1 John 4:15

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Frank Dornik | Forum Activity | Posted: Mon, Jun 17 2013 1:04 PM

Is the Logos 5 Exegetical Guide correct that the Greek word translated "confesses" in NASB & ESV is aorist tense?  The English word "confesses" sounds like present tense.  Please explain.

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Mark Barnes | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Jun 17 2013 1:10 PM

Frank Dornik:

Is the Logos 5 Exegetical Guide correct that the Greek word translated "confesses" in NASB & ESV is aorist tense?  The English word "confesses" sounds like present tense.  Please explain.

Yes, it is. The Greek word is ὁμολογήσῃ, which is aorist. A more literal translation would be "those who confess". 

Remember that the aorist tense doesn't necessarily mean past. Here's a helpful definition of the aorist from the UBS handbooks: "aorist refers to a set of forms in Greek verbs which denote an action completed without the implication of continuance or duration. Usually, but not always, the action is considered as completed in past time."

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MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Jun 17 2013 1:22 PM

One grammarian describes the aorist tense as one that presents an event in summary, "viewed as a whole from the outside, without regard for the internal make-up of the occurrence" (Fanning, Verbal Aspect, quoted in Daniel Wallace, Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics).

What does that mean in normal English?  Simply that a verb in the aorist tense describes an action without analyzing it further.  When John 3:16 says God loved the world, the aorist tense merely reports what God did.  It doesn't tell us when he started or when he finished (or whether he ever stopped).  It reports the bare fact.

You might compare it to the way I would describe a piece of fruit:  "This is an orange."  That's about all i can tell from an outside view.  But if I peeled the orange and pulled the sections apart, I could tell you more.  I might be able to tell whether it was starting to get moldy, and make a guess about how long it had been sitting in the refrigerator.

It's in this way that the aorist tense gives an "outside," unanalyzed view of an action.  It happened, and that's all you can prove on the basis of the aorist tense.

Even though the aorist tense doesn't tear apart an action and analyze the details, Greek professors have been perfectly happy to analyze the aorist verb!  By looking at the context of the verb and thinking logically about its meaning, you can often fine-tune your understanding and come to more detailed conclusions about the action.

Here are some of the ideas that might lie under the surface of an aorist verb:

1.  Constative aorist -- this is the official description for an aorist that describes an action in its entirety.  It is the most foundational meaning of the aorist tense.

John 2:20 -- "This temple was built in forty-six years."  The verb takes a 46-year process and wraps it up in a single package.  The emphasis is on the fact that it happened, not on how long it took.

 

2.  Ingressive aorist -- an aorist that focuses on the beginning of an action.

     Something similar happens in the imperfect tense as well:  the inceptive imperfect.  What's the difference between the two?  Usually the ingressive aorist describes the entry into a new status (something that you are) while the inceptive imperfect describes the start of a new action (something that you do).

2 Corinthians 8:9 -- "For your sake he became poor."  Jesus entered into a state of poverty.

3.  Culminative aorist -- an aorist that emphasizes the completion of an action, especially the results that flow from it.

Philippians 4:11 - "I have learned to be content."  Paul had gone through a learning process and had come to the point where he could claim to have learned the lesson.  A culminative aorist is often translated like a perfect tense ("has learned" instead of the usual "learned").

4.  Epistolary aorist -- sometimes the writer of a letter would put himself in the place of those who would eventually read his letter, and he would use the aorist tense to describe something that had not yet happened.  At least it hadn't happened when he was writing the letter.  By the time the letter arrived at its destination, however, the act would be an accomplished fact -- so he would use the aorist tense to describe it.

Philippians 2:28 -- "I sent him then more quickly."  Paul was talking about Epaphroditus, whom he was sending back home to Philippi.  When Paul write the letter, Epaphroditus was still with him in Rome; he hadn't sent him anywhere.  But by the time the Philippians got the epistle, Epaphroditus would be there among them.  In fact, he probably carried the letter!

