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First John: 1 John 4:13-Second Interpretative Problem Lesson # 175

Pastor Bill Wenstrom
First John   •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  55:40
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First John: 1 John 4:13-Second Interpretative Problem

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1 John 4:13 By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. (ESV)
Now, there is another exegetical problem contained in 1 John 4:13, namely, it is concerned with the function of the conjunction hoti which I interpret as being employed with the indicative form of the verb didōmi, “he has given” in order to form an epexegetical clause.
This would mean that this word introduces a clause which identifies specifically the means by which the child of God can at any time confirm they are experiencing fellowship with the Father and the Father with them.
On the other hand, many expositors and most English translations interpret this word as causal (ESV, NASB95, NRSV, NIV, TEV).
This would mean that it is expressing the reason why the believer can confirm they are experiencing fellowship with the Father and the Father with them by means of their obedience to the command to love one another.
The exegetical interpretation of hoti is substantiated by the prepositional phrase ek tou pneumatos autou (ἐκ τοῦ πνεύματος αὐτοῦ), which is contained in this epexegetical clause.
This prepositional phrase identifies the Spirit as not only the means by which the believer can confirm they are experiencing fellowship with the Father and the Father with them when they obey the command to love one another but that He is also the source of this confirmation.
Furthermore, this interpretation is substantiated by John’s use of the expression ek tou pneumatos hou hēmin edōken (ἐκ τοῦ πνεύματος οὗ ἡμῖν ἔδωκεν) in 1 John 3:24, which means “by means of His Spirit as a source whom He has bestowed upon each one of us as a gift.”
Notice, this expression is nearly identical to the expression ek tou pneumatos autou dedōken hēmin (ἐκ τοῦ πνεύματος αὐτοῦ δέδωκεν ἡμῖν), which appears in 1 John 4:13.
The differences between the two are rather slight.
First, the intensive personal pronoun autos appears in 1 John 4:13 in relation to the prepositional phrase ek tou pneumatos (ἐκ τοῦ πνεύματος) and speaks of the Father.
However, it does not appear in 1 John 3:24 in relation to this prepositional phrase.
Secondly, 1 John 3:24 contains the relative pronoun hos before the verb didōmi.
On other hand, 1 John 4:13 does not have the word though it is clearly implied.
1 John 4:13 contains the intensive pronoun autos while 1 John 3:24 does not.
In 1 John 3:24, hēmin (οὗ ἡμῖν) appears before didōmi whereas in 1 John 4:13, it appears after it as the last word in the sentence.
Lastly, the verb didōmi in 1 John 4:13 is in the third person singular perfect active indicative form whereas in 1 John 3:24 it appears in the third person singular aorist active indicative form.
Despite, these slight differences, both expressions are asserting the same thing, namely the Father gave the Spirit to the believer as a gift.
1 John 3:24 Consequently, the one who at any time does conscientiously obey His commands is living in fellowship with Him. Correspondingly, He Himself is living in fellowship with him. Simultaneously, by means of this, each one of us can at any time confirm that He is living in fellowship with any one of us: By means of His Spirit whom He has bestowed upon each one of us as a gift. (Author’s translation)
As is the case in 1 John 4:13, the noun pneuma, “the Spirit” in 1 John 3:24 refers to the Holy Spirit and is the object of the preposition ek which is functioning as a marker of means with the implication of something proceeding from or out of the source.
Therefore, this prepositional phrase is not only expressing the means but also the source.
It is emphasizing that not only is the Spirit the instrumentality the Father uses to confirm with the believer that they are experiencing fellowship with the Father and vice versa, but also, He is the source of this confirmation.
The word is indicating that the Holy Spirit is the instrumentality the Father uses to confirm with the believer that they are living in fellowship with each other as a result of the believer conscientiously obeying His commands.
Therefore, in both verses, 1 John 3:24 and 4:13, the Spirit is conceived as impersonal in the sense that He is the instrument the Father uses to confirm with the obedient believer that they are living in fellowship with the Father and the Father is living in fellowship with them.
Specifically, the Spirit is the instrument the Father uses to confirm with the obedient believer that they are living in fellowship with the Father and the Father is living in fellowship with them when the believer obeys the command to love one another.
The command to love one another originated with the Father and was communicated to the apostles by the Son through the Spirit and was communicated to the church by the Spirit.
Thus, John is teaching in both verses that the child of God can confirm they are living in fellowship with the Father and the Father with them by means of obeying the command to love one another because the Spirit inspired this command.
He also reproduces the Father’s attribute of love in the believer when they obey this command.
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