Re: 2:7-8 and Contradictions?

From: Jim Beale (
Date: Tue Sep 23 1997 - 17:01:18 EDT

On Sep 23, 4:30pm, Jonathan Robie wrote:

> But look carefully at the text: John says specifically that he is not
> writing a new commandment (OUK ENTOLHN KAINHN GRAFW hUMIN) then says that he
> *is* writing a new commandment (PALIN KAINHN ENTOLHN GRAFW hUMIN), and it
> seems to me that he is talking about the same commandment in both cases.
> This is not just a matter of being old in some senses and new in other
> senses, he says that it is not new, then he says that it is new.


The old commandment is the word which you have heard.


[The] new commandment is true in him and in you.

Those are the two senses which are spelled out in the context.

The question boils down to the heart of ethics. There are the many
commandments of the Moral Law, as given in the Old Testament, in the
Ten Commandments. And there is the one commandment of love. The
question of the One and the Many rears its lovely head again. The
new command is just the same as the old command, but it is different
also. It is by no means a contradiction, a paradox perhaps, but not
one which cannot be resolved.

> 1 John is neither logical, illogical, nor particularly theological; it is
> psychological and epistemological. Nowhere in the Bible are we called to use
> logical consistency as a criterion for truth, and Jesus never taught anybody
> how to construct a syllogism. Is God's strength be made perfect in weakness?
> Can one who is fully God be fully man? Can a virgin give birth? Can someone
> born of God sin? Can we hold the treasure of God's glory in jars of clay?
> Can someone who is fully God die for our sins? The light shines in the
> darkness, and the darkness has never grasped it!

How can 1 John be illogical if it is epistemological? Something
which is epistemological concerns itself with knowledge, and
something must be true if it can be known (by definition!) Read the
_Theaetetus_ if you have questions about this. If two things are
contradictory, then exactly one of them is false.

If vv. 7,8 are contradictory, exactly one of vv. 7,8 is false, and
one is a lie. And since God cannot lie (Heb 6:18) one of them is
not the Word of God. Is that what you are interested in saying?

To insist that the things you mention are bona fide contradictions
is really to undermine the truth claims of Christianity. It is
possible to understand each of them without contradiction. That is
the task of the theologian though, and not for this forum. However,
I view it as a very, very serious mistake to believe that any of
those is contradictory. I certainly have no intention of following
such a path myself.

Didn't John write that Jesus is the Way and the Truth? He also wrote
that "no lie is of the truth" (1 John 2:21). It is impossible that
two contradictory propositions both be true.

> >> [...] I do think that one can understand John better by appreciating
> >> the contradictions to see what they point to.
> >
> >Ack. Contradictions don't point to _any_thing_. A contradiction is
> >an example of non-being; it is something that cannot possibly exist,
> >therefore it couldn't possibly *do* anything, least of all point.
> Meditate on any of the contradictions that I have mentioned in the above
> paragraph, and see what they point to. Logic isn't everything!

Wow, none of those are logical contradictions. They may be called
paradoxes, but as my friend says, a paradox is just a charlie horse
between the ears. With massage it works itself out. :-)

In Christ,

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