 5:6, stated the reason why the Spirit is the witness: because the Spirit is the truth. The second ὅτι clause, here, states that there are three witnesses, of which the Spirit is one. It is probably best, therefore, to understand this second ὅτι as indicating a somewhat looser connection than the first, not strictly causal but inferential in sense (the English translation “for” captures this inferential sense). See BDF §456.1 for a discussion of this ‘looser’ use of ὅτι.

4 tc Before τὸ πνεῦμα καὶ τὸ ὕδωρ καὶ τὸ αἷμα (to pneuma kai to {udwr kai to |aima), the Textus Receptus (TR) reads ἐν τῷ οὐρανῷ, ὁ πατήρ, ὁ λόγος, καὶ τὸ ἅγιον πνεῦμα, καὶ οὗτοι οἱ τρεῖς ἕν εἰσι. 5:8 καὶ τρεῖς εἰσιν οἱ μαρτυροῦντες ἐν τῇ γῇ (“in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit, and these three are one. 5:8 And there are three that testify on earth”). This reading, the infamous Comma Johanneum, has been known in the English-speaking world through the King James translation. However, the evidence – both external and internal – is decidedly against its authenticity. For a detailed discussion, see TCGNT 647-49. Our discussion will briefly address the external evidence. This longer reading is found only in nine late mss, four of which have the words in a marginal note. Most of these mss (221 2318 [18th century] {2473 [dated 1634]} and [with minor variations] 61 88 429 629 636 918) originate from the 16th century; the earliest ms, codex 221 (10th century) includes the reading in a marginal note, added sometime after the original composition. The oldest ms with the Comma in its text is from the 14th century (629), but the wording here departs from all the other mss in several places. The next oldest mss on behalf of the Comma, 88 (12th century) 429 (14th) 636 (15th), also have the reading only as a marginal note (v.l.). The remaining mss are from the 16th to 18th centuries. Thus, there is no sure evidence of this reading in any Greek ms until the 14th century (629), and that ms deviates from all others in its wording; the wording that matches what is found in the TR was apparently composed after Erasmus’ Greek NT was published in 1516. Indeed, the Comma appears in no Greek witness of any kind (either ms, patristic, or Greek translation of some other version) until a.d. 1215 (in a Greek translation of the Acts of the Lateran Council, a work originally written in Latin). This is all the more significant since many a Greek Father would have loved such a reading, for it so succinctly affirms the doctrine of the Trinity. The reading seems to have arisen in a 4th century Latin homily in which the text was allegorized to refer to members of the Trinity. From there, it made its way into copies of the Latin Vulgate, the text used by the Roman Catholic Church. The Trinitarian formula (known as the Comma Johanneum) made its way into the third edition of Erasmus’ Greek NT (1522) because of pressure from the Catholic Church. After his first edition appeared, there arose such a furor over the absence of the Comma that Erasmus needed to defend himself. He argued that he did not put in the Comma because he found no Greek mss that included it. Once one was produced (codex 61, written in ca. 1520), Erasmus apparently felt obliged to include the reading. He became aware of this ms sometime between May of 1520 and September of 1521. In his annotations to his third edition he does not protest the rendering now in his text, as though it were made to order; but he does defend himself from the charge of indolence, noting that he had taken care to find whatever mss he could for the production of his text. In the final analysis, Erasmus probably altered the text because of politico-theologico-economic concerns: He did not want his reputation ruined, nor his Novum Instrumentum to go unsold. Modern advocates of the TR and KJV generally argue for the inclusion of the Comma Johanneum on the basis of heretical motivation by scribes who did not include it. But these same scribes elsewhere include thoroughly orthodox readings – even in places where the TR/Byzantine mss lack them. Further, these advocates argue theologically from the position of divine preservation: Since this verse is in the TR, it must be original. (Of course, this approach is circular, presupposing as it does that the TR = the original text.) In reality, the issue is history, not heresy: How can one argue that the Comma Johanneum goes back to the original text yet does not appear until the 14th century in any Greek mss (and that form is significantly different from what is printed in the TR; the wording of the TR is not found in any Greek mss until the 16th century)? Such a stance does not do justice to the gospel: Faith must be rooted in history. Significantly, the German translation of Luther was based on Erasmus’ second edition (1519) and lacked the Comma. But the KJV translators, basing their work principally on Theodore Beza’s 10th edition of the Greek NT (1598), a work which itself was fundamentally based on Erasmus’ third and later editions (and Stephanus’ editions), popularized the Comma for the English-speaking world. Thus, the Comma Johanneum has been a battleground for English-speaking Christians more than for others.

5 tn This ὅτι (Joti) almost certainly introduces a causal clause, giving the reason why the “testimony of God” is greater than the “testimony of men”: “because this is God’s testimony that he has testified concerning his Son.”

