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19 They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us, because if they had belonged to us, they would have remained[a] with us. But[b] they went out from us[c] to demonstrate[d] that all of them do not belong to us.[e]

20 Nevertheless you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you all know.[f] 21 I have not written to you that[g] you do not know the truth, but that[h] you do know it, and that[i] no lie is of the truth.

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  1. 1 John 2:19 tn See note on the translation of the Greek verb μένω (menō) in 2:6. Here μένω has been translated as “remained” since it is clear that a change of status or position is involved. The opponents departed from the author’s congregation(s) and showed by this departure that they never really belonged. Had they really belonged, they would have stayed (“remained”).
  2. 1 John 2:19 tn Because of the length and complexity of the Greek sentence, a new sentence was started here in the translation.
  3. 1 John 2:19 tn The phrase “they went out from us” is not repeated a second time in the Greek text, but constitutes an ellipsis. For clarity it is necessary to repeat it in the English translation.
  4. 1 John 2:19 tn Grk “in order that it may be demonstrated.” The passive infinitive has been translated as active and the purpose clause translated by an infinitive in keeping with contemporary English style.
  5. 1 John 2:19 sn All of them do not belong to us. The opponents chose to depart rather than remain in fellowship with the community to which the author writes and with which he associates himself. This demonstrates conclusively to the author that they never really belonged to that community at all (in spite of what they were claiming). 1 John 2:19 indicates that the departure was apparently the opponents’ own decision rather than being thrown out or excommunicated. But for John, if they had been genuine believers, they would have remained in fellowship. Now they have gone out into the world, where they belong (compare 1 John 4:5).
  6. 1 John 2:20 tc A two-letter difference in Greek creates two quite diverse readings: πάντες (pantes, nominative plural in “you all know”) is read by א B P Ψ 1852 sy sa; A C 049 5 33 81 436 1175 1243 1611 1735 1739 1881 2344 2492 M latt bo have the accusative πάντα (panta, “you know all things”). The external evidence favors the nominative reading, but it is not overwhelming. The internal evidence is more compelling in favor of the nominative. Scribes would naturally tend to give the transitive verb a direct object, especially because of the parallel in the first half of the verse. And intrinsically, the argument seems to be in balance with v. 19: The “all” who have gone out and are not “in the know” with the “all” who have an anointing and know that they are true believers. Further, as R. E. Brown points out, “the fact of their knowledge (pantes), not the extent of its object (panta), seems best to fit the reassurance” (Epistles of John [AB], 349). Brown further points out the connection with the new covenant in Jer 31 with this section of 1 John, esp. Jer 31:34—“they all [pantes] shall know me.” Since 1 John alludes to Jer 31, without directly quoting it, this is all the more reason to see the nominative as autographic: Allusions are often overlooked by scribes (transcriptional evidence), but support the intrinsic evidence. Thus, the evidence is solidly, though not overwhelmingly, behind the nominative The statement you all know probably constitutes an indirect allusion to the provisions of the new covenant mentioned in Jer 31 (see especially Jer 31:34). See also R. E. Brown, The Epistles of John [AB], 349.
  7. 1 John 2:21 tn The interpretation of the three ὅτι clauses in v. 21 is very difficult: (1) All three instances of ὅτι (hoti) may be causal (so NASB, NIV, NEB). (2) The first two may be causal while the third indicates content (declarative or recitative ὅτι, so KJV, RSV, TEV, NRSV). (3) However, it is best to take all three instances as indicating content because this allows all three to be subordinate to the verb ἔγραψα (egrapsa) as compound direct objects. The author writes to reassure his readers (a) that they do indeed know the truth (first two uses of ὅτι) and (b) that no lie is of the truth (third use).
  8. 1 John 2:21 tn See the note on the first occurrence of “that” in v. 21.
  9. 1 John 2:21 tn See the note on the first occurrence of “that” in v. 21.

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