Re: Wallace & 1 John 5:20

From: GregStffrd (
Date: Sun May 10 1998 - 11:57:38 EDT

>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 **>>

How is it that TWi ALHTHINWi can be a reference to Jesus? That seems to be
quite forced in view of the clear correlation between TON ALHTHINON and TWi
ALHTHINWi. You also forgot to include AUTOS as a subject in view. Also, in
the third clause the focus is on the one whom Jesus came to tell us about.
There is much more emphasis on the Father than you are allowing, Jonathan.

>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?>

They do not "both point to Jesus." The fact the IHSOU CHRISTWi comes just
before hOUTOS no more identifies the referent of hOUTOS than it does in 2 John
7.You are assuming Jesus is the predominant subject, when it is entirely
reasonable to see TON ALHTHINON as the predominant subject, for he is the one
Jesus came to tell us about.

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.>

We all have our opinions, and I respect yours. But there are other factors
involved (see below).

Jonathan from earlier post:
>>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".

Greg from earlier post:
>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.>

Well, you are the one who seems to think that the repetition of EN somehow
identifies the two. If AUTOU were not used then you might have a point, but
the use of AUTOU seems to make it quite clear that Jesus is the Son of the
true one, and we are in the true one by being in His Son. AUTOU refers back to
TWi ALHTHINWi, which clearly correlates with TON ALHTHINON.

Greg from earlier post:
>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.>

Why? And how is that "bending"?

 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.>

So do I, and I don't see a problem here. It seems you are the one going to
great lengths to disconnect the obvious connection between TON ALHTHINON and
TWi ALHTHINWi. Also, your point about a sloppy use of hOUTOS is not well
taken. You have not demonstrated how my view entails a sloppy use of hOUTOS.

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

Right, and I don't think that is at all implied (certainly not stated) in the
text. The correlation with TON ALHTHINON, the use of AUTOU, and other factors
(see below) are too much to overlook.

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

Greg from earlier post:
>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. >

How is it that you think this title was meant for Jesus, Jonathan? If so, it
certainly would not carry the same significance as when it is applied to the
Father, the one who is the God of Jesus.-John 20:17.

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.>

No, Jonathan, Jesus calls the "Father" the ONLY true God in John 17:3. Thus,
when we refer to the Father as "God" it is always with the understanding, "the
true God." That is why I referred you to John 17:1. The Father, by being the
only true God, is not the same kind of God as others who are properly
considered gods to some degree. Jesus says that others are called "gods" (John
10:34) but that does not mean they accept the title in the same way the Father
does, right? Jesus is a MONOGENHS THEOS, but the Father is not. (John 1:18)
Jesus restricted the title "God" in its highest sense (through his use of
ALHTHINOS) to the Father, and when he said hO MONOS THEOS then he was likely
using it with the same connotation. (cf. 1 Cor. 8:6) The context clearly shows
that Jesus is talking about the Father in John 5:44, also. Again, you have yet
to prove that Jesus receives the title "God" in John 20:28, but, in view of
John 1:1 I state my position above. Also, again, the context of John 20:28
would clearly qualify the statement in 20:28, if both titles are meant for
Jesus.-John 20:17

Jesus restricted the title hO MONOS ALHTHINOS THEOS to the Father, and John
and those to whom he wrote were well aware of this, also.

Greg Stafford
University of Wisconsin

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