1ST JOHN 5:20(A)

THE EPISTLES OF ST JOHN By Brooke Foss Westcott, D.D., D.C.L. Lord Bishop of Durham Canon of Peterborough and Westminster Regius Professor of Divinity, Cambridge, Third Edition 1892.
1 John 5:20. The third affirmation of knowledge is introduced by the adversative particle (oi[d. dev). There is, this seems to be the line of thought, a startling antithesis in life of good and evil. We have been made to feel it in all its intensity. But at the same time we can face it in faith. That which is as yet dark will be made light. There is given to us the power of ever-advancing knowledge and of present divine fellowship. We can wait even as God waits. The particle dev is comparatively unfrequent in St John’s writings: 1 John 1:7; 2:2, 5, 11, 17; 3:12, 17; 4:18; 3 John 14.
h{kei, kai; devdwken] hath come and hath given. Faith rests on the permanence of the fact and not upon the historic fact only. Comp. John 8:42 note.
devdwken] 1 John 3:1, 4:13. Contrast 3:23, 24; 5:11 (e[dwken) note.
diavnoian] sensum V., understanding. This is the only place in which the term occurs in St John’s writings; and generally nouns which express intellectual powers are rare in them. Thus St John never uses gnw'si", nor is nou'" found in his Gospel or Epistles. Diavnoia, as compared with nou'", represents the process of rational thought. Comp. Eph. 4:18 ejn mataiovthti tou' noo;" aujtw'n, ejskotwmevnoi th'/ dianoiva/ o[nte" (the first principles of the Gentiles were unsubstantial, and they had lost the power of right reasoning). Exclusive of quotations from the LXX, diavnoia is found: 1 Pet. 1:13 ajnazwsavmenoi ta;" ojsfuva" th'" dianoiva"; 2 Pet. 3:1 diegeivrw th;n eijlikrinh' diavnoian; and, in a more concrete sense, Luke 1:51 dianoiva/ kardiva"; Col. 1:21 ejcqrou;" th'/ dianoiva/; Eph. 2:3 ta; qelhvmata th'" sarko;" kai; tw'n dianoiw'n.
That with which ‘the Son of God’ Incarnate has endowed believers is a power of understanding, of interpreting, of following out to their right issues, the complex facts of life; and the end of the gift is that they may know, not by one decisive act ( i{na gnw'sin
) but by a continuous and progressive apprehension (i{na ginw'skwsi), ‘Him that is true.’ Thus the object of knowledge is not abstract but personal: not the Truth, but Him of Whom all that is true is a partial revelation.
It is evident that the fact of the Incarnation (uiJo;" tou' q. h{kei) vitally welcomed carries with it the power of believing in and seeing little by little the divine purpose of life under the perplexing riddles of phenomena.
The language in which Ignatius describes this gift is remarkable: dia; tiv ouj pavnte" frovnimoi ginovmeqa labovnte" qeou' gnw'sin, o{ ejstin jIhsou'" Cristov"… tiv mwrw'" ajpolluvmeqa ajgnoou'nte" to; cavrisma o} pevpomfen ajlhqw'" oJ Kuvrio"; (ad Eph. xvii.).
i{na ginwvskomen] This clause finds a remarkable commentary in John 17:3. Eternal life is the never-ending effort after this knowledge of God. Compare John 10:38, i{na gnw'te kai; ginwvskhte o{ti ejn ejmoi; oJ path;r kajgw; ejn aujtw'/.
It seems likely that ginwvskomen is to be regarded as a corrupt pronunciation of ginwvskwmen. It is remarkable that in John 17:3 many authorities read ginwvskousin for -wsin. Comp. Winer, iii. § 41. 1.
to;n ajlhqinovn] verum Deum V., quod est verum F. (i.e. to; ajl.), Him that is true, Who in contrast with all imaginary and imperfect objects of worship completely satisfies the idea of Godhead in the mind of man, even the Father revealed in and by the Son (John 1:18, 14:9). Christ is also called oJ ajlhqinov", Apoc. 3:7; compare also Apoc. 3:14 (6:10). For ajlhqinov" see John 1:9, 4:23, 15:1 notes. Comp. 1 Thess. 1:9 qeo;" zw'n kai; ajlhqinov".
kaiv ejsmen... jI. Cr.] et simus (as depending on ut) in vero filio eius V. St John adds a comment on what he has just said. Christians are not only enabled to gain a knowledge of God: they are already in fellowship with Him, ‘in Him.’ We are in Him that is true, even in His Son, Jesus Christ. The latter clause defines and confirms the reality of the divine fellowship. So far as Christians are united with Christ, they are united with God. His assumption of humanity (Jesus Christ) explains how the union is possible.
ou|tov" ejstin...] As far as the grammatical construction of the sentence is concerned the pronoun (ou|to") may refer either to ‘Him that is true’ or to ‘Jesus Christ.’ The most natural reference however is to the subject not locally nearest but dominant in the mind of the apostle (comp. 1 John 2:22; 2 John 7; Acts 4:11; 7:19). This is obviously ‘He that is true’ further described by the addition of ‘His Son.’ Thus the pronoun gathers up the revelation indicated in the words which precede (comp. John 1:2 note): This Being—this One who is true, who is revealed through and in His Son, with whom we are united by His Son—is the true God and life eternal. In other words the revelation of God as Father in Christ (comp. 1 John 2:22 f.) satisfies, and can alone satisfy, the need of man. To know God as Father is eternal life (John 17:3) and so Christ has revealed Him (1 John 1:2).
oJ ajlhq. q.] Comp. Is. 65:16 (LXX). Compare the famous words of Ignatius: ei|" qeov" ejsti oJ fanerwvsa" eJauto;n dia; jIhsou' Cristou' tou' uiJou' aujtou', o{" ejstin aujtou' lovgo" aji?dio", ajpo; sigh'" proelqwvn, o}" kata; pavnta eujhrevsthsen tw'/ pevmyanti aujtovn (ad Magn. viii.). Aristides is said to have maintained before Hadrian ‘quod Christus Jesus solus (al. verus) esset Deus’ (Mart. Rom. ap. Routh Rell. Sacrr. 1.80). This statement may be regarded as a summary paraphrase of the Greek text: ginwvskousi to;n qeo;n ktivsthn kai; dhmiourgo;n tw'n aJpavntwn ejn uiJw'/ monogenei' kai; pneuvmati aJgivw/ kai; a[llon qeo;n plh;n touvtou ou| sevbontai (c. xv.). The Syriac text has no reference to the Son and the Holy Spirit. Yet see Harnack, Text. u. Untersuch. 1.114.
ou|to"...zwh; aijwvn.] The phrase is not exactly parallel with those which describe (as far as we can apprehend it) the essential nature of God (John 4:24, 1 John 1:5, 4:8). See Additional Note on 1 John 4:8. It expresses His relation to men, and so far is parallel with Heb. 12:29 (Deut. 4:24).
On ‘Eternal life’ see Additional Note.