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Bible Commentaries
1 John 5

International Critical Commentary NTInternational Critical

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Verses 1-99

II. 5:1-12. Second presentation of the two main thoughts closely combined together. Faith the ground of love

1. 5:1a. Faith the sign of the Birth from God (cf. 2:29, 4:7, Love).

2. 5:1b-4. The love of God which is the true ground of love of the brethren, is the sign of love of the brethren (contrast 4:20).

3. 5:5-12. Faith, in its full assurance, the witness to Jesus as being the Christ.

1. 5:1a. Faith the sign of the Birth from God

1 ff. The writer has shown that love has its origin in the nature of God, and is not merely an affection of human nature. He has also reminded his readers how their love for God, the reflex of His love for us, can be tested. The truth of our claim to love God is shown in our attitude towards the brethren. He now proceeds to show why this is so, and how we can be sure of the sincerity of our love for others. The love of a child for its father and for its brother or sister are facts of nature. Every one who loves the father who begat him naturally loves the other children whom his father has begotten. The facts of the spiritual birth are analogous. What is true of the human family is also true of the Divine Society. If we love the Father who hath “begotten us again,” and the reality of that love is shown in our active obedience (ποιῶμεν)to His commands, we may be assured that our love to His other (spiritual) children is real and sincere. Every one that believeth that Jesus is the Christ shows by that belief, as it manifests itself in word and deed as well as in intellectual conviction, that he has experienced the new birth. Those who are “born of God” must love all His children, as surely as it is natural that any child should love his father’s other children.

1 πᾶς ὁ πιστεύων κ.τ.λ.] Cf. John 1:12 f. ὅσοι δὲ ἔλαβον αὐτόν, ἔδωκεν αὐτοῖς ἐξουσίαν τέκνα θεοῦ γενέσθαι, τοῖς πιστεύουσιν εἰς τὸ ὄνομα αὐτοῦ… οἵ… ἐκ θεοῦ ἐγεννήθησαν. Where true faith in Jesus as God’s appointed messenger to men is present, there the new birth has taken place. The writer does not state whether faith is the cause or the result of the new birth. The point is not present to his thoughts, and his argument does not require its elucidation. What he wishes to emphasize is the fact that they go together. Where true faith is the new birth is a reality, and has abiding and permanent consequences. The believer has been born of God. But incidentally the tenses “make it clear that the Divine Begetting is the antecedent, not the consequent of the believing.” “Christian belief, which is essentially the spiritual recognition of spiritual truth, is a function of the Divine Life as imparted to men” (Law).

ὁ πιστεύων] Πιστεύειν ὅτι expresses belief in the truth of a statement or thesis. The phrase used in the passage quoted above from the Gospel (πιστεύειν εἰς τὸ ὄνομα) suggests complete and voluntary submission to the guidance of a Person, as possessed of the character which his name implies. But though the writer is careful to distinguish the two, he would have been unable to conceive of any true faith stopping short at intellectual conviction of the abstract truth of a statement like that which follows in the clause introduced by ὅτι, which had no effect on the shaping of a man’s conduct. He would have regarded the belief that Jesus is the Christ as inseparable from faith in Jesus as Christ. Neither belief nor knowledge are for him purely intellectual processes.

Ἰησοῦς ἐστὶν ὁ Χριστός] The exact form of this confession of faith is conditioned by the antichrists’ denial (cf. 2:22, ὁ�Rev_2.

om. ποιωμεν—(3) αυτου 10 A 3. 42. 66** 100. 101.

The reading τηρῶμεν is clearly a correction to the more usual phrase which occurs in ver. 3. In itself the reading of B, etc., is more forcible. It emphasizes the active character of the obedience which testifies to the love felt for God and therefore for the brethren.

3. The first clause justifies the addition of the last clause of ver. 2, καὶ τὰς ἐντολὰς αὐτοῦ ποιῶμεν. Obedience to His commands is the necessary outcome of love to God. There is no such thing as true love of God which does not issue in obedience.

αὕτη … ἵνα] Cf. John 17:3. The definitive ἵνα generally introduces an ideal not yet actually attained. This is perhaps the only class of ideas whose contents it is used to define.

τηρῶμεν] Contrast ver. 2 (ποιῶμεν). Actual “doing” is the test of love. But love includes more of obedience than the actual carrying out of definite commands. It accepts them as the expression of an underlying principle, which is capable of moulding the whole character, and which must be kept alive and given scope to work.

βαρεῖαι] Cf. Matthew 23:4, δεσμεύουσιν δὲ φορτία βαρέα: Luke 11:46, φορτίζετε τοὺς�Matthew 11:30, τὸ φορτίον μου ἐλαφρόν ἐστιν. The word cannot here mean “difficult to fulfil.” It suggests the idea of a heavy and oppressive burden. The commands may be in themselves difficult to carry out, and yet not burdensome, if the Christian is possessed of adequate power to fulfil them, in virtue of his Christian standing and love: dilige et quod vis fac (Augustine). Windisch regards vv. 3 and 4 as intended to show the possibility of fulfilling the Divine commands, and of realizing the Divine ideal for men. (1) On the side of God, He does not demand what is too hard for men. Cf. Philo, de spec. leg. 1:299, p. 257, αἰτεῖται … ὦ διάνοια, παρὰ σοῦ ὁ θεὸς οὐδὲν βαρὺ καὶ ποικίλον ἢ δύσεργον,�

γαρ] om. H δ6 (Ψ) K2 (S) sahw boh-codd.

4. And this power each Christian has, in virtue of the new birth from God. The statement is made in its most abstract form (πᾶν τὸ γεγεννημένον) which emphasizes the power of the new birth rather than its possession by each individual (πᾶς ὁγεγεννημένος). Every one who is born of God has within himself a power strong enough to overcome the resistance of all the powers of the world, which hinder him from loving God.καὶ αὕτη κ.τ.λ.] For the form of expression, cf. 1:5; John 1:19. Our faith, the faith that Jesus of Nazareth is the Messiah, the Son of God, accepted not as an intellectual conviction but as a rule of life, overcame in our case the powers of the world, which fight for a different principle of life. The aorist (νικήσασα) naturally points to a definite act, or fact. The writer must be thinking either of the conversion of each member of the community, “the moment when he ἐπίστευσεν, ” or else of some well-known event in the history of the Church or Churches addressed. The most natural reference is to the definite withdrawing of the false teachers from the fellowship of the Church. There is no obvious reference to the victory of Christ over the world (cf. John 16:33, ἐγὼ νενίκηκα τὸν κόσμον) which His followers share in virtue of their faith, i.e. in so far as they unite themselves with Him.

πας ο γεγεννημενος Ia 173 (156).

ημων א A B K P al. pler. cat. vg. etc.] υμων L 3. 42. 57. 98. 105. 191 al. fere. 20 aeth.

5. τίς ἐστιν] Cf. 2:22, τίς ἐστιν ὁ ψεύστης εἰ μὴ κ.τ.λ. The appeal is to practical experience. He who has realized what Jesus of Nazareth really was, and he alone, has in himself the power which overcomes the forces of the world which draw men away from God; cf. 1 Corinthians 15:57.

ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ θεοῦ] Cf. verse 1, ὁ χριστός. The fuller p’rase brings out the meaning more clearly, though the writer probably means much the same by both titles. He varies his phrase to leave no doubt about his meaning. The πρῶτον ψεῦδος of the false teachers was the denial, not that Jesus was the Messiah of the Jews, but that He was the complete revelation of the Father, the assertion that the higher Power that was in Him was only temporarily connected with Him during a part of His earthly life.

τις εστιν A L al. pler. vg. sah. Oec.] pr. et arm.: + δε א (B) K P 13. 29. 66**. 68. 69 ascr al. fere. 15 cat. cav. demid. tol. cop. syr. arm. Did. Cyr. Thphyl. (τις δε εστιν B cav. demid. tol. Did.).

ο πιστευων] ο πιστευσας P.

ιησους + Christus arm-codd. boh-codd.

εστιν] om. Ia 1402 (219).

ο υιος] pr. ο χριστος 13. 56: ο χσ̄ Ic 258 (56).

6-9. He, the pre-existent Son of God, was sent from heaven by God to do His will. He came to earth to fulfil His Mission. In His fulfilment of it, two events are prominent: the Baptism by which He was consecrated to His Messianic work, and the Passion by which He completed His work of atonement and propitiation. His coming was not in the water of John’s Baptism alone, it was realized even more fully in the Blood which He shed upon the Cross. “He that came” is the title which best characterizes His work. The function of the Spirit was different. It was to bear witness. He was the witness-bearer. And He was fitted for His office, for truth is of the essence of His being. He is the truth. And the witness may be trusted, for it is threefold. The witness-bearers are three: the Spirit, whose very nature qualifies Him for the office; the water of John’s Baptism, after which He was declared to be the Son of God; and the blood shed upon the Cross, where testimony was again given to the fact that He is the Son of God, for His death was not like that of other men. Thus the three witnesses all tend to the same point. They establish the one truth that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God.

6. Of the many interpretations of this passage which have been suggested, only three deserve serious consideration: (1) A reference to the two Christian Sacraments of Baptism and the Eucharist naturally suggested itself to many interpreters of the Epistle, especially in view of the 4th and 6th chapters of the Gospel. But it is open to more than one fatal objection. If ὕδωρ can be satisfactorily explained of Baptism, αἷμα is never found in the New Testament as a designation of the Eucharist. And, secondly, the form of the sentence, ὁ ἐλθὼν διʼ ὕδατος καὶαἵματος, almost necessitates a reference to definite historical facts in the life of Christ on earth which could be regarded as peculiarly characteristic of the Mission which He “came” to fulfil. If the writer had intended to refer to the Christian Sacraments, he must have said ὁ ἐρχόμενος. It is hardly necessary to point out that any interpretations which refer one of the expressions to a rite instituted by Christ, and the other to something which happened to Him (as, e.g., the Christian rite of baptism, and the atoning death on the Cross), are even less satisfactory. See Cambridge Greek Testament.(2) The reference to the incident recorded in John 19:34 was also natural, considering the stress laid upon it by the author of the Gospel, and the exact language in which he records the result of the piercing of the Lord’s side by the soldier’s lance, ἐξῆλθεν αἷμα καὶ ὕδωρ. This incident gives a definite fact which would justify the use of the aorist (ὁ ἐλθών). And the difference in order (αἷμα καὶ ὕδωρ) offers no real difficulty. It is easily explicable as a consequence of the writer’s desire to throw special emphasis on the αἷμα, which he develops further in the next clause, οὐκ ἐν τῷ ὕδατι μόνον�

(3) We are thus thrown back on the explanation of Tertullian, Theophylact, and many modern commentators, who see in the words a reference to the Baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist, in which at the beginning of His ministry He was consecrated to His Messianic work and received the gift of the Spirit descending upon Him and abiding on Him, and the Death on the Cross by which His work was consummated. The terms used refer definitely to the historical manifestation of the Son of God, and compel us to look for definite and characteristic events in that history by means of which it could be said that His mission was accomplished, His “coming” effected. The two great events at the beginning and the end of the ministry satisfactorily fulfil these conditions. At the Baptism He was specially consecrated for His public work, and endowed with the Spirit which enabled Him to carry it out. And His work was not finished before Calvary. The Death on the Cross was its consummation, not a mere incident in the life of an ordinary man, after the Higher Power had left Him, which had temporarily united itself with His human personality for the purposes of His mission of teaching.

The middle clause of the verse distinguishes two facts, and lays emphasis on the latter. The repetition of both preposition and article brings this out clearly. The statement is as precise as grammar can make it. And the whole statement, including what is said about the function of the Spirit as witness-bearer, is no doubt conditioned by the special form of erroneous teaching which had made so precise a statement necessary.

