Friday, May 09, 2008

1 John 3:16 "love of God" or just "love"?

As Dr. White mentioned in his radio program yesterday, the Authorized version (KJV) has "love of God," in 1 John 3:16, where most other versions do not, and where (apparently) few Greek texts have the words. The most popular versions of the KJV place the words "of God" in italics, which is usually used to indicate that the words have been added without explicit support in a sufficient number of Greek manuscripts.

Dr. White raised the interesting question: how did it get in there? I need to investigate the Textus Receptus. My electronic copy has the words, but sets them off (as though not in the "original" textus receptus). Scrivener's transcription of the Textus Receptus identifies the words as not appearing in the Textus Receptus, but as being found in "B" (i.e. Bezae, which appears to refer to a printed edition of the Greek New Testament by Calvin's successor made in 1565).

I have not done an exhaustive search. Nevertheless, I found the following general attestations:

Latin / Greek
Pope Sixtus V version of the Vulgate, as approved by Clement VIII (link) has the "dei."
Complutensian Polyglot has "ton theon" in Greek and "dei" in Latin. (not readily linkable, thus partial text shown below)

Rheims (from the Vulgate) (link) has "of God."
Wycliffe (from Vulgate) (link) has "of God."
Lamsa (from Aramaic) (link) has "his."
Murdock (from Aramaic) (link) has "his."

All other major English versions (aside from the Authorized version) and Latin versions seem to lack the "of God." Other English versions that have it include the "Literal Translation of the Holy Bible," the so-called "Modern King James Version," and Webster's Bible - all of which appear to be sourced at least partly in the KJV.

Other versions that have it are the Biblia Gdanska (if my reading of the Polish is correct) "Przez tośmy poznali miłość Bożą, iż on duszę swoję za nas położył; i myśmy powinni kłaść duszę za braci. " also has it. Although this version appears to have been revised in the 19th century, I would be suprised if it were simply harmonized with the KJV, although it does appear to have been based on "the Textus Receptus." It should be noted that there was a long-lasting Latin influence in Poland (note that they use Roman letters unlike most of their other Slavic brethren), and perhaps we can blame the Vulgate for this appearance in the Polish Bible. It does not appear in the Old Slavonic, as far as I can tell.

The Spanish version known as Las Sagradas Escrituras Version Antiguaalso also has it, in italics, and I think we would discover that the LSEVA is more or less simply a translation into Spanish of the KJV.

It seems highly unlikely that the KJV translation team had the Aramaic version of 1 John available. The KJV translators may have had a copy of the Complutensian Polyglot - I'm not sure. If they did, I'd be ready to blame the insertion on that source, which they would have trusted to at least some degree.

Regardless, it appears possible that ultimately the word was derived from the Latin of the Vulgate, rather than from any Greek manuscript. My suspicion in this regard is enhanced by my belief that the Vulgate played a large role in the acceptance of the Johanine Comma in chapter 5 of 1 John, which was naturally translated by the same translation team as chapter 3.

My best guess then is acceptance of the testimony of the contempory Vulgate (as with Wycliff, Rheims, and possibly the Complutensian Greek, via a reverse translation). There's another possibility, which is conjectural emandation. The word translated "love" has an article. As certain modern Greek scholars are wont to point out, the proper translation of the article is one of the most widespread issues that modern scholarship has with the KJV. It may be that the KJV translators believed that because "love" had a definite article (την αγαπην), the words "of God" were conveyed via the article, through antecedent reference to verse 1.

Another way that the emandation could occur is simply as an aid to the reader. Although the KJV is mostly a literal translation, there are a few instances where what would today be called "dynamic equivalents" are used. Perhaps this is such a case.

I suppose it is even possible that Beza and one or more "Vulgate" translators (though apparently, according to Dr. White's comments on the radio program yesterday, not Jerome himself) made a similar emendation.

Ultimately, the sense is the same (I believe) whether we accept the words "of God" as genunine or not. I suspect that most of the major textual critics agree, which is why this particular variant is not discussed (as far as I can see) in most of the major critical editions of the Greek testament. For example, neither my NA27 nor my UBS4 has any mention of this variant, and Scrivener.


P.S. While we are speculating - there is also another way that "theos" could have crept into the text. The word immediately after "love" is a conjunction that begins with an Omicron. In the uncial manuscripts (especially those on payprus) it would be possible to mistake an Omicron for for a Theta (they differ by a single horizontal line). Furthermore, a horizontal line in the paper (whether due to the lined characteristics of papyri, or lines written to assist in writing straight, or simply a stray mark) over a Theta is an abbreviation that was widely used to denote the word for "God." There were no commas in the original, so it would be remotely possibly that a sleepy scribe could mistake hoti for the abreviation for theos plus the indefinite pronoun ti (τι).

UPDATE: My original post made reference to B as referring to Bezae, which I took to refer to "Codex Bezae," an early manuscript - and one carefully transcribed for publication by Scrivener. On further consideration, though, I think Scrivener more likely meant the 1565 printed Greek Testament published by Theodore Beza.


TheoJunkie said...


Interesting pursuit... because even if "of God" was inserted, I doubt it was by a sleepy scribe.

