1 John


Argument Proper

viii] Living the good news


John now examines the issue of brotherly love. He makes the point that "genuine love for fellow believers is another mark of those who belong to the truth", Kruse.


i] Context: See 3:1-6. It is very difficult to determine where to place the new paragraph that introduces the theme of love toward the brotherhood. The options are v9, 10, 10b, 11 and 13. Probably v11 best introduces this passage on brotherly love, while v10 is transitional, on the one hand, summing up the passage dealing with sin, the devil and the children of God, and on the other hand, introducing the subject of love.


ii] Background: See 1:1-5.


iii] Structure: Living the good news:

God is life-giving light, let us walk in the light of his love

Argument #7, v11-24:

Brotherly love:

love assures us of our standing in Christ, v11-15;

Christ's sacrifice is our example of love, v16-18;

love gives us confidence, v19-24.


iv] Interpretation:

Kruse suggests that this passage stands as a further theological proof in John's rhetorical argument. This particular proof deals with the gospel proclamation to love one another, v11-18, followed by a command for correct belief and mutual love, v19-24, so Wahlde. John's arguments serve to give assurance to his readers in the face of testing times. As already indicated, the source of this testing is somewhat unclear, but it is probably coming from a group of nomist secessionists.


v] Exposition: A simple verse-by-verse exposition of this passage may be found in the linked pew-level Sermon Notes.

Text - 3:11

Arguments in support of the proposition, #7 - Brotherly love, v11-24: i] Love assures us of our standing in Christ, v11-15. In 3:10 John says that it is easy to assure ourselves that we are children of God and not children of the evil one. Those who are not God's children do not act rightly, they do not love. The child of God acts lovingly, since love is a fruit of faith. Those who believe, love. This fruit, love, is an integral element of Christ's teachings. From the beginning of his ministry Jesus spoke of the responsive fruit of brotherly love.

oJti "- / for" - because. Here causal, "because". Probably just establishing a loose relationship with v10, and therefore left untranslated, as NIV, but possibly introducing an explanation as to "why the author has equated the one not acting justly with the one not loving his brother", Wahlde. The reason being that the command to love is an authentic piece of Christian tradition such that to ignore it is to not act rightly / justly. "This is so because from the beginning ...", Barclay.

hJ aggelia (h) "the message" - [this is] the report, record, message. Nominative subject of the verb to-be. "One thing you have been taught", Barclay.

ap (apo) + gen. "from" - Here in a temporal sense.

archV (h) "the beginning" - beginning, first. From the time when they first heard the gospel. This message contained a faith response application, namely, that disciples should love one another.

iJna + subj. "-" - that. Introducing an epexegetic clause specifying auth "this"; "this, namely that we should love one another, is the message ....."

agapwmen (agapaw) pres. subj. "we should love" - we may love [one another]. The present tense, being durative, expresses continued action.


"We should love one another, unlike Cain who belonged to the evil one and slaughtered his brother", NAB. The reason why Cain hated his brother and ended up murdering him, says John, is that Cain's evil was exposed by Abel's goodness, v12. We children of love must always remember that those who live in darkness will react defensively when confronted by the light of love, v13.

ou kaqwV "[do] not [be] like [Cain]" - not as [cain]. Comparative - we should love our brother, and not as Cain loved his brother. There is no verb, and so an imperative is often supplied, "we must never be like Cain", Barclay. Yet, does John intend an imperative, or is he making a statement, establishing a contrast between those who love and those who don't love, and then noting the resulting hatred of those who don't love toward we who do? It's a sad fact, but we do love the pious imperative and happily supply it whenever God forgets!!!! "We should love one another, unlike Cain who belonged to the evil one", NAB.

ek + gen. "[who] belonged to [the evil one]" - [who was] of [the evil one]. Source / origin, "out of" = "child of." Being "of the evil one" is descriptive of a personality trait rather than a person's state. Cain was a grasping man, and self became his master.

esfaxen (sfazw) aor. "murdered" - [and] slaughtered, killed. As in sacrificing animals, but also murder. By implication, John identifies guilt as the cause of Cain's murderous hatred. Another's goodness can expose our sin and prompt a defensive reaction. Reducing, or deriding the other's goodness, is one way to lighten our guilt, although Cain chose to remove the problem completely. The old saying "he who has done you wrong will never forgive you" exposes the same problem, but from a different angle. Someone who has hurt us and feels the guilt of their wrong, will often lighten (dissipate) their sense of guilt by transferring a creative sense of wrong back onto us. In church circles we sometimes label this identification of the evil in others as "righteous indignation", although Jesus called it pulling specks out of the eyes of others while ignoring the log in our own. "And murdered his brother, Abel."