Though Tertullian apparently adheres to this interpretation, his mention of it shows the early connection of this passage with the incident at the Crucifixion, recorded in John 19:34. Cf. Tert. de Baptismo, 16, “Uenerat enim per aquam et sanguinem, sicut Ioannes scripsit, ut aqua tingueretur, sanguine glorificaretur, proinde nos facere aqua uocatos, sanguine electos. Hos duos baptismos de uulnere perfossi lateris emisit, quatenus qui in sanguinem eius crederent, aqua lauarentur, qui aqua lauissent, etiam sanguinem potarent.”The combination of the historical and sacramental explanation is well illustrated by Bede, “Qui uenit per aquam et sanguinem, aquam uidelicet lauacri et sanguinem suae passionis: non solum baptizari propter nostram ablutionem dignatus est, ut nobis baptismi sacramentum consecraret ac traderet, uerum etiam sanguinem suum dedit pro nobis, sua nos passione redimens, cuius sacramentis semper refecti nutriremur ad salutem.” Considering his usual dependence upon Augustine, this may be taken as probably giving that writer’s comment on the passage, especially if we compare his comment on the passage in the Gospel (Tract. cxx. 2), “Aperuit, ut illic quodammodo uitae ostium panderetur, unde Sacramenta Ecclesiae manauerunt, sine quibus ad uitam quae uera uita est non intratur. Ille sanguis in remissionem fusus est peccatorum: aqua illa salutare temperat poculum; haec et lauacrum praestat et potum.”

The passage was naturally allegorized by the Alexandrian School; cf. Clement, “Iste est qui uenit per aquam et sanguinem” et iterum “quia tres sunt qui testificantur, Spiritus, quod est uita, et aqua quod est regeneratio ac fides, et sanguis, quod est cognitio,” where the interpretation illustrates the absence of historical sense which usually characterizes the Allegorists. It would, of course, be possible to interpret the passage of the whole of the life of Jesus on earth, in which the Son of God was manifested in flesh, ὕδωρ and αἷμα being used as symbols of two different aspects of the work which He accomplished during that life, as, e.g., cleansing and life-giving, according to the recognized Biblical usage of the terms. But if this had been intended the context must have made it plain that this was the meaning which the writer wished to convey. His readers could hardly have deduced it from the passage as it stands.

οὗτος] Jesus, who is both Christ and Son of God. For this use of οὗτος to emphasize the character of the subject as previously described, see John 1:2, John 1:7, John 1:3:2 (21:24); 1Jn 2:22, cf. 2 John 1:7. He who came was both Christ and Son of God. The incarnation of the Son of God in human nature was not a merely temporary connection during part only of the earthly life of Jesus of Nazareth.ὁ ἐλθών] The article is significant. He is one whose office or work is rightly characterized by the description given. And the aorist naturally refers to definite historical facts, or to the whole life regarded as one fact. It is hardly safe to find in the expression ὁ ἐλθών a distinct reference to the (?) Messianic title ὁ ἐρχόμενος, and so discover in the phrase a special indication of the office and work of Messiah. The idea emphasized in this and similar expressions would seem to be generally the course of action taken in obedience to the command of God. The “coming” of the Son corresponds to the “sending” of the Father. It expresses the fulfilment of the Mission which He was sent to accomplish. As that Mission was Messianic in character, Messianic ideas may often be suggested by the phrase, but they are secondary. “He who accomplished the Mission entrusted to Him by God” seems to be the meaning of the word.

διʼ ὕδατος καὶ αἵματος] The difficulty of the phrase is reflected in the attempts to modify the text. Cf. the critical note. The phrase should express means by which the “coming” was accomplished, or elements by which it was characterized. Cf. 2 Corinthians 5:7, διὰ πίστεως περιπατεῖν. The tense of ἐλθώνexcludes any primary reference to the Christian sacraments, even if ὕδωρ and αἷμα could be used to indicate them (see note at the beginning of the verse). As has been pointed out, the order of the words is not in itself decisive against such a reference or against a reference to the incident recorded in John 19:34 (ἐξῆλθεν αἷμα καὶ ὕδωρ). The real objection to the latter view is the difficulty of seeing how that incident could be regarded as characteristic means by which the “coming” was accomplished. It may well have suggested to the writer the peculiar significance of two aspects of the coming, but can hardly be regarded as an event by means of which the coming was fulfilled. On the other hand, the Baptism and the Crucifixion were both important factors in the carrying out of the Mission which He came to fulfil, and in this light they stand out more prominently than any other two recorded events of the Ministry.

οὐκ ἐν τῷ ὕδατι μόνον] The writer evidently feels that further precision is necessary to make his meaning clear and unmistakable. It is clear that he has to deal with a form of teaching which denied the reality, or at least the supreme importance, of the coming ἐν τῷ αἵματι. The use of the article is natural, where the reference is to what has been mentioned before. The repetition of both article and preposition certainly suggests that two different events are referred to, a point which the earlier phrase διʼ ὕδατος καὶ αἵματος left doubtful.

The difference in meaning between the two prepositions used is not very clear. The events may be regarded as instruments by which the Mission was accomplished; or, on the other hand, water and blood, or rather the realities which they symbolize, may be thought of as spheres in which the work, or purpose, of the Mission was characteristically realized. But the influence of Semitic forms of expression may have gone far towards obliterating any difference in meaning between the two forms of expression. Cf. Leviticus 16:3 (ἐν μόσχῳ); 1 Corinthians 4:21 (ἐν ῥάβδῳ … ἢ ἐν�Hebrews 9:12 (διὰ τοῦ ἰδίου αἵματος εἰσῆλθεν), 25 (εἰσέρχεται … ἐν αἵματι�

καὶ τὸ πνεῦμα κ.τ.λ.] Τὸ μαρτυροῦν expresses the characteristic office of τὸ πνεῦμα, as ὁ ἐλθών does of οὗτος. It is not merely equivalent to μαρτυροῦν. Christ was the fulfiller of the Divine plan. Cf. Hebrews 10:7 (Psalms 40:8), τότε εἶπον· ἰδοὺ ἥκω, ἐν κεφαλίδι βιβλίου γέγραπται περὶ ἐμοῦ τοῦ ποιῆσαι, ὁ θεὸς, τὸ θέλημά σου. The special function of the Spirit is to bear witness to what the Christ was and came to do. It is not improbable that in the false teaching which is here combated, a totally different function had been assigned to the Spirit (cf. Introduction, p. xlix). We may, perhaps, see a parallel instance in the description of the proper function of the Baptist contained in the Prologue of the Gospel, (οὐκ ἦν ἐκεῖνος τὸ φῶς)�

The present tense excludes the need of any definite historical reference in the case of the Spirit, as, for instance, the Voice at the Baptism, or the Voice which spake from heaven shortly before the Passion (John 12:28).

The best explanation of the author’s meaning is to be found in the account of the function of the Paraclete in John 15:26, τὸ πνεῦμα τῆς�John 14:26, John 14:16:John 14:8-10, John 14:13-15.

ὅτι] Either declarative or causal. The former gives a possible meaning. The Spirit “carries with it immediately the consciousness of its truth and reality,” is in itself the best witness to its own nature, which is truth. But this is alien to the context. The emphasis is on the function of witnessing. This function the Spirit can perform perfectly, because the Spirit is the truth. The very nature of the Spirit is truth. Cf. John 15:26. By its very nature it is not only capable of bearing true witness, but it is also constrained to do so. It cannot deny itself.

ελθων] pr. υσ̄ του θῦ Ic 258 (56).

και αιματος B K L al. plu. vg. (am. fu. demid. harl.) syrsch Cyr. Γhphy. Oec. Tert.]: pr. και πνευματος 5. 68. 83 arm. aeth.: και πνευματος 54. 103. 104 Cyr. Ambr.: om. Ia 158 (56) Ib 62-161. 472 (498) Ic δ299 (-): +και πνευματος 6. 7. 13. 15. 18. 25. 29. 30. 33. 34. 36. 39. 66**. 69. 80. 98. 101. 137 (+αγιου 33. 34. 39) ascr al. pauc. cav. tol. sah. cop. syrp Cyr.

αιματος] pr. διIa 184 (-) K500 (45).

ιησους χριστος א A B L al. plu. arm. Cyr. Thphyl. Oec.: χριστος ιησους K P h. 15. 22. 33. 34. 36. 39. 56. 100. 192 cat. arm-codd. sah. Ambr.: ιησους ο χριστος minusc. uix. multi. syr p Thphylcomn Oeccom. μονον] μονω B

εν τω υδατι … αιματι] εν τω αιματι … υδατι Ρ 31*. 83 arm.: εν τω υδατι… πνευματι A 21. 41 Cyr.: εν τω αιματι … πνευματι 66**. 80: + et spiritu cav. tol. aeth.

τω 2o] om. Hδ6 (Ψ).

εν 3o A B L P 4. 5. 13. 17. 18. 21. 33. 40. 41. 66**. 80. 83. 118 jscr kscr cat. Cyr.] om. א K al. plu. vg. boh-cod. Cyr. Thphyl. Oec.

τω 3o] om. H162. 103 (61).

και το] οτι Ia 397ff (96).

το πνευμα 2o] χριστος 34 vg. armusc: om. το H δ6 (Ψ) Ia 158 (395).

7. ὅτι τρεῖς κ.τ.λ.] The witness to the fact that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, is trustworthy. It fulfils the conditions of legally valid witness, as laid down in Deuteronomy 19:15, οὐκ ἐμμενεῖ μάρτυς εἷς μαρτυρῆσαι κατὰ�Deuteronomy 17:6; Matthew 18:16; 2 Corinthians 13:1; John 8:17. It is obvious that the same interpretation must be given to πνεῦμα, ὕδωρ, and αἷμα here as in the preceding verse. The Christ “came” by water and by blood, and the Spirit bore witness to Him and to His Mission. The witness of the Spirit is supported by the witness of the water and the blood. The means by which He accomplished His Mission are subsidiary witnesses to its character. And the witnesses agree. The Spirit, and the opening and closing scenes of the Ministry as interpreted by the Spirit, bear similar witness to the Christ.

εἰς τὸ ἕν εἰσιν] Are for the one thing, tend in the same direction, exist for the same object. They all work towards the same result, the establishing of the truth that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God.

εισιν] om. Ib 157 (29).

μαρτυρουντες] μαρτυρουσιν Hδ6 (Ψ) Ic 114f (335).

και 1o] om. Ib δ602ffff (522).

και 3o] om. Hδ6 (Ψ).

και το υδωρ post αιμα arm-codd.

το 4o] om. Ia 70 (505).

8. εἰ τὴν μαρτυρίαν κ.τ.λ.] Cf. John 5:36. If we accept the testimony of men when it satisfies the conditions of evidence required by the law, much more are we bound to accept the witness which we possess in this case, for it is witness borne by God Himself. Cf. also John 8:18, καὶ μαρτυρεῖ περὶ ἐμοῦ ὁ πέμψας με πατήρ, and 10:25, τὰ ἔργα ἃ ἐγὼ ποιῶ ἐν τῶ ὀνόματι τοῦ πατρός μου ταῦτα μαρτυρεῖ περὶ ἐμοῦ. Neither here nor in 4:11 does the εἰ indicate any doubt: it is known to every one that we do accept such testimony.ὅτι αὕτη κ.τ.λ.] Such witness is greater, and therefore more worthy of our acceptance, because it is Divine witness, and deals with a subject on which God, and God alone, is fully competent to speak. It concerns His Son. God has borne witness concerning His Son. In this case the Divine witness alone is�

ὅτι μεμαρτύρηκεν] The reading ὅτι is undoubtedly right. If the reading ἥν, of the Textus Receptus, be adopted, the αὕτη must refer back to the witness already described, i.e. that borne by the three witnesses, the Spirit, the water, and the blood, or by the one witness, the Spirit, who interprets the evidence of the historical facts. The witness meant must be the witness borne to the truth that Jesus is the Christ. If ὅτι is accepted, it may be taken in three ways: (1) Causal. In this case αὕτη must refer to what has preceded, the witness already described. Such is the witness, Divine and legally valid, for God really has borne witness to His Son. By laying the stress on the verb μεμαρτύρηκεν it is perhaps possible to make sense of the passage in this way. But such an interpretation is very harsh, and not in conformity with the author’s style.

