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1 John, Translation and Exegetical Notes

This page is replaced. 1John 2:5 is undergoing extensive retranslation. So you can instead click here on [Webpage on 1John, whole letter translated], and scroll down to about page 28 or 30, to see the translation and the notes. It will take maybe a year or more to re-translate 1John. Simplest Greek, yet the most amazing roping of ALL BIBLE through it. Don't let the simplicity, fool you. Greeks had many rhetorical styles, and simplicity of reasoned exposition was the one John adopted for this letter. For a great yet easy-to-read source on Greek rhetorical styles, try this link: http://web.gc.cuny.edu/dept/class/score.htm The former contents of this webpage are hidden under HTML "comment" commands. So you can only read the rest of the page (why bother) if you View Source.

  • First, the context, which really began in 1:5, is about false versus true spirituality, fellowship, growing. So if you look at 2:4, you'll notice the OT buzzword "entole", which is used in the Greek LXX for the Decalogue and its related laws (Mosaic Law was divided into three parts: entole, dikaiomata, and krimata: dikaiomata was the spiritual code, but the other two, were two 'branches' of civil code.) So 2:4 sets up the strawman, who claims to know Him; but he DOESN'T know Him, if he isn't GUARDING/CHERISHING/KEEPING the Decalogue et. al. Um, but the FIRST Commandment requires getting the WORD in you, in order to 'obey' it, so we have verse 2:5, heh. (BTW, this is the biggest indictment of modern Christianity, ever, proving how totally hypocritical and evil all the publicity is. When you REALLY love someone you don't crow about it, because REAL love always concludes it doesn't love ENOUGH. So, stays quiet. It's somewhat comforting to know the rabid works people were problemmatic from time immemorial, which is also visible in this verse. See, if you broke even a jot in the Mosaic Law, you violated THE WHOLE law. Obviously the FIRST commandment must be fulfilled by first KNOWING God. Can't love Someone you don't know. What wit John has!)

  • Next, 1Jn2:5's verb "keeps" is a frequent Bible keyword, TEREO (terre-EH-oh), and you should look it up in a lexicon. It means to hold close, keep GUARD (military), CHERISH (i.e., keep because you LOVE it), probably keep to a testimony (esp. with menw or hupomenw). Same main verb as the second clause of 2:4. Bible writers frequently notch together verses by using the SAME verb as was in the previous sentence. English translation ignores wordplay where Greek uses the SAME word the same way as IN the previous sentences, so you CAN'T TRACK thought flow easily. So you MISS the repeated use of the word to show meaning layers, an important feature of GOOD LOGICAL GREEK. Sigh. [Bibles always use, say, the word "save" in English to denote Greek word "sozo", which has MANY meanings, the first of which are RESCUE and DELIVER. But in some verses, the down-here deliverance, which is not to-Heaven salvation, is in view. In those cases, you need a DIFFERENT English word, since "save" in our vocabulary has become too narrow in definition. Of course, sozo is FREQUENTLY used in wordplay, to show how the to-Heaven salvation births a whole bunch of OTHER rescues, down here. English COULD translate that wordplay by using different words, but rarely will.]

    So John SIMULTANEOUSLY REFUTES an (unstated) strawman claim of formal commandment obedience with with the TRUE OBEDIENCE of getting the WORD IN YOU. See how deft? Solely by changing entole to Logos, John CONTRASTS a partial claim (keeping the commandments) with the TRUE COMMANDMENT, keeping the WORD itself. Thus John blows out of the water! all works claims as being spiritual. So, in the rest of his letter, you know for SURE what "commandments" are NOT. 1Jn4:12-17 will harken back to 2:5 for this reason, connecting the WORD with the development of LOVE in the believer, due to SEEING HIM WHO IS INVISIBLE via that same WORD in him; thus the believer will have Confidence at the Bema. All this, because Greek word for "keeps" ALSO means CHERISH, which goes with fellowship, more than "keeps" as proper behavior. See the difference? REAL love, versus mere outward form? James 2:18-19 is parallel in meaning: No WORD BELIEVED, then no works work; but IF WORD BELIEVED, then works work, because the WORD BELIEVED is what works (theme since Jas1:1).

