1 (My little children,#sn My little children. The direct address by the author to his readers at the beginning of 2:1 marks a break in the pattern of the opponents’ claims (indicated by the phrase if we say followed by a negative statement in the apodosis, the “then” clause) and the author’s counterclaims (represented by if with a positive statement in the apodosis) made so far in 1:6-10. The seriousness of this last claim (in 1:10) causes the author to interrupt himself to address the readers as his faithful children and to explain to them that while he wants them not to sin, they may be assured that if they do, they can look to Jesus Christ, as their advocate with the Father, to intercede for them. After this, the last of the author’s three counter-claims in 1:5-2:2 is found in the if clause in 2:1b. I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin.#tn There is some dispute over the significance of the aorist tense of ἁμάρτητε (Jamarthte): (1) F. Stagg (“Orthodoxy and Orthopraxy in the Johannine Epistles,” RevExp 67 [1970]:423-32, esp. 428) holds that the aorist is nondescriptive, saying nothing about the nature of the action itself, but only that the action has happened. This is indeed the normal aspectual value of the aorist tense in general, but there is some disagreement over whether with this particular verb there are more specific nuances of meaning. (2) M. Zerwick (Biblical Greek §251) and N. Turner (MHT 3:72) agree that the present tense of ἁμαρτάνω (Jamartanw) means “to be in a state of sin” (i.e., a sinner) while the aorist refers to specific acts of sin. Without attempting to sort out this particular dispute, it should be noted that certain verbs do have different nuances of meaning in different tenses, nuances which do not derive solely from the aspectual value of the tense per se, but from a combination of semantic factors which vary from word to word.sn So that you may not sin. It is clear the author is not simply exhorting the readers not to be habitual or repetitive sinners, as if to imply that occasional acts of sin would be acceptable. The purpose of the author here is that the readers not sin at all, just as Jesus told the man he healed in John 5:14 “Don’t sin any more.”) But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate#tn The description of the Holy Spirit as “Paraclete” is unique to the Gospel of John (14:16, 26; 15:26; and 16:7). Here, in the only other use of the word in the NT, it is Jesus, not the Spirit, who is described as παράκλητος (paraklhto"). The reader should have been prepared for this interchangeability of terminology, however, by John 14:16, where Jesus told the disciples that he would ask the Father to send them ‘another’ paraclete (ἄλλος, allos, “another of the same kind”). This implies that Jesus himself had been a paraclete in his earthly ministry to the disciples. This does not answer all the questions about the meaning of the word here, though, since it is not Jesus’ role as an advocate during his earthly ministry which is in view, but his role as an advocate in heaven before the Father. The context suggests intercession in the sense of legal advocacy, as stress is placed upon the righteousness of Jesus (᾿Ιησοῦν Χριστὸν δίκαιον, Ihsoun Criston dikaion). The concept of Jesus’ intercession on behalf of believers does occur elsewhere in the NT, notably in Rom 8:34 and Heb 7:25. Something similar is taking place here, and is the best explanation of 1 John 2:1. An English translation like “advocate” or “intercessor” conveys this. with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous One,#tn Or “Jesus Christ the righteous.” 2 and he himself is the atoning sacrifice#tn A suitable English translation for this word (ἱλασμός, Jilasmos) is a difficult and even controversial problem. “Expiation,” “propitiation,” and “atonement” have all been suggested. L. Morris, in a study that has become central to discussions of this topic (The Apostolic Preaching of the Cross, 140), sees as an integral part of the meaning of the word (as in the other words in the ἱλάσκομαι [Jilaskomai] group) the idea of turning away the divine wrath, suggesting that “propitiation” is the closest English equivalent. It is certainly possible to see an averting of divine wrath in this context, where the sins of believers are in view and Jesus is said to be acting as Advocate on behalf of believers. R. E. Brown’s point (Epistles of John [AB], 220-21), that it is essentially cleansing from sin which is in view here and in the other use of the word in 4:10, is well taken, but the two connotations (averting wrath and cleansing) are not mutually exclusive and it is unlikely that the propitiatory aspect of Jesus’ work should be ruled out entirely in the usage in 2:2. Nevertheless, the English word “propitiation” is too technical to communicate to many modern readers, and a term like “atoning sacrifice” (given by Webster’s New International Dictionary as a definition of “propitiation”) is more appropriate here. Another term, “satisfaction,” might also convey the idea, but “satisfaction” in Roman Catholic theology is a technical term for the performance of the penance imposed by the priest on a penitent.sn The Greek word (ἱλασμός, Jilasmos) behind the phrase atoning sacrifice conveys both the idea of “turning aside divine wrath” and the idea of “cleansing from sin.” for our sins, and not only for our sins but also for the whole world.#tn Many translations supply an understood repetition of the word “sins” here, thus: “but also for the sins of the whole world.”
