Re: Wallace & 1 John 5:20

From: Edgar Foster (
Date: Mon May 11 1998 - 11:42:18 EDT

Dear Jonathan,

Great to see you back! Hope you enjoyed your trip.

---Jonathan Robie<> wrote:

> At 11:57 AM 5/10/98 EDT, GregStffrd wrote:
> >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.
> When I read the verse, it seems to say precisely what you tell me it
may not mean ("es kann nicht sein was nicht sein darf"). And in light
of John 20:28, I really don't understand your objection to the notion
that Jesus might be called God in the Johannine community.<

(1.) 1 John 5:20 is a passage on which the theological and scholarly
community is greatly divided. It is no surprise, therefore, if we
cannot agree here on B-Greek about the Johannine doctrine of God
propagated in this verse.

(2.) IMHO, 1 John 5:20 is clearly a delineation of the Father. At the
very least, the Father is hO ALHQINOS and the Son is ZWH AIWNIOS. One
operative linguistic sign here is hOTI. John emphatically tells us
THAT the Son of God has come (hEKEI). Why has the Son come? To give us
DIANOIAN. About whom?


But to whom does the phrase TON ALHQINON refer?

Jesus makes it clear elsewhere that he came to make his Father's name
and Person known. In John 1:18, John records that Jesus EXHGHSATO
EKEINOS (i.e., the Father). 1 John 5:20 makes the same point. The Son
came to explicate the Father who is TON MONON ALHQINON QEOU (John
17:3). The text therefore seems to revolve around the Father. The
first part of John's comments therefore sets us up for what comes next.


Based on the preceding focus of 1 John 5:20, it seems quite clear that
the subject of hOUTOS is the Father. He is evidently hO ALHQINOS QEOS

(3.) Excuse me for switching authors, but in 1 Thess. 1:9, 10, I
notice a similar grammatical construction to 1 John 5:20:

QEW ZWNTI KAI ALHQINW ("a living and true God"). It is important to
note that the Father is again referred to as ALHQINOS QEOS. 1 Thess.
1:10 makes it clear that the Father is in view here. John (in 17:3)
simply makes ALHQINOS QEOS stronger by adding MONON (note Brown's
comments in the Anchor Bible). I would also argue therefore, on the
basis of 1 Thess. 1:9, 10 that the "true God" is the Father.

(4.) As far as John 20:28, we cannot say for sure that it calls Jesus
"God." If it does, it could mean "God" in a different manner than the
Johannine use of God in 1 John 5:20. Of course, that's another
subject. :-)


Edgar Foster

L-R College

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