1 John 4:19 - αγαπωμεν

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David Lim
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1 John 4:19 - αγαπωμεν

Post by David Lim » August 24th, 2011, 9:53 am

[1 John 4] [19] ημεις αγαπωμεν αυτον οτι αυτος πρωτος ηγαπησεν ημας
I noticed that everyone treats "αγαπωμεν" as indicative rather than subjunctive. However I noticed that there is an almost parallel verse 1 John 4:7 in which "αγαπωμεν" is certainly subjunctive. Also I just cannot see any reason that "αγαπωμεν" in 1 John 4:19 must be indicative, according to both the immediate context in which it is used and the wider context of the whole epistle. Anyone with any alternative opinions?
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Re: 1 John 4:19 - αγαπωμεν

Post by cwconrad » August 24th, 2011, 10:40 am

David Lim wrote:
[1 John 4] [19] ημεις αγαπωμεν αυτον οτι αυτος πρωτος ηγαπησεν ημας
I noticed that everyone treats "αγαπωμεν" as indicative rather than subjunctive. However I noticed that there is an almost parallel verse 1 John 4:7 in which "αγαπωμεν" is certainly subjunctive. Also I just cannot see any reason that "αγαπωμεν" in 1 John 4:19 must be indicative, according to both the immediate context in which it is used and the wider context of the whole epistle. Anyone with any alternative opinions?
I really think that it ought to be assumed that ἀγαπῶμεν here is indicative unless there's some contextual indication that it might as well or better be read as a subjunctive. You refer to 1 Jn 4:17 Ἀγαπητοί, ἀγαπῶμεν ἀλλήλους, ὅτι ἡ ἀγάπη ἐκ τοῦ θεοῦ ἐστιν, καὶ πᾶς ὁ ἀγαπῶν ἐκ τοῦ θεοῦ γεγέννηται καὶ γινώσκει τὸν θεόν. It seems to me that in this latter instance, the vocative clearly points to the likelihood that ἀγαπῶμεν is hortatory subjunctive. in 4:19, however, there's a clear contrast between the pronouns of the two clauses: ἡμεῖς and αὐτὸς: "WE do it, the reason being that HE did it" or "OUR loving is grounded in HIS having loved us."

I don't say that this couldn't be a subjunctive; rather I think the burden rests upon the one who argues that it would better be understood as a subjunctive here.
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ἀλλὰ χρόνῳ ζητέοντες ἐφευρίσκουσιν ἄμεινον. (Xenophanes, Fragment 16)

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Re: 1 John 4:19 - αγαπωμεν

Post by timothy_p_mcmahon » August 24th, 2011, 12:18 pm

Is it common to use the pronoun ἡμεῖς with the hortatory subjunctive? If so, does it tend to precede or follow the verb?
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Re: 1 John 4:19 - αγαπωμεν

Post by cwconrad » August 24th, 2011, 1:07 pm

timothy_p_mcmahon wrote:Is it common to use the pronoun ἡμεῖς with the hortatory subjunctive? If so, does it tend to precede or follow the verb?
The only example from the GNT that I can readily discern is:

John 11:16 εἶπεν οὖν Θωμᾶς ὁ λεγόμενος Δίδυμος τοῖς συμμαθηταῖς· ἄγωμεν καὶ ἡμεῖς ἵνα ἀποθάνωμεν μετ᾿ αὐτοῦ.

Here καὶ ἡμεῖς certainly underscores the hortatory force of ἄγωμεν.
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οὔτοι ἀπ’ ἀρχῆς πάντα θεοὶ θνητοῖς ὑπέδειξαν,
ἀλλὰ χρόνῳ ζητέοντες ἐφευρίσκουσιν ἄμεινον. (Xenophanes, Fragment 16)

