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1 John 5:13

Context
Assurance of Eternal Life

5:13 I have written these things 1  to you who believe 2  in the name of the Son of God so that 3  you may know that you have eternal life.

1 John 5:18

Context

5:18 We know that everyone fathered 4  by God does not sin, but God 5  protects 6  the one he has fathered, and the evil one cannot touch him.

1 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.

2 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.

3 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.

4 tn The concept represented by 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 2:29).

5 tn Grk “he”; see the note on the following word “protects.”

6 tn The meaning of the phrase ὁ γεννηθεὶς ἐκ τοῦ θεοῦ τηρεῖ αὐτόν (Jo gennhqeis ek tou qeou threi auton) in 5:18 is extraordinarily difficult. Again the author’s capacity for making obscure statements results in several possible meanings for this phrase: (1) “The fathering by God protects him [the Christian].” Here a textual variant for ὁ γεννηθείς (ἡ γέννησις, Jh gennhsi") has suggested to some that the passive participle should be understood as a noun (“fathering” or perhaps “birth”), but the ms evidence is extremely slight (1505 1852 2138 latt [syh] bo). This almost certainly represents a scribal attempt to clarify an obscure phrase. (2) “The One fathered by God [Jesus] protects him [the Christian].” This is a popular interpretation, and is certainly possible grammatically. Yet the introduction of a reference to Jesus in this context is sudden; to be unambiguous the author could have mentioned the “Son of God” here, or used the pronoun ἐκεῖνος (ekeinos) as a reference to Jesus as he consistently does elsewhere in 1 John. This interpretation, while possible, seems in context highly unlikely. (3) “The one fathered by God [the Christian] protects himself.” Again a textual problem is behind this alternative, since a number of mss (א Ac P Ψ 33 1739 Ï) supply the reflexive pronoun ἑαυτόν (Jeauton) in place of αὐτόν in 5:18. On the basis of the external evidence this has a good possibility of being the original reading, but internal evidence favors αὐτόν as the more difficult reading, since ἑαυτόν may be explained as a scribal attempt at grammatical smoothness. From a logical standpoint, however, it is difficult to make much more sense out of ἑαυτόν; to say what “the Christian protects himself” means in the context is far from clear. (4) “The one fathered by God [the Christian] holds on to him [God].” This results in further awkwardness, because the third person pronoun (αὐτοῦ, autou) in the following clause must refer to the Christian, not God. Furthermore, although τηρέω (threw) can mean “hold on to” (BDAG 1002 s.v. 2.c), this is not a common meaning for the verb in Johannine usage, occurring elsewhere only in Rev 3:3. (5) “The one fathered by God [the Christian], he [God] protects him [the Christian].” This involves a pendant nominative construction (ὁ γεννηθεὶς ἐκ τοῦ θεοῦ) where a description of something within the clause is placed in the nominative case and moved forward ahead of the clause for emphatic reasons. This may be influenced by Semitic style; such a construction is also present in John 17:2 (“in order that everyone whom You have given to him, he may give to them eternal life”). This view is defended by K. Beyer (Semitische Syntax im Neuen Testament [SUNT], 1:216ff.) and appears to be the most probable in terms both of syntax and of sense. It makes God the protector of the Christian (rather than the Christian himself), which fits the context much better, and there is precedent in Johannine literature for such syntactical structure.



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