Lectionary Year B
May 21, 2000
1 John 4:7-21

Step I: Acquaintance


The New American Standard Bible (1995) and the New Revised Standard Version (1989) address this pericope to, “Beloved.” While the New Living Translation (1996) has, “Dear friends,”. Then, they explain, “for love is from God;” NASB, “for love comes from God.”, NLT and “because love is from God;” NRSV. Thereafter, the NASB says, “and everyone . . .”, as does the NRSV without the article, while the NLT begins a new sentence, “Anyone . . .” Such slight differences in English vocabulary continue to be found throughout these translations.

The most significant ones come next in the early part of verse 9, where the NASB has “the love of God was manifested” with a footnote: “Or in our case,” and NLT reads, “God showed how much he loved us, . . .” and NRSV reads, “God’s love was revealed among us . . .” The reason for God’s sending his son is explained further, by the NASB, “so that we might live through Him.” There, the NLT has, “so that we might have eternal life through him.” There, NRSV reads, “so that we might live through him.”

Verse 10 begins in the NASB, “In this love, not that we loved God,” and the NLT begins, “This is real love. It is not that we loved God,” and the NRSV begins, “In this love, not that we loved God”. Aren’t we dealing here with a serial image? Where is the adverb, “first”?

All three translations differ on what to call the one God sent, NASB has, “the propitiation for our sins.” The NLT has, “a sacrifice to take away our sins.” There, the NRSV reads, “the atoning sacrifice for our sins.” Near the end of verse 12, NASB has, “His love is perfected in us.” The NLT has, “and his love has been brought to full expression through us.” NRSV, there reads, “and his love is perfected in us.”

In verse 14, NLT seems to add, “with our own eyes” to the seeing of the one God sent. In verse 15 we have a difference of “confess that Jesus is the Son of God” (NASB and NRSV) and “proclaim” so (NLT).

In the next verse (16), NLT has “trust” where NASB and NRSV have, “believe”.

Verse 17 contains the most divergence in these verses. NASB reads, “By this, love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgement; because as He is, so also are we in this world.” NLT has, “And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgement, but we can face him with confidence because we are like Christ here in this world.” There, NRSV translates, “Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness on the day of judgement, because as he is, so are we in this world.”

Thereafter, in verse 18, NASB and NRSV refer to “fear involves (has to do with) punishment” while NLT says, “If you are afraid, it is for fear of judgement,”.

Verse 19 states, “We love, because He first loved us.”, according to the NASB without a footnote. NLT has, “We love each other (footnote: “Or we love him; Greek reads We love.”) as a result of his having loved us first.” NRSV, says, “We love (footnote: Other ancient authorities add [him]; others add [God]) because he first loved us.”

In the next verses (20f), NLT adds, “Christian” to “brother or sister”, and NLT and NRSV have footnotes indicating the Greek has only “brother”.


One redactor wants to add an object in the middle of the seventh verse to the participle, "ho agapon, ton theon". I think not. The message wants this observation to be broadly open ended. On the other hand, this statement might need such a qualifier, due to the possibility that most hearers/readers of this epistle would likely be reluctant to admit to not loving, period.

In the next (8) verse, a few editors would change "ouk egno ton theon", to read "ou ginoskei ton theon". Others prefer "ouk egnoken", with and/or without the object, "ton theon". Perhaps such changes could be considered more like the original since they are a few more letters making it a more lengthy read and/or copy.

At the end of the first line of verse 10, some of the tradition adds a "tou theou". That addition might be representative of the original because it adds to the length of the phrase and because it gives a challenge of lovers to love God.

Later, some majority of witnesses would change the verb "egafkamen", from a perfect to an aorist. Could make sense thusly. However, if the longer is preferred for the original we reject the alteration, as do a number of uncials. Next, A would add an "eikenos" to the reference to the God loving. Thereafter, one would change "avpesteilen" to "apestalken". Looks cumbersome to me, so, I stay with the received version.

