1 John 5:20 - this is the true God, conceptual antecedent

Steven Avery

Charles Harold Dodd, (1884-1973) offered the alternative that this is a conceptual antecedent.

1 John 5:20 (AV)
And we know that the Son of God is come,
and hath given us an understanding,
that we may know him that is true,
and we are in him that is true,
even in his Son Jesus Christ.
This is the true God, and eternal life.

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.

* Charles Harold Dodd,
The Johannine Epistles
[Οι Ιωάννειες Επιστολές],
Hodder and Stoughton, 1966,
pp./σσ. 140, 141.

C. H. Dodd
on 1 John 5:20:
Who is “the true God”? /
Pavlos D. Vasileiadis

Placed on CARM