Re: 1 John 4:13 translation questioned

From: Jonathan Robie (
Date: Fri Mar 05 1999 - 13:32:52 EST

At 06:42 PM 2/28/99 EST, wrote:
>Well, thanks for the words of welcome, Jonathan, and thanks for the prompt
>response to my post. If you don't mind, I would like to continue discussing
>the passage in question.

Sure thing!

>Most translators seem to view the use of EK in 1 John 4:13 to be partitive.
>Robertson cites this passage as an illustration of the partitive use (p.
>Furthermore, when I stated that the implication of most translations of this
>phrase was that we have been given a “measured portion” of His Spirit, I was
>not simply expressing my own impressions. Quite a few English versions of
>this passage reflect a partitive understanding of this prepositional phrase,
>even to the point of using such terms as “some,” “measure,” “share,” and
>“portion” in their translations. In fact, 25 out of the 36 English versions
>that I consulted render this phrase in a partitive manner.

There's nothing wrong with translating it this way from a pure language
perspective, I just can't quite figure out what it means.

How do you understand this interpretation? I guess I have a hard time
visualizing this - did he give us each 0.0000001% of his spirit, or 25
milliliters of his spirit, or...

What does a portion of his spirit mean?

>As for your reading of this phrase, I do understand that the preposition EK
>can indeed be translated “from,” carrying the idea of source or origin (BAGD
>and Robertson). Your rendering "from his spirit he has given to us"
leaves me
>with some questions, though.
>1) Assuming that “from” is your translation of EK, what about the conjunction
>hOTI? I did not see an English counterpart to hOTI in your rendering "from
>his spirit he has given to us".

I started translating with the next word. "for from his spirit he has given
to us".

>2) If the Spirit “is the source of what he has given to us,” then what has
>actually given to us, in your view, that serves to provide us the assurance
>that we abide in Him and He in us?

Without the spirit, we are blind, and do not see that Jesus is the savior
of the world. Jesus has given us from his spirit so that we can see and
testify to that fact.

>Maybe I’m just dense, but I still don’t see a reason for the two different
>renderings of EK TOU PNEUMATOS. If I am missing something here, can you
>it out to me? Thanks.
It's common for a phrase to be rendered in different ways depending on the
context. Consider the phrase "from here" in these contexts:

        "You can't get there from here."
        "You aren't from here, are you?"
        "From here on out, it only gets better."

The meaning is different in each of these phrases, and a translation into
another language might well reflect that fact.

I think you understand the language of the Greek you are looking at, so my
understanding is not based on a rejection of the validity of your
interpretation. It just seems to read that way to me.

Texcel Research

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