Saturday, June 25, 2016

Comments on 1 John 5:20 (Omar)


You asked about the prepositions used in 1 John 5:20, and why NWT renders the verse the way it does. The verse reads in WH: οἴδαμεν δὲ ὅτι ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ θεοῦ ἥκει, καὶ δέδωκεν ἡμῖν διάνοιαν ἵνα γινώσκομεν τὸν ἀληθινόν· καί ἐσμεν ἐν τῷ ἀληθινῷ, ἐν τῷ υἱῷ αὐτοῦ Ἰησοῦ Χριστῷ. οὗτός ἐστιν ὁ ἀληθινὸς θεὸς καὶ ζωὴ αἰώνιος.

Others may have some points to add, and I might have more to say as well. But here are some initial comments that might help:

Benson Commentary: and we are in him that is true — In his favour, and in a state of union and fellowship with him; even — This particle is not in the Greek; in — Or rather; through; his Son Jesus Christ — Through whose mediation alone we can have access to, or intercourse with, the Father.

Barnes' Notes on the Bible: And we are in him that is true - That is, we are united to him; we belong to him; we are his friends. This idea is often expressed in the Scriptures by being "in him." It denotes a most intimate union, as if we were one with him - or were a part of him - as the branch is in the vine, John 15:4, John 15:6. The Greek construction is the same as that applied to "the wicked one," 1 John 5:19, (ἐν τῷ ἀληθινᾧ en tō alēthinō.)

Tyndale's NT (1 John 5:20-21):

We know that the son of God is come, and hath given us a mind to know him which is true: and we are in him that is true, through his son Iesu Christ. This same is very God, and eternal life. Babes keep yourselves from images. Amen.

Williams-New Testament in the Language of the People:

"And we know that the Son of God has come, and has given us insight to recognize the True One; and we are in union with the True One through His Son, Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life."


See Thayer's Greek-English Lexicon here:

Notice what entry 6b says.


Duncan said...

Some more Quotations

Conclusion: Although it is certainly possible that houtos["this one"] refers back to Jesus Christ, several converging lines of evidence points to "the true one," God the Father, as the probable antecedent. This position, houtos = God, is held by many commentators, authors of general studies, and significantly, by those grammarians who express an opinion on the matter."-M. Harris, "Jesus as God, The New Testament Use of Theos in Reference to Jesus," Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1992, p.253.

"[1 John]5.20-21. Knowing the true God;... The Greek of 5:20 has only the true (one) and reads literally: we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding 'so that we know the true(one) and we are in the true(one)', in his Son Jesus Christ. 'This (one) is the true God and eternal life.' It is clear from this that 'the true (one)' is God throughout. Christ is his Son. In the final sentence this (one) most naturally refers still to God, not to Christ, as some have suggested. It is not unknown for Christ to be given God's name(Phil. 2:9-11) or even to be called 'God' (Heb. 1:8-9; John 1:1), but that would run contrary to the theme here, which is contrasting true and false understandings of God for which Christ's revelation is the criterion. "5:20 reminds us of Jesus' prayer according to John 17:3: 'This is eternal life: to know you the only true God and Jesus Christ whom you have sent...."- William Loader, The Johannine Epistles, Epworth Commentaries, 1992, p.79.(This commentary uses the Revised English Bible (1989) for it's quotations.)

"The final sentence of verse 20 runs: This is the true God, and eternal life. To whom does this refer? Grammatically speaking, it would normally refer to the nearest preceding subject, namely his Son Jesus Christ. If so, this would be the most unequivocal statement of the deity of Jesus Christ in the New Testament, which the champions of orthodoxy were quick to exploit against the heresy of Arius. Luther and Calvin adopted this view. Certainly it is by no means an impossible interpretation. Nevertheless, 'the most natural reference'(Westcott) is to him that is true. In this way the three references to 'the true' are to the same Person, the Father, and the additional points made in the apparent final repetition are that it is this One, namely the God made known by Jesus Christ, who is the true God, and that, besides this, He is eternal life...."-The Epistles of John, An Introduction and Commentary by The Rev.J.R.W.Stott, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries, Tyndale Press, London, !st edition, July 1964, p.195, 196.

Alethinon61 said...

In addition to the excellent references Duncan provided, we have this compelling argument by John Painter:

“Nevertheless the reference appears to be to God. God is the one referred to as ‘the one who is true.’ When Jesus Christ is referenced in the previous sentence it as ‘his Son Jesus Christ,’ so that God is still the subject. The objection that the final reference to God as ‘this is the true God’ is somewhat tautological is not without force. At the same time, 1 John has a fair share of statements that approach tautology. Here, however, there is a point to the clear statement because ‘this is the true God’ is about to be set over against idols (5:21)… The true God is coupled with eternal life. This could be taken as evidence in favor of identifying Jesus Christ as the one declared here to be ‘the true God and eternal life’ in the light of the revelation of eternal life in his appearance. But the eternal life thus made known and announced is ‘the eternal life that was with the Father and was revealed to us’ (1:2). Throughout 1 John what the Son does is to reveal the Father, so that the self-giving of the Son reveals that God is love. Eternal life revealed in the Son is the life that has its source in the Father. The inseparable connection of eternal life with the true God is emphasized by the clause, ‘This is the true God and eternal life,’ where eternal life is expressed without the definite article. The Father is the source of eternal life made known in his Son. For this reason, to have the Son is to have life because to have the Son is to have the Father also (5:12; 2:22-23; John 3:36). ‘This is the eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you sent’ (John 17:3).” (1, 2, and 3 John, by John Painter, from the Sacra Pagina series, edited by Daniel J. Harrington, S.J.), pp. 326-327

And there are also the grammarians, commentators, etc, that Murray J. Harris reference, whom Duncan quoted above:

Commentators: Huther, Alford, Haupt, Wescott, Holtzmann, Brooke,
Dodd, Preisker, Stott, Smalley, Grayston.

Authors: Findlay, Harnack, Dupont, Howard, Wainwright, Taylor,

Grammarians: Winer, Buttman, Winer and Schmiedel, Robertson, Turner,
Zerwick and Grosvenor, BAGD


omar meza solano said...

Waooo! Very grateful for such excellent answers.