autou gen. pro. "his [brother]" - [the brother] of him. The genitive is adjectival, relational.

carin gen. "why [did he murder him?]" - [and] for the sake of [what did he kill, slaughter him]? Expressing cause or purpose: "for the sake of / on account of / by reason of." "And for what reason did he slaughter him?"; "Why did he murder him", CEV.

oJti "because" - Causal. "John's explanation, although neat, has no real basis in the text of Genesis, other than that murder is evil; it relies on the simple logic that evil and justice are bound to be antagonistic, and that evil will respond murderously to justice", Lieu.

autou gen. pro. "his own [actions]" - [the works] of him [were evil]. The genitive is adjectival, possessive or subjective.

ta "-" - the ones = the actions

tou adelfou (oV) gen. "[his] brother's" - of the brother [of him]. The genitive is adjectival, possessive or subjective.

dikaia adj. "[were] righteous" - righteous. Predicate adjective. Often used of the "right standing" of a person in the sight of God, although here it may well be referring to behaviour. "Because his own conduct was bad, and his brother's was good", Barclay.


kai "-" - and. Variant reading, coordinative, linking Cain's hatred of his brother with the world's hatred of believers.

mh qaumazete (qaumazw) pres. imp. "do not be surprised" - do not marvel at, be amazed, be filled with wonder. The present tense, being durative, indicates that we should not be surprised continually, given that opposition will continue.

ei + ind. "if" - Here introducing a conditional clause, 1st class, where the proposed condition is assumed to be true; "if, as is the case, [the world does / will hate the disciple of Christ], then [do not be surprised]. "Do not wonder, brothers, that the world hates you", Moffatt.

misei (misew) "hates" - [the world] hates, detests [you]. A very strong word expressing hatred to the point of violence.


Great assurance is to be found in our tendency to act with brotherly love. Such is an evidence that we have passed from death to life - an evidence that we are a child of God, v14. A murderous hatred toward other believers is an evidence of the opposite, v15.

hJmeiV pro. "we" - Emphatic by use and position.

oidamen (oida) perf. "know" - know = comprehend the meaning of / possess the necessary information about. The second meaning fits best. Bultmann says of this statement that it is a "strong - one may say arrogant - expression." All John is saying is that salvation is evidenced ("we know") by a love of the brotherhood and so it is therefore, possible for us to confirm our salvation by examining the evidence of love in our lives. Of course, we should not push this argument too far. John is not suggesting we start assessing the Christian standing of our fellow church members. The test of love is for ourselves, not others. Nor should we conclude that if we find ourselves lacking in love that we are therefore not saved. It is quite possible to rest on Christ in faith and fail to fully exhibit the loving character of Christ. A believer will find the evidence of love in their life, and where it is lacking, and to some degree it will always be lacking, we are able to look to the renewing work of Christ. "Our love for each other confirms that we are saved."

oJti "that" - Introducing an object clause / independent statement of perception expressing what "we" know.

metabebhkamen (metabainw) perf. "we have passed" - we have transferred from one place to another, crossed over. Expressing the sense of "a dualistic division between death and life", Brown. The perfect tense expresses salvation as a past action with a continuing result. "We have crossed the boundary between death and life", Barclay.

ek + gen. "from" - from [death]. Expressing separation, "away from." Possibly "we have passed from the death of separation from God", Junkins.

eiV + acc. "to" - into [life]. Spacial; "entered into the sphere of life."

oJti "because" - Here causal. Evidence of the contention that "we know." The love of the brotherhood serves as a confirmation of our standing in Christ.

oJ mh agapwn (agapaw) pres. part. "anyone who does not love" - the one not loving. The participle serves as a substantive.

touV adelfouV (oV) "-" - the = his brothers. Variant ton adelfon autouV, "the brother of him", "his brother." Certainly, given the context, "a brother" is the goal of the love. "If you don't love each other", CEV.

en "[remains] in [death]" - [continues] in [death]. Either instrumental, "is ensnared / ruled by death"; or spatial, "entrapped in the power / domain of death."