Keeping God’s Commandments
3 Now#tn The translation of καί (kai) at the beginning of 2:3 is important for understanding the argument, because a similar καί occurs at the beginning of 1:5. The use here is not just a simple continuative or connective use, but has more of a resumptive force, pointing back to the previous use in 1:5.sn Now. The author, after discussing three claims of the opponents in 1:6, 8, and 10 and putting forward three counterclaims of his own in 1:7, 1:9, and 2:1, now returns to the theme of “God as light” introduced in 1:5. The author will now discuss how a Christian may have assurance that he or she has come to know the God who is light, again by contrast with the opponents who make the same profession of knowing God, but lack the reality of such knowledge, as their behavior makes clear. by this we know that we have come to know God:#tn Grk “know him.” (1) Many take the third person pronoun αὐτον (auton) to refer to Jesus Christ, since he is mentioned in 2:1 and the pronoun αὐτός (autos) at the beginning of 2:2 clearly refers to him. But (2) it is more likely that God is the referent here, since (a) the assurance the author is discussing here is assurance that one has come to know God (all the claims of the opponents in 1:5-2:11 concern knowing and having fellowship with the God who is light); (b) when Jesus Christ is explicitly mentioned as an example to follow in 1 John 2:6, the pronoun ἐκεῖνος (ekeinos) is used to distinguish this from previous references with αὐτός; (c) the καί (kai) which begins 2:3 is parallel to the καί which begins 1:5, suggesting that the author is now returning to the discussion of God who is light, a theme introduced in 1:5. The author will now discuss how a Christian may have assurance that he or she has come to know the God who is light. if we keep his commandments. 4 The one who says “I have come to know God”#tn Grk “know him.” See the note on the phrase “know God” in 1 John 2:3 for explanation. and yet does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in such a person. 5 But whoever obeys his#tn The referent of this pronoun is probably to be understood as God, since God is the nearest previous antecedent. word, truly in this person#tn Grk “in him.” the love of God has been perfected. By this we know that we are in him. 6 The one who says he resides#tn The Greek verb μένω (menw) is commonly translated into contemporary English as “remain” or “abide,” but both of these translations have some problems: (1) “Abide” has become in some circles almost a “technical term” for some sort of special intimate fellowship or close relationship between the Christian and God, so that one may speak of Christians who are “abiding” and Christians who are not. It is accurate to say the word indicates a close, intimate (and permanent) relationship between the believer and God. However, it is very important to note that for the author of the Gospel of John and the Johannine Epistles every genuine Christian has this type of relationship with God, and the person who does not have this type of relationship (cf. 2 John 9) is not a believer at all (in spite of what he or she may claim). (2) On the other hand, to translate μένω as “remain” removes some of these problems, but creates others: In certain contexts, such a translation can give the impression that those who currently “remain” in this relationship with God can at some point choose not to “remain”, that is, to abandon their faith and return to an unsaved condition. While one may easily think in terms of the author’s opponents in 1 John as not “remaining,” the author makes it inescapably clear in 2:19 that these people, in spite of their claims to know God and be in fellowship with God, never really were genuine believers. (3) In an attempt to avoid both these misconceptions, this translation renders μένω as “reside” except in cases where the context indicates that “remain” is a more accurate nuance, that is, in contexts where a specific change of status or movement from one position to another is in view.sn The Greek word μένω (menw) translated resides indicates a close, intimate (and permanent) relationship between the believer and God. It is very important to note that for the author of the Gospel of John and the Johannine Epistles every genuine Christian has this type of relationship with God, and the person who does not have this type of relationship (cf. 2 John 9) is not a believer at all (in spite of what he or she may claim). in God#tn Grk “in him.” Context indicates a reference to God since a different pronoun, ἐκεινος (ekeinos), is used later in the same verse to indicate a reference to Jesus. See the note on “Jesus” later in this verse. ought himself to walk#tn That is, ought to behave in the same way Jesus did. “Walking” is a common NT idiom for one’s behavior or conduct. just as Jesus#tn Grk “that one.” Context indicates a reference to Jesus here. It is clear that ἐκεῖνος (ekeinos) here does not refer to the same person as αὐτῷ (autw) in 2:6a. The switch to ἐκεῖνος indicates a change in the referent, and a reference to Jesus Christ is confirmed by the verb περιεπάτησεν (periepathsen), an activity which can only describe Jesus’ earthly life and ministry, the significance of which is one of the points of contention the author has with the opponents. In fact, ἐκεῖνος occurs 6 times in 1 John (2:6; 3:3, 5, 7, 16; and 4:17), and each one refers to Jesus Christ. walked.