Verse 17 says But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?

John clearly intends verse 17 to be a counter example to the concept set forth in verse 16.

It is not merely a trivial pursuit, because many people (free-willers/universal atonement proponents) use 1 John and his discussions of love to try to show that Christ died for all human beings "provisionally"... the argument goes something like "Even atheists are capable of love, therefore..."

But when we see that verse 16 is not saying "By this we are able to love / have experienced love"... but rather (in positive contrast to verse 17), "God's love abides in those he laid his life down for"... this radically impacts how we approach the Cross.

Turretinfan said...

Thanks for bringing in verse 17, TJ!

It clearly is relevant to the meaning of 16.


Anonymous said...

I would add, read verse one of 1 John 3 and also note verses 14 and 15 and the word LIFE in those verses and then note the words LIFE and LIVES in verse 16 of 1 John 3.

First, I tend to lean towards leaving off "of God" for the reason I point too about verse one above and the intent of that "knowledge" referred too; [1 John 1:1...The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him.].

And the fact that in verse 14 and 15 John is handling Jesus Christ as revelation on par with God, Our Heavenly Eternal Father and God, the Eternal Holy Ghost and in verse 16, he is handling Jesus the son of man as the example for us to follow while alive as the Elect on earth, not the Elect gone on to our Heavenly reward!

I come to this understanding because I understand that Jesus emptied Himself of His "Eternal Nature, LIFE/ZOE" [verses 14 and 15] to become a man with a SOUL/LIFE/PSUCHE [verse 16, LIFE/psuche, LIVES/psuche] like all of us so that by His temporal nature, we too could LOVE God by it [soul/psuche] and one another, something God Our Eternal Father can only do through Christ and God, the Holy Ghost can only do now through Christ in us as His Body on earth.

Psa 33:13 The LORD looks down from heaven; he sees all the children of man;
Psa 33:14 from where he sits enthroned he looks out on all the inhabitants of the earth,
Psa 33:15 he who fashions the hearts of them all and observes all their deeds.


Heb 9:13 For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the sprinkling of defiled persons with the ashes of a heifer, sanctify for the purification of the flesh,
Heb 9:14 how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.


Heb 10:4 For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.
Heb 10:5 Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said, "Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired, but a body have you prepared for me;
Heb 10:6 in burnt offerings and sin offerings you have taken no pleasure.
Heb 10:7 Then I said, 'Behold, I have come to do your will, O God, as it is written of me in the scroll of the book.'"

The only possible meanings here are Christ there sitting on His throne then when David wrote Psalm 33 and the soul/psuche of Christ here being offered without blemish to God there through the Holy Ghost here to cleanse our conscience from dead works here to serve the living God there when we serve our neighbors the rest of our earthly days in service to God and our neighbors here.

Mitch said...

Dear brothers,

It seems that even Calvin thought that “of God” was unwarranted and that it referred back to verse 8 or Son of God. I have a question for you along similar lines. When we see Titus 2:11 there is a bit of a discrepancy there as well.

“For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men” KJV

“For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people” ESV

There is an obvious change in meaning and I wonder what your view is on this verse. BTW it does appear that the NIV went with the KJ, but the TNIV has noticed that the grammar is more inline with the ESV and has rendered it that way.

Praise be to God

Turretinfan said...

I think the dative phrase "πασιν ανθρωποις" is better understood as showing the (indirect) object of the verb "appeared" (as captured in the KJV) than to its nearest neighbor (σωτηριος) (cf. Luke 1:79).

As to the main issue, I don't recall Calvin's discussion of it: where did you find it?

Mitch said...

Dear Turretinfan,

I found it on page 160 of Commentaries on the Catholic Epistles here is the pertinent information-

Title: Commentaries on the Catholic Epistles
Author(s): Calvin, John (1509-1564)
Publisher: Grand Rapids, MI: Christian Classics Ethereal Library
Rights: Public Domain

In regards to Titus 2:11 the theory is that the predicate adjective’s purpose is to present additional explanation regarding the grace of God.

I take it that you are not a fan of the TNIV or ESV?

Praise God for His Word

Anonymous said...

Bro. Mitch, by way of Bro. TF, I would respond by noting a couple of Greek Words, one from my earlier response to this question raised by the article and another now.

In my earlier response, which I might say thank you to TF for allowing it to be published hereon, I pointed to the Greek Word from 1 John 3:1, "know":

A prolonged form of a primary verb; to “know” (absolutely), in a great variety of applications and with many implications (as shown at left, with others not thus clearly expressed): - allow, be aware (of), feel, (have) known (-ledge), perceive, be resolved, can speak, be sure, understand.

I would now point to another Greek Word used in many other passages. I want to "highlight" this Greek Word from a particular verse in Mark 1:24,

Mar 1:24 "What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are--the Holy One of God."


A primary verb; used only in certain past tenses, the others being borrowed from the equivalent, G3700 and G3708; properly to see (literally or figuratively); by implication (in the perfect only) to know: - be aware, behold, X can (+ not tell), consider, (have) known (-ledge), look (on), perceive, see, be sure, tell, understand, wist, wot. Compare G3700.