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Re: 1 John 4:19 - αγαπωμεν

Post by David Lim » August 25th, 2011, 6:49 am

cwconrad wrote:
David Lim wrote:
[1 John 4] [19] ημεις αγαπωμεν αυτον οτι αυτος πρωτος ηγαπησεν ημας
I noticed that everyone treats "αγαπωμεν" as indicative rather than subjunctive. However I noticed that there is an almost parallel verse 1 John 4:7 in which "αγαπωμεν" is certainly subjunctive. Also I just cannot see any reason that "αγαπωμεν" in 1 John 4:19 must be indicative, according to both the immediate context in which it is used and the wider context of the whole epistle. Anyone with any alternative opinions?
I really think that it ought to be assumed that ἀγαπῶμεν here is indicative unless there's some contextual indication that it might as well or better be read as a subjunctive. You refer to 1 Jn 4:17 Ἀγαπητοί, ἀγαπῶμεν ἀλλήλους, ὅτι ἡ ἀγάπη ἐκ τοῦ θεοῦ ἐστιν, καὶ πᾶς ὁ ἀγαπῶν ἐκ τοῦ θεοῦ γεγέννηται καὶ γινώσκει τὸν θεόν. It seems to me that in this latter instance, the vocative clearly points to the likelihood that ἀγαπῶμεν is hortatory subjunctive. in 4:19, however, there's a clear contrast between the pronouns of the two clauses: ἡμεῖς and αὐτὸς: "WE do it, the reason being that HE did it" or "OUR loving is grounded in HIS having loved us."

I don't say that this couldn't be a subjunctive; rather I think the burden rests upon the one who argues that it would better be understood as a subjunctive here.
Okay so I see the discussion has to move to the context.

The immediate context is:
[1 John 4] [7] αγαπητοι αγαπωμεν αλληλους οτι η αγαπη εκ του θεου εστιν και πας ο αγαπων εκ του θεου γεγεννηται και γινωσκει τον θεον [8] ο μη αγαπων ουκ εγνω τον θεον οτι ο θεος αγαπη εστιν [9] εν τουτω εφανερωθη η αγαπη του θεου εν ημιν οτι τον υιον αυτου τον μονογενη απεσταλκεν ο θεος εις τον κοσμον ινα ζησωμεν δι αυτου [10] εν τουτω εστιν η αγαπη ουχ οτι ημεις ηγαπησαμεν τον θεον αλλ οτι αυτος ηγαπησεν ημας και απεστειλεν τον υιον αυτου ιλασμον περι των αμαρτιων ημων [11] αγαπητοι ει ουτως ο θεος ηγαπησεν ημας και ημεις οφειλομεν αλληλους αγαπαν [12] θεον ουδεις πωποτε τεθεαται εαν αγαπωμεν αλληλους ο θεος εν ημιν μενει και η αγαπη αυτου τετελειωμενη εστιν εν ημιν [13] εν τουτω γινωσκομεν οτι εν αυτω μενομεν και αυτος εν ημιν οτι εκ του πνευματος αυτου δεδωκεν ημιν [14] και ημεις τεθεαμεθα και μαρτυρουμεν οτι ο πατηρ απεσταλκεν τον υιον σωτηρα του κοσμου [15] ος αν ομολογηση οτι ιησους εστιν ο υιος του θεου ο θεος εν αυτω μενει και αυτος εν τω θεω [16] και ημεις εγνωκαμεν και πεπιστευκαμεν την αγαπην ην εχει ο θεος εν ημιν ο θεος αγαπη εστιν και ο μενων εν τη αγαπη εν τω θεω μενει και ο θεος εν αυτω μενει [17] εν τουτω τετελειωται η αγαπη μεθ ημων ινα παρρησιαν εχωμεν εν τη ημερα της κρισεως οτι καθως εκεινος εστιν και ημεις εσμεν εν τω κοσμω τουτω [18] φοβος ουκ εστιν εν τη αγαπη αλλ η τελεια αγαπη εξω βαλλει τον φοβον οτι ο φοβος κολασιν εχει ο δε φοβουμενος ου τετελειωται εν τη αγαπη [19] ημεις αγαπωμεν αυτον οτι αυτος πρωτος ηγαπησεν ημας [20] εαν τις ειπη οτι αγαπω τον θεον και τον αδελφον αυτου μιση ψευστης εστιν ο γαρ μη αγαπων τον αδελφον αυτου ον εωρακεν τον θεον ον ουχ εωρακεν πως δυναται αγαπαν [21] και ταυτην την εντολην εχομεν απ αυτου ινα ο αγαπων τον θεον αγαπα και τον αδελφον αυτου
Verse 7 says that the reason we should love is because the love is out of God. It is clearly not that we love (indicative) one another because the love is out of God, but that we should love (subjunctive) one another. Verse 10 also says that we did not love God but God loved us and the love of God was manifested in his son whom he sent. Verse 11 draws the same conclusion, that since God loved us, we ought to love one another. Verse 16 implies that we should remain in the love, and verse 17-19 therefore should be the reasons that we should remain in the love. Thus "he first loved us" is the reason that we should love, and love both God and one another. In the wider context of 1 John, the author repeatedly says that we should love both (1 John 2:4-11,15, 3:10-18,23, 5:1-3), and there is no portion in which the author says that "we love (indicative) God" or "we loved God". So why then should 1 John 4:19 be any different? I hope this does not end up in theology but I am interested to know points of view for both sides.
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Re: 1 John 4:19 - αγαπωμεν

