Thoughts On 1 John 2
By Jonathan Mitchell

(Part One)
Excerpts From an Upcoming Book

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Chapter 2

1. My little children (born ones), I am writing these things to you (or: for you) to the end that you may not fail to hit the target (deviate from the goal; sin). And if anyone should at some point fail (or: suddenly commit sin, make a mistake or deviate), we constantly have One called alongside to help, give relief and guide us toward the Father (or: we continuously possess a Paraclete, face to face with the Father): Jesus Christ, [the] One in accord with the Way pointed out (or: a Just One; [the] Righteous One; [the] Fair One who is in right relationship with all; a Rightwised One; [the] right one; a Person that is turned in the right direction).

There are two ways in which we can understand John's use of the word "little children." The first is in its literal sense, for the good news brought by Jesus began social change with these new covenant communities. Children were being addressed directly in letters (cf Col. 3:20. Eph. 6:1, 2) – something that was unheard of in secular societies of that time and culture.

The second is the metaphorical sense such as when Paul spoke to the Corinthians in 1 Cor. 3:1-2, indicating that their spiritual development was like new believers. Also, there is Heb. 5:12-13 where when folks should have grown in Christ so as to be teachers, they were still categorized as babies, "untried (inexperienced) pertaining to [the] Word of the Way pointed out (from the message of fair and equitable dealing or an idea about rightwised relationships; also: = in regard to the idea of and reason from covenant membership."

Taking this second use a step farther, and considering the foregoing context of the previous chapter (and recall that there were no chapter divisions in the Greek texts, so verse 1 is continuing the thoughts just expressed in the previous verses), John is likely classifying many of the recipients of this letter as little children. The noun "teknia" is the diminutive form, so he is not just calling them children, but "My little children..." The possessive pronoun shows that he is taking a position of a father to these folks – just as Paul did in 1 Cor. 4:15. Then he expresses another purpose for writing this letter: "that you may not fail to hit the target (deviate from the goal; sin)." Vss. 8-10 have assured the group(s) that they had missed the goal, but he is now writing that this should no longer be the case. At same time, individuals who were "little born ones," in either sense mentioned above, would receive positive encouragement in hearing this read to them. Bultmann points out that this purpose clause "is intended to prevent the misunderstanding that 1:8-10 implies" (ibid. p 22).

But not to worry, "we constantly have One called alongside to help, give relief and guide us toward the Father." Jesus is always available to us (we need not wait for some "end-time return"), and He functions as our Paraclete. He is "face to face with the Father," for they both have made their dwelling place with us (John 17:23). In fact, Paul refers to the called-out communities as "God's temple." Barclay says, "A 'parakletos' has been defined as 'one who lends his presence to his friends'" (Barclay, ibid. p 38).

Now note here His qualifications for being our Paraclete: He is "in accord with the Way pointed out (or: a Just One; [the] Righteous One; [the] Fair One who is in right relationship with all; a Rightwised One; [the] right one; a Person that is turned in the right direction)." He is the perfect Guide for literal young children, and for folks who are new to the Way. He is turned in the right direction (toward the Father), so folks can follow Him with confident assurance. He is One who is in right relationship with all, so He will bring concord and unity to the communities. The deviant teachers should not be followed. Jesus the Messiah will be with their spirits, as their Guide and Assistant. They "constantly have" (the present tense) Him. What assurance John imparts – and what awareness of His presence being with them.

The personal possessive pronoun "His" in vs. 7 shows that the personal pronoun "He" in vs. 9 is referring to God, where the adjective "just (fair; in accord with the Way pointed out and in right relationship; rightwised)" is applied to Him – just as it is applied to Jesus in this verse. In the following verse we see an example of what this "justice" and "right relationship" implies.

2. And He Himself exists continually being a cover around and our mistakes and errors, sheltering us from their effects so that we can be in peaceful and rightwised relationships (or: being the act by which our sins and failures are made ineffective, effecting conciliation [to us]), yet not only around those pertaining to us (or: having their source in us), but further, even around the whole ordered System (secular realm and dominating world of culture, economy, religion and government; or: cosmos; adorned universe; or: aggregate of mankind)!

Jesus the Messiah exists as our covering. In this He exemplifies what is right and just – what is the Way pointed out for one that is rightwised. "Covering or shelter" is the literal meaning of "hilasmos" (which is usually rendered "propitiation" or "propitiating shelter" or "atoning sacrifice"). This word is used only here and in 4:10, below in the NT. Nyland renders it here "the means for taking away our sins," (ibid. p 478). This word is used in the LXX for the Heb. "kaphar," which is often rendered "atonement," e.g., in Num. 5:8 and Ps. 130:4 (in other places, such as Lev. 1:4, we find the verb form prefixed by ex-), but literally means of this noun is "a covering" or "a shelter." A related word, "hilasterios," is the word for the "mercy seat," the