6 tn The problem with αὕτη (jJauth) in 5:9 lies in determining whether it refers (1) to what precedes or (2) to what follows. A few interpreters would see this as referring to the preceding verses (5:7-8), but the analogy with the author’s other uses of αὕτη (1:5; 3:11, 23) suggests a reference to what follows. In all of the other instances of αὕτη ἐστιν ({auth estin, 1:5; 3:11, 23) the phrase is followed by an epexegetical (explanatory) clause giving the referent (ὅτι [Joti] in 1:5, ἵνα [Jina] in 3:11 and 23). The ὅτι clause which follows the αὕτη in 5:9 does not explain the testimony, but should be understood as an adjectival relative clause which qualifies the testimony further. The ὅτι clause which explains the testimony of 5:9 (to which the αὕτη in 5:9 refers) is found in 5:11, where the phrase αὕτη ἐστιν is repeated. Thus the second use of αὕτη ἐστιν in 5:11 is resumptive, and the ὅτι clause which follows the αὕτη in 5:11 is the epexegetical (explanatory) clause which explains both it and the αὕτη in 5:9 which it resumes.

7 tn The second ὅτι (Joti) in 5:9 may be understood in three different ways. (1) It may be causal, in which case it gives the reason why the testimony just mentioned is God’s testimony: “because he has testified concerning his Son.” This is extremely awkward because of the preceding ὅτι clause which is almost certainly causal (although the second ὅτι could perhaps be resumptive in force, continuing the first). (2) The second ὅτι could be understood as epexegetical (explanatory), in which case it explains what the testimony of God mentioned in the preceding clause consists of: “because this is the testimony of God, [namely,] that he has testified concerning his Son.” This is much smoother grammatically, but encounters the logical problem that “the testimony of God” is defined in 5:11 (“And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life”) and the two definitions of what the testimony of God consists of are not identical (some would say that they are not even close). Thus (3) the smoothest way to understand the second ὅτι logically is to read it as a relative pronoun: “because this is the testimony of God that he has testified concerning his Son.” In this case it is exactly parallel to the relative clause which occurs in 5:10b: “because he has not believed the testimony that (ἣν, Jhn) God has testified concerning his Son.” (There is in fact a textual problem with the second ὅτι in 5:9: The Byzantine tradition, along with ms P, reads a relative pronoun [ἣν] in place of the second ὅτι in 5:9 identical to the relative pronoun in 5:10b. This represents an obvious effort on the part of scribes to smooth out the reading of the text.) In an effort to derive a similar sense from the second ὅτι in 5:9 it has been suggested that the conjunction ὅτι should be read as an indefinite relative pronoun ὅτι (sometimes written ὅ τι). The problem with this suggestion is the use of the neuter relative pronoun to refer to a feminine antecedent (ἡ μαρτυρία, Jh marturia). It is not without precedent for a neuter relative pronoun to refer to an antecedent of differing gender, especially as some forms tended to become fixed in usage and were used without regard to agreement. But in this particular context it is difficult to see why the author would use a neuter indefinite relative pronoun here in 5:9b and then use the normal feminine relative pronoun (ἣν) in the next verse. (Perhaps this strains at the limits of even the notorious Johannine preference for stylistic variation, although it is impossible to say what the author might or might not have been capable of doing.) Because of the simplicity and logical smoothness which results from reading ὅτι as equivalent to a relative pronoun, the third option is preferred, although it is not without its difficulties (as are all three options).

8 sn This verse is a parenthesis in John’s argument.

9 tn The ὅτι (Joti) clause in 5:11 is epexegetical (explanatory) to the phrase καὶ αὕτη ἐστίν (kai Jauth estin) at the beginning of the verse and gives the content of the testimony for the first time: “And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.”

10 sn In understanding how “God’s testimony” (added to the three witnesses of 5:8) can consist of eternal life it is important to remember the debate between the author and the opponents. It is not the reality of eternal life (whether it exists at all or not) that is being debated here, but rather which side in the debate (the author and his readers or the opponents) possesses it (this is a key point). The letter began with a testimony that “the eternal life” has been revealed (1:2), and it is consummated here with the reception or acknowledgment of that eternal life as the final testimony. This testimony (which is God’s testimony) consists in eternal life itself, which the author and the readers possess, but the opponents do not. This, for the author, constitutes the final apologetic in his case against the opponents.

11 sn The one who has the Son. The expression “to have the Son” in 5:12 means to “possess” him in the sense that he is present in the individual’s life (see 1 John 2:23 for the use of the Greek verb “to have” to indicate possession of a divine reality). From the parallel statement in 5:10a it is clear that believing in the Son and thus having God’s testimony in one’s self is the same as “having” the Son here in 5:12a. This is essentially identical to John 3:16: “that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” In contrast, the negative statement in 5:12b reflects the author’s evaluation of the opponents: “the one who does not have the Son does not have (eternal) life.” The opponents, in spite of their claims to know God, do not possess (nor have they at any time possessed, cf. 2:19) eternal life.

12 tn “This” is a translation of the Greek anaphoric article.

13 tn The word “eternal” is not in the Greek text but is supplied for clarity, since the anaphoric article in Greek points back to the previous mention of eternal life in 5:11.

14 tn “This” is a translation of the Greek anaphoric article.

15 tn The word “eternal” is not in the Greek text but is supplied for clarity, since the anaphoric article in Greek points back to the previous mention of eternal life in 5:11.

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