Bill Mounce

For an Informed Love of God

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1 John 1:1–2:6; 2:28–3:10

If you have not yet learned conditional sentences, be sure you do so before working through this passage. See BBG, p. 330, and Wallace, 679-701. These two passages are a powerful discussion of the place of sin in the believer’s life as well as the believer’s assurance. It is a helpful exercise to count all the ways in which John shows us our assurance. In these two passages, John holds in tension the fact of our assurance and our need for vigilance, lest we fall into complacency and allow sin to have an ongoing role in our lives.


1 John 1:1 The first verse of John has some peculiarities, like no verbs and relative pronouns that don't agree with their antecedent.
1 John 1:2 Verse 2 is pretty straight forward. It does have an unusual perfect and a relative clause with two verbs.
1 John 1:3 Beware of the postpositive, which is in an unusual position and is confusing with the καί.
1 John 1:4 Verse 4 is pretty easy to translate, but it does have a periphrastic construction (BBG 30:16). It also provides a good example of textual criticism and why you should never talk about a textual variant without talking about its significance.

1 John 1:5–7

1 John 1:5 An easy verse to translate, but we will review somethings about relative clauses and double negatives.
1 John 1:6 An easy verse to translate, but one that challenges the idea that it is okay for sin to have an ongoing role in your life.
1 John 1:7 While the verse is relatively easy to translate, it does contain a serious challenge to our lifestyles.

1 John 1:8–10

1 John 1:8 Again, an easier verse to translate but one that raises questions about the theological doctrine of perfectionism.
1 John 1:9 The important point to make here is that “faithful and just” describes the character of God as the basis for forgiveness. The Greek is pretty straight forward.
1 John 1:10 Be sure you know what a double accusative is. Check the exegesis section of chapter 6 in Basics of Biblical Greek.

1 John 2:1–2

1 John 2:1 This verse has an almost impossible word to translate and two appositional statements.
1 John 2:2 This verse gives us another chance to try to translate an untranslatable word, and also to see a postpositive in a weird position.

1 John 2:3–6

1 John 2:3 Verse 3 is pretty straightforward. There is a subjunctive and a good reminder to learn verbal roots. But theologically, this verse (and many like it throughout 1 John) tells us the primary assurance of our salvation is our obedience, our growth in sanctification.
1 John 2:4 The secret for this verse is to find the subject of ἐστίν. The verse has a compound subject and a compound predicate nominative.
1 John 2:5 The key here is to find the main verb and its subject, and then how the relative clause relates to it.
1 John 2:6 This is a complicated verse, so don't get discouraged. Find the main verb, its subject, and then what finishes the thought of the verb.

1 John 2:28–3:3

1 John 2:28 This verse has some compound parts and illustrates why you can't always translate the subjunctive with “may” or “might.”
1 John 2:29 This verse is pretty straightforward except for the unusual placement of καί.
1 John 3:1 This is an interesting example of textual criticism and why you never discuss variants without discovering significance.
1 John 3:2 The only real question for this verse is the subject of φανερωθῇ.
1 John 3:3 No surprises here.

1 John 3:4-10

1 John 3:4 The only little thing worth nothing in v 4 is to identify the subject of the verb.
1 John 3:5 Be prepared for a tricky subjunctive and another example of why you always talk about significance when pointing out variants.
1 John 3:6 This is the first of several verses where you will need to think theologically about the present tense system.
1 John 3:7 Greek is pretty straight forward.
1 John 3:8 Verse 8 builds off of v 7 and provides the contrast.
1 John 3:9 A very difficult verse to translate because of the flexibility of the present tense.
1 John 3:10 This verse should give you pause as you think through your doctrine of sanctification.