Post by cwconrad » August 26th, 2011, 8:04 am

David Lim wrote: The immediate context is:
[1 John 4] [7] αγαπητοι αγαπωμεν αλληλους οτι η αγαπη εκ του θεου εστιν και πας ο αγαπων εκ του θεου γεγεννηται και γινωσκει τον θεον [8] ο μη αγαπων ουκ εγνω τον θεον οτι ο θεος αγαπη εστιν [9] εν τουτω εφανερωθη η αγαπη του θεου εν ημιν οτι τον υιον αυτου τον μονογενη απεσταλκεν ο θεος εις τον κοσμον ινα ζησωμεν δι αυτου [10] εν τουτω εστιν η αγαπη ουχ οτι ημεις ηγαπησαμεν τον θεον αλλ οτι αυτος ηγαπησεν ημας και απεστειλεν τον υιον αυτου ιλασμον περι των αμαρτιων ημων [11] αγαπητοι ει ουτως ο θεος ηγαπησεν ημας και ημεις οφειλομεν αλληλους αγαπαν [12] θεον ουδεις πωποτε τεθεαται εαν αγαπωμεν αλληλους ο θεος εν ημιν μενει και η αγαπη αυτου τετελειωμενη εστιν εν ημιν [13] εν τουτω γινωσκομεν οτι εν αυτω μενομεν και αυτος εν ημιν οτι εκ του πνευματος αυτου δεδωκεν ημιν [14] και ημεις τεθεαμεθα και μαρτυρουμεν οτι ο πατηρ απεσταλκεν τον υιον σωτηρα του κοσμου [15] ος αν ομολογηση οτι ιησους εστιν ο υιος του θεου ο θεος εν αυτω μενει και αυτος εν τω θεω [16] και ημεις εγνωκαμεν και πεπιστευκαμεν την αγαπην ην εχει ο θεος εν ημιν ο θεος αγαπη εστιν και ο μενων εν τη αγαπη εν τω θεω μενει και ο θεος εν αυτω μενει [17] εν τουτω τετελειωται η αγαπη μεθ ημων ινα παρρησιαν εχωμεν εν τη ημερα της κρισεως οτι καθως εκεινος εστιν και ημεις εσμεν εν τω κοσμω τουτω [18] φοβος ουκ εστιν εν τη αγαπη αλλ η τελεια αγαπη εξω βαλλει τον φοβον οτι ο φοβος κολασιν εχει ο δε φοβουμενος ου τετελειωται εν τη αγαπη [19] ημεις αγαπωμεν αυτον οτι αυτος πρωτος ηγαπησεν ημας [20] εαν τις ειπη οτι αγαπω τον θεον και τον αδελφον αυτου μιση ψευστης εστιν ο γαρ μη αγαπων τον αδελφον αυτου ον εωρακεν τον θεον ον ουχ εωρακεν πως δυναται αγαπαν [21] και ταυτην την εντολην εχομεν απ αυτου ινα ο αγαπων τον θεον αγαπα και τον αδελφον αυτου
Verse 7 says that the reason we should love is because the love is out of God. It is clearly not that we love (indicative) one another because the love is out of God, but that we should love (subjunctive) one another. Verse 10 also says that we did not love God but God loved us and the love of God was manifested in his son whom he sent. Verse 11 draws the same conclusion, that since God loved us, we ought to love one another. Verse 16 implies that we should remain in the love, and verse 17-19 therefore should be the reasons that we should remain in the love. Thus "he first loved us" is the reason that we should love, and love both God and one another. In the wider context of 1 John, the author repeatedly says that we should love both (1 John 2:4-11,15, 3:10-18,23, 5:1-3), and there is no portion in which the author says that "we love (indicative) God" or "we loved God". So why then should 1 John 4:19 be any different? I hope this does not end up in theology but I am interested to know points of view for both sides.
It's a pity nobody else has weighed in on this question. I must say that I remain unconvinced by your argument. I've noted that all the instances of the 1 plural of ἀγαπῶ in the GNT -- 11 in all -- are found in 1 and 2 John, most of them in the former. There are only two that might conceivably be interpreted as either subjunctive or indicative, and they are, of course 1 John 4:7 and 4:19. I would be more inclined to deem both of these indicatives rather than both of them subjunctives: I could understand 4:7 as stating, "Our love for each other derives from God: everyone who loves is born from God and discerns God." Yet it seems to me that the vocative preceding (ἀγαπητοί) does make it more likely that ἀγαπῶμεν in this instance is a hortatory subjunctive. In 4:19, (ἡμεῖς ἀγαπῶμεν, ὅτι αὐτὸς πρῶτος ἠγάπησεν ἡμᾶς.) however , I think that we do have what may appear to be a restatement of 4:7 but is actually more succinct and pointed with its emphatic pronouns ἡμεῖς and αὐτὸς). Here a proposition is being stated as succinctly as possible, not an exhortation: "Our love for each other is a consequence of His prior love for us."