oJ miswn (misew) "[anyone] who hates" - [all] the one hating. Again the participle is probably best classified as adjectival, attributive, limiting the substantive adjective "all" = "everyone". Of course, it may also be viewed as a substantive modified by the adjective "all". Either way, the sense is "everyone who hates." In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus links hate and murder and tells us that both are equally under the judgment of God. By this means Jesus uses the law to expose the sinful state of his legalist / nomist audience and so expose their need for repentance. We all get "angry" at some point in time and therefore we all stand equally under the judgment of God such that all equally need the forgiving grace of God. Here though, it seems likely that John is referring to habitual hatred, in the terms of a lack of care, consideration, acceptance, forgiveness, .... toward our brothers. Such serves as evidence that we do not possess eternal life. Christian fellowships are by no means perfect, but generally they are caring communities and such evidences the enlivening presence of God.

autou gen. pro. "his [brother] / [or sister]" - [the brother] of him. The genitive is adjectival, relational.

anqrwpoktonoV (oV) "a murderer" - [is] a murderer. a person who kills another human, man-killer. Predicate nominative. This verse seems to state that salvation is not possible for a murderer. This idea has particular reference to King David. Issues canvassed by commentators include the need for repentance, habitual sin rather than a one off act, etc. Given the context, John simply observes that people who go around murdering others are likely not to be followers of Christ. Yet, could a believer murder another human being? We are capable of any sin, yes even after conversion, and God's mercy in Christ is capable of covering even the most heinous sin.

oidate (oida) perf. "you know" - [and] you know. Best treated as a subordinate verb, "murderers, as you know, do not have eternal life", REB.

oJti "that" - Introducing an object clause / dependent statement of perception expressing what "you" know.

aiwnion adj. "eternal [life]" - [every murderer does not have] eternal [life]. The attributive adjective specifies the "life" that John is talking about.

menousan (menw) pres. part. "-" - abiding, remaining, continuing. The participle probably serves as the accusative complement of the direct object "life" standing in a double accusative construction; "you know that no murderer has eternal life continuing in him", Berkeley.

en + dat. "in" - in [him]. Expressing space, metaphorical, "in", or association, "with him"; "we know that murderers do not have eternal life", CEV.


ii] Christ's sacrifice is our example of love, v16-18. What is this love like? The perfect example of compassion is found in the life of Jesus. He lay down his life for his brothers - such is love. Compassion is certainly not evident in a person who cares little for the plight of others. "Children, you show love for others by truly helping them, and not merely by talking about it", CEV.

en + dat. "this is how" - in = by [this]. Instrumental; "by the example of Jesus we know what love is."

egnwkamen (ginwskw) perf. "we know" - we know [love]. Impersonal: discern, understand, recognise. In the sense of understanding something. "The action of Christ in laying down his life has shown us what love is", Barclay.

oJti "-" - that. Introducing an epexegetic clause specifying toutw/, "this"; "this is how ...... namely that ....." This construction is more commonly formed by a hina clause, iJna + subj.

ekeinoV "Jesus Christ" - that one. In this letter the term usually refers to Jesus.

thn yuchn (h) "life" - [laid down] the soul, being, inner life. Here in the sense of existence; "he was willing to die for us", TH.

eqhken (tiqhmi) aor. "laid down" - place, put, set forth. Often used in the New Testament in the sense of "give up my life", "offer up my life", as here. John uses the example of Christ's sacrifice to explain what he means by the word love.

autou gen. pro. "his [life]" - [the life] of him. The genitive is adjectival, possessive.

uJper + gen. "for" - instead of / on behalf of. Usually taken here to express substitution; "in place of, instead of." Culy, on the other hand, suggests that the sense is more likely that of benefaction / advantage, ie., serving as "a marker of a participant who is benefited by an event or on whose behalf an event takes place*." "In favour of, for our good", Schnackenburg.

kai "and" - Coordinative. The conjunction does not imply that our laying down our lives is how we know that love, rather it introduces a "corollary to Christ laying his life down for us", Kruse.

ofeilomen (ofeilw) pres. "ought" - [we] ought. "Ought", in the sense of being morally obligated. Smalley makes a point of the present tense being durative, so "we ought always", although Culy notes that this verb always takes an imperfective aspect in the NT, so simply expressing "the event as a process."

qeinai (tiqhmi) aor. inf. "to lay down" - to put, lay down [the = our lives on behalf of the brothers]. The infinitive is complementary.


