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τον απ αρχης

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τον απ αρχης

Postby Bubba1 » Sun Aug 14, 2011 6:55 pm

I have a question that I would like to present here at Text Kit.

in 1 John 2:13 we read "τον απ αρχης". I believe that this is a substantive. Also I believe that it speaks directly of Jesus Christ which means that He had eternal pre-existence.

What are your thoughts?

Bubba
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Re: τον απ αρχης

Postby jswilkmd » Mon Oct 03, 2011 5:45 am

Yes, it IS a substantive and it means something on the order of "the one who was from the beginning."

Whether it refers to God the Father or to Jesus, though, is unclear, because both of these persons of the trinity have existed from the beginning of time. Note that a rare commentator, de la Potterie for example, has taken this as "from the beginning of the Christian era." There isn't anything going for this interpretation and it strikes me as a case of special pleading.

Marshall (The Epistles of John, NICNT, p. 139) feels this is a reference to Jesus here because the Father is specifically mentioned in the following verse and it would be awkwardly repetitive here if v. 13 referred to the Father as well. Furthermore, he notes that nobody doubted the Father existed from the beginning and that it would have been more significant for John to stress the pre-existence of Jesus.

Other commentators (Stott, The Epistles of John, Tyndale NT Commentaries, p. 97; Bruce The Epistles of John, Old Tappan/London, p. 58) take the phrase as referring to God the Father.

Perhaps John was not drawing a very clear distinction between the experience of God and the experience of Jesus, since they are so closely associated as to be indistinguishable, particulary in writings written before the theological doctrine of the trinity was formally and fully worked-out.
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Re: τον απ αρχης

Postby Bubba1 » Mon Oct 03, 2011 12:41 pm

I have certainly considered both possibilities in this text and I lean strongly towards the idea that this substantive speaks of the Christ. But the fact of the matter is, we may not know for certain in this life time.


One thought that I have

In 1 John 2:14 we see the inclusion of the Father and then we see a contrast between the Father and the τον απ αρχης. It would seem to me, based upon this verse, that the Christ was in view in the previous text. I cannot think of any logical reason for this inclusion other than to establish who the τον απ αρχης was.

But I believe that there is a more pressing idea here and that is the "identity of the beginning". Which beginning is the writer speaking of? Some argue that it would be the beginning of the Gospel while others believe that it is a reference to John 1:1. How does this beginning impact our understanding of 1 John?

Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

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Re: τον απ αρχης

Postby jswilkmd » Tue Oct 04, 2011 10:26 am

Bubba1 wrote:In 1 John 2:14 we see the inclusion of the Father and then we see a contrast between the Father and the τον απ αρχης. It would seem to me, based upon this verse, that the Christ was in view in the previous text. I cannot think of any logical reason for this inclusion other than to establish who the τον απ αρχης was.


I agree, and this is essentially the argument that Marshall makes, especially since the contrasts between "fathers" and "young people" in vv. 12-14 seems tied to the use of "the one who was from the beginning" and "the Father." What's the rhetorical function of this contrast between fathers and young people and the use of "the one who was from the beginning" and "the Father"? Does this imply a relationship, too, between God the Father and Jesus the Son, but clarifying that this son was "from the beginning"? I think so, but concede that there is room to see parallels here between "the Father" and "the one who was from the beginning," not contrasts. I have never seen this particular issue examined from a rhetorical analysis point of view, but I haven't looked very hard.

Moreover, "the one who was from the beginning" comes on the heels of "your sins have been forgiven because of his name" in v. 12. In that verse, "his name" almost certainly refers to Jesus Christ. Note the last reference was to Jesus in 2:8 and before that in 2:6; also the mention of sins being forgiven suggests Jesus’ work on the cross. It seems only natural that in v. 13, the author of this epistle would still have Jesus in mind when referring to "the one who was from the beginning."

As to "the beginning," I think the context is most consistent with the idea of this referring to "the beginning of time," not the beginning of the gospel (unlike Phil 4:15), or of "the beginning of the Christian era" (contra de la Potterie, Wendt, Windisch and others). Unlike 1 John 2:7, which refers to an "old commandment which you have had from the beginning," and clearly refers to a commandment from Jesus* and must refer to the beginning of the Christian era, the section from 2:12-14 seems to refer more to broader events outside the existence of history. Furthermore, if one accepts that the author of the First Epistle of John is the same person as the author of the Gospel of John, then it becomes more apparent that in 2:12-14 he is probably talking about the beginning of all time.