(2) ὅ τι. This is the witness, i.e. that which He has borne concerning His Son. This use of ὅ τι in the Johannine writings is not certainly established, though perhaps we should compare John 8:25, τὴν�

(3) It is far more natural and in accordance with the author’s style (cf. John 3:19, αὕτη δέ ἐστιν ἡ κρίσις ὅτι τὸ φῶς ἐλήλυθεν κ.τ.λ.) to regard the ὅτι as declarative. The value of the witness consists in this, that He has given it concerning His Son. There can be no more trustworthy witness, so far as competence to speak is concerned, than that which a father bears to his own son. The essence of the witness is that it is the testimony of God to His Son. In the Gospel, μαρτυρεῖν περί is very frequent (1:7, 8, 15, 2:25, 5:31, 32, etc.), elsewhere very rare.

των ανθρωπων] του θεου א* | του θεου (? 1o)] των αν̄ων Ib δ602 (522) | om. οτι Io K arm. | η μαρτυρια 2o] post θεου 2o] Ia | οτι 2o א A B 5. 6. 13 27. 29. 34. 66** vg. sah. cop. arm-codd. Cyr. Aug.] ην K L P al. pler. cat. arm-codd. Thphyl. Oec.: qui arm-ed. | περι τον υιου αυτου] de filio suo Iesu Christo arm-codd.: + quem misit saluatorem super terram. Et filius testimonium perhibuit in terra scripturas perficiens; et nos testimonium perhibemus, quoniam uidimus cum, et annunciamus uobis ut credatis et ideo tol.

10. He who trusts himself to the guidance of the Son has in his own experience the witness which God bore to Him, it has become part of himself. He who does not accept the witness as true has not only missed the truth, but has made God a liar; for he has set aside as false the witness which God has borne concerning His own Son.

ἐν αὐτῷ] in himself, as is made clear in the paraphrase of א (ἑαυτῷ). The passage must describe the “testimonium spiritus internum.”

ὁ μὴ πιστεύων] The subjective negative is rightly used. It lays emphasis on the character rather than the fact of non-belief. A general class is described by its significant characteristic. But in N.T. οὐ with the participle is rare, in the Johannine writings only John 10:12. See J. H. Moulton, Gr. of N.T. Grk. 1. p. 231.

τῷ θεῷ] This construction (c. dat.) expresses, as usually, acceptance of the statement rather than surrender to the person. The variants τῷ υἱῷ, Jesu Christo, miss the point of the verse.

ψεύστην] Cf. 1:10. There is no room for ignorance or misconception. To reject the witness is to deny the truthfulness of God. He has spoken and acted deliberately, and with absolute clearness. The testimony has been borne. The things were not done in a corner. The witness must therefore either be accepted or rejected. It cannot be ignored or explained away.

πεποίηκεν] The tense suggests a definite choice of which the effects abide. The rejection has been made, and its effects are inevitable. The aorist (οὐκ ἐπίστευσεν, A, etc.) is not so forcible.

οὐ πεπίστευκεν] The negative emphasizes the actual fact rather than its character (contrast ὁ μὴ πιστεύων). The choice has been made, and its consequences are manifest.

οὐ πεπίστευκεν εἰς τὴν μαρτυρίαν] The nearest parallel to this expression is John 2:23 (πολλοὶ ἐπίστευσαν εἰς τὸ ὄνομα αὐτοῦ, i.e. believed on Jesus as Messiah, as being that which His name implied, and were ready to follow Him as Messiah, till they discovered how different His conception of the Messianic office was from theirs). It seems to denote devotion to a person possessed of those qualities which the witness borne to him announces, or at least to the idea which is expressed in that witness.

ἣν μεμαρτύρηκεν κ.τ.λ.] The phrases of ver. 9; are repeated for emphasis; each point is dwelt upon. The witness has been borne, once for all; it cannot be ignored or set aside. It has been borne by God Himself, in a case where His word alone can be final, as it concerns His own Son. In the writer’s view there can be no excuse for refusing to accept evidence which is so clear and satisfactory. Cf. Rothe, “If God did not will that men should believe on Jesus, He led men into a terrible temptation. So if we would keep our conception of God pure, we must ascribe this intention to Him in His ordering of the world. We generally put forward prominently whatever tells against Faith, but leave on one side what speaks for it. We ought first to answer satisfactorily the question, how it could be possible that this Faith should so widely permeate humanity before we investigate the force of our doubts, and then we should rest assured that Christianity is non sine numine”; a striking comment, even if it can hardly be said to be called out by the exact expressions of the text.

om. totum comma Ia 397ffff (96) | του θεου] om. arm-cod. | την μαρτυριαν א B K L P al. longe. plur. cat. sah. syr. arm. Cyr. Thphyl. Oec. Aug.] + του θεου A al. plus12 vg. cop. aeth.: +eius m. | αυτω A B K L P al. fere.54 cat Thphyl.] εαυτω א al. muuid Cyr. Oec. | μη] om. Ia 175 (319) | τω θεω א B K L al. longe. plur. cat. boh-codd. syr. Cyr. Thphyl. Oec. Aug. Vig.] τω υιω A 5. 27. 29. 66** al. plus12 vg. syr.: τω υιω του θῦ 56 sah. arm. boh-ed. filio eius aeth.: Iesu Christo m: om. am.* | αυτον] aeum m sah. | ου πεπιστευκεν א B K L P etc.] ουκ επιστευκεν א: ουκ επιστευσεν A 5. 33. 34 dscr | εις 2o—ην] Deo qui arm-cod. | εμαρτυρηκεν א | om. ο θεος 4 dscr jscr vg. codd. aeth. Cyr. Aug. Vig.

11. At last the witness, some of the essential characteristics of which have been already described, is actually defined. So far the writer has only taught his readers that it is Divine witness, borne by a father to his son, and that those who believe on the son have it in themselves, as a possession which experience has made part of themselves. Now he definitely states in what it consists. God bore witness to His Son when He gave life to men,—that higher spiritual life which they can realize and make their own only in so far as they unite themselves to Jesus, the Christ, the Son of God.

αὕτη … ὅτι] Cf. John 3:19 (αὕτη δέ ἐστιν ἡ κρίσις, ὅτι τὸ φῶς ἐλήλυθεν κ.τ.λ.); 1 John 5:14, αὕτη ἐστὶν ἡ παρρησία … ὅτι ἐάν τι αἰτώμεθα …�

The witness which God bore consisted in the fact that He gave life to men, by sending His Son that men might have life in Him. Cf. John 10:10, ἐγὼ ἦλθον ἵνα ζωὴν ἔχωσιν καὶ περισσὸν ἔχωσιν. The sending of the Son on a mission, truly characterized by the Water of the Baptism and the Blood shed on the Cross, and of which the object was to implant a new life in men, was the witness borne by God to the nature and character of Jesus of Nazareth.

ζωὴν αἰώνιον] The anarthrous phrase emphasizes character or quality. The gift was something which is best described as “spiritual life.”ἔδωκεν] The tense emphasizes the fact, apart from its consequences. The reference is to the historic fact of the mission of Him who came by Water and by Blood.

ἡμῖν] We Christians. The gift of life is a witness only where it has been received.

καὶ αὕτη ἡ ζωὴ κ.τ.λ.] This clause is part of the “witness,” not an additional statement made about the life. The witness is the gift of a life which is in the Son.

εδωκεν] δεδωκεν 69. 99 ascr 1scr | ο θεος B 31. 38. 137 h.scr syrp] post ημιν א A K L P al. pler. cat. vg. syr. arm. | αυτη] + εστιν A | om. εστιν A 100.

12. This verse explains more fully the last clause of the preceding verse. It is probably of the nature of an appeal to the reader’s experience. Those who lived with Christ on earth found that they gained from Him a new power which transformed their life into a new and higher life. And the later generations had similar experience by which to judge, though they had not actually companied with Him during His life on earth.

ὁ μὴ ἔχων κ.τ.λ.] In the negative statement there are two slight changes which have their significance: (1) The addition of τοῦ θεοῦ to τὸν υἱόν. God is the source of life. The Son of God alone can give it to men. He that cannot gain it from that source cannot find it. (2) The position of τὴν ζωήν, which is placed before the verb, and thus becomes more emphatic. Whatever else the man may have in the way of higher endowments, spiritual life is not within his grasp. In the positive statement the emphasis was laid on the actual possession (ἔχει τὴν ζωήν). We have here another close parallel with the Gospel (see John 3:36).

ὁ μὴ ἔχων] The negative (μή) generalizes the statement. A class of men is described who are distinguished by this characteristic.

τον υιον 1 o] + του θεου 8. 25. 34. 69 ascr boh-codd. | την ζωην 1o] τον υιον 31: ζωην αιωνιον Ia δ459 (489): + αυτου O46 (154) Ic 364 (137) | om. του θεου vg. (am. demid.) arm-codd. Aug. Tert. | την ζωην 2o] post εχει 2o Ib δ370 (1149): + αυτου O46 Ic 364.

13-17. I have written thus about belief in Jesus as the Son of God, and the witness of the Spirit, and the witness of God, which consists in the life which He gave to men through Jesus Christ, in order that you might feel assurance as to the possession of true life, you who believe in Jesus who is the Son of God. Such confidence is realized in prayer, in knowing by experience that, whenever we ask anything of God according to His will, He hears our prayer. And if we are thus conscious that God has heard, we already possess, in anticipation, the thing we asked for. The Almighty Sovereign has said, “Let it be,” there is no further doubt about the matter, even though actual possession may be delayed for long years. This is more clearly seen in intercession for the brethren. If any man see his fellow-Christian sinning, so long as his sinning is not such as leads inevitably to final separation from Christ and the life which God gives in Him, he will naturally intercede for him, and will gain life for him, even if it be long delayed, in the case of all whose sin is not unto death. There is sin which must lead, if persisted in, to final exclusion from life. I do not say that this comes within the sphere of Christian intercession. But in any case there is full scope for intercession. For all unrighteousness is sin, and there is such a thing as sin which does not necessarily lead to final exclusion from life.

ταῦτα ἔγραψα] Cf. 2:26, where the reference is clearly to the preceding section about the False Teachers. Cf. also 2:14, which the triple ἔγραψα probably refers to that part of the Epistle which had already been written. The present verse does not really present an exact parallel to the conclusion of the Gospel (John 20:31) which immediately precedes the appendix (ch. 21.). Even if the reference is to the whole Gospel and not to the σημεῖα recorded in ch. 20., that reference is determined by the preceding words (ἃ οὐκ ἔστιν γεγραμμένα ἐν τῷ βιβλίῳ τούτῳ). Here it would seem most natural to refer the words to the preceding section of the Epistle (5:1-12), in which the writer has put forward his view of Faith in Jesus, the Christ, the Son of God, as the necessary condition of the realization of that spiritual life which God has given to men through Jesus Christ, and which again is the real witness of God to the nature and character of His Son. The following explanation of ὑμῖν as those who believe in the name of the Son of God, makes the reference to the whole of this section almost certain.

ὑμῖν κ.τ.λ.] For the separation of the explanatory clause (τοῖς πιστεύουσιν κ.τ.λ.), cf. ver. 16, δώσει αὐτῷ ζωήν, τοῖς ἁμαρτάνουσιν μὴ πρὸς θάνατον, where the change in number creates a still greater strangeness of expression, and John 1:12, ἔδωκεν αὐτοῖς ἐξούσιαν τέκνα θεοῦ γενέσθαι, τοῖς πιστεύουσιν εἰς τὸ ὄνομα αὐτοῦ.

