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1 John 2:2-4 New English Translation (NET Bible)

and he himself is the atoning sacrifice[a] for our sins, and not only for our sins but also for the whole world.[b]

Keeping God’s Commandments

Now[c] by this we know that we have come to know God:[d] if we keep his commandments. The one who says “I have come to know God”[e] and yet does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in such a person.

Footnotes:

  1. 1 John 2:2 tn A suitable English translation for this word (ἱλασμός, hilasmos) 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 [hilaskomai] 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, hilasmos) behind the phrase atoning sacrifice conveys both the idea of “turning aside divine wrath” and the idea of “cleansing from sin.”
  2. 1 John 2:2 tn Many translations supply an understood repetition of the word “sins” here, thus: “but also for the sins of the whole world.”
  3. 1 John 2:3 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.
  4. 1 John 2:3 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.
  5. 1 John 2:4 tn Grk “know him.” See the note on the phrase “know God” in 1 John 2:3 for explanation.
New English Translation (NET)

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