5.  Dramatic aorist -- an aorist used to describe an action happening in the present, usually to emphasize its certainty.

John 13:31 -- "Now is [literally, was] the Son of man glorified."  Jesus makes this statement at the Last Supper the night before His arrest and crucifixion.  The events culminating in His death were just beginning, yet John uses the aorist tense to describe the idea.  Most translations render "is glorified" in the present tense because the rules of English grammar demand that rendering.

6.  Prophetic aorist -- an aorist used to describe a future event, usually to show that it is so certain that you can view it as already completed.

Romans 8:30 -- "Them he also glorified."  This phrase occurs in a series of verbs describing the steps in salvation, from predestination to calling to justification.  The first three have already been accomplished in the life of a believer; the glorification is yet in the future.  But once God has begun the process, he will certainly finish it.  Thus the aorist tense is appropriate.

Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

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Room4more | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Jun 17 2013 1:25 PM

You would also find a good definition[explanation] in a hermeneutics resource(s)........

DISCLAIMER: What you do on YOUR computer is your doing.

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Frank Dornik | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Jun 17 2013 4:23 PM

M.J., How would you apply your definitions to 1 John 4:15 for the verb "confess"?

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Milford Charles Murray | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Jun 21 2013 6:19 PM

Frank Dornik:

M.J., How would you apply your definitions to 1 John 4:15 for the verb "confess"?

Peace to you, Frank!                This is the evening of June 21, the first day of summer in Eastern Canada!

                         I guess MJ hasn't had the opportunity to come back to respond to your question yet; so, please permit me to share with you a section that I've found helpful from Word Biblical Commentary.....

                               ....  if you don't find it helpful, simply don't read it, eh???          *smile*

15. The description of Jesus as "savior of the world" (v 14) is now interpreted, as John shows how that salvation becomes effective in the Church and in the believer: acknowledgment of the divine sonship of Jesus leads to the mutual indwelling of God and his people. (Cf. Bultmann, 71.) The fact that the writer returns in this v to the thought of orthodox "confession" (see 4:2–3), suggests that he still has in mind the need to resist the heterodox members of his community.

ὃς ἐὰν ὁμολογήσῃ ὅτι Ἰησοῦς ἐστιν ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ θεοῦ

, "if anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God." For ὃς ἐὰν ("if anyone") see 2:5; 3:17. The indefinite form indicates the breadth of the writer’s assertion. Anyone may acknowledge Jesus; and the "universality" of this thought picks up the idea of Jesus as the world savior in v 14 (cf. 1 Tim 2:3–4; see also Westcott, 154).

For ὁμολογήσῃ ("acknowledges") see 2:23; 4:2–3; 2 John 7. The aorist tense (literally, "if anyone acknowledged") is difficult; and this accounts for the fact that some mss (e.g. A) attempt to improve the text by substituting the present. But there is a reason for John’s use of the aorist if, as seems likely, he is referring here to a single and decisive, public (baptismal?) confession of Jesus as God’s Son, "the time of which is unspecified" (Stott, 167).

The spiritual outcome of the "acknowledgment" of Christ referred to in 4:2 is here characterized more fully. "The recognition of the revelation of God is the sign of the presence of God" (Westcott, 154). There is a clear progression of theological thought in the present passage, culminating in this v and the next. "Acknowledgment" of God’s historical and saving activity in Jesus his Son (cf. vv 9–10, 14 and 15a), a confession which involves obedience (cf. 2:3), leads to intimate fellowship with God in Christ (v 15b), and to the knowledge of God’s love for us (v 16a). The result is, or should be, a life of love (cf. vv 7, 11–12, 16b–21). Cf. Williams, 50. Like love itself, the true confession of Jesus is inspired by the Spirit (cf. 4:2; v 13; also 1 Cor 12:3). Such a confession continues the work of the original apostolic "witness" (Brooke, 122; Wengst, 189–90; cf. 1:1–3).