This separation of τοῖς πιστεύουσιν κ.τ.λ. from ὑμῖν has led to several attempts to improve the text: (1) The clause τοῖς πιστεύουσιν … θεοῦ has been added immediately after ὑμῖν in the Receptus. (2) This clause has been retained in its proper place; but for τοῖς πιστεύουσιν has been substituted (a) the nominative, οἱ πιστεύοντες, or (b) a second final clause, καὶ ἵνα πιστεύητε. The nominative (2a) is found with and without the insertion of a clause, τοῖς πιστεύουσιν, etc., immediately after ὑμῖν. Thus, on the assumption that the reading of B (ὑμῖν ἵνα εἰδῆτε ὅτι ζωὴν ἔχετε αἰώνιον τοῖς πιστεύουσιν κ.τ.λ.) is original, the genesis of the other variants can be easily explained. The parallels quoted above show that it presents a text completely in harmony with the writer’s style.

ἵνα εἰδῆτε] Cf. 2:1, ἵνα μὴ ἁμάρτητε, and 3:24, ἐν τούτῳ γινώσκομεν. There are many signs in the Epistle of the writer’s consciousness that his readers’ loss of their first enthusiasm and zeal for the Christian faith had led to their feeling uncertain about their position. They lacked “assurance.”

εἰδῆτε] The knowledge which they need must be intuitive. If they realize who and what the Christ is, and the relation in which they stand to Him, they will at once “perceive and know” that they are in possession of life.

πιστεύουσιν εἰς τὸ ὄνομα] Cf. ver. 10 and John 2:23. The phrase must imply devotion to a person possessed of the qualities which his name denotes. It is unlikely that πιστεύειν is used with the two constructions (c. dat., εἰς c. acc.) in the same passage in exactly the same sense. Here the full force of the construction with εἰς is needed to bring out the sense. The knowledge follows as a matter of course where the self-surrender is complete.

ταυτα] pr. και Ic 258 (56) | εγραψα] post υμιν H δ6 (Ψ) | υμιν א A B h. 5. 6. 13uid 29. 66**. 81. 142. 162 vg. sah. cop. syr. arm. aeth. Cassiod.] + τοις πιστευουσιν εις το ονομα του υιου του θεου K L P al. pler. cat. Thphyl. Oec.: + τοις πιστευουσιν 126 | εχετε A B al. sat. mu. cat. vg. syrp Cassiod.] habemus arm-codd.: post αιωνιον א K L P al. plus50 Thphyl. Oec. | τοις πιστευουσιν א B syr.] οι πιστευοντες אc A 5. 6. 13 29, 66**. 81. 142. 162. vg. cop. aeth.: και ινα πιστευητε K L P h. al. pler. cat. arm. Thphyl. Oec. (πιστευσητε h. 37. 57: om. και 57 arm-codd.).

14. καὶ αὕτη] The object of the preceding section was to produce assurance in the readers that they were in possession of the new life. This assurance is now described as παρρησία, boldness or confidence, with perhaps special reference to the original meaning of the word, absolute freedom of speech. It is said to consist in the fact that God hears them whenever they ask anything according to His will, i.e. it is realized in true prayer, which always brings with it the consciousness that it is heard. This is the fourth mention of the Christian’s confidence; we have it twice in relation to the Judgment (2:28, 4:17), and twice in relation to prayer (3:21 and here).

ἣν ἔχομεν πρὸς αὐτόν] which we have and enjoy in realized fellowship with God. In describing relations, πρός generally denotes that which “goes out towards,” a relation realized in active intercourse and fellowship. Cf. John 1:1, John 1:2; Mark 6:3 (οὐκ εἰσὶν … ὧδε πρὸς ἡμᾶς; living our life).ὅτι] One of the common constructions used by the writer to introduce the description of that to which αὕτη, or ἐν τούτῳ, or some such expression refers. Our παρρησία with God is based on the fact that He hears whatsoever we ask κατὰ τὸ θέλημα αὐτοῦ.

ἐάν τι κ.τ.λ.] The necessary condition of the hearing; subject to this condition, that it is not in opposition to the Divine will, the hearing is assured whatever the petition may be.

αἰτώμεθα] The more subjective form of expression is chosen. But it is doubtful whether any definite and clear difference in meaning between the middle and the active can be pressed. Cf. Matthew 20:20, Matthew 20:22 (αἰτοῦσα … αἰτεῖσθε); John 16:24, John 16:26 (οὐκ ἠτήσατε … αἰτεῖτε … ἐν τῷ ὀνόματί μου αἰτήσεσθε).

κατὰ τὸ θέλημα αὐτοῦ] Cf. John 14:13, ὅ τι ἂν αἰτήσητε ἐν τῷ ὀνόματί μου τοῦτο ποιήσω.

ἀκούει ἡμῶν] Cf. John 9:31, οἴδαμεν ὅτι ὁ θεὸς ἁμαρτωλῶν οὐκ�John 11:41 f.; Psa_16. (17.) 6. The word naturally includes the idea of hearing favourably.

εχωμενA al. pauc. | οτι εαν τι א B K L P al. pler. sah. syr. arm.] οτι ο εαν13 arm.(uid.) sah. boh.: οτι ανA: οτι εαν31*. 68. 191. 58lect | αιτωμεθα] αιτωμεν Ia δ602 (522) θελημα] ονομαA aeth. | αυτου] του θῡ Isa_55 (236) Ib 209f. (386).

15. ἐὰν οἴδαμεν] For the indicative after ἐάν, cf. 1 Thessalonians 3:8, ἐὰν στήκετε, and J. H. Moulton’s Grammar of N.T. Greek, p. 168, where among others the following instances from papyri are quoted, ἐὰν δεῖ, ἐὰν οἶδεν, ἐὰν δʼ εἰσίν, ἐὰν φαίνεται.

Our consciousness that we are heard in whatsoever we ask, the necessary condition not being repeated, brings with it a consciousness of possession. In the certainty of anticipation there is a kind of possession of that which has been granted, though our actual entering upon possession may be indefinitely delayed. God has heard the petition: the things asked for, for which we have asked not without effect (ᾐτήκαμεν), are in a sense already ours. This is perhaps the most natural explanation of the verse.But it is possible that the writer, while meditating after his wont on the subject of prayer, is trying to find expression for a view of prayer which gives a more literal meaning to the words ἔχομεν τὰ αἰτήματα. In the preceding verse he has laid stress on the fact that what he has to say applies only to such prayers as are offered κατὰ τὸ θέλημα αὐτοῦ. This excludes any prayer which is the expression of the supplicant’s own wish on any subject, except in so far as it is identical with the will of God on that subject. He may therefore have thought of true prayer as including only requests for knowledge of, and acquiescence in, the will of God in the matter with which the prayer is concerned, rather than as a statement of the supplicant’s wish, accompanied by a readiness to give it up, if it is in opposition to God’s will. In the case of such prayers the supplicant can enter into immediate and conscious possession of the thing asked for, whether the answer to his own formulated or felt wish be yes or no. The statement may be literally true οἴδαμεν ὅτι τὰ αἰτήματα ἔχομεν. Cf. Mark 11:24.

αἰτήματα] Here only in the Johannine writings. Cf. Luke 23:24, ἐπέκρινεν γενέσθαι τὸ αἴτημα αὐτῶν: Philippians 4:6, τὰ αἰτήματα ὑμῶν γνωριζέσθω πρὸς τὸν θεόν.

ᾐτήκαμεν] The voice and tense emphasize the objective fact and its results.

ἀπʼ αὐτοῦ] The Received Text has altered this into the commoner παρʼ αὐτοῦ. Cf., however, 1 John 1:5, 1 John 1:2:20, 27, 1 John 1:4:21; 3 John 1:7. In the Gospel παρά is the commoner usage in similar contexts. Thus the reading of א B is truer to the style of the Epistle, while the usage of the Gospel has apparently influenced the later text.

om. και … ημων א* A 19*. 96* | οιδαμεν1:0] ιδωμεν א c | om. εαν1:0 vg. Did. | ο] οτι Ia δ457-110. δ463 (209) | εαν2:0] αν A B K al. sat. mu. Oec. | αιτωμεθα] αιτησωμεθα Ia δ353 (999?) | εχωμεν H δ2*. δ6 (א) Ia 7. 70. δ353 | αιτηματα] + ημων Ia 175 (319) sah | ητησαμεν Ia 200f. 64 (83) A πρ 20 (36) Ib 78ff (—) (ητηκαμεν expl. sahb) | απ א B 5. 13 Rev_5] παρ A K L P al. pler. cat. | απ αυτου] a Domino sah.

16, 17. Intercession naturally finds its most obvious sphere in the new society itself. The writer therefore goes on to state its possibilities and its limitations. If any member of the body sees that his brother is committing sin, so long as it be not of such a character as must inevitably lead to final separation from the life of God, it goes without saying that he will exercise his power of intercession for him. And such is the power of intercession that he will be able to gain for him life, in every case where the sin is of the character described. There is such a thing as sin unto death, which tends to final separation from God, and which if persisted in must inevitably lead to that result. It is not clear that in such a case appeal can be made to the Common Father on behalf of a fellow-Christian. For such an one it may be that prayer can only be offered as for one who has forfeited his Christian privileges. But all injustice, every failure to maintain in our action right relations with God or with man, is sin. There is sin which is not of the fatal and final character described above. So there is plenty of scope left for the exercise of brotherly intercession.

ἁμαρτάνοντα ἁμαρτίαν] cf. Leviticus 5:6, περὶ τῆς ἁμαρτίας αὐτοῦ ἧς ἥμαρτεν: Ezekiel 18:24, ἐν ταῖς ἁμαρτίαις αὐτοῦ αἷς ἥμαρτεν. The accusative is added here because of the qualifying clause which succeeds (μὴ πρὸς θάνατον). It does not strengthen the verb. The present participle, “sinning a sin” (RV.), perhaps indicates seeing the sinner ἐπαυτοφώρῳ.

ἐάν τις ἴδη] The subjunctive with ἐάν simply states the possibility.

μὴ πρὸς θάνατον] The μή is naturally used after ἐάν; it can hardly be pressed to make the judgment subjective, that of the τις.

αἰτήσει] The future is used either for the imperative, or because it is assumed as a matter of course that the brother will intercede for the brother.

δώσει] The subject of the verb may be either God, or the man who intercedes. The abrupt change of subject which the former view would require is perhaps decisive against it. And in virtue of his intercession and its power the Christian may be said to “give” life. Cf. James 5:15, ἡ εὐχὴ τῆς πίστεως σώσει τὸν κάμνοντα, and (ver. 20) σώσει ψυχὴν αὐτοῦ ἐκ θανάτου.

τοῖς ἁμαρτάνουσιν] For the construction, cf. ver. 13.