d (de) "-" - but/and. Transitional, indicating a step in the argument, possibly emphatic, "indeed", or contrastive, "but, yet".

oJV an + subj. "if anyone" - if who = whoever [has]. Introducing a relative conditional clause, 3rd class, where the condition has the possibility of becoming true; "whoever, as may be the case, .... then [how can the love of God be in him]." Here not so much a possibility, but rather expressing a generally occurring circumstance, so Smalley; "when someone has", "whoever has."

tou kosmou "material possessions" - [material life, livelihood] of the world. The genitive is adjectival, attributive, limiting "life"; "worldly means". The word "life" means the stuff of life, having all that this world can offer, particularly referring to those who have it abundantly, ie., have this worlds means for existence. "The well-to-do man", Phillips.

autou gen. pro. "his [brother] / [or sister]" - [and sees the brother] of him. Genitive of relationship.

econta (ecw) pres. part. "in [need]" - having [need]. The participle introduces an object clause / dependent statement of perception expressing what the person "sees"; "sees that his brother is in need."

kleish/ (klew) aor. subj. "has [no pity]" - [and] closes, shuts [the bowels, inner parts]. We might say "close the heart." The Greek "bowels" reflects the Aramaic notion that the stomach is the seat of emotions. So, here it is shut up, lock out, pity / compassion. "Shuts out any compassion towards him", Brown.

ap (apo) "on [him]" - from [him]. Expressing separation; "away from."

pwV "how" - how does. Interrogative adverb. Culy, quoting Bauer, notes that this question serves to deny that such a state of affairs is possible for a believer.

tou qeou (oV) gen, "of God" - [the love] of god. Here again we have trouble determining the function of the genitive, "of God." It may be a subjective genitive, a love that comes from God. Yet, are we speaking of God's active love toward the believer, but now withheld, or God's loving character resident in the believer, but now removed or suppressed? Lenski is strongly opposed to the notion that a believer could be devoid of either. It may be an objective genitive, the sinners love for God. This is the preferred view of many commentators, although we do well to remember Moule's warning that the intended meaning is often both subjective and objective. Of course, there are those who think the objective genitive is the figment of an over active mind. Schnackenburg opts for a qualitative genitive, describing the type of love, "divine love", a love exhibited in Christ's sacrifice for us; "the divine life-style of love expresses itself in human beings as a love for God and for brothers and sisters", Schnackenburg. Of course, the genitive may just be possessive, referring to that quality of love that belongs to God. "How can Christ-like compassion be in him"

menei (menw) pres. ind. / fut. subj. "be" - remain, abide. If a future tense is intended the "how" question produces the sense of something unthinkable; "how is it possible for Christ-like compassion to abide in / to exist in the heart of such a person?"

en + dat. "in" - in [him]. Expressing space / sphere; "how can he claim that God's love is an integral part of his life", Barclay.


"The whole of what has been said up to now will be summarised in this verse", Strecker.

mh agapwmen (agapaw) pres. subj. act. "let us not love" - [little children] let us not love. Hortatory subjunctive with the present tense being durative expressing continued action. Of course, the subjunctive may not be hortatory, but rather comparative; "children, you show love for others by truly helping them, and not merely by talking about it", CEV.

logw/ (oV) dat. "with words" - in words [or in tongue]. As with "in tongue", the dative is possibly instrumental, "by / with", but see below.

alla "but" - Strong adversative standing in a counterpoint construction.

en + dat. "with" - in [deed]. Since the preposition en is used with these two nouns, is a different sense being expressed to that of the presumed instrumental dative used for "words" and "tongue"? An instrumental sense may be intended, "by / with", but it may be adverbial, expressing manner; "our love must not be a thing of words and of fine talk; it must be a thing of action and of sincerity", Barclay.

alhqeia/ (a) "in truth" - [and] in truth. As above, adverbial; love in truth = "to love truly", Kruse.


iii] Love gives us confidence, v19-24. Great assurance lies in our natural compassion for the brotherhood, v19-22. Such is an evidence that we belong to Christ. This evidence reminds us of our standing in the sight of God, even when our many failings make us feel guilty. In this standing, by grace through faith, we can confidently access the presence of God, relying on his complete forgiveness and acceptance.