  • Then there's the OBJECT, "Word". In Greek LXX and NT, this is a SPECIAL word, and in Greek literature, it was ALSO a special word. Biblical meaning is GOD HIMSELF. Hebrew concept that God is PURE THOUGHT, WORD means THOUGHT, so all He has to do is 'speak' (think command) a thing, and it exists. So you GUARD THE WORD ITSELF, CHERISH THE WORD ITSELF, meaning God Himself, and THUS His Thinking. What you do with your body isn't really relevant, for 1) if you ARE guarding His Word, your body will naturally FOLLOW THROUGH on that, since soul is alive, but body is a bucket of biology; 2) if your bucket-of-biology does something NOT the WORD, it's DEAD WORKS (e.g., Heb9:14, Heb5:11-6:6, scads of other passages). DEAD PEOPLE DON'T DO ANYTHING, and body is DEAD in ADAM. See? Meaning of "keeping the WORD" is absolutely NOT works.

  • Next, the GREEK meaning of hey agape, "Love", is NOT AT ALL like the English meaning. English has only one word for Love, essentially: you have to ADD ADJECTIVES to distinguish WHICH KIND of love is meant. But Greek has DIFFERENT WORDS FOR DIFFERENT TYPES of love. So, "agape" in the Greek, is the HIGHEST TYPE of Love, DIVINE. Thus, "agape" means VIRTUE, first. Not, attraction. Idea of ABSOLUTE LOVE, founded on respect, on honor, on RIGHTEOUSNESS, JUSTICE, TRUTH. Attraction wasn't really considered love, but passion. So right away you have a different IDEA of what John is talking about.
  • There's the subjective and objective genitive (a lot in these sites about that), usu. translated "of God". So, subjective, "from God"; so, objective, "for God". In all cases, note the DIVINE AUTHORSHIP: it all BELONGS to God (essential meaning of the genitive case is belonging-to). Is this rich, or what?! Even James Joyce quipped about this Greek rule in the first short story of Ulysses (he had been trained first as a Jesuit), so the rule is VERY well known. FABULOUS DIVINE MEANING! Circle of VIRTUE-LOVE!

  • Biggest of all, the verb teleiow (tel-eye-OH-oh), "to complete", in the perfect PASSIVE. It's a MAJOR keyword in Bible. It means to accomplish, finish, bring to an end, fulfill, "to perfect" in legal sense of perfecting (fulfilling the terms) of a CONTRACT; verb teleiow and its cognate nouns telos and teleios dovetail with their siblings, pleroma (noun, play-ROH-mah) and plerow (verb, play-ROH-oh), "to fill up". Then there's the tense of teleiow, perfect passive, meaning GOD DOES THE WORK: English translates this "has been", which is misleading. English translation denotes something which is NO LONGER going on. Greek doesn't have that meaning, but rather that a STRUCTURE got completed, accomplished, etc. Results then ACCRUE: present state from past action of LEARNING SCRIPTURE.

  • These two keywords, teleiow and plerow (and their siblings), are critical to track what BIBLE says is the real spiritual life: you are "completed" (teleiow, legal concept of perfecting the dowry contract in Eph1, aka "inherit the kingdom", is ATOP salvation) by getting the WORD FILLED UP (plerow) IN YOU; at which point you are FULL (i.e., pregnant); thus FERTILE (source meaning of Pleroma, e.g., in Eph3:19). Fertile to produce sweet-savor-Son's-Thinking Father will forever hear; so FULLy Vested in King-Priesthood forever, you get YOUR OWN KINGDOM under THE King of Kings, to rule for Him. Romans 8 is a flagship chapter on these mechanics, but you may need an interlinear, to see the way the keywords work. Hebrews and all Paul's letters use these two words as tracking devices. Actually, so do John and Peter. 1Cor2 and 2Cor5 tie in to show the structure: 1Jn shows the function in operation, plus the pitfalls. See, there's more to life than salvation. FELLOWSHIP, the main theme of 1Jn. Wife must KNOW her husband, you see (Bible uses this term as sexual innuendo). Bride must KNOW Her Christ. It's NOT emotional, but LEARNING HIS THINKING, 2Pet3:18, Eph3:19. Love is something to come to KNOW through learning and Living ON the Word, 1Jn's theme (see also 1Jn4:12-19, Matt4:4). It's not works for people, at all. Next Caveat will introduce how "works" is a SATANIC TRAP, a constant demonic replay of Matt4 upon mankind. [Other sites have more detail. These are but Caveats, warnings.]