ἔστιν ἁμαρτία πρὸς θάνατον] The phrase is probably suggested by the Old Testament conception of sins ביד רמה (Numbers 15:30-31 (וְחַנֶּפֶשׁ אֲשֶׁרְ תַּעֲשֶׂה בְּיָד רָמָה . . . וְנִכְרְתָה הַנֶּפֶשׁ הַהוא מקֶּרֶב עַמָּהּ Deliberate and wilful transgression as opposed to sins committed unwittingly, were punished by the cutting off of the sinner “from among his people.” We may also compare Numbers 18:22, where it is said that after the setting apart of the Levites for the service of the Tabernacle, any of the people who came near to the Tabernacle of the Congregation would be guilty of sin and die, וְלֹֽא־יִקְרְבוּ עוֹד בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל אֶל־אֹהֶל מוֹעֵד לֵָ֥שׂאת ֵ֖חטְא לָמֽוּת, which is translated in the LXX, καὶ οὐ προσελεύσονται ἔτι οἱ υἱοὶ Ἰσραὴλ εἰς τὴν σκηνὴν τοῦ μαρτυρίου λαβεῖν ἁμαρτίαν θανατηφόρον, with which may be compared the Targum (Onk.) לְקַבַּלָא חוֹבָה לִמְמָת. It is probable that in Rabbinic thought the words חטא למות were taken closely together, though this is against the meaning and pointing of the Hebrew text. There may therefore be a direct connection between the verse and the words in Numbers 18:22. Cf. the note on ver. 17.The form of expression would seem to indicate that the author is not thinking of one particular sin, definite though unnamed. “There is such a thing as sin which leads to death.” Such a state of sin may find expression in different acts. In the author’s view any sin which involves a deliberate rejection of the claims of the Christ may be described as “unto death.” If persisted in it must lead to final separation from the Divine life. Πρὸς θάνατον must, of course, denote a tendency in the direction of death, and not an attained result. The whole phrase thus suggests a “kind of sinning” (if the phrase may be allowed) rather than any definite act of sin, which leads inevitably in a certain direction. Its only possible issue, if it is persisted in, must be spiritual death. Deliberate rejection of Christ and His claims was probably most prominent in the writer’s thought. It is, of course, possible that in connection with what he has said in the earlier part of this chapter about the witness of the Spirit, he may have had in view the saying of the Lord recorded in Mark 3:29 (Matthew 12:32; Luke 12:10). But nothing in this passage offers any clear proof of such a connection.

οὐ περὶ ἐκείνης κ.τ.λ.] The writer does not forbid such intercession. He merely abstains from commanding it. Such cases lay outside the normal sphere of Christian intercession. They must be left to God alone. If the meaning often attributed to ἐρωτᾶν as distinguished from αἰτεῖν, “the request which is based upon fellowship, upon a likeness of position,” is to be pressed, the words contain their own justification. Prayer of “brother for brother, as such, addressed to the Common Father,” is out of the question where brotherhood has been practically renounced. But this interpretation, which emphasizes not that which the petitioner has in common with him to whom he makes his request, but rather with those on whose behalf he prays, is very doubtful. And the distinction itself between αἰτεῖν, the seeking of the inferior from the superior, and ἐρωτᾶν, which is said to imply a certain equality or familiarity between the parties (see Trench, Synonyms, § l.), is far from being certainly established. The distinction drawn by Dr. Ezra Abbott between αἰτεῖν, “to ask for something to be given (not done), the emphasis being on the thing asked,” and ἐρωτᾶν, “to request a person to do (rarely give) something, the emphasis being thus on the person requested,” is perhaps more naturally applicable here. We may hesitate to entreat God to act on behalf of one who has practically renounced his allegiance. But the difference in meaning and usage between αἰτεῖν and ἐρωτᾶν is not very clear. And the evidence of the papyri, while it shows clearly that ἐρωτᾶν was the natural word to use in invitations, and to that extent supports the former of the two distinctions which have been maintained, does not help much in settling the question.

ιδη] ειδη13 vg. Hil. Aug.: οιδεν Ia 175 (319) | αμαρτανοντα] αμαρτησαντα Ib δ368 (823) | μη 10] την Ia 552 (217) | αιτησει και δωσει] αιτησις και δωσις א *: petat (petet fu.: petit am. harl.) et dabitur vg. Cf. Tert. sah. cop.: petat pro eo et dabit … deus tol. | δωσει] dabunt boh | ζωην] + eternam boh-codd. | τοις αμαρτανουσιν μη προς θανατον] τοις μη αμαρτανουσιν αμαρτιαν μη προς θανατον A: peccanti non ad uitum vg.: sed non his qui usque ad mortem peccant tol. | αιτησει] + τον θν Ia 250f (133) | αυτω] post ζωην Ia 502 (116) Ib 396f (?? om. αυτω) 365-398 Ic 208, 116 (307) τοις … θανατον2:0] τω μη προς θανατον αμαρτανοντι Ic 364 (137) | αμαρτια] pr. η Ia 173 (156) | ου περι] υπερ Ic 364 (137) | ου] pr. και13 57lect 58lect | ερωτηση] ερωτησει K*: ερωτησης אc arm.: pr. τις15. 26. 36. 43. 98. 101 dscr vg. syr. Clem. Or. Tert.

17. πᾶσα�

If αὐτόν is original, it can hardly be explained, as Weiss suggests, by referring the phrase ὁ γεννηθεὶς ἐκ τοῦ θεοῦ “directly to the fact of the begetting from God, which keeps him who has experienced it.” This would be a very strained expedient. It is still more unnatural to refer αὐτόν to God, as Karl does (Der aus Gott gezeugte hält ihn (seine Gebote). Τηρεῖ αὐτόν cannot mean “observes His commandments.” With an accusative of the person τηρεῖν always has the sense in the N.T. of watching or guarding, in a friendly or hostile spirit. It would be far better to read αὑτόν (cf. John 2:24, οὐκ ἐπίστευεν αὑτόν).

But no explanation of the change from the perfect to the aorist participle is altogether satisfactory, if both are referred to the same person, i.e. the man who has experienced the new birth. The interpretation, therefore, which refers ὁ γεννηθεὶς ἐκ τοῦ θεοῦ to Christ deserves serious consideration. It is true that the expression γεννηθῆναι ἐκ τοῦ θεοῦ is not used elsewhere in the Johannine writings of Christ, unless the Western variant in John 1:13, ὃς … ἐκ θεοῦ ἐγεννήθη, for which there is interesting Patristic evidence in the second century, is to be regarded as original. We may also compare John 18:37, ἐγὼ εἰς τοῦτο γεγέννημαι καὶ εἰς τοῦτο ἐλήλυθα εἰς τὸν κόσμον, and the language of the Messianic Psalm, ἐγὼ σήμερον γεγέννηκά σε, which has some claim to represent the true text in Luke 3:22. Thus interpreted the passage has a fairly close parallel in John 17:15, ἵνα τηρήσῃς αὐτοὺς ἐκ τοῦ πονηροῦ, and ver. 12, ἐγὼ ἐτήρουν αὐτοὺς ἐν τῷ ὀνόματί σου ᾧ δέδωκάς μοι καὶ ἐφύλαξα καὶ οὐδεὶς ἐξ αὐτῶν�Revelation 3:10, κἀγῶ σε τηρήσω ἐκ τῆς ὥρας τοῦ πειρασμοῦ.

It may be noticed that τηρεῖν is never used in the Johannine writings with the accusative of the reflex pronoun, or in the N.T. with such an accusative absolutely. Cf. 2 Corinthians 11:9,�1 Timothy 5:22, σεαυτὸν ἁγνὸν τήρει: James 1:27, ἄσπιλον ἑαυτὸν τηρεῖν: Jude 1:21, ἑαυτοὺς ἐν�Genesis 26:11; Joshua 9:25 (19); Jeremiah 4:10; Jer_4 Mac. 10:4; Psa_104. (105.):15. Schlatter quotes from Siphre to Numbers 6:26, אֵין הַשָּׂטָן נוֹגֵעַ בָּהֶם.

οιδαμεν] οιδα Ia 397 (96):+ δε Ib 370 (353) | γεγενημενος99 jscr | ο γεννηθεις εκ] η γεννησις Ic 114, 116 (335): generatio vg. | γεννηθεις] γεγενημενος Ia 7f. Ic 174 (252) | τηρει] μαρτυρει | Ib δ602 (522) | αυτον A * B 105 vg.] εαυτον א A con K L P al. pler. cat. Or. Eph. Thphyl. Oec.

19. οἴδαμεν] Cf. the notes on ver. 18. What has been stated generally (πᾶς ὁ γεγεννημένος κ.τ.λ.) is now applied to the readers themselves, with whom the writer identifies himself (οἴδαμεν).

Εἶναι ἐκ τοῦ θεοῦ denotes, as elsewhere in the Johannine writings, the state which is the consequence of the γεννηθῆναι ἐκ τοῦ θεοῦ. Cf. John 8:47; 1 John 4:4-6.

καί] The clause is probably to be regarded as added independently, and not as subordinate to the ὅτι.

ὁ κόσμος ὅλος] The world as a whole, in its entirety, if the expression is to be distinguished from ὅλου τοῦ κόσμου (2:2), “the whole world.”

ἐν τῷ πονηρῷ] The preceding ὁ πονηρός determines that this is masculine and not neuter, as Rothe suggests. For the construction, cf. Soph. O. C. 247, ἐν ὑμῖν ὡς θεῷ κείμεθα τλάμονες. Christians are conscious, immediately and intuitively, of the difference between the power which dominates their life and that which controls absolutely the life, intellectual and moral, of the world, i.e. of the world of men so far as they remain estranged from God.

οιδαμεν] + δε 104 cscr boh-ed. | ολος] om. boh-cod. | εν] επι 31.

20. ἥκει] Cf. John 8:42, ἐξῆλθον καὶ ἥκω. The Christ, the Son of God, has fulfilled His mission. He has done the work which is characterized by His name, and the effects of it are with us still.

διάνοιαν] Cf. Ephesians 4:18, ἐσκοτισμένοι τῇ διανοίᾳ (in Ephesians 1:18, quoted by Holtzmann, the true text has καρδίας not διανοίας), 1 P. 1:13, τὰς ὀσφύας τῆς διανοίας ὑμῶν: Proverbs 2:10, ἔλθῃ ἡ σοφία εἰς τὴν διάνοιαν. The word is not found elsewhere in the Johannine writings. The faculty of knowing, or discerning, seems to be what it expresses. It is worth noting that γνῶσις also is absent from the Johannine writings, and νοῦς occurs only twice (Revelation 13:18, Revelation 17:9).ἵνα γινώσκομεν] The indicative, or at least the short, is well supported here, as in John 17:3; ἵνα γινώσκουσι receives considerable support (A D G L Δ Λ 33), and in that case the form can hardly be regarded as a “corrupt pronunciation” of the subjunctive. For ἵνα with the future indicative, cf. Mark 15:20, ἵνα σταυρώσουσιν (v.l.): Luke 14:10, ἵνα … ἐρεῖ σοι: 20:10, ἵνα … δώσουσιν αὐτῷ:John 7:3, ἵνα καὶ οἱ μαθηταί σου θεωρήσουσιν: 17:2, ἵνα … δώσει (v.l.) αὐτοῖς: Acts 5:15, ἵνα … ἐπισκιάσει (v.l.): 21:24, ἵνα ξυρήσονται:1 Corinthians 9:18, ἵνα … θήσω: (?) 9:21, ἴνα κερδανῶ: 8:3, ἵνα καυθήσομαι (v.l.): Galatians 2:4, ἵνα ἡμᾶς καταδουλώσουσιν: 1 P. 3:1, ἵνα … ἄνευ λόγου κερδηθήσονται: Revelation 3:9, ἵνα ἥξουσιν καὶ προσκυνήσουσιν: 6:4, ἵνα�John 17:3) John 4:15, ἵνα … μηδὲ διέρχομαι (v.l.): 5:20, ἵνα ὑμεῖς θαυμάζετε (v.l.): Galatians 4:17, ἵνα αὐτοὺς ζηλοῦτε: Titus 2:4, ἵνα σωφρονίζουσι (v.l.): Revelation 12:6, ἵνα ἐκεῖ τρέφουσιν αὐτήν (v.l.): Galatians 6:12, ἵνα μὴ διώκονται (v.l.): Revelation 13:17, ἵνα μή τις δύναται (v.l.); in 2 P. 1:10 the reading is found in some MSS, σπουδάσατε ἵνα διὰ τῶν καλῶν ὑμῶν ἔργων βεβαίαν ὑμῶν τὴν κλῆσιν καὶ ἐκλογὴν ποιεῖσθε. The same uncertainty is found in sub-Apostolic writers. Preuschen quotes Barn. vi . 5; Ign. Eph. iv. 2; Tr. viii. 2 (Handwörterbuch, p. 530). On the whole, the evidence seems to point to traces of the occasional use of a vulgarism subsequently corrected. There is much to be said for Professor Deissmann’s view, that the Fourth Gospel is “ein echtes Volksbuch” (Beiträge zur Weiterentwicklung der Religion, p. 131).