The reality here is this, we are known, both by God, the Elect Angels, devils and mankind. The devils and the reprobates "know"/eido, only in certain past tenses, us, the Elect. The problem is that we, the Elect, live in the Present Knowledge of God, and so, though they dismiss us, they cannot disregard us, especially when we rise up in our Calling and Election. The Kingdom does suffer violence and the violent take it by force. The devils and the reprobate, even in this generation, are doing everything in their power to persuade us from the Truth. We are, on the other hand, coming into and becoming the members of the Body, conjoined to Christ, by the Hand of Our Father, Eph. 2:5,cf., this Body of the Truth today as John wrote in 2 John years and years ago:

2Jn 1:4 I rejoiced greatly to find some of your children walking in the truth, just as we were commanded by the Father.

The question is "how" are we known?

The devils "believe" and shudder as them come violently against us. They too, know the Truth. That is, we are the Elect! They are only sustained by us, the Elect, when we are persuaded by their lies!

We "believe" and pick up our God chosen "cross", because we are the Elect and we die to our self life because of this Truth; unlike the reprobates among us so that we too can come alive in the Love "of God", the Truth. However, in the article in question hereto, the issue I guess is a question as to why some translators added "of God"? I don't know nor do I think any of us will ever put a clear definitive answer that clears up the question hereto, this article published that we are commenting on.

I guess you have information on John Calvin and his extant writings to support your presupposition that lends support to leaving off the "of God" from the verse? I too. That is, I too, for the reasons I already laid out in my earlier response to the article which TF published for us bloggers to respond too, not from some reference to some extant writings of John Calvin. :)

Here, now, I am considering another reason for leaving off "of God" which is of particular importance to me, being raised in an Indian culture of a small California Tribe where our Tribe is "known" for being very "spiritual". For the most part, we are not well known for being Godly in Christ Jesus. Happily, I can proclaim, He does Elect from every Tribe, Kindred, Tongue and Nation! :) i.e., I am one of the Elect, too and that by revelation and by God's Choice, not mine!

Joh 15:16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.
Joh 15:17 These things I command you, so that you will love one another.

The spirits "know"/eido Christ and His handiwork, the Body of Christ today just as they "knew"/eido the handiwork, the Body of Christ when Mark penned those words, Mark 1:24. Mark was writing after the fact, the beginnings of the Body of Christ then and we, the Body of Christ, the Elect, now.

I will assert what I believe is a "known" fact, the reprobates now today "know"/eido Christ and His Body as they do in all generations, "know" the Elect.

For me, the distinction or question come to this, "know"/eido as opposed to "know"/ginōskō; which "knowing" is it?:::>




Even Paul states as much, I assert, when we read what he wrote found in Romans,,.

Here, I believe is where the divide comes into play in the ongoing debate about knowing and knowing, the Elect knowing/ginōskō and the reprobate knowing/eido. Does God "know" His Elect and so treat them differently than the reprobate? Yes!

Well here too, Paul wrote about how God treated Pharaoh, yes differently? Romans 9:17, cf.

What an awful debate has come to the world of mankind since the days of our Great Reformer, John Calvin! This is why I point to the distinctions of those words, "know" "know", "knowledge" and "known".

This may not help hereto? I realize that and it may have opened up more questions for you than answers?

So, summing it up, I lean towards leaving off "of God" because I believe that is what the Holy Ghost teaches by Scripture and was speaking to us through His "known" writer, John. Others, happily, wanted to insert "of God". I don't.

A digression though, I do not intend on writing a "new" Translation! :). It would only engender more debate!

Turretinfan said...

Dear Mitch,

I suppose you are referring to footnote 79, which states: " There is no authority for adding of God after love in this verse; nor indeed is it right, for what follows clearly shows that the love of Christ is what is referred to. The antecedent to “he,” (“because he laid down,” &e.) is “the Son of God” in the 8th verse. The passage may be thus rendered, “By this we know love, that he laid down his own life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for our brethren.” — Ed."

As you'll notice that "- Ed." at the end indicates that the comment is the comment of the editor, not the comment of Calvin. Most (if not all) of the footnotes in Calvin's commentaries are by the editor(s).

Mitch said...

Dear Turretinfan,

Yes I got it from the footnote and my mind associated it with Calvin. I apologize for the confusion that I caused. I also looked at my 1599 Geneva Bible and it also does not have “of God” in it so I assumed that at the time that most did not use the “of God” in the verse.

Also, the same Geneva Bible renders Titus 2:11 similar to the ESV that I quoted above. It reads

For that grace of God, that bringeth salvation unto all men, hath appeared,

Thank you for all of your time and effort that you put forth on a daily basis.

Praise be to God

Turretinfan said...

No problem, Mitch. I just wanted to be sure that Calvin himself hadn't commented on the matter. He did comment on the variant issue in 1 John 5, as far as I know.

You're right, though - the Geneva (and all the other previous English Bibles, except Wycliffe's and Rheims') did not include the "of God."

I'd have to check other places to be sure - but Calvin himself may not have been aware of the variant issue in this verse.