Verses 19 and 20 are most likely a single sentence, with the two dependent clauses of verse 20 controlled by the verb peisomen, "set at rest", "assure", but also with the meaning "persuade". Westcott translates the verses as follows, "In this we shall know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our heart before him, whereinsoever our heart may condemn us; because God is greater than our heart and knoweth all things." The meaning of these verses is quite a tease. According to our old friend Westcott, we assure / still our heart before God "in whatsoever it may condemn us because we are in fellowship with God, and this fact assures us of his sovereign mercy." Gordon Clark makes a better fist of it when he suggests the following, "By loving in deed and truth we shall know that we are of the truth and before him we shall persuade our heart that if it condemn us, God is greater than our heart." It is likely that this is the point John is making, cf. also, Schnackenburg . Our graciousness toward the brotherhood, flawed as it always is, is a fruit of God's sovereign grace operative in our lives, and this evidence can help bolster up our sense of assurance.

en toutw/ "this then" - in / by this. The close demonstrative pronoun "this" refers to loving in deeds and truth, v18b. It is by this evidence that we shall be assured that we belong to the truth. Some commentators argue that "this" refers to what follows, but this is unlikely. So, the point John makes is that "we know we are of the truth when we demonstrate our love in actions rather than just in words", Wahlde.

gnwsomeqa (ginwskw) fut. "we know" - we shall know. The present tense is used in 24b. Know in the sense of "we are personally aware and thus assured that ...."

oJti "that" - Introducing an object clause / dependent statement of perception expressing what "we" know.

ek + gen. "belong" - [we are] from, out of [the truth]. Expressing source / origin, and therefore establishing identity, so Culy. There are numerous possible meanings: "belong to the truth", "belong to the realm of truth", REB; "from the truth", "our life has its source in the truth", Barclay; "that we are loyal to the truth", Weymouth; "we are on the side of the truth", Williams. The idea of belonging to God in Christ, by his sovereign grace, seems a better understanding of this phrase. It is loving "with actions and in truth" that evidences this standing. "That we draw the power of our being from the Truth as its source", Westcott.

kai "and" - Coordinative; "and in this our heart is convinced before him."

peisomen (peiqw) fut. "we set .... at rest" - we will assure, convince, reassure, persuade / set at rest, appease, quieten. Both meanings work in the passage. The evidence of love in action stills our heart, sets it at rest, "we feel at ease", CEV, but also "will reassure", NRSV, when we are undermined by guilt, etc. The evidence of love in action persuades our heart against a sense of guilt. "Assures" seems best.

hJmwn gen. pro. "our" - [the heart] of us. The genitive is adjectival, possessive.

thn kardian (a) "hearts" - Accusative direct object of the verb "to persuade." Used in the sense of "conscience."

emprosqen + gen. "in [his] presence" - before [him]. It is under God's sovereign grace that we stand, therefore "under him" may be a better translation.


oJti ean ...... oJti "if ......, we know that ...." - that if [the heart of us condemns us,] that [greater is god than the heart of us]. The syntax of the two clauses in this verse is by no means clear. Culy nicely outlines the options:

*The first oJti is causal and the second introduces a dependent statement of perception - "our heart is convinced before him because, if our heart condemn us we know that God is greater than our heart."

*oJti is read as o{ ti, an indefinite relative pronoun, "in whatever matter", TH, and with ean + subj. yielding "a generalising relative clause with a conditional character", Schnackenburg. The second oJti may be read as causal, "our heart is convinced before him in whatever matter our heart condemns us because God is greater than our heart", or epexegetic, "our heart is convinced before him whenever our heart condemns (us) that God is greater than our heart."

*Both oJti are read as epexegetic to the final clause of v19; "our heart is convinced before him that if our heart condemns (us) that God is greater than our heart."

Depending on how oJti is treated ean + subj. introduces a conditional sentence, 3rd. class where the condition has the possibility of coming true, "if, as may be the case, [our heart condemns us] then ...." When our heart condemns us, when we are affected by guilt, love in action can serve to remind us that we stand under God's sovereign grace, that we are a new creature in Christ and are daily being shaped into that new creature. "Whereinsoever", Westcott; "where conscience condemns us", REB; "(We) shall assure our hearts before Him, in whatever our heart condemns us", NASB.

kataginwskh/ (kataginwskw) "condemn" - blame, condemn, declare guilty. "Even if our hearts make us feel guilty", Phillips.

meizwn adj. "greater" - Comparative. Our guilty conscience my serve to weaken our assurance, but God's gracious intentions stand over and above; "God is greater than our feelings", NJB.