ἵνα κ.τ.λ.]The clause is dependent on διάνοιαν, which it explains, not on δέδωκεν.


The God who “fulfils the highest conception” of Godhead can only be known through the faculty of discernment given to men by His own Son, by means of His historic appearance on earth. The writer is already mentally contrasting the true with the false conceptions of God against which he warns his readers in the last verse of the Epistle.καὶ ἐσμὲν ἐν τῷ�John 17:3, ἵνα γινώσκουσίν σε τὸν μόνον�

ἐν τῷ υἱῷ αὐτοῦ Ἰ. Χ.] The difficulty of regarding these words as being in apposition to ἐν τῷ�

Interpreted naturally, the words supply a needed explanation. It is in virtue of their relation to Christ, and their fellowship with Him, that Christians realize their fellowship with God. Cf. 1 John 1:3, καὶ ἡ κοινωνία δὲ ἡ ἡμετέρα μετὰ τοῦ πατρὸς καὶ μετὰ τοῦ υἱοῦ αὐτοῦ Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ. If the Christ of S.John says (6:44), οὐδεὶς δύναται ἐλθεῖν πρός με ἐὰν μὴ ὁ πατὴρ ὁ πέμψας με ἑλκύσῃ αὐτόν, He also says (14:6), οὐδεὶς ἔρχεται πρὸς τὸν πατέρα εἰ μὴ διʼ ἐμοῦ.οὗτός ἐστιν ὁ�John 1:2, οὗτος ἦν ἐν�1 John 2:22, οὗτός ἐστιν ὁ�2 John 1:7 οὗτός ἐστιν ὁ πλάνος καὶ ὁ�

καὶ ζωὴ αἰώνιος] This addition has often been held to render the reference of οὗτος to Christ necessary, it being regarded as not accidental that in the Gospel it is only of Christ that it is said that He is life (11:25, 14:6). But the language of John 5:26, ὁ πατὴρ ἔχει ζωὴν ἐν ἑαυτῷ, justifies the expression here used if it refers to God. He is in the Johannine writings represented as the true source of spiritual life, which He has imparted to men in His Son. The writer would remind his readers that in spite of the claims to higher knowledge put forward by some, it remains true that he who hath not the Son hath not the Father. The God whom Jesus Christ revealed is the true source of life.

Holtzmann aptly quotes 2 John 1:7 as proof that in the Johannine writings οὗτος may refer to the subject of the preceding sentence rather than to the name which has immediately preceded (πολλοὶ πλάνοι … οἱ μὴ ὁμολογοῦντις Ἰ. Χ. ἐρχόμενον ἐν σαρκί. οὗτός ἐστιν ὁ πλάνος καὶ ὁ�

οιδαμεν δε א B K al. sat. mu. cop. Thphyl. Oec.] και οιδαμεν A Rev_20 cat. m7 vg. sah. syr. arm. Did. Cyr.: οιδαμεν L P Rev_9 aeth. Cyr. Did.: om. δε Ic 470 (229) | ηκει] + et carnem induit nostri causa et passus est et resurrexit a mortuis; adsumpsit nos m7 tol. Cf. Hil. quod filius dei uenit et concarnatus est propter vos et passus est, et resurgens de mortuis assumsit nos et dedit nobis intellectum optimum ut etc. | ο υιος] ο λογος Did | δεδωκεν] εδωκεν A 5. 13. 69*. 104 ascr cscr al. aliq. Did. Cyr. | γινωσκομεν א A B * L P 98. 99. 101. 180 cscr gscr* Cyr.] γιωσκωμεν B3 K al. pler. Did. Bas. Cyr. Thphyl. Oec. | τον αληθινον אc B K L al. plur.] το αληθινον א* sah. Vig. Facund.: eum qui uerus est m7. Cf. syr. arm. Cyr. Hil. Faustin. Fulg.]+ θεον A 5. 6. 7. 8. 13. 17. 27. 40. 66**. 69. 80. 81. 98mg 99. 106 ascr dscr al. fere.15 vg. boh-ed. armusc aeth. Ath. Did. Bas. Cyr. Aug. Pelag. | και εσμεν] και ωμεν 34: et simus m7 vg. Hil. | εν τω αληθινω] in uita sah.: in uita et haec uita erat boh-codd.: om. boh-ed.: in uerbo m7 | om. εν τω 20 33. 34. 45. 56. 162 ascr * vg. m7 Did. Bas. Cyr. | ιησου χριστω א B K L P al. pler. cat. m8 demid. tol. syr. sah. cop. arm. aeth. Ath. Did. Hil. Aug. Pelag.] om. A 162 vg. am. fu. harl. | θεος om. m8 am. Hil. Vig. | ζωη αιωνιος] ζωην αιωνιον παρεχων H δ6 (Ψ) : ζωη א A B 13 34. 57. 66**. 105. 126. 180 Rev_10 Did. Ath. Bas. Cyr. Euthal.] ζων η K ascr al. mu. Ath. Cyr.: η ζων η L P 5. 31. 38. 40. 68. 69. 105. 137. 191 Rev_15 cat. Ath. Cyr. Thphyl. | αιωνιος] + et resurrectio nostra m8 Hil. Faustin. Vig. (+ in ipso Faustin.).

21. τεκνία] The writer’s favourite form of address to introduce an appeal.

φυλάξατε ἑαυτά] If the use of the active with the reflexive can be regarded as “emphasizing the duty of personal effort,” it is significant. The danger is great. It needs all the effort which they can make to guard against it. With the peremptory aorist imperative, cf. ἐξάρατε (1 Corinthians 5:13), and ἐκτίάξατε (Mark 4:11).

ἀπὸ τῶν εἰδώλων] All the false images of God which men have made for themselves instead of accepting the true revelation of Him given in His Son. The expression embraces all false conceptions of God. It is not exhausted by the particular conceptions of the (Gnostic) false teachers against whose views the Epistle is directed. And it is not probable that the writer intends only actual objects of pagan worship, as Zahn suggests, finding in the verse an indication of the character of the readers to whom the Epistle is addressed (cf. also Windisch, ad loc.). If any limited reference is necessary, it must be found in the untrue mental images fashioned by the false teachers.

φυλαξασθαι H δ48 (33) | εαυτα א* B L h 23. 29. 31 cscr 58lect al. fere. 15] ταυτα H δ6 (ψ): εαυτους אc A K P al. pler. cat. Thphyl. Oec. | των] pr. παντων H δ6 (Ψ)| ειδωλων א A B 1. 13. 27. 29. 34. 65. 66**. 68 dscr am. demid. tol. sah. boh. syr. arm. aeth.] + αμην K L P al. pler. vg. fu. harl.


The Text of 1 John 5:7, 1 John 5:8

μαρτυροῦντες] + εν τω ουρανω ο πατηρ ο λογος και το αγιον πνευμα και ουτοι τρεις εν εισι και τρεις εισιν οι μαρτυρουντες εν τη γη σ͵. It is not necessary now to prove at any great length the spuriousness of this interesting but unfortunate gloss. Its style and want of conformity to the context would be sufficient to condemn it, even if it had considerable support from trustworthy authorities for the text. Without it the passage runs clearly. The threefold witness is first given, which satisfies the requirements of the law; and after the witness which is legally valid among men, is given the “greater witness” of God, which is precisely defined in ver. 9, though the exact meaning of the words is doubtful. The “heavenly witnesses” destroy the natural sequence of the passage. And the personal use of ὁ λόγοςis wholly alien to the style of the Epistle, and also of the Gospel, where it is confined to the Prologue. In the earliest form in which the words appear in Greek, the absence of articles and copulae, where Greek would require their presence, betrays at once their derivation from Latin. It is enough to recapitulate the well-known and often stated facts that the words are not found (as part of the Johannine text) (1) in any Greek manuscript with the exception of two very late MSS, obviously modified by the text of the Latin Vulgate, and in the margin of a third, the marginal note being in a seventeenth century hand; (2) in any independent Greek writer; (3) in any Latin writer earlier than Priscillian; (4) in any ancient version except in the Latin, where it is absent from the older forms of the old Latin as found in Tertullian, Cyprian, and Augustine; from the Vulgate as issued by Jerome, according to the testimony of the Codices Amiatinus and Fuldensis; and from Alcuin’s revision (Codex Vallicellianus). And even when it first appears in the Vulgate, in the “Theodulfian” recension, the earthly witnesses are placed before the heavenly.

The history of the gloss has been well told by Wettstein, Tischendorf, and Westcott, from whose work the accounts in most commentaries are obviously derived. New light has been thrown on the subject in the interesting monograph of Künstle, Das comma Joanneum auf seine Herkunft untersucht, 1905), and some interesting suggestions as to the origin of the celebrated “Codex Britannicus,” on the authority of which Erasmus in fulfilment of his rash promise introduced the clause into the text of his Third Edition, by Dr. Rendel Harris in his History of the Leicester Codex.

The history of the gloss itself naturally begins much earlier than the history of its introduction into the actual text of the Epistle.

The passage in Tertullian (adv. Praxeam, c. 25), which has often been quoted as containing an allusion to the verse, is really proof that he knew no such reading in the Epistle: “ita connexus patris in filio et filii in paraclito tres efficit cohaerentes, alterum ex altero, qui tres unum sunt, non unus, quomodo dictum est Ego et pater unum sumus, ad substantiae unitatem, non ad numeri singularitatem.”

Unfortunately there is no direct quotation of the passage in Cyprian: though the citation and interpretation of 1 John 5:6-8 in the pseudo-Cyprianic tract, de rebaptismate, c. 15, witnesses to the early Latin text, which has no trace of the heavenly witnesses. “Et spiritus est qui testimonium perhibet, quia spiritus est ueritas: quia tres testimonium perhibent, spiritus et aqua et sanguis, et isti tres (in)1 unum sunt.”The well-known passage in Cyprian, de Catholicae ecclesiae unitate, c. 6, shows how easily the language of 1 John 5:8 was interpreted of the Three Persons of the Trinity: “dicit Dominus Ego et pater unum sumus et iterum de Patre et Filio et Spiritusancto scriptum est Et tres unum sunt.” In favour of this, which is the natural interpretation of Cyprian’s words, is the reference to him in Facundus, pro defensione trium capit. 1:3, who, after giving the same interpretation of the Spirit and the water and the blood, adds, “Quod tamen Ioannis apostoli testimonium b. Cyprianus, Carthaginiensis antistes et martyr, in epistola sine libro quem de unitate sanctae ecclesiae scripsit, de patre et filio et spiritu sancto dictum intelligit.”

Augustine’s interesting interpretation (Contra Maximinum, 2:22) of 1 John 5:8, which he quotes in the form “Tres sunt testes, spiritus et aqua et sanguis et tres unum sunt,” shows that this interpretation was traditional in his time, so that he can assume that the writer of the Epistle intended the “unum” to refer to the three persons symbolized by the Spirit, water, and blood, and not to the symbols, which are different in substance. Incidentally it shows also, of course, that the heavenly witnesses formed no part of his text.

It may be worth while to quote from Berger’s Histoire de la Vulgate the evidence from the passage which he has there collected.