7 Dear friends, I am not writing a new commandment to you, but an old commandment which you have had from the beginning.#sn See John 13:34-35. The old commandment is the word that you have already#tn “Already” is not is the Greek text, but is supplied for clarity. heard. 8 On the other hand, I am writing a new commandment to you which is true in him#tn “In him” probably refers to Jesus Christ since the last third person pronoun in 2:6 referred to Jesus Christ and there is no indication in the context of a change in referent. and in you, because#tn The clause beginning with ὅτι (Joti) is often taken as (1) epexegetical or (2) appositional to the commandment (ἐντολήν, entolhn) giving a further explanation or clarification of it. But the statement following the ὅτι is about light and darkness, and it is difficult to see how this has anything to do with the commandment, especially as the commandment is related to the “new commandment” of John 13:34 for believers to love one another. It is far more likely that (3) the ὅτι clause should be understood as causal, but this still does not answer the question of whether it offers the reason for writing the “new commandment” itself or the reason for the relative clause (“that is true in him and in you”). It probably gives the reason for the writing of the commandment, although R. E. Brown (Epistles of John [AB], 268) thinks it refers to both. the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining.#sn The reference to the darkness…passing away and the true light…already shining is an allusion to John 1:5, 1:9, and 8:12. Because the author sees the victory of light over darkness as something already begun, he is writing Jesus’ commandment to love one another to the readers as a reminder to (1) hold fast to what they have already heard (see 1 John 2:7) and (2) not be influenced by the teaching of the opponents. 9 The one who says he is in the light but still hates#tn Grk “the one saying he is in the light and hating his brother.” Here καί (kai) has been translated as “but” because of the contrast present in the two clauses. his fellow Christian#tn Grk “his brother.” Here the term “brother” means “fellow believer” or “fellow Christian” (cf. BDAG 18 s.v. ἀδελφός 2.a). In the repeated uses of this form of address throughout the letter, it is important to remember that sometimes it refers (1) to genuine Christians (those who have remained faithful to the apostolic eyewitness testimony about who Jesus is, as outlined in the Prologue to the letter, 1:1-4; an example of this usage is 2:10; 3:14, 16), but often it refers (2) to the secessionist opponents whose views the author rejects (examples are found here at 2:9, as well as 2:11; 3:10; 3:15; 3:17; 4:20). Of course, to be technically accurate, in the latter case the reference is really to a “fellow member of the community”; the use of the term “fellow Christian” in the translation no more implies that such an individual is genuinely saved than the literal term “brother” which the author uses for such people. But a translation like “fellow member of the community” or “fellow member of the congregation” is extremely awkward and simply cannot be employed consistently throughout. is still in the darkness. 10 The one who loves his fellow Christian#tn See note on the term “fellow Christian” in 2:9. resides in the light, and there is no cause for stumbling in him.#tn The third person pronoun αὐτῷ (autw) could refer either (1) to the person who loves his brother or (2) to the light itself which has no cause for stumbling “in it.” The following verse (2:11) views darkness as operative within a person, and the analogy with Ps 119:165, which says that the person who loves God’s law does not stumble, expresses a similar concept in relation to an individual. This evidence suggests that the person is the referent here. 11 But the one who hates his fellow Christian#sn The one who hates his fellow Christian. The author’s paradigm for the opponents portrays them as those who show hatred for fellow Christians (Grk “brothers,” but not referring to one’s physical siblings). This charge will be much more fully developed in chap. 3, where the author will compare the opponents to Cain (who is the model for one who hates a brother, since he ultimately murdered his own brother). In 1 John 3:17 the specific charge against the opponents will be failing to give material aid to a brother in need. is in the darkness, walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.#sn 1 John 2:3-11. The section 2:3-11 contains three claims to intimate knowledge of God, each introduced by the phrase the one who says (participles in the Greek text) in 2:4, 6, and 9. As with the three claims beginning with “if” in the previous section (1:6, 8, 10), these indirectly reflect the claims of the opponents. Each claim is followed by the author’s evaluation and its implications.
