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1 John 5:9-13

Context

5:9 If we accept the testimony of men, the testimony of God is greater, because 1  this 2  is the testimony of God that 3  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.) 4  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 John 5:20

Context
5:20 And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us insight to know 15  him who is true, and we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. This one 16  is the true God and eternal life.

1 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.”

2 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.

3 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).

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

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.

15 tn The ἵνα (Jina) introduces a purpose clause which gives the purpose of the preceding affirmation: “we know that the Son of God has come and has given us insight (so that we may) know him who is true.”

16 sn The pronoun This one (οὗτος, Joutos) refers to a person, but it is far from clear whether it should be understood as a reference (1) to God the Father or (2) to Jesus Christ. R. E. Brown (Epistles of John [AB], 625) comments, “I John, which began with an example of stunning grammatical obscurity in the prologue, continues to the end to offer us examples of unclear grammar.” The nearest previous antecedent is Jesus Christ, immediately preceding, but on some occasions when this has been true the pronoun still refers to God (see 1 John 2:3). The first predicate which follows This one in 5:20, the true God, is a description of God the Father used by Jesus in John 17:3, and was used in the preceding clause of the present verse to refer to God the Father (him who is true). Yet the second predicate of This one in 5:20, eternal life, appears to refer to Jesus, because although the Father possesses “life” (John 5:26, 6:57) just as Jesus does (John 1:4, 6:57, 1 John 5:11), “life” is never predicated of the Father elsewhere, while it is predicated of Jesus in John 11:25 and 14:6 (a self-predication by Jesus). If This one in 5:20 is understood as referring to Jesus, it forms an inclusion with the prologue, which introduced the reader to “the eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us.” Thus it appears best to understand the pronoun This one in 5:20 as a reference to Jesus Christ. The christological affirmation which results is striking, but certainly not beyond the capabilities of the author (see John 1:1 and 20:28): This One [Jesus Christ] is the true God and eternal life.



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