Leon Palimpsest (vii.):

et sps est testi1

monium quia sps est ueritas8 quoniam

tres sunt qui testimonium dant in terra

sps et aqua et sanguis7 et tres sunt

qui testimonium aicunt in caelo pa

ter et uerbum et sps scs et hi tres unum

sunt in xpo ihu9 si testimonium hominum

accip …

Compl.1 (Madrid Univ. Lib. 31) 9. “Quia tres sunt qui testimonium dant in terris, aqua sanguis et caro (mg. uel spiritus) et tria hec unum sunt et tria sunt qui testimonium dicunt in celo Pater Verbum et Spiritus et hec tria unum sunt in Christo Jhesu.”

Leg.1 (Cathedral of Leon, 6) 10. “Quia tres sunt qui testimonium dant in terra Spiritus et aqua et sanguis et tria haec unum sunt et tria sunt sunt qui testimonium dicunt in caelo Pater Verbum et Spiritus et hii tres unum sunt in Christo Ihesu.”

Group of Toletanus, viii. (Madrid B.N.). Cauensis viii.-ix. (Rom. formerly Cloister of La Cana, Salerno). Leg.2**. Gothicus Legionensis, a.d. 960 (S. Isidio. Leon). Osc. Bible of Huesca xii. (Madrid Archaeol. Mus. 485). Compl. 2, 3 x.-xii. Codices 32-34, Madrid Univ. Libr. B.N. Paris, 321. xiii. dem. Cod. Demidorianus xiii.

“Quia1 tres sunt qui testimonium dant2 in terra Spiritus Est_3 aqua et sanguis et hi4 tres unum sunt in Christo Ihesu.5 Est_6 tres sunt7 qui testimonium dicunt8 in caelo Pater uerbum Est_9 Spiritus10 et hii tres unum sunt.

Berne University Lib. A. 9, Saec. xi. (Vienne au Dauphiné): “Quoniam tres sunt qui testimonium dant1 spiritus aqua et sanguis et tres unum sunt.”2

Paris B.N. 4 and 4.2. ix. and x. (given by Chapter of Puy to Colbert in 1681) addition in nearly contemporary hand to 1 John 5:7: “Quoniam tres sunt qui testimonium dant in caelo Pater Verbum et Spiritus et tres unum sunt: et tres sunt qui testimonium dant in terra sanguis aqua et caro. Si testimonium,” etc.

Paris B. N. 2328, viii. ix. Codex Lemouicensis: “Quia tres sunt qui testimonium dicunt in terra spiritus aqua et sanguis et hi tres unum sunt: et tres sunt qui testimonium perhibent Verbum et spiritus et tres unum sunt in Christo Ihesu.”

B.N. 315, xii.-xiii.: “Quoniam tres sunt qui testimonium dant in terra caro aqua et sanguis: et tres sunt qui testimonium dant in terra Pater Verbum et S.S. et hi tres unum sunt.”

B.N. 13174, ix. (fin.): “Quoniam tres sunt qui testimonium dant spiritus aqua et sanguis et tres unum sunt.”

A second hand, almost contemporary, adds: “Quoniam tres sunt qui testimonium dant in terra Spiritus aqua etsanguis et tres unum sunt et tres sunt qui testimonium dicunt in caelo Pater Verbum et Spiritus sanctum et hi tres unum [sunt].”

This (M. Berger adds) is substantially the text of the first hand of Bible of Theodulf.

B.N. 11532 (Lothaire II. a.d. 855-869), from Corbie: “Quoniam tres sunt qui testimonium dant1 spiritus aqua et sanguis et tres unum sunt et tres sunt qui …2 testificantur3 Pater verbum et spiritus et tres unum sunt.”

Vienna Bibl. Imp. 1190, ix. (inc.). First hand gives ver. 8 without interpolation. In a second nearly contemporary hand is added, “Quoniam tres sunt qui testimonium perhibent in terra aqua sanguis et caro et tres in nobis sunt et tres sunt qui testimonium perhibent in caelo Pater Verbum et spiritus et hi tres unum sunt.”With this may be compared the reading found in Bibl. Mazarine 7: “Quoniam tres sunt qui testimonium dant in caelo Pater Verbum et Spiritus et tres sunt qui testimonium dant in terra caro sanguis et aqua et hi tres in nobis unum sunt.”

With these must be compared the quotation in the treatise “Contra Varimadum” attributed by Chifflet in his edition of 1664 to Vigilius of Thapsus, and claimed by Künstle for the Spaniard Idacius Clarus (cf. Künstle, p. 16; Herzog-Hauck, 20. 642, s.v. Vigilius von Thapsus), which is almost identical with the reading of the second hand of the Vienna MS.

S. Gall. 907. In the hand of “Winitharius.” viii.: “Quia tres sunt qui testimonium dant spiritus et aqua et sanguis et tres unum sunt: sicut in celo tres sunt Pater Verbum et Spiritus et tres unum sunt.”

S. Gall. 83. Part of the MSS of Hartmut (841-872): “Quia tres sunt qui testimonium dant spiritus et aqua et sanguis et tres unum sunt: sicut in caelo tres sunt Pater Verbum et Spiritus et tres unum sunt.”

Genève 1. (x.-xi.), given to the Chapter of S. Peter by the Bishop Frederic (1031-1073). Representing an Italian text (Berger, 140 ff.): “Quia tres sunt qui testimonium dant spiritus et aqua et sanguis et tres unum sunt: et tres testimonium perhibent in caelo Pater Verbum et Spiritus et tres unum sunt.”

Theodulfian recension (B.N. 9380) ix.: “Quia tres sunt qui testimonium dant in terra spiritus aqua et sanguis et tres unum sunt et tres sunt qui testimonium dicunt in celo Pater et Filius et Spiritus sanctus et hi tres unum sunt.”

The earliest certain instance of the gloss being quoted as part of the actual text of the Epistle is in the Liber Apologeticus (? a.d. 380) of Priscillian (ed. Schepps. Vienna Corpus xviii., 1889): “Sicut Ioannes ait: Tria sunt quae testimonium dicunt in terra: aqua caro et sanguis; et haec tria in unum sunt. et tria sunt quae testimonium dicunt in caelo: pater, uerbum et spiritus; et haec tria unum sunt in Christo Iesu.” With this must be compared the readings of the Leon Palimpsest, Compl. 1, Leg.1, all of which agree, if Berger has rightly restored the text of the Palimpsest, in connecting the words in Christo Iesu with the heavenly witnesses, placed, of course, after the earthly witnesses. The two latter MSS give some support to the peculiarities of Priscillian’s text, the use of the neuter (tria) and the substitution of caro for spiritus.The evidence of the Expositio Fidei, published by Caspari from the Ambrosian MS (i. 101 sup.) which contained the Muratorian fragment, is also important: “Sicut euangelista testatur quia scriptum est, ‘Tres sunt qui dicunt testimonium in caelo pater uerbum et spiritus’: et haec tria unum sunt in Christo Iesu. Non tamen dixit ‘Unus est in Christo Iesu.’ ”

The close agreement of this with Priscillian’s quotation is evident. Unfortunately, the value of its evidence is difficult to determine. Caspari, its editor, regards the creed as African, of the fifth or sixth century. Dom Morin would attribute it to Isaac the Jew and the times of Damasus (372). Künstle regards it as clearly anti-Priscillianist and Spanish. If Dom Morin is right, its early date gives it a special importance. But the view that Priscillian is attacked in it is a satisfactory explanation of that part of it which is concerned with the Comma Joanneum.

It may, however, be doubted whether later authorities do not preserve an earlier form of the interpolation. The date of the so-called Speculum is uncertain. Probably it is not later than the first half of the fifth century. Künstle brings forward some indications of its connection with Spain and the orthodox opponents of Priscillian. The form in which it quotes our passage is of considerable interest. It occurs in c. 2., of which the heading is De distinctione personarum patris et filii et spiritus sancti, and runs as follows:1 “Quoniam (quia C) tres sunt qui testimonium dicunt in terra, spiritus aqua et sanguis: et hii tres unum sunt in Christo Iesu, et tres sunt qui testimonium dicunt in caelo, pater, uerbum et spiritus: et hii tres unum sunt.”The agreement of this with the group of MSS quoted above from Berger is at once evident. Their common source cannot be of recent date. And intrinsically their reading has the appearance of being, if not original, at least earlier than the Priscillian form. The words in Christo Iesu are far more natural in connection with the earthly witnesses than at the end of the second clause.2 The form of text found in the Leon palimpsest, where there is no clause “et hii tres unum sunt” after the earthly witnesses, suggests how the connection of the phrases “hi tres unum sunt in Christo Iesu,” if originally referring to the earthly witnesses, might have become attached to the second verse (heavenly witnesses) by the mechanical process of the insertion of a marginal gloss, originally containing an interpretation, after the word sanguis. The form in which Priscillian quotes the verses suited admirably his peculiar view as to the distinction of persons in the Trinity.1 If the Speculum is anti-Priscillianist, it is far more probable that the common use of the clause about the heavenly witnesses as part of the text of S. John’s Epistle is to be explained by the supposition that it had already found its way into some copies of the Epistles at an earlier date, than that Priscillian is first responsible for its insertion, while his opponents accepted his text and used it against him by means of a different interpretation, and, perhaps, a slight alteration.

This point has been well discussed by M. Babut in his Priscillien et le Priscillianisme (Bibliothèque de I’École des hautes études, Sciences historiques et philologiques, 169, Paris, 1909), Appendix, 4:3, p. 267 ff. He points out the great difficulties which met Künstle’s suggestion that the insertion of the comma into the text of the Epistle is due to Priscillian himself: (1) His opponents never accuse him of having falsified the text of a Canonical Book. (2) To quote his own interpolation in his Apology would have been an inconceivable act of audacity. (3) Such a falsification could hardly have been accepted by all Catholic theologians, and, as Künstle has shown, the reading was universally accepted in the ninth century. (4) The verse is found in several orthodox works of the fifth century. Its acceptance must therefore have been almost immediate by Priscillian’s enemies. It is far more probable that both Priscillian and his opponents found the gloss in the text of their Bibles.

The confession of faith presented by the Catholic bishops of Africa to the vandal king Hunnerich in 484 (Victor Vitensis, Historia Persecutionis, ed. Petschenig, Vienna Corpus, 7:46 ff.), is proof of the presence of the insertion in the Johannine text towards the end of the fifth century: “Et ut adhuc luce clarius unius diuinitatis esse cum patre et filio spiritum sanctum doceamus, Ioannis euangelistae testimonio comprobatur; ait namque: Tres sunt qui testimonium perhibent (dant cod) in caelo pater uerbum et spiritus sanctus et hi tres unum sunt.”

Unfortunately the whole passage is not quoted, and therefore the quotation throws little light on the history of the gloss. Künstle, again, claims a Spanish source for the whole confession. Whether he is justified in doing so or not must be left to the specialist to determine. The quotation has not the variant dicunt, supposed by Berger to be Spanish (p. 163).It is certain that the gloss was accepted by Fulgentius of Ruspe († 533). Though the treatise De fide Catholica adv. Pintam is not recognized as his work, the quotations in his Responsio contra Arianos and De Trinitate determine the matter.1 Here, also, it is only the gloss which is quoted. We do not know the relation in which it stood to the rest of the passage in his text of the Epistle. It may be worth while to add the exact text, which differs in the two quotations. The variants in brackets are from the De Trinitate.

“Tres sunt qui testimonium perhibent (dicunt) in caelo pater uerbum et spiritus: et (hi) tres unum sunt.” For perhibent, cf. Cod. Lemonicensis, Vienna B.I. 1190, Geneva. 1.

The evidence for the African use of the passage which has been supposed to be derived from Vigilius of Thapsus (490) is too uncertain to afford much help.

The quotation in the First Book de Trinitate (Migne, P. L. lxii. 243), which is not by Vigilius, has an interesting text.