Words of Reassurance
12 I am writing to you,#sn I am writing to you. The author appears to have been concerned that some of his readers, at least, would accept the claims of the opponents as voiced in 1:6, 8, and 10. The counterclaims the author has made in 1:7, 9, and 2:1 seem intended to strengthen the readers and reassure them (among other things) that their sins are forgiven. Further assurances of their position here is in keeping with such a theme, and indeed, the topic of reassurance runs throughout the entire letter (see the purpose statement in 5:13). Finally, in such a context the warning which follows in 2:15-17 is not out of place because the author is dealing with a community that is discouraged by the controversy which has arisen within it and that is in need of exhortation. little children, that#tn The ὅτι (Joti) that follows all six occurrences of γράφω/ἔγραψα (grafw/egraya) in 2:12-14 can be understood as introducing either (1) a causal clause or (2) a content clause (if content, it could be said to introduce a direct object clause or an indirect discourse clause). Many interpreters have favored a causal translation, so that in each of the six cases what follows the ὅτι gives the reason why the author is writing to the recipients. Usage in similar constructions is not decisive because only one other instance of γράφω followed by ὅτι occurs in 1 John (2:21), and that context is just as ambiguous as this one. On other occasions γράφω does tend to be followed by a noun or pronoun functioning as direct object. This might argue for the content usage here, but it could also be argued that the direct object in the six instances in these verses is understood, namely, the content of the entire letter itself. Thus the following ὅτι clause could still be causal. Grammatical considerations aside, these uses of ὅτι are more likely introducing content clauses here rather than causal clauses because such a meaning better fits the context. If the uses of ὅτι are understood as causal, it is difficult to see why the author immediately gives a warning in the section that follows about loving the world. The confidence he has expressed in his readers (if the ὅτι clauses are understood as causal) would appear to be ill-founded if he is so concerned about their relationship to the world as 2:15-17 seems to indicate. On the other hand, understanding the ὅτι clauses as content clauses fits very well the context of reassurance which runs throughout the letter. your sins have been forgiven because of his#tn “His” probably refers to Jesus Christ. Note the last reference was to Jesus in 2:8 and before that in 2:6; also the mention of sins being forgiven suggests Jesus’ work on the cross. name. 13 I am writing to you, fathers, that#tn See the note on “that” in v. 12. you have known him who has been from the beginning. I am writing to you, young people, that#tn See the note on “that” in v. 12. you have conquered the evil one.#sn The phrase the evil one is used in John 17:15 as a reference to Satan. Satan is also the referent here and in the four other occurrences in 1 John (2:14; 3:12; 5:18, 19). 14 I have written to you, children, that#tn See the note on “that” in v. 12. you have known the Father.#sn The versification of vv. 13 and 14 (so also NAB, NRSV, NLT) follows that of the NA27 and UBS4 editions of the Greek text. Some English translations, however, break the verses between the sentence addressed to children and the sentence addressed to fathers (KJV, NKJV, NASB, NIV). The same material has been translated in each case; the only difference is the versification of that material. I have written to you, fathers, that#tn See the note on “that” in v. 12. you have known him who has been from the beginning. I have written to you, young people, that#tn See the note on “that” in v. 12. you are strong, and the word of God resides in you, and you have conquered the evil one.