But there IS ambiguity here--both in the person referred to (God the Father vs. Jesus) and in what is meant by "the beginning" (either the beginning of the Christian era/movement or the beginning of all time). Greek grammar won't help clarify the ambiguity, either. What difference does this make? I'd say that the only difference it might make is that it renders it unwise to use 1 John 1:12-14 as proof of the relationship between the first and second persons of the trinity when developing a doctrine of Christology. I think the most one can say is that 1 John 2:12-14 is consistent with, but not proof of, the classical doctrine of the trinity. I don't think you can use 1 John 2:12-14 to argue against the classical formulation of the trinity.

In other words, don't base your whole Christology or theology on this passage. Personally, though, I think "the one who was from the beginning" refers to Jesus as second person of the trinity and "the beginning" means "the beginning of time." I acknowledge, though, that those who disagree are not necessarily wrong in their exegesis.

*This old commandment received from the beginning of Christianity as a movement may very well refer to that stated in John 13:34-35: "I give you a new commandment – to love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. Everyone will know by this that you are my disciples – if you have love for one another." I think the explicit statements about Christians loving and hating each other in 1 John 2:9-10 are best understood in light of John 13:34-35.
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Re: τον απ αρχης

Postby Bubba1 » Wed Oct 05, 2011 12:32 am

jswilkmd



I have never seen this particular issue examined from a rhetorical analysis point of view, but I haven't looked very hard.


I like where you are going with this. I would like to ponder that thought and then get back with you on that.

Moreover, "the one who was from the beginning" comes on the heels of "your sins have been forgiven because of his name" in v. 12. In that verse, "his name" almost certainly refers to Jesus Christ. Note the last reference was to Jesus in 2:8 and before that in 2:6; also the mention of sins being forgiven suggests Jesus’ work on the cross. It seems only natural that in v. 13, the author of this epistle would still have Jesus in mind when referring to "the one who was from the beginning."


You offer some fresh thoughts that further strengthen my view. Thank you. Were you inspired by another writer or were most of these idea your own? Either way you have given this text some serious thought. I like that.

As to "the beginning," I think the context is most consistent with the idea of this referring to "the beginning of time,


I agree! However there are a few grammatical problems with that view. "Ap arche" instead of "en arche" is one of the majors. Some scholars suggest that "ap arche" is difficult. "En arche" points to something that already was in the beginning while "ap arche" speaks simply of a starting point. I wonder why the writer did this? We can take this one step further. In John 1 ο λογος ην προς τον θεον deals with the absolute being while 1 John seems to focus on temporal development.

But there IS ambiguity here--both in the person referred to (God the Father vs. Jesus) and in what is meant by "the beginning" (either the beginning of the Christian era/movement or the beginning of all time). Greek grammar won't help clarify the ambiguity, either. What difference does this make? I'd say that the only difference it might make is that it renders it unwise to use 1 John 1:12-14 as proof of the relationship between the first and second persons of the trinity when developing a doctrine of Christology. I think the most one can say is that 1 John 2:12-14 is consistent with, but not proof of, the classical doctrine of the trinity. I don't think you can use 1 John 2:12-14 to argue against the classical formulation of the trinity.


I wonder if there was clarity in theses statements to the first century reader? Did they understand what John was saying and were there other documents that they had that might give us some clues?

Good stuff. I now have a lot more to think about it. :shock:

Thank You

Bub
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Re: τον απ αρχης

Postby Bubba1 » Thu Oct 06, 2011 11:06 pm

jswilkmd

I agree, and this is essentially the argument that Marshall makes, especially since the contrasts between "fathers" and "young people" in vv. 12-14 seems tied to the use of "the one who was from the beginning" and "the Father." What's the rhetorical function of this contrast between fathers and young people and the use of "the one who was from the beginning" and "the Father"? Does this imply a relationship, too, between God the Father and Jesus the Son, but clarifying that this son was "from the beginning"? I think so, but concede that there is room to see parallels here between "the Father" and "the one who was from the beginning," not contrasts. I have never seen this particular issue examined from a rhetorical analysis point of view, but I haven't looked very hard.


Here is a thought that I have as I reflect upon this text and your ideas. οτι εγνωκατε τον απ αρχης Because you have known Him who was from the beginning.

Under normal circumstances the one who has known Him longer has a deeper understanding theoretically . I recognize that this is not always the case. Paul is one clear example. Getting back to my thoughts on this , the term εγνωκατε speaks of something that began in the past and continues. I am reaching here a little bit but stretching the mind is not a bad thing as long as it is presented as an idea rather than a certitude. :D Since πατερες is a term of Respect and has been used in several ways in the New Testament, one might think that this idea was not speaking necessarily of an age group but rather a spiritual maturity that comes with walking with the Savior.

Just a thought.

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Re: τον απ αρχης

Postby jswilkmd » Tue Nov 01, 2011 12:41 pm

Definitely food for thought.
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