“Tres sunt qui testimonium dicunt in caelo pater uerbum et Spiritus et in Christo Iesu unum sunt.”

The form of text contains Spanish affinities even if Künstle is not right in claiming a Spanish origin for the twelve books de Trinitate.

The quotation in the treatise c. Varimadum (c. 5, Migne, P. L. lxii. 359) is still more interesting:

“Tres sunt qui testimonium perhibent in terra aqua sanguis et caro et tres in nobis sunt. Et tres sunt qui testimonium perhibent in caelo pater verbum et Spiritus et ii tres unum sunt.” Cf. Vienna B.I. 1190, Bibl. Mazarine. Here, again, the connection with Spanish types of text is far more certain than any possible connection with Africa or Vigilius.

The pseudo-Hieronymian prologue to the Catholic Epistles, which is found in the Codex Fuldensis (546), though that MS does not contain ver. 7 in its text of the Epistle, affords additional evidence of the prevalence of the gloss in the sixth and probably in the fifth century.

“Non ita est ordo apud Graecos qui integre sapiunt … illo praecipue loco, ubi de unitate trinitatis in prima Iohannis epistula positum legimus, in qua ab infidelibus translatoribus multum erratum esse fidei ueritate comperimus, trium tantummodo uocabula, hoc est aquae sanguinis et spiritus in ipsa sua editione ponentes, et patris uerbique ac spiritus testimonium omittentes, in quo maxime et fides catholica roboratur et patris et filii et spiritus sancti una diuinitatis substantia comprobatur.”

Künstle would again find a Spanish origin for this prologue, attributing it to Peregrinus, the orthodox sponsor of Priscillianist writings; but on what grounds he does not say.

The evidence of Ziegler’s Freisingen fragment, now in the Staatsbibliothek at Munich, must be considered next. The passage runs as follows:

QM TR es sunt qui testificantur

IN TERRA • SPs ET AQUA ET SAnguis et tres sunt qui tes

TIFICANTUR IN CAELO PaTER Et uerbum et sps scs et hi


(The legible letters are given in capitals.)

If Ziegler is right in his identification of the text of this fragment with that of Fulgentius of Ruspe, we have again important evidence of the existence of the gloss in Africa at an early date. This is, however, already attested for the sixth century, and the fragment cannot be earlier than that. If the text of the quotation which has been given above for Fulgentius is correct, there are differences between his text and that of this fragment, at any rate in this passage. And M. Berger has pointed out the similarity between the text of the Leon Palimpsest and the Freisingen fragment in these verses (Histoire, p. 9). The closeness of similarity between the two texts is seen in the note which gives a comparison of their readings where the two can be tested. It will be seen that their agreement in readings certainly attested by both is very close indeed, and it is possible that a more accurate restoration of the illegible parts would reveal even closer resemblance.1

This agreement includes, in the small space under consideration, the readings hoc (hic) est illius Antichristi (4:3), the priority of the earthly witnesses, as we should naturally expect in such early texts, the absence of the clause affirming the unity of the earthly witnesses. They differ in their translations of μαρτυρεῖν (unless, indeed, testificari should be supplied in the doubtful places of the Leon Palimpsest), and probably, with regard to the addition in Christo Iesu after υνυμ συντ in ver. 8, which cannot be certainly claimed for the African text, unless the Speculum can be definitely connected with Africa. It would certainly be rash to assume an early African form of the text from which these words were absent as opposed to the early Spanish form which undoubtedly had them, and probably in this place. It is always possible that their absence from later texts may have affected the manuscript transmission of the text of early quotations. We are again brought to the conclusion that the relation between early African and Spanish texts needs further investigation.The gloss was certainly known as part of the text of the Epistle in Africa in the fifth century. Its acceptance as part of the text cannot be proved in any country except Spain in the fourth century. There it was undoubtedly used by Priscillian (? 380). The influence of his work and writings on the Latin text of the Bible, which passed over into orthodox circles through Peregrinus and others, is an undoubted fact. It is through the Theodulfian Recension of the Vulgate that the gloss first gained anything like wide acceptance. A large proportion of the earlier evidence for the gloss can be very plausibly traced to Spanish influences. Thus the importance of the name of Priscillian in the history of the insertion is fully established. But Künstle has not proved his point that Priscillian was the first who introduced the words into the text of S. John’s Epistle, or even that this first took place in Spain. At least it may be said that the evidence of Spanish manuscripts, of the form in which the gloss is found in Priscillian, and of its use by his opponents, suggest the probability that Priscillian was not responsible for its first introduction. But these reasons are not conclusive. In one point Priscillian has preserved the true reading against (?) all Latin authorities, reading, with regard to the earthly witnesses, in unum sunt. It is a possible explanation of the textual facts that the words in Christo Iesu were first connected with the passage by Priscillian, either as part of the text or as an explanation. In the place which he assigns to them they support his “Panchristismus” admirably. Their first connection with the earthly witnesses may be due to their removal by Peregrinus or some orthodox opponent of Priscillian to a place where they did not give such clear support to Priscillian’s views.

At present we cannot say more than that the insertion was certainly known in Africa in the fifth century. The connection between the Spanish and African texts still requires investigation. Though its acceptance as part of the text of the Epistle cannot be proved for any locality except Spain in the fourth century, it does not necessarily follow that it is of Spanish origin.

In view of the clear evidence that Priscillian in 380 knew, or made the words part of his text, it is difficult to maintain an African origin for the gloss, which did not form part of the text of Augustine, who died a.d. 430. On this point Jülicher’s interesting review of Künstle’s work (Göttingen: Anzeigen, 1905, pp. 930-935) perhaps hardly does justice to the strength of Künstle’s position, though it rightly calls attention to some inaccuracies in his quotations and defects in his methods of presenting the evidence. Ziegler’s theory of the African origin of the gloss is now faced by great, if not insuperable, difficulties. But the subject needs further investigation by competent Latin scholars.

There is no trace of the presence of the gloss in any Oriental version or in Greek writers, except under the influence of the Vulgate.

The following note in Zohrab’s edition of the Armenian Bible is of sufficient interest to deserve quotation in full. I am indebted for the translation to my friend and colleague Mr. N. McLean, Tutor and Lecturer of Christ’s College, Cambridge. The note has been somewhat curtailed by paraphrase.“Oscan here as in many other places altered the Armenian text from the Latin, adding, ‘Who witnesses that Christ is the Truth. For there are three who witness in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit, and the three are one: and there are three who witness on earth, Spirit, Water, and Blood, and the three are one. If of men,’ etc. But of eighteen of our MSS, old and new, and two Catholic interpreters in addition, one only from the new, written in a.d. 1656, ten years before the edition of Oscan, thus puts the text ‘That the Spirit is truth. There are the three who testify in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit, and these three are one. And there are three who testify on earth, the Spirit, the Water, and the Blood. If of men,’ etc. And although there was also another more ancient copy which contained a similar text, nevertheless it plainly appeared that the first writing had been erased, and the longer text adjusted to its space by another writer. All our MSS, whether of the whole Scriptures or of missals, as well as numerous Greek older copies, have only the text which we have been compelled to edit (i.e. the true text without the gloss).”

The close parallel to the history of the insertion of the gloss in the Greek text is of some interest.

According to Westcott, it first appears in Greek in a Greek version of the Acts of the Lateran Council in 1215. Its first appearance in a Greek MS of the N.T., the Graeco-Latin Vatican MS Ottobon. 162 (xv.), betrays the use of the Vulgate, ὅτι τρεῖς εἰσὶν οἱ μαρτυροῦντες�

P P. α3. Petersburg. Bibl. Roy. 225 (ix.). Palimpsest. 1 John 3:2 του.

25 25. α103. London. Brit. Mus. Harley 5537 (a.d. 1087). 2 John 1:5 missing.

h. h. Fleury Palimpsest, ed. S. Berger, paris, 1889, and Buchanan, Old Latin Biblical Texts, Oxford (v.). 1Jn 1:8-20.

Ψ̠δ6. Athos. Lawra 172 (β52) (viii.-ix.).

13 13 ( = 33gosp.). δ48. Paris. Bibl. Nat. Gr. 14 (ix.-x.).

m m. Liber de divinis Scripturis sive Speculum, ed. Weihrich. Vienna Corpus xii., 1887. The following verses are quoted: 1 John 1:2, 1 John 1:3, 1 John 1:8, 1 John 1:9, 1 John 1:2:9, 1 John 1:10, 21, 23, 1 John 1:3:1 John 1:7-10, 16-18, 1 John 1:4:1, 1 John 1:9, 15, 18, 1 John 1:5:1, 1 John 1:6-8, 1 John 1:10, 20, 21; 2 John 1:7, 2 John 1:10, 2 John 1:11.

1 See von Soden, Das Lat. N.T. in Afrika, p. 280.

1 The words and letters in italics are conjecturally supplied by the Editor, being illegible in the MS.

1 The words and letters in italics are conjecturally supplied by the Editor, being illegible in the MS.

1 The words and letters in italics are conjecturally supplied by the Editor, being illegible in the MS.

1 quoniam, cpl.3

2 dicunt, tol.

3 om. osc. cpl.3 321 dem.

4 om. dem.

5 om. dem.

6 om. tol. cpl.2 quia, 321**.

7 om. et tres sunt, cpl.3

8 dant, cpl.2 321, dem.

9 om. 321.*

10 + sanctus, osc. cpl.2, 3 321.

1 + in terra sec. man.

2 + et tres sunt qui testimonium dicunt in caelo Pater et Filius et Spiritus Sanctus et hii tres unum sunt sec. man.

1 + in terra sec. man.

2 de caelo p. m. sup. ras.

3 testimonium dicunt in caelo sec. man.

1 De divinis Scripturis suie Speculum, ed. Weihrich, Vienna Corpus xii.

2 There is possibly support for the addition “in Christo Iesu” to the clause about the unity of the earthly witnesses in the Latin translation of Clement of Alexandria’s Adumbrationes on the Epistle. “Quia tres sunt qui testificantur Spiritus, quod est uita, et aqua, quod est regeneratio ac fides, et sanguis, quod est cognitio, ‘et his tres unum sunt.’ In Saluatore quippe istae sunt virtutes salutiferae, et uita ipsa in ipso filio eius exsistit.” Even if this is so, we are uncertain how much to refer to Clement and how much to his abbreviator. Cf. Cassiodorus, Complexiones in Ioannis Epist. ad Parthos: “Cui rei testificantur in terra tria mysteria aqua sanguis et spiritus, quae in passione domini leguntur impleti; in caelo autem pater et filius et Spiritus sanctus; et hi tres unus est deus.”

1 M. Babut rejects Künstle’s statement that Priscillian denied the distinction as too absolute. He adds, &ld;mais il est vrai qu˒il les distingue mal et qu˒il tend, en plusieurs textes, à les fondre en une seule. On a raison de parler de panchristisme” (p. 273).

1 See, however, Westcott, p. 194, who refers to C. Fabian. fragm.



1 John 4:3-6.

in carne uenisse om. (reading qui non confitetur IHM)

hic hoc

quod quem

4. eum eos

is his

saeculo + est

audit nos nos audit

ex hoc hinc.

5:3-11, 12-16.

5. est + autem

quoniam quia

6. aquam et spm om. et spm (no room)

8. testimonium dant testificantur (suits better)

7 testimonium dicunt testinficantur

sunt in xpo ihu om. in 10:1. (certain)

9. quoniam quia

10. filio 2o in do

13. aeternam habetis habetis aeternam

14. quodcunque quidquid

15. scimus siscimuS.

Bibliographical Information
Driver, S.A., Plummer, A.A., Briggs, C.A. "Commentary on 1 John 5". International Critical Commentary NT. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/icc/1-john-5.html. 1896-1924.
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