thV kardiaV (a) gen. "than [our] hearts" - of heart. The genitive is ablative, comparative.

kai "and" - and [he knows all things]. Epexegetic; "God is greater than our heart in that / such that he is the one who knows the heart."


agaphtoi adj. "Dear friends" - beloved. Vocative.

ean + subj. "if" - if [the heart of us does not condemn us]. Introducing a conditional clause 3rd. class where the condition has the possibility of coming true; "if, as may be the case, ..... then [we have confidence before God]"

parrhsian (a) "confidence" - [we have] confidence, assurance. Accusative direct object of the verb "to have." "The thought here is of the boldness with which the son (the believer) appears before the Father, and not that with which the accused appears before the Judge", Westcott.

proV + acc. "before" - toward [god]. Spacial. The meaning "direction toward" probably gives the sense of "approach to God"; "we can come to God with confidence", Barclay.


kai "and" - and. Yarbrough thinks the conjunction here expresses result; "they have confidence so that their prayers are effective."

oJ ean + subj. "anything" - whatever. Introducing a relative conditional clause. Here probably best "whenever we ask."

aitwmen (aitew) subj. "ask" - we may request, ask. "We are on such terms with God that he will deny us nothing - that is the plain and unequivocal meaning of what John says. And it is not to be modified or explained away by any supposed exceptions or reservations. It must be taken in all its breadth as literally true, in connection with the practice on which it is dependent. That practice is obedience", A.W. Pink. Experience denies Pink's interpretation, as does scripture. God will give us all that he has promised, not all that we ask, and the promise is dependent on the obedience of faith, not on an obedience of the law. When it comes to the New Testament's seemingly open-ended promises, we find that they are restricted by the context. In v20 John raises the issue of the condemning heart which can undermine our assurance. It is likely that forgiveness (possibly renewal through the Holy Spirit) is the promise that lies behind John's words. Our heart need not condemn us for forgiveness is ours for the asking. Every sin is forgivable, such is God's promise to all who obey his command to believe in Jesus. Before we get carried away with the "anything / whatever" we need to consider that John probably intends "whenever" and so the sense of the clause is "he will answer our prayers whenever we ask him (according to his will)." Cf. 5:13-15.

lambanomen (lambanw) pres. "receive" - we receive [from him]. The clause works better with God answering our prayers, "he will give us", CEV.

oJti "because" - because, since, in view of the fact that. Here introducing a causal clause explaining why the request is answered.

autou gen. "[we obey] his [commands]" - [the commands] of him [we keep, guard, obey]. The genitive may be subjective, although better classed as ablative, source / origin, or even better, adjectival, possessive. The commands are God's commands and they are summarised in v23. The substance of God's command entails faith in Christ, a faith which is worked out in the love of the brotherhood.

ta aresta adj. "what pleases [him]" - [and we practice] the things pleasing / desirable, right and proper [before him]. Acting in a way that is "pleasing to God" is a motive for behaviour entrenched in both the Old and New Testaments. The problem lies with the actual meaning of "God's good pleasure." We can't help thinking that it means "happy", yet to assume that our compromised behaviour would make a perfect God happy is a rather dangerous assumption. We could opt for the meaning "joy", although heavenly joy is probably confined to the salvation of a sinner, Lk.15:7. We are best to adopt the sense "proper": "following his plans", Phillips; "do what is acceptable to him", NJB.


God's demands can be summarised as follows: that we put our faith in Christ and express this faith in love toward our brothers and sisters in Christ, v23. Those who obey this command live in him, that is, they possess life eternal. And we know and have assurance that we live in him through the evidence of our compassion toward our brothers and sisters, an evidence made real to us by the indwelling compelling of the Holy Spirit, v24.

au{th "this" - [and] this. Here the close demonstrative pronoun references forward.

autou gen. pro "his" - [is the command] of him. The genitive is probably adjectival, possessive, or verbal, subjective.

hJ entolh (h) "command" - commandment. Nominative subject of the verb to-be. The "commandment", "instruction", is spelled out in the terms of believe and love. It is likely "believe" is the substance of the command, and that "love" is the outworking of belief. Of course, this is the very point John has been making - our love affirms our faith. John Stott argues that the content of the command is "the confession of Jesus as the Son of God come in the flesh, and a consistent life of holiness and love." Dear me! "a consistent life of holiness and love", that's it for me, I'm done for!!!!

