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Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Sharing What He Heard

A couple of days ago I shared that I was looking at John’s purpose statements in 1 John.  I mentioned that 1 John 2:12 – 14 needed a separate post.  Those three verses read like the parts of a liturgy or a hymn.  They also seem to be parallel.  So as I began to work with the passage I set it up in a table.
Sharing What He Heard

Greek Word
First Reason
Second Reason
because your sins have been forgiven you
because you know the Father
because you know Him from the beginning
because you know Him from the beginning
because you have overcome the evil one
because you are strong and the word of God abides in you

Different Words
You will note that the clauses that deal with the fathers and the young men use the same Greek word but the clauses directed at the children use two different Greek word usually translated in our English Bibles “little children,” τεκνία, and “children,” παιδία.

Why Different
So I looked into the use of the words.  My first question was are they synonymous?  Looking through the Theological Dictionary of the New Testament I ran across this definition and comment (I highlighted the important part ignore all of the abbreviations):
Fig. a. of undeveloped understanding, like νήπιος (→ IV, 917, 33 ff.), 1 K. 14:20 → 649, 33 f. b. As an affectionate address of the spiritual father to those committed to him: the risen Lord to His disciples in Jn. 21:5; the teacher to his hearers and readers, 1 Jn. 2:18; 3:7 vl. So also 1 Jn. 2:14; 2:12 vl., since the sequence παιδία, πατέρες, νεανίσκοι would be odd if the sense were a. (→ supra). The readers are first addressed as a body, and then distinguished into old and young men.4 This use is peculiar to the NT and is found only in Jn…In the NT it occurs only in the vocative plur. as an affectionate address of Jesus or the apostles to their spiritual children. τεκνία, Jn. 13:33; 1 Jn. 2:12 (vl. παιδία, not children in the strict sense → 638, 22–25); 2:28; 3:7, 18; 4:4; 5:21. τεκνία μου: Gl. 4:19 vl.; 1 Jn. 2:1.
Gerhard Kittel, Geoffrey W. Bromiley, and Gerhard Friedrich, eds., Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1964–), 638 - 639. 
What’s Happening
In the first set of clauses John, if TDNT is correct, is using the same diminutives to describe the group that Christ did in John 13:33, τεκνια, and John 21:5, παιδια.  If this is the case it renders the passage more understandable.  The recipients of the letter have had their sins forgiven and know the Father, that is their state of being as a result of being in Christ.

The next phrases seem to be reversed in maturity levels.  The fathers being the more mature with their state being repeated for emphasis.  Knowing God is the pinnacle of maturity.  Perhaps the phrase “from the beginning would refer to a fuller knowledge of God.  The younger men are in that process of moving toward that knowledge by overcoming the evil one through the strength they obtain from abiding in God’s Word.

Consistent Usage
This use is further validated by John’s language in 1 John 2:1, were he addresses his audience as τεκνία, and 1 John 2:18, where he addresses them as παιδία.

Sharing What He Heard
Regardless these are further allusions to the things that John heard from Jesus and recorded in his gospel.  The use of the diminutives, overcome, and abide are connections to and reinforce that John is sharing what he saw and heard.

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