1 John 5:1-3
New English Translation
5 1 Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ[a] has been fathered[b] by God, and everyone who loves the father[c] loves the child fathered by him.[d] 2 By this[e] we know that we love the children of God: whenever we love God and obey his commandments. 3 For[f] this is the love of God:[g] that we keep his commandments.[h] And his commandments do not weigh us down,Read full chapter
- 1 John 5:1 tn Or “the Messiah.”
- 1 John 5:1 tn The verb γεννάω (gennaō) here means to be fathered by God and thus a child of God. The imagery in 1 John is that of the male parent who fathers children. See the note on “fathered” in 2:29 for further discussion of this imagery.
- 1 John 5:1 tc ‡ Most witnesses ([א] A P 1739 M sy) have καί (kai, “also”) before the article τόν (ton). But the external evidence for the shorter reading is significant (B Ψ 048 33 sa), and the conjunction looks to be a motivated reading in which scribes emulated the wording of 4:21 (ἀγαπᾷ καὶ τόν, agapa kai ton [“(should) also love the”]). NA27 places the conjunction in brackets, indicating doubts as to its authenticity, while NA28 keeps the conjunction but omits the brackets.
- 1 John 5:1 sn Also loves the child fathered by him. Is the meaning of 5:1b a general observation or a specific statement about God and Christians? There are three ways in which the second half of 5:1 has been understood: (1) as a general statement, proverbial in nature, applying to any parent: “everyone who loves the father also loves the child fathered by him.” (2) This has also been understood as a statement that is particularly true of one’s own parent: “everyone who loves his own father also loves the (other) children fathered by him (i.e., one’s own brothers and sisters).” (3) This could be understood as a statement which refers particularly to God, in light of the context (5:1a): “everyone who loves God who fathered Christians also loves the Christians who are fathered by God.” Without doubt options (2) and (3) are implications of the statement in its present context, but it seems most probable that the meaning of the statement is more general and proverbial in nature (option 1). This is likely because of the way in which it is introduced by the author with πᾶς ὁ (pas ho) + participle. The author could have been more explicit and said something like, “everyone who loves God also loves God’s children” had he intended option (3) without ambiguity. Yet that, in context, is the ultimate application of the statement, because it ultimately refers to the true Christian who, because he loves God, also loves the brethren, those who are God’s offspring. This is the opposite of 4:20, where the author asserted that the opponents, who profess to love God but do not love the brethren, cannot really love God because they do not love the brethren.
- 1 John 5:2 tn Once more there is the familiar difficulty of determining whether the phrase refers (1) to what precedes or (2) to what follows. Here, because ἐν τούτῳ (en toutō) is followed by a clause introduced by ὅταν (hotan) which appears to be related, it is best to understand ἐν τούτῳ as referring to what follows. The following ὅταν clause is epexegetical to ἐν τούτῳ, explaining how we know that we love God’s children: “by this we know that we love God’s children, whenever we love God and keep his commandments.”
- 1 John 5:3 tn The force of the γάρ (gar) at the beginning of 5:3 is similar to another introductory formula used by the author of 1 John, καὶ αὕτη ἐστίν (kai hautē estin; used in 1:5; 5:4, 11, and 14). The γάρ draws an inference based on the preceding statements, particularly the one in 5:2b, regarding the love of God. If in 5:2 loving God and keeping his commandments is the key to knowing that we love God’s children, it is important to define what the love of God involves, and this is what the author is doing in 5:3. In fact, as the following ἵνα (hina) clause makes clear, loving God consists in keeping his commandments.
- 1 John 5:3 tn Once again the genitive could be understood as (1) objective, (2) subjective, or (3) both. Here an objective sense is more likely (believers’ love for God) because in the previous verse it is clear that God is the object of believers’ love.
- 1 John 5:3 tn Contrary to the punctuation of NA28 and UBS5, it is best to place a full stop (period) following τηρῶμεν (tērōmen) in 5:3. The subordinate clause introduced by ὅτι (hoti) at the beginning of 5:4 is related to the second half of 5:3 which begins with καί (kai). Καί is commonly used by the author to begin a new sentence, probably by analogy with the Hebrew vav consecutive.