Re: Wallace & 1 John 5:20

From: Jonathan Robie (
Date: Sun May 10 1998 - 01:57:24 EDT

At 08:11 PM 5/8/98 EDT, GregStffrd wrote:
>Without any examples, it is difficult to evaluate what you say. There is
>nothing to establish who the "predominant subject" is in this verse, as it
>could legitimately be Jesus or "the true one." To me, the emphasis seems
to be
>on the One Jesus came to tell us about, TON ALHTHINON.

I'm not sure what kind of examples you are looking for, Greg. The last noun
phrase before hOUTOS is TWi hUIWi AUTOU IHSOU CRISTWi. Sometimes hOUTOS
might refer to the predominant subject instead, so let's see what this
predominant subject is by looking at the subject of each phrase preceding

John 5:20

hINA GINWSKWMEN TON ALHQINON <- explains why Jesus did that
KAI ESMEN EN TWi ALHQINWi (us... in Jesus or the Father)
** hOUTOS **

Now at the point that hOUTOS occurs, what is the predominant subject? What
is the preceding noun phrase? If both point to Jesus, what is the referent
for hOUTOS?

I think that the predominant subject is Jesus regardless of whether EN TWi
ALHQINWi refers to Jesus or the Father. But I also think that it refers to
Jesus - see the next part.

>>The thing that makes this a little hard to read is John's playing with (1)
>>TON ALHQINON, referring to God, the one who is true, and (2) EN TWi
>>ALHQINWi "in him who is true". At first blush, this looks like it refers to
>>God, not to Jesus, but to me, the repeated EN in (2) and (3) strongly imply
>>that they refer to the same thing: "we are in him who is true, in his son
>>Jesus Christ".

>That is an interesting view, but how is it that the repetition of EN equates
>"the true one" with hO hUIOS AUTOU?


"And we are in the true one, in his Son Jesus Christ". This seems to
correlate the two. How do you interpret the grammar here such that TWi
ALHQINWi and EN TWi hUIWi AUTOU IHSOU CRISTWi are two different things?
Maybe there's a possible reading here that I'm missing.

>When John says "the Son AUTOU" that seems
>to break the connection that follows from your view. We are in the true
one by
>being in "the Son OF HIM." HOUTOS, then, may legitimately refer to AUTOS
or hO
>ALHTHINOS. Grammatically it may apply to hO hUIOS or IHSOU CHRISTWi, but the
>correlation between hO ALHTHINOS and hO ALTHINOS THEOS is practically
>unavoidable, and the restriction of this title to the Father in John 17:3 is
>of considerable importance in this grammatically ambiguous text.

Well, first off, I really think it is stretching to suggest that hOUTOS may
refer to AUTOS or hO ALHQINOS. Maybe I'm missing something, but I just
can't bend it that far. I do not find the antecedent of hOUTOS to be
ambiguous, and I also think that the Johaninne writings use the word hOUTOS
with great care to avoid the kind of ambiguity you are reading into this.

And as I've suggested, I think that both Jesus and the Father are referred
to as ALHQINOS in this passage.

Regarding the restriction of the title, read on...

>More important, though, is the fact that John knew his readers
>recognized only One as hO ALHTHINOS THEOS, this because of what Jesus said to
>the Father in John 17:3.

Many phrases attributed to God are also attributed to Jesus in the Gospel
of John, including THEOS, in John 20:28 hO KURIOS MOU KAI hO QEOS MOU ("my
Lord and my God"), a statement from Thomas which drew the approval of
Jesus. You seem to put a lot of stress on MONON ("only") in John 17:3, but
note that Jesus calls God hO MONOS QEOS in John 5:44, yet Jesus accepts the
title QEOS in John 20:28 ff.

Jonathan Robie

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