Then in verse 12, some would alter the order of the words, "en hemin teteleiomene estin". However, more witnesses, including Papyrus 74 vid, prefer the Textus Receptus.

In verse 13, a few would change "dedoken" to "edoken". I think not, the perfect seems to fit better here as well as looking and sounding longer.

Some few witnesses would change the first verb in verse 14 from "tetheametha" to "etheasametha". Possibly, since the change would be longer.

Verse 15 begins, in the Greek text, with "ean homologese". However, a few witnesses would read "(e)an homologe". Others prefer "homologesei". The received text is more likely original since it is longer and more inclusive in its form.

Then, a few would add "Christos" to "Iesous". Could be more like the original to make this addition.

In place of the final word(s) in this verse, a few witnesses would replace "to theo with "auto" only or "auto estin", as Papyrus 9 does.

Some witnesses would change the perfect "pepisteukamen" in verse 16 to be an aorist. Not likely, due to interrupting the parallelism and shortening the word. Others would omit the last word in the verse. No, again. Though the verse doesn’t need the word in English, I suspect it is appreciated in the Gree

In verse 17 Aleph and others would change "hemera" to "agape. Not likely, just seems to try to repeat that word from earlier in the sentence. At the end of that phrase, some witnesses would add these words, “pros ton eanthrfsanta”. That addition might have been original since it adds to the length of the verse and seems to add an explanatory element to the text here.

Thereafter, several witnesses would add, although, some of these terms already exist in the received text, "en en to kosmo amomos kai katharos outos". This addition, such as it is, could be original, not only due to the additional length, but also because of the element of “blamelessness” it includes. Then, too, another alteration would change "esmen" near the end of this sentence into "esometha." Talk about inclusiveness, here this alteration might emphasize it appropriately, if included in the original message.

Verse 19 begins for some witnesses with a post positive "oun". Possibly such an addition would set this sentence off, as it appears to be intended, at this reading, anyway. Then a number of other uncials would add an object to the first part of this sentence, "ton theon". Others would add, instead, "auton". Some prefer to retain the Textus Receptus. Perhaps it is more nearly the original to add something here, like that suggested by either redactors.

Then, some witnesses would change "autos protos" to read "ho theos protos". Others would read "ho theos (autos) proton".

Some in the tradition would change the "ouv" in the 20th verse to read, "pos". More witnesses retain the text as received, as do I. A few editors would see an extended form of "ap autou" in the 21st verse to make it read "apo tou theou". Perhaps the additional few letters are more nearly the original.


7 Beloved, we should love one another,
since love from God is,
and everyone loving from God has been born
and knows this God.
8 and whoever does not love does not know God,
since God love is.
9 In this (matter) was revealed the love of God in us,
for the son of His the only was sent by God
so that the world has had life (eternal) in him.
10 In this (matter) is love,
not that we have loved God
but that he loved us
and he sent the son of his
as a means of forgiveness for the sins of ours.
11 Beloved, since in this manner God loved us, we ought one another to love.
      12 God no one ever has seen. Whenever we would love one another, the God in us remains and the love of his in us completed is. 13 In this (way) we know that in him we remain and he in us, that from the spirit of his he gives to us. 14 And we have seen and are testifying that the father has sent the son savior of the world. 15 Whoever when would confess that Jesus is the son of God, God in him remains and he in this God. 16 And we have known and have believed the love which has God in us.
      God love is, the one remaining in the love of the God’s remains and God in him remains. 17 In this (manner) has been perfected the love with us, so that confidence we should have in the Day of Judgement, that according to this (matter) there is and we are in the world this (one). Fear not is in love 18 rather the complete love out casts fear, that fear punishment has, but being afraid is not completed/perfected/fulfilled in love. 19 We love, since he first loved us. 20 Any who would say that I love God and the brother of mine I hate, a liar is; for not having loved the brother whom he has seen, the God whom not has he seen not is he enabled to love. 21 And this (is) the commandment we have from him, so that the one(s) loving God should love also the brother of his.

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