15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him, 16 because all that is in the world (the desire of the flesh and the desire of the eyes and the arrogance produced by material possessions)#tn The genitive βίου (biou) is difficult to translate: (1) Many understand it as objective, so that βίος (bios, “material life”) becomes the object of one’s ἀλαζονεία (alazoneia; “pride” or “boastfulness”). Various interpretations along these lines refer to boasting about one’s wealth, showing off one’s possessions, boasting of one’s social status or lifestyle. (2) It is also possible to understand the genitive as subjective, however, in which case the βίος itself produces the ἀλαζονεία. In this case, the material security of one’s life and possessions produces a boastful overconfidence. This understanding better fits the context here: The focus is on people who operate purely on a human level and have no spiritual dimension to their existence. This is the person who loves the world, whose affections are all centered on the world, who has no love for God or spiritual things (“the love of the Father is not in him,” 2:15).sn The arrogance produced by material possessions. The person who thinks he has enough wealth and property to protect himself and insure his security has no need for God (or anything outside himself). is not from the Father, but is from the world. 17 And the world is passing away with all its desires, but the person who does the will of God remains#tn See note on the translation of the Greek verb μένω (menw) in 2:6. The translation “remain” is used for μένω (menw) here because the context contrasts the transience of the world and its desires with the permanence of the person who does God’s will. forever.
Warning About False Teachers
18 Children, it is the last hour, and just as you heard that the antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists#sn Antichrists are John’s description for the opponents and their false teaching, which is at variance with the apostolic eyewitness testimony about who Jesus is (cf. 1:1-4). The identity of these opponents has been variously debated by scholars, with some contending (1) that these false teachers originally belonged to the group of apostolic leaders, but departed from it (“went out from us,” v. 19). It is much more likely (2) that they arose from within the Christian communities to which John is writing, however, and with which he identifies himself. This identification can be seen in the interchange of the pronouns “we” and “you” between 1:10 and 2:1, for example, where “we” does not refer only to John and the other apostles, but is inclusive, referring to both himself and the Christians he is writing to (2:1, “you”). have appeared. We know from this that it is the last hour. 19 They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us, because if they had belonged to us, they would have remained#tn See note on the translation of the Greek verb μένω (menw) in 2:6. Here μένω has been translated as “remained” since it is clear that a change of status or position is involved. The opponents departed from the author’s congregation(s) and showed by this departure that they never really belonged. Had they really belonged, they would have stayed (“remained”). with us. But#tn Because of the length and complexity of the Greek sentence, a new sentence was started here in the translation. they went out from us#tn The phrase “they went out from us” is not repeated a second time in the Greek text, but constitutes an ellipsis. For clarity it is necessary to repeat it in the English translation. to demonstrate#tn Grk “in order that it may be demonstrated.” The passive infinitive has been translated as active and the purpose clause translated by an infinitive in keeping with contemporary English style. that all of them do not belong to us.#sn All of them do not belong to us. The opponents chose to depart rather than remain in fellowship with the community to which the author writes and with which he associates himself. This demonstrates conclusively to the author that they never really belonged to that community at all (in spite of what they were claiming). 1 John 2:19 indicates that the departure was apparently the opponents’ own decision rather than being thrown out or excommunicated. But for John, if they had been genuine believers, they would have remained in fellowship. Now they have gone out into the world, where they belong (compare 1 John 4:5).
