18Οἴδαμεν ὅτι πᾶς ὁ γεγεννημένος ἐκ τοῦ θεοῦ οὐχ ἁμαρτάνει, ἀλλ’ ὁ γεννηθεὶς ἐκ τοῦ θεοῦ τηρεῖ ἑαυτὸν καὶ ὁ πονηρὸς οὐχ ἅπτεται αὐτοῦ. 19οἴδαμεν ὅτι ἐκ τοῦ θεοῦ ἐσμεν καὶ ὁ κόσμος ὅλος ἐν τῷ πονηρῷ κεῖται. 20οἴδαμεν δὲ ὅτι ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ θεοῦ ἥκει καὶ δέδωκεν ἡμῖν διάνοιαν, ἵνα γινώσκωμεν τὸν ἀληθινόν, καὶ ἐσμὲν ἐν τῷ ἀληθινῷ, ἐν τῷ υἱῷ αὐτοῦ Ἰησοῦ Χριστῷ. οὗτός ἐστιν ὁ ἀληθινὸς θεὸς καὶ ζωὴ αἰώνιος.
— 1 John / 1 Ιωάννη 5:20.
This, he adds, is the real God. In strict grammar, the word 'this' should refer to the last person named. Some commentators accordingly take the sentence we are considering to mean, 'This Person, namely Jesus Christ, is the real God.' It is more likely that the word 'this' has a wider and vaguer reference. The writer is gathering together in his mind all that he has been saying about God--how He is light, and love, how He is revealed as the Father through His Son Jesus Christ; how He is faithful and just to forgive our sins; how He remains in us--and this, he adds, is the real God, the one eternal Reality of which the mystics talk, though they do not know Him as He is known through Christ. And this, he also adds (meaning now the knowledge of the Real God of which he has just spoken) is eternal life. For illustration of this we need only recall John xvii. 3: This is life eternal, that they know Thee, the only real God, and Him whom Thou hast sent, even Jesus Christ. But it is also worth while to recall that the maxim that eternal life comes by knowledge of God, or of the Real, was a religious commonplace of the time. The new thing distinctive of Christianity is the revelation of God in a human life, with all that that involves.
Charles Harold Dodd,
The Johannine Epistles
[Οι Ιωάννειες Επιστολές],
Hodder and Stoughton, 1966,
pp./σσ. 140, 141.
Ιωάννης/John 1:40, 41· 1 Ιωάννη/John 2:22· 2 Ιωάννη/John 7·
Πράξεις/Acts 4:10, 11· 7:18, 19.