NT 113: Paul and the Early Church
September 22, 2014
NT 113: Interpretive Essay, Stage One
1 John 5:1-12 (NRSV)
5:1 Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ[a] has been born of God, and everyone who loves the parent [c] loves the child. 5:2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. 5:3 For the love of God is this, that we obey his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome, 5:4 for whatever is born of God conquers the world. And this is the victory that conquers the world, our faith. 5:5 Who is it that conquers the world but the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? 5:6 This is the one who came by water and blood, Jesus Christ, not with the water only but with the water and the blood. And the Spirit is the one that testifies, for the Spirit is the truth. 5:7 There are three that testify:[b]
5:8 the Spirit and the water and the blood, and these three agree[b] [c]. 5:9 If we receive human testimony, the testimony of God is greater; for this is the testimony of God that he has testified to his Son. 5:10 Those who believe in the Son of God have the testimony in their hearts. Those who do not believe in God[d] have made him a liar by not believing in the testimony that God has given concerning his Son. 5:11 And this is the testimony: God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 5:12 Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.
The text contains a minimum amount of variations. The variations are equivalent in meaning and do not affect the message of the text.
The ESV does not report variations in text for this pericope. [a] 1 John 5:1 Or the Messiah (NRSV, NASB)
[c] 1 John 5:1 OR Lit one who begets (NASB)
[c] 1 John 5:8 Lit for the one thing (NASB)
[b] 1 John 5:7-8
Verse 7 presents a variation in the text. The NRSV, NASB and the ESV versions read, “There are three that testify,” while the RSV translation reads, “And the Spirit is the witness, because the Spirit is the truth.”
NRSV and NASB translations, also, report, “few other authorities read (with variations)” on verse 7,
There are three that testify in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the
Holy Spirit, and these three are one . . .
A second variation to this portion of the pericope is on verse 8, which forms part of verse 7 message. Verse 8 variation reads: “And there are three that testify on earth:” This translation points to a witnessing distinction between heaven and earth. While the Father, the Word and the Holy Spirit witness in heaven, the Spirit, the water and the blood witness on earth.
[d] 1 John 5:10 Other ancient authorities read in the Son (NRSV) The second part of the text is generally translated as “believe God.” Of the 4 versions revised (NRSV, RSV, NASB and ESV), only the NRSV mentions the variation “believe in the Son.”
1 John 5:1-12 (NRSV)
The internal structure of the pericope is divided in three distinctive units. The first unit starts on verse 1 and ends on verse 5. The block of five verses affirm the believer’s identity and relationship with God by believing in Jesus Christ as been born of God and emphasizes the expression of love to God through the obedience to God’s commandments, and as a condition for a victorious living
The second unit runs from verses 6 through 8, in response to a question at the end of the first unit, “…who believes that Jesus is the Son of God” (v. 5). The second unit answers the question on verse 5 referencing to Jesus Christ precedence through “water and blood” (v. 6). In order to emphasize its importance, the author focuses in the use of the number three, which seems to be evidently important. The words water, blood and Spirit repeat through verse 8. Each word repeats twice on verse 6 and once on verse 8.
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