    What's clear from even these few notes about the Greek, which the English maybe can't even show, is that LEARNING THE WORD makes VIRTUE-LOVE GET BUILT in you. Further, that all the works on the planet WON'T BUILD God's Own Virtue: you must get it FROM HIM; since He is Truth; ergo, the depositing of that Truth IN you ALONE accomplishes the result (see also Rom5:5)! And we all know the verse, "Against love, there is no law." First Commandment. Nothing comes close, nothing else fulfills it. Compare all this to a translation you have. See how DIFFERENT translations are? See how much you MISS?

    So Bible TRANSLATION often sounds LEGALISTIC, dry, boring. For example, if you read 1Jn2:5 in translation, and in context (everyone knows CONTEXT is critical), the 'context' you get in TRANSLATION is that 'keeping the Word' means DOING THINGS. But that's NOT what the Greek says! The Greek says THE WORD ITSELF IN YOU does all the work, so all you need do is KEEP LEARNING and BREATHING IT under the Spirit, under your right pastor. ("Site Purpose" link in "Basics" box at page top explains how this WORD works to build Love, in more detail.)

    Ok, time to cross-check with some other Scripture. Pick any passage you like. So what did James say to the straw man? BE A DOER OF THE WORD. You have to HAVE the Word in you to 'do' it, see. But hey, man turns ANYTHING into a work, repeating Adam's insane figleaves. So, look: if you INTERPRET that phrase as 'doing works', rather than LEARNING AND HOLDING WORD ITSELF, you'll end up DIVORCING the WORD from works (Jas2:18). In which case, you aren't 'breathing' the Spirit when you do them (Jas2:26). See, just like the subjective and objective genitive, Greek clauses point in BOTH directions. So also, you won't have the Truth is not in you apart from the Spirit Filling you, and you can NEVER feel IMMATERIAL GOD, because God is ABSOLUTE INFINITY, so there's no emotion (emotions change; God never changes, so is NOT EVER emotional). Etc.

    SEE HOW IMPORTANT it is to get the ORIGINAL LANGUAGES? Even "faith" in translation FIRST MEANS, in the Greek (well, Hebrew also), WORD. WORD WHICH YOU BELIEVE. Bible uses MANY words to designate THE WORD, each term highlighting the WHOLE meaning from some particular 'window'. For example, "aletheia" stresses the fact that the WORD IS TRUTH. So the "truth window" characteristic is being stressed. "Faith" (pistis), and "believe" (pisteuw) ALWAYS AND ONLY mean that the OBJECT of faith/belief HAS MERIT. Never in Greek is pistis a meritorious thing of itself, which is why verses like Gen15:6, John 3:16, Eph2:8-9 are in the Bible.

    Similarly, believing the WORD itself is what Holy Spirit uses to ENLIVEN the WORD in you. Same meanings of truth, riches, and other Bible metaphors are there, but now the 'window' is LIVINGNESS. Word unbelieved, dead. Belief not in Word, not through WORD, dead. WORD WORKS, the main theme of James. Yeah, the WORD WORKS IN YOU..if you BELIEVE it, rather than walking away having looked in the mirror WORD MAKES to show you, you. This is really critical and precise: if you believe a false doctrine, it 'comes to life' in you instead of the truth, so SIN is born (analogy to nonliving fetus in womb, Jas1:13-15). So without 1Jn1:9 like BREATHING (next Caveat), you're a ghoul, a walking DEAD person! ('A main theme of 1Jn.)

  • Sisyphus