20 Nevertheless you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you all know.#tc πάντες (pantes, nominative plural in “you all know”) is read by א B P Ψ sa. A C 049 33 1739 Ï latt sy bo have the accusative πάντα (panta, “you know all things”). The evidence favors the nominative reading, but it is not overwhelming. At the same time, the internal evidence supports the nominative for a variety of reasons. A scribe would naturally tend to give the transitive verb a direct object, especially because of the parallel in the first half of the verse. And intrinsically, the argument seems to be in balance with v. 19: The “all” who have gone out and are not “in the know” with the “all” who have an anointing and know that they are true believers. Further, as R. E. Brown points out, “the fact of their knowledge (pantes), not the extent of its object (panta), seems best to fit the reassurance” (Epistles of John [AB], 349). Brown further points out the connection with the new covenant in Jer 31 with this section of 1 John, esp. Jer 31:34 – “they all [pantes] shall know me.” Since 1 John alludes to Jer 31, without directly quoting it, this is all the more reason to see the nominative as original: Allusions are often overlooked by scribes (transcriptional evidence), but support the intrinsic evidence. Thus, the evidence is solidly (though not overwhelmingly) behind the nominative reading.sn The statement you all know probably constitutes an indirect allusion to the provisions of the new covenant mentioned in Jer 31 (see especially Jer 31:34). See also R. E. Brown, The Epistles of John [AB], 349. 21 I have not written to you that#tn The interpretation of the three ὅτι clauses in v. 21 is very difficult: (1) All three instances of ὅτι (Joti) may be causal (so NASB, NIV, NEB). (2) The first two may be causal while the third indicates content (declarative or recitative ὅτι, so KJV, RSV, TEV, NRSV). (3) However, it is best to take all three instances as indicating content because this allows all three to be subordinate to the verb ἔγραψα (egraya) as compound direct objects. The author writes to reassure his readers (a) that they do indeed know the truth (first two uses of ὅτι) and (b) that no lie is of the truth (third use). you do not know the truth, but that#tn See the note on the first occurrence of “that” in v. 21. you do know it, and that#tn See the note on the first occurrence of “that” in v. 21. no lie is of the truth. 22 Who is the liar but the person who denies that Jesus is the Christ#tn Or “the Messiah”? This one is the antichrist: the person who denies the Father and the Son. 23 Everyone who denies the Son does not have the Father either. The person who confesses the Son has the Father also.#tc The Byzantine text, almost alone, lacks the last eight words of this verse, “The person who confesses the Son has the Father also” (ὁ ὁμολογῶν τὸν υἱὸν καὶ τὸν πατέρα ἔχει, Jo Jomologwn ton Juion kai ton patera ecei). Although shorter readings are often preferred (since scribes would tend to add material rather than delete it), if an unintentional error is likely, shorter readings are generally considered secondary. This is a classic example of such an unintentional omission: The τὸν πατέρα ἔχει of the preceding clause occasioned the haplography, with the scribe’s eye skipping from one τὸν πατέρα ἔχει to the other. (Readings such as this also suggest that the Byzantine text may have originated [at least for 1 John and probably the general epistles] in a single archetype.)
24 As for you, what you have heard from the beginning must remain#tn The word translated “remain” may also be translated “reside” (3 times in 2:24). See also the notes on the translation of the Greek verb μένω (menw) in 2:6 and in 2:19. Here the word can really have both nuances of “residing” and “remaining” and it is impossible for the English reader to catch both nuances if the translation provides only one. This occurs three times in 2:24. in you. If what you heard from the beginning remains in you, you also will remain in the Son and in the Father. 25 Now this#tn It is difficult to know whether the phrase καὶ αὕτη ἐστιν (kai Jauth estin) refers (1) to the preceding or (2) to the following material, or (3) to both. The same phrase occurs at the beginning of 1:5, where it serves as a transitional link between the prologue (1:1-4) and the first major section of the letter (1:5-3:10). It is probably best to see the phrase here as transitional as well; thus καί (kai) has been translated “now” rather than “and.” The accusative phrase at the end of v. 25, τὴν ζωὴν τὴν αἰώνιον (thn zwhn thn aiwnion), stands in apposition to the relative pronoun ἥν (Jhn), whose antecedent is ἡ ἐπαγγελία (Jh epangelia; see BDF §295). Thus the “promise” consists of “eternal life.” is the promise that he#tn The pronoun could refer to God or Jesus Christ, but a reference to Jesus Christ is more likely here. himself made to#tn Grk “he himself promised.” The repetition of the cognate verb “promised” after the noun “promise” is redundant in English. us: eternal life.#sn The promise consists of eternal life, but it is also related to the concept of “remaining” in 2:24. The person who “remains in the Son and in the Father” thus has this promise of eternal life from Jesus himself. Consistent with this, 1 John 5:12 implies that the believer has this eternal life now, not just in the future, and this in turn agrees with John 5:24. 26 These things I have written to you about those who are trying to deceive you.#sn The phrase those who are trying to deceive you in 1 John 2:26 is a clear reference to the secessionist opponents mentioned earlier in 1 John 2:19, who are attempting to deceive the people the author is writing to.