For the acknowledgment of Jesus as "Son of God" see also 5:5, 10, 13. For the title itself (υἱὸς τοῦ θεοῦ) see the comment on 3:8; cf. also 5:12, 20 (2 John 3). Early Christianity may not have been making a metaphysical statement in saying that Jesus was God’s Son (so Williams, 50); but John’s description here of Jesus as "Son" (parallel to "Christ"; see 2:22–24; 5:1) is of great importance. For as God’s Son Jesus is both uniquely related to the Father (cf. 2:22–23; v 9), and also (consequently) the saving mediator between God and man (vv 9–10, 14; 5:11). Cf. Schnackenburg, 244. The writer is not concerned at this point to insist on the flesh of Jesus, in answer perhaps to docetically inclined heretics in his community (4:2; but see the comment on that v); on the contrary, he appears to be making "high" claims for the person of Christ which may have been directed at other members of his church whose estimate of Jesus was too "low" (see the introduction, xxiii–iv).

ὁ θεὸς ἐν αὐτῷ μένει καὶ αὐτὸς ἐν τῷ θεῷ

, "God dwells in him and he in God." For the typically Johannine concept of reciprocal indwelling ("God dwells in the believer, and he in God") see the comment

Philippians 4:  4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. 5 Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand..........

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Milford Charles Murray | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Jun 21 2013 6:52 PM

Peace, Frank!

        Since

ὁμολογήσῃ is both aorist and subjunctive, I decided to look at a few more commentaries that perhaps handled the subjunctive.

              Looked at 8 or 9 and finally found this one that seems to satisfy me!     *smile*

15* The salvation of the world, which Jesus Christ brings, is inseparable from his person. When believers—in contrast to the docetic opponents41 —confess that Jesus is the Son of God, salvation happens for them. This confession, however, is more than a simple theoretical declaration. It is the existential act of turning toward the Son of God and the acceptance of the eschatological gift that he has made possible. In this sense ὁμολογεῖν is used also in 2:23* (“everyone who confesses the Son has the Father also”), just as, in turn, the confession of sins implies acknowledgment of one’s own guilt, and trust in forgiveness (1:9*). Therefore ὃς ἐὰν ὁμολογήσῃ should be understood as an aorist subjunctive used in a conditional relative clause and expressing the moment of confession, its taking place at a particular point in time.42 The confession addresses the fact that Ἰησοῦς43 is the Son of God. Jesus’ being Son of God also incorporates his mission as the one sent to save the world (cf. v. 14*). Believers’ confession of this saving deed has as its consequence44 that ὁ θεὸς ἐν αὐτῷ μένει καὶ αὐτὸς ἐν τῷ θεῷ. The reciprocity of God’s abiding in believers and believers in God does not refer to any mystical indwelling. What is expressed is a close, personal relationship between believers and God.45 That community with God cannot be perfected without the actualization of agapē follows from what has been said previously and will be treated immediately in the next verse.46[1]



* 15 God abides in those who confess that Jesus is the Son of God, and they abide in God.

1 John 4:15 (NRSV)

41 Cf. the excursus above, “The False Teachers in 1 John.”

* 23 No one who denies the Son has the Father; everyone who confesses the Son has the Father also.

1 John 2:23 (NRSV)

* 9 If we confess our sins, he who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

1 John 1:9 (NRSV)

42 The present subjunctive (Codex A pc), by contrast, emphasizes the endurance of the confession, while the future indicative without ἄν (Ψ) yields no materially different reading (BDF §380[2]). The vacillation between ἐάν and ἄν in the manuscripts is of no practical importance; cf. BDF §107.

