Internet Verse Search Commentaries Word Analysis ITL - draft

1 John 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.


Mt 3:16,17; Mt 17:5; Joh 3:32,33; Joh 5:31-36,39; Joh 8:17-19; Joh 10:38; Ac 5:32; Ac 17:31; Heb 2:4; Heb 6:18; 1Jo 5:10

NET © Notes

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.”

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.

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).

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