Re: John 3:16

From: Carl William Conrad (
Date: Sat Nov 25 1995 - 18:28:54 EST

On 21 Nov 1995, Paul Watkins wrote:

> What are the implications of the first aorist active indicative of
> AGAPAW as used in John 3:16? How does this function toward TON KOSMON?
> If we assume that God loves this present kosmos then why didn't He use
> the present tense? As it is we are left with an undefined aspect and
> naturally wonder if the action was performed in the past and has since
> ceased- also a theological manouver to reconcile this with 1 John 2:15
> where it is a sin to love the present kosmos. Any ideas?
I don't see the problem here. The reference is to a past event (note that
EDWKEN is also aorist). Moreover, as the aspect is unlimited, there is no
implication whatsoever that God does not love the KOSMOS now; such a
notion could be expressed by an imperfect that might translate as "used
to love," but it might also be qualified with some limiting adverb such
as TOTE or PALAI or the like.

As for 1 John 2:15, I don't think the sense of KOSMOS has quite the same
sense there. In Jn 3:16 it is TON KOSMON, and the reference appears to be
to "humanity" or "created humanity," as is often the case in John.
However one also finds in John's gospel and elsewhere "this world,"
hOUTOS hO KOSMOS, in the distinctive apocalyptic sense of hAUTH hH GENEA
PONHRA KAI MOIXALIS, this world-age (OLAM HA-ZEH) as opposed to the
world-age-to-come (OLAM HA-BA), humanity alienated from God and perverse.
Finally, it is evident that 1 John 2:15 says nothing about whether God
continues to love the world alienated from Him (Her?) as we suppose
He/She does; it rather urges believers not to be enamored with the
vanities of an evil age. To be sure the dualistic strain that runs
through the gospel of John is present much more sharply in 1 John, and
the dualism is much closer to the traditional apocalyptic dualism than
what we most often find in the gospel. Nevertheless KOSMOS has in chapter
17 of the gospel some of the same overtones as in 1 John 2:15.

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics,
Washington University
One Brookings Drive, St. Louis, MO, USA 63130
(314) 935-4018 OR

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