I may add that I share the interpretation of this pointed exposition on the love of members of the community for each other that it is motivated by a schism within the community and the exodus from it of what may have been a majority over the interpretation and implications of the gospel of the Johannine community. This is a background assumption, one that really shouldn't properly be discussed here, but I'll just note that I've been heavily influenced in my own understanding of 1 John by Raymond Brown's book entitled The Community of the Beloved Disciple.
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οὔτοι ἀπ’ ἀρχῆς πάντα θεοὶ θνητοῖς ὑπέδειξαν,
ἀλλὰ χρόνῳ ζητέοντες ἐφευρίσκουσιν ἄμεινον. (Xenophanes, Fragment 16)

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Re: 1 John 4:19 - αγαπωμεν

Post by David Lim » August 26th, 2011, 11:19 am

cwconrad wrote:
David Lim wrote:Verse 7 says that the reason we should love is because the love is out of God. It is clearly not that we love (indicative) one another because the love is out of God, but that we should love (subjunctive) one another. Verse 10 also says that we did not love God but God loved us and the love of God was manifested in his son whom he sent. Verse 11 draws the same conclusion, that since God loved us, we ought to love one another. Verse 16 implies that we should remain in the love, and verse 17-19 therefore should be the reasons that we should remain in the love. Thus "he first loved us" is the reason that we should love, and love both God and one another. In the wider context of 1 John, the author repeatedly says that we should love both (1 John 2:4-11,15, 3:10-18,23, 5:1-3), and there is no portion in which the author says that "we love (indicative) God" or "we loved God". So why then should 1 John 4:19 be any different? I hope this does not end up in theology but I am interested to know points of view for both sides.
It's a pity nobody else has weighed in on this question. I must say that I remain unconvinced by your argument.
Does anyone else mind sharing their thoughts? :)
cwconrad wrote:I've noted that all the instances of the 1 plural of ἀγαπῶ in the GNT -- 11 in all -- are found in 1 and 2 John, most of them in the former. There are only two that might conceivably be interpreted as either subjunctive or indicative, and they are, of course 1 John 4:7 and 4:19. I would be more inclined to deem both of these indicatives rather than both of them subjunctives: I could understand 4:7 as stating, "Our love for each other derives from God: everyone who loves is born from God and discerns God." Yet it seems to me that the vocative preceding (ἀγαπητοί) does make it more likely that ἀγαπῶμεν in this instance is a hortatory subjunctive. In 4:19, (ἡμεῖς ἀγαπῶμεν, ὅτι αὐτὸς πρῶτος ἠγάπησεν ἡμᾶς.) however , I think that we do have what may appear to be a restatement of 4:7 but is actually more succinct and pointed with its emphatic pronouns ἡμεῖς and αὐτὸς). Here a proposition is being stated as succinctly as possible, not an exhortation: "Our love for each other is a consequence of His prior love for us."
The difference in person also means that since it is impossible to have a vocative "we", using the explicit pronoun "ημεις" may be the closest way to emphasize that "we now should love God" because "he first loved us". Am I mistaken?
cwconrad wrote:I may add that I share the interpretation of this pointed exposition on the love of members of the community for each other that it is motivated by a schism within the community and the exodus from it of what may have been a majority over the interpretation and implications of the gospel of the Johannine community. This is a background assumption, one that really shouldn't properly be discussed here, but I'll just note that I've been heavily influenced in my own understanding of 1 John by Raymond Brown's book entitled The Community of the Beloved Disciple.
I have not read much from commentaries or exposition on the scriptures, but I would be interested to hear any excerpts that are based solely on the text itself (including hints within the writings of circumstances surrounding the writings). The problem of any assumption that there was a schism within the community is that it can also be the reason why it is natural that the author give exhortation to love one another and love God. So I too am still not convinced by your argument even if your assumption is true (I have no opinion on that). ;)
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Re: 1 John 4:19 - αγαπωμεν

