1 John 3:11-12
New English Translation
God Is Love, So We Must Love One Another
11 For[a] this is the gospel[b] message[c] that you have heard from the beginning: that we should love one another,[d] 12 not like Cain[e] who was of the evil one and brutally[f] murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his deeds were evil, but his brother’s were righteous.Read full chapter
- 1 John 3:11 tn It could be argued (1) that the ὅτι (hoti) at the beginning of 3:11 is grammatically subordinate to the preceding statement at the end of 3:10. As BDF §456.1 points out, however, “Subordination with ὅτι and διότι is often very loose…and must be translated ‘for.’” Thus (2) ὅτι assumes an inferential sense, standing at the beginning of a new sentence and drawing an inference based upon all that has preceded. This is confirmed by the structural parallel between the present verse and 1:5.
- 1 John 3:11 tn The word “gospel” is not in the Greek text but is supplied to clarify the meaning. See the notes on the words “gospel” and “message” in 1 John 1:5.
- 1 John 3:11 tn See the note on the word “message” in 1 John 1:5, where this same phrase occurs.
- 1 John 3:11 sn For this is the gospel message…that we should love one another. The structure of this verse is parallel to 1:5, indicating the beginning of a second major section of the letter.
- 1 John 3:12 sn Since the author states that Cain…was of the evil one (ἐκ τοῦ πονηροῦ, ek tou ponērou), in the immediate context this imagery serves as an illustration of 3:8a: The person who practices sin is of the devil (ἐκ τοῦ διαβόλου, ek tou diabolou). This is similar to John 8:44, where Jesus told his opponents “you people are from your father the devil…[who] was a murderer from the beginning.” In both Jewish and early Christian writings Cain is a model for those who deliberately disbelieve; Testament of Benjamin 7:5 looks forward to the punishment of those who “are like Cain in the envy and hatred of brothers.” It is not difficult to see why the author of 1 John used Cain here as a model for the opponents in light of their failure to “love the brothers” (see 1 John 3:17).
- 1 John 3:12 tn For the Greek verb σφάζω (sphazō) L&N 20.72 states, “to slaughter, either animals or persons; in contexts referring to persons, the implication is of violence and mercilessness—‘to slaughter, to kill.’” As a reflection of this nuance, the translation “brutally murdered” has been used.