1 John 3:20 NET [abbreviation] brought to you by [publisher] Learn more



20 that#tn The first ὅτι (Joti) in 3:20 may be understood either (1) as causal, “because if our heart condemns us,” or (2) as epexegetical (explanatory), “that if our heart condemns us.” There are two other instances of the combination ὅτι ἐάν (Joti ean) in 1 John, 3:2 and 5:14. In 3:14 the ὅτι clearly introduces an indirect discourse (content) clause following οἴδαμεν (oidamen). In 5:14 the ὅτι is epexegetical to a preceding statement (“and this is the confidence [ἡ παρρησία, Jh parrhsia] which we have before him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us”). This is analogous to the present situation, and the subject under discussion (the believer’s confidence before God) is also similar (cf. 3:21-22). It is thus more likely, by analogy, that the first ὅτι clause in 3:20, ὅτι ἐὰν καταγινώσκῃ ἡμῶν ἡ καρδία ({oti ean kataginwskh Jhmwn Jh kardia), should also be understood as epexegetical to the preceding clause, ἔμπροσθεν αὐτοῦ πείσομεν τὴν καρδίαν (emprosqen autou peisomen thn kardian, “and we convince our heart before him”). if our conscience condemns#tn In Deut 25:1 LXX καταγινώσκω (kataginwskw) means “to condemn” in a context where it is in opposition to δικαιοῦν (dikaioun, “to acquit”). In Job 42:6 LXX (Symmachus) and Ezek 16:61 LXX (Symmachus) it is used of self-judgment or self-condemnation, and this usage is also found in the intertestamental literature (Sir 14:2). Testament of Gad 5:3 describes a person οὐχ ὑπ᾿ ἄλλου καταγινωσκόμενος ἀλλ᾿ ὑπὸ τῆς ἰδίας καρδίας (ouc Jup’ a[llou kataginwskomeno" all’ Jupo th" idia" kardia", “condemned not by another but by his own heart”). Thus the word has legal or forensic connotations, and in this context refers to the believer’s self-condemnation resulting from a guilty conscience concerning sin. us, that#tn The use of two ὅτι (Joti) clauses in close succession is somewhat awkward, but this is nothing new for the author; and indeed he has twice previously used two ὅτι clauses in close proximity in 3:2 and 14. In both those instances the second ὅτι was understood as causal, and (1) some interpreters would do the same here. Unless one understands both of the ὅτι clauses in 3:20 as causal, however (an option rejected based on the analogy with 5:14, see the discussion in the note on “that” at the beginning of the present verse), the first ὅτι clause must be understood as parenthetical in order for the second to be causal. This results in an even more awkward construction. It seems most probable that (2) the second ὅτι clause in 3:20 should also be understood as epexegetical (explanatory), and resumptive to the first. The resultant meaning is as follows: “and we convince our heart before him, that if our heart condemns us, that God is greater than our heart and knows all things.” God is greater than our conscience and knows all things.