iJna + subj. "to" - that. Introducing an epexegetic clause specifying au{th, "this"; "his command is this, namely that we believe ...." The clause serves to exegete the content of the command, rather than state the purpose of the command.

pisteuswmen (pisteuw) aor. subj. "believe" - we believe. Stott argues that the belief here is a single event, a believing at conversion (based on the verb being aorist). Of course, in English the tense of a verb is time related, but in Greek, aspect is more dominant, ie., the aorist expresses punctiliar action, here probably constative where the action is viewed in its entirety with no reference to its beginning or end - I believe: yesterday, today and tomorrow. Strecker argues that "belief" in this context is too strong, such that the meaning is "acknowledge", although "acknowledge" seems too weak. Note that a present tense variant exists expressing ongoing belief. "Believe as true the message which the name conveys", Westcott.

tw/ onomati "in the name" - The "name" of a person represents that person, so "the name of his Son" simply means "Jesus"; "God wants us to have faith in his Son Jesus Christ", CEV. Dative of direct object after the verb "to believe." Much can be made of the different constructions used for believing - believe en + dat. "in", or believe eiV + acc. "into", although there is probably little difference between the two. Believing in / into someone involves trusting / relying on what that person stands for, their words and actions.

tou uiJou autou gen. "of his Son" - of the son of him. The genitive pronoun "his" is adjectival, relational, and the genitive "of the Son" is adjectival, possessive.

Ihsou Cristou (oV) gen. "Jesus Christ" - Genitive in apposition to "Son".

kaqwV "as" - like, as. Comparative.

hJmin dat. pro. "us" - [he gave command] to us. Dative of indirect object.


This verse concludes the main argument commenced in v19, and also serves to ease into the next argument.

oJ thrwn (threw) pres. part. "those who obey / the one who keeps" - the one holding, keeping, observing, obeying [the commands of him]. The participle serves as a substantive. The substance of the command is faith in Christ, the one law - the obedience of faith. Love is the outworking of faith and, of itself, does not achieve life in Christ.

menei (menw) "live" - remain, abide. The indispensable accompaniment of abiding in Christ is found in the obedience of "his commands", as defined in v23. The notion of abiding in Christ touches on the theology of mystical union, of a believers union with / in Christ. Explanations of this union range from Stott's highly pragmatic view (see above) to that of the Mystics.

en + dat. "in [him and he] in [them]" - [abides] in [him and he] in [him]. Expressing space, metaphorical, incorporative union - the indwelling presence of the divine. The member of the trinity doing the indwelling is not defined although Bruce, Marshall, Brown, ... opt for God the Father.

en + dat. "-" - [and] in = by [this]. Here instrumental; "by this." The "this" may point forward to "the Spirit whom he gave to us", or back to commandment-keeping in the terms of faith in Christ and its fruit, love. Backward-referencing seems best, so Yarbrough, contra Kruse. "In this case the Spirit is not a proof ..... rather the means that God uses to effect the knowing of which John speaks", Yarbrough.

ginwskomen (ginwskw) "we know" - Again in the sense of "sure, convinced."

oJti "that" - that [he abides in us]. Introducing an object clause / dependent statement of perception expressing what "we know."

ek + gen. "we know it by [the Spirit]" - out of, from [the spirit]. It is "out of" the Spirit that we have the knowledge that we are one with Christ, ie., partitive, so Brown, although better, source / origin, Wahlde, where the instrumental en toutw/ "by this" is picked up by ek as a marker of means constituting a source*, so Culy; "by the Spirit he gave us." Expressing the idea of an inward revelation of truth by the Spirit, cf., Schnackenburg, or an inspiring of the Spirit that enables us to perceive the truth, cf., Brown.

ou| gen. pro. "-" - whom. Possibly a genitive by attraction to tou pneumatoV, "the Spirit whom he gave us", so Smalley, although Wahlde argues that it is properly a partitive genitive, "the Spirit of which he gave us", giving the sense "that God bestows a portion of the Spirit upon the individual", ie., God provides the wherewithal, through the Spirit, to perceive the divine indwelling experienced by those who obey the command to believe and live out its fruit of love.

edwken (didwmi) aor. "he gave" - he gave. "He" is probably "God". The aorist is probably constative, expressing the entirety of the action without reference to its beginning or end.

hJmin dat. pro. "us" - to us. Dative of indirect object.


1 John Introduction.



[Pumpkin Cottage]