Post by Stephen Carlson » August 26th, 2011, 2:02 pm

For what it's worth, my own reading of the context supports the indicative, as with Carl, but I'm too busy to write up why.
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Re: 1 John 4:19 - αγαπωμεν

Post by cwconrad » August 26th, 2011, 2:03 pm

David Lim wrote: I have not read much from commentaries or exposition on the scriptures, but I would be interested to hear any excerpts that are based solely on the text itself (including hints within the writings of circumstances surrounding the writings). The problem of any assumption that there was a schism within the community is that it can also be the reason why it is natural that the author give exhortation to love one another and love God. So I too am still not convinced by your argument even if your assumption is true (I have no opinion on that). ;)
It doesn't look like anyone else is interested -- but who knows, maybe a month from now! I've noticed a couple other presumably dead threads have revived after an interval.

We'll agree to disagree, OK? I think the nature of the first letter of John is extraordinarily open to quite a few different readings of its structural sequence and the logic of its arguments. There's one excellent commentary on the Greek text of 123 John by Martin Culy, which I observed and critiqued in the course of its preparation. Culy accepts the standard view of these two texts (that ἀγαπῶμεν in 4:7 is a hortatory subjunctive while 4:19 is an indicative -- but he doesn't argue these judgments, evidently because they didn't seem open to question. I think he'd agree, as I do, that these two instances of ἀγαπῶμεν could theoretically be judged either way -- whether or not they should.

With regard to Raymond Brown's book on 1 John, I'll say just a little. He was probably as authoritative an interpreter of the Johannine literature in the latter part of the 20th century, a Roman Catholic scholar much appreciated by Protestant critics. He published the two-volume Anchor commentary on John's Gospel as well as the little book on the Johannine community to which I've referred. I no longer have either the commentary or the other book -- I gave away almost all of my academic library when I retired. But one remarkable comment made by Brown at the end of his preface/introduction to the book on the Johannine Community has always struck me as remarkable for its academic humility; it went something like this: "I'll be very happy if it should turn out that as much as 60% of my thinking about the issues here dealt with should be deemed probable."
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οὔτοι ἀπ’ ἀρχῆς πάντα θεοὶ θνητοῖς ὑπέδειξαν,
ἀλλὰ χρόνῳ ζητέοντες ἐφευρίσκουσιν ἄμεινον. (Xenophanes, Fragment 16)

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Re: 1 John 4:19 - αγαπωμεν

Post by David Lim » August 26th, 2011, 9:44 pm

cwconrad wrote:We'll agree to disagree, OK? I think the nature of the first letter of John is extraordinarily open to quite a few different readings of its structural sequence and the logic of its arguments. There's one excellent commentary on the Greek text of 123 John by Martin Culy, which I observed and critiqued in the course of its preparation. Culy accepts the standard view of these two texts (that ἀγαπῶμεν in 4:7 is a hortatory subjunctive while 4:19 is an indicative -- but he doesn't argue these judgments, evidently because they didn't seem open to question. I think he'd agree, as I do, that these two instances of ἀγαπῶμεν could theoretically be judged either way -- whether or not they should.
I think at least we agree that both readings are possible, even though at the present moment I consider the subjunctive more likely. However I note that if we look at just 1 John 4:19 alone, because of the structure I would agree that the indicative is the normal reading. It is just that I cannot understand why the author would want to make statements that they (including himself) love (already love or habitually love), especially in verse 7, given that verses 10-12 seem to have an indisputable exhortation that we love one another. Therefore if verse 7 is understood as an exhortation, then since verse 20-21 say that to love God includes to love one's brother, verse 19 naturally seem to me as an exhortation as well, because verse 20 says "if anyone says that, I love God, and hates his brother, [a] liar [he] is, for the [one] who does not love his brother whom [he] has seen, how can [he] love God whom [he] has not seen?" and thus fulfilling verse 19 includes fulfilling verse 7. As such, I think that verse 7 and verse 19 should be understood in the same way, and if they are both taken to be indicative, I would understand them as "[7] beloved [ones], [[that]] we love one another [[is]] because the love is out of God and every [one] who loves has been begotten out of God and knows God." and "[19] [[that]] we love him [[is]] because he first loved us." In other words, I still do not think it is a direct affirmation that "we love one another" or "we love him" but rather an explanation, of why those who love love and why those who do not love should love. But if you think I am almost certainly wrong in some point, do tell me. :)
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