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1 John 1:1-3

Context
The Prologue to the Letter

1:1 This is what we proclaim to you: 1  what was from the beginning, 2  what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and our hands have touched (concerning the word of life – 1:2 and the life was revealed, and we have seen and testify and announce 3  to you the eternal life that was with the Father and was revealed to us). 4  1:3 What we have seen and heard we announce 5  to you too, so that 6  you may have fellowship 7  with us (and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ).

1 tn The phrase “This is what we proclaim to you” is not in the Greek text, but has been supplied to clarify the English. The main verb which governs all of these relative clauses is ἀπαγγέλλομεν (apangellomen) in v. 3. This is important for the proper understanding of the relative clauses in v. 1, because the main verb ἀπαγγέλλομεν in v. 3 makes it clear that all of the relative clauses in vv. 1 and 3 are the objects of the author’s proclamation to the readers rather than the subjects. To indicate this the phrase “This is what we proclaim to you” has been supplied at the beginning of v. 1.

2 tn Grk “That which was from the beginning, that which we have heard…”

3 tn Or “proclaim.”

4 tn In the Greek text the prologue to 1 John (vv. 1-4) makes up a single sentence. This is awkward in Greek, and a literal translation produces almost impossible English. For this reason the present translation places a period at the end of v. 2 and another at the end of v. 3. The material in parentheses in v. 1 begins the first of three parenthetical interruptions in the grammatical sequence of the prologue (the second is the entirety of v. 2 and the third is the latter part of v. 3). This is because of the awkwardness of connecting the prepositional phrase with what precedes, an awkwardness not immediately obvious in most English translations: “what we beheld and our hands handled concerning the word of life…” As J. Bonsirven (Épîtres de Saint Jean [CNT], 67) noted, while one may hear about the word of life, it is more difficult to see about the word of life, and impossible to feel with one’s hands about the word of life. Rather than being the object of any of the verbs in v. 1, the prepositional phrase at the end of v. 1 (“concerning the word of life…”) is more likely a parenthetical clarification intended to specify the subject of the eyewitness testimony which the verbs in v. 1 describe. A parallel for such parenthetical explanation may be found in John 1:12 (τοῖς πιστεύουσιν εἰς τὸ ὄνομα αὐτοῦ, toi" pisteuousin ei" to onoma autou).

5 tn Or “proclaim.”

6 tn The ἵνα (Jina) here indicates purpose.

7 tn Or “communion”; or “association” (a reality shared in common, so in this case, “genuine association”). This term also occurs in vv. 6, 7.



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