27 Now as for you, the anointing#sn The anointing. The “anointing” (χρῖσμα, crisma) which believers have received refers to the indwelling Holy Spirit which has been given to them at their conversion. that you received from him#sn The pronoun could refer to God or Jesus Christ, but a reference to Jesus Christ is more likely here. resides#tn This use of μένω (menw) has been translated “reside” both times in 2:27 because it refers to the current status of believers. in you, and you have no need for anyone to teach you. But as his#sn The pronoun could refer (1) to God or (2) to Jesus Christ, but a reference to Jesus Christ is more likely here. anointing teaches you about all things, it is true and is not a lie. Just as#tn Grk “and is not a lie, and just as.” Because of the length and complexity of the Greek sentence, a new sentence was started here in the translation. it#tn Or “he.” has taught you, you reside#tn The verb may be read as either (1) indicative or (2) imperative mood. The same verb is found in the following verse, 2:28, but the address to the readers there seems clearly to indicate an imperative. On analogy some have called for an imperative here, but others have seen this as suggesting an indicative here, so that the author is not repeating himself. An indicative is slightly more likely here. Up to this point the thrust of the author has been reassurance rather than exhortation, and an indicative here (“…you reside in him”) balances the indicative in the first part of 2:27 (“the anointing which you received from him resides in you…”). With the following verse the author switches from reassurance (the readers at the time he is writing still ‘remain’; they have not yet adopted the teaching of the opponents) to exhortation (he is writing so that they will ‘remain’ and not succumb to the deception of the opponents). in him.
Children of God
28 And now, little children, remain#tn Again, as at the end of 2:27, the verb μένετε (menete) may be read as either (1) indicative or (2) imperative mood. At the end of 2:27 the translation opted for an indicative because the author had been attempting to reassure his readers that they did indeed possess eternal life, and also because an indicative at the end of 2:27 balances the indicative reference to the “anointing” residing in the readers at the beginning of the verse. With the return in 2:28 to the eschatological note introduced in 2:18, however, it appears that the author switches from reassurance to exhortation. At the time he is writing them, the readers do still “remain” since they have not yet adopted the heretical teaching of the opponents. But now the author wants to forestall the possibility that they might do so at some point, and so he begins this section with an exhortation to the readers to “reside/remain” in Christ. This suggests that μένετε in the present verse should be read as imperative rather than indicative, a view made even more probable by the following ἵνα (Jina) clause which states the purpose for the exhortation: in order that at the parousia (second advent) when Jesus Christ is revealed, the readers may have confidence and not shrink back from him in shame when he appears. in him,#sn A reference to Jesus Christ is more likely here. Note the mention of the second coming (second advent) at the end of this verse. so that when#tn In this context ἐάν (ean) does not indicate uncertainty about whether or not Christ will return, but rather uncertainty about the exact time when the event will take place. In the Koine period ἐάν could mean “when” or “whenever” and was virtually the equivalent of ὅταν ({otan; see BDAG 268 s.v. ἐάν 2). It has this meaning in John 12:32 and 14:3. he appears we may have confidence and not shrink away from him in shame when he comes back.#tn Grk “at his coming.” sn Have confidence…shrink away from him in shame when he comes back. Once again in the antithetical framework of Johannine thought (that is, the author’s tendency to think in terms of polar opposites), there are only two alternatives, just as there are only two alternatives in John 3:18-21, a key section for the understanding of the present passage in 1 John. Anyone who does not ‘remain’ demonstrates (just as the opponents demonstrated by their departure from the community in 2:19) that whatever profession he has made is false and he is not truly a believer. 29 If you know that he is righteous, you also know#tn The mood of γινώσκετε (ginwskete) may be understood as (1) indicative or (2) imperative. It is better to understand the verb here as indicative, because in 1 John “knowledge” is something one has as a result of being a believer (2:3, 5, 20, 21; 3:16, 19, 24; 4:2, 13; 5:2) rather than something one has to be exhorted about. The change in verbs from οἶδα (oida) to γινώσκω (ginwskw) is another example of Johannine stylistic variation. that everyone who practices righteousness has been fathered#tn The verb γεννάω (gennaw) presents a translation problem: (1) should the passive be translated archaically “be begotten” (the action of the male parent; see BDAG 193 s.v. 1.a) or (2) should it be translated “be born” (as from a female parent; see BDAG 194 s.v. 2)? A number of modern translations (RSV, NASB, NIV) have opted for the latter, but (3) the imagery expressed in 1 John 3:9 clearly refers to the action of the male parent in procreating a child, as does 5:1 (“everyone who loves the father loves the child fathered by him”), and so a word reflecting the action of the male parent is called for here. The contemporary expression “fathered by” captures this idea. by him.
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