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1 John 5:1

Context
5:1 Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ 1  has been fathered 2  by God, and everyone who loves the father 3  loves the child fathered by him. 4 

1 John 5:11-13

Context
5:11 And this is the testimony: God 5  has given us eternal life, 6  and this life is in his Son. 5:12 The one who has the Son 7  has this 8  eternal 9  life; the one who does not have the Son of God does not have this 10  eternal 11  life.

Assurance of Eternal Life

5:13 I have written these things 12  to you who believe 13  in the name of the Son of God so that 14  you may know that you have eternal life.

1 tn Or “the Messiah.”

2 tn The verb γεννάω (gennaw) here means to be fathered by God and thus a child of God. The imagery in 1 John is that of the male parent who fathers children. See the note on “fathered” in 2:29 for further discussion of this imagery.

3 tc ‡ Most witnesses ([א] A P 1739 Ï sy) have καί (kai, “also”) before the article τόν (ton). But the external evidence for the shorter reading is significant (B Ψ 048vid 33 pc sa), and the conjunction looks to be a motivated reading in which scribes emulated the wording of 4:21 (ἀγαπᾷ καὶ τόν, agapa kai ton). NA27 places the conjunction in brackets, indicating doubts as to its authenticity.

4 sn Also loves the child fathered by him. Is the meaning of 5:1b a general observation or a specific statement about God and Christians? There are three ways in which the second half of 5:1 has been understood: (1) as a general statement, proverbial in nature, applying to any parent: “everyone who loves the father also loves the child fathered by him.” (2) This has also been understood as a statement that is particularly true of one’s own parent: “everyone who loves his own father also loves the (other) children fathered by him (i.e., one’s own brothers and sisters).” (3) This could be understood as a statement which refers particularly to God, in light of the context (5:1a): “everyone who loves God who fathered Christians also loves the Christians who are fathered by God.” Without doubt options (2) and (3) are implications of the statement in its present context, but it seems most probable that the meaning of the statement is more general and proverbial in nature (option 1). This is likely because of the way in which it is introduced by the author with πᾶς ὁ (pas Jo) + participle. The author could have been more explicit and said something like, “everyone who loves God also loves God’s children” had he intended option (3) without ambiguity. Yet that, in context, is the ultimate application of the statement, because it ultimately refers to the true Christian who, because he loves God, also loves the brethren, those who are God’s offspring. This is the opposite of 4:20, where the author asserted that the opponents, who profess to love God but do not love the brethren, cannot really love God because they do not love the brethren.

5 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.”

6 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.

7 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.

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

9 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.

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

11 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.

12 tn Theoretically the pronoun ταῦτα (tauta) could refer (1) to what precedes or (2) to what follows. Since it is followed by a ἵνα (Jina) clause which gives the purpose for the writing, and a new subject is introduced in 5:14 (ἡ παρρησία, Jh parrhsia), it seems almost certain that the ταῦτα in 5:13 refers to preceding material. Even at this, some would limit the referent of ταῦτα (1) only to 5:1-12 or even 5:12, but more likely ταῦτα in 5:13 refers (2) to the entirety of the letter, for two reasons: (a) based on the structural analogy with the Gospel of John, where the conclusion refers to all that has preceded, it is probable that the conclusion to 1 John refers likewise to all that has preceded; and (b) the statement ταῦτα ἔγραψα ὑμῖν (tauta egraya Jumin) in 5:13 forms an inclusion with the statement καὶ ταῦτα γράφομεν ἡμεῖς (kai tauta grafomen Jhmei") at the end of the prologue (1:4) and encompasses the entire body of the letter.

13 tn The dative participle πιστεύουσιν (pisteuousin) in 5:13 is in simple apposition to the indirect object of ἔγραψα (egraya), ὑμῖν (Jumin), and could be translated, “These things I have written to you, namely, to the ones who believe in the name of the Son of God, in order that you may know.” There is an exact parallel to this structure in John 1:12, where the pronoun is αὐτοῖς (autois) and the participle is τοῖς πιστεύουσιν (toi" pisteuousin) as here.

14 tn This ἵνα (Jina) introduces a clause giving the author’s purpose for writing “these things” (ταῦτα, tauta), which refers to the entirety of the preceding material. The two other Johannine statements about writing, 1 John 1:4 and John 20:31, are both followed by purpose clauses introduced by ἵνα, as here.



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