43 This is the correct reading; the addition of Χριστός (B vgms) is secondary, although appropriate in the context. The full title is also found in 4:2* (differently from 4:3* and 5:5*: “Jesus”). When 5:1* says, corresponding to this, that Jesus is the Christ, it underscores that the name and title belong together. The question that one may raise is whether this presumes an opposing position that distinguished between “Jesus” and “Christ.”

* 14 And we have seen and do testify that the Father has sent his Son as the Savior of the world.

1 John 4:14 (NRSV)

44 Since v. 15a* is a conditional relative clause, the dependent and independent clauses are related to one another as condition and consequence (cf. BDF §380), without requiring that this ordering be explicated schematically. Obviously, “confessing” is not the only condition for “abiding,” and it is not impossible that the reverse is true: that “abiding” leads to “confessing.” However, there is no reason to reduce the confession to a mere “sign” (Weiss, Briefe, 127: “For that very reason this adherence to the confession becomes…a sign of the fact that God abides in the one confessing”), because the author intends to describe not merely a theoretical but an eschatological and ontological connection: where there is true confession, there also is genuine community with God.

45 Cf. above at 3:24*; 4:13*; also below at 4:16b*. It is irrelevant that in this text God’s abiding is mentioned first, while in 3:24*; 4:13*, 16* the believers’ abiding comes first. So also Brown, Epistles, 524: “The reversed order here suggests that there is no set priority.”

46 The relationship of the verses to one another is a matter of dispute. According to Marshall (Epistles, 221), v. 16* is parallel to v. 14*, because in v. 16* “another basic Christian conviction” is expressed. This is not without foundation, since τεθεάμεθα is taken up and interpreted by ἐγνώκαμεν, and μαρτυροῦμεν by πεπιστεύκαμεν, whereby a connection is established between the level of the author, as apostolic witness, and that of the community he is addressing. However, v. 15* is not an insertion; it gives a concrete statement of the confession already expressed in v. 14b*. Consequently, for the immediate explanation of v. 16* one need not look far beyond vv. 14–15*. Schnackenburg differs (Epistles, 221), writing of v. 16a* that it “deliberately harks back to v. 11* and perhaps to vv. 9–10*.”

[1] Strecker, G., & Attridge, H. W. (1996). The Johannine letters: a commentary on 1, 2, and 3 John. Hermeneia—a Critical and Historical Commentary on the Bible (p. 159). Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press.

Philippians 4:  4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. 5 Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand..........

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Lee | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Jun 21 2013 7:07 PM

Although some commentary writers are great at expanding on tiny, inconsequential minutiae, there's no textual issue or superfine "Johannine" theological point here.

 

Basic answer: Greek and English are different languages, and sometimes an aorist tense does not give an accurate picture if cast as a past tense in English.

Intermediate answer: consider the contingency that the author is presenting and what the equivalent would be if the author were expressing it in English.

More advanced answer: consider Aktionsart

 

Some other Bible verses to look at: Mark 3:29; Romans 10:13; James 2:10.

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Milford Charles Murray | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Jun 21 2013 8:13 PM

Peace, Lee!             *smile*

                Thanks so much for giving Frank a "boost"!                      I've always truly appreciated your excellent and very appropriate posts here on these Logos Forums!  Thank you for your very positive and helpful contributions.

                             My first Greek Class was in 1954, my instructor being Dr. Walter Jennrich at Concordia College in Milwaukee.  Dr. Voelz of Concordia Lutheran Seminary in St. Louis said some nice words about Dr. Jennrich which I echo most strongly.  http://seminary.csl.edu/facultypubs/Default.aspx?alias=seminary.csl.edu/facultypubs/greek

               I love my Greek Studies and they served me well as a parish pastor (now retired) since my ordination in 1962.   *smile*

 

Philippians 4:  4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. 5 Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand..........

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Lee | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Jun 21 2013 8:23 PM

And thank you for the compliment. Smile

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David Paul | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Jun 22 2013 10:22 PM

Some interesting stuff on this thread...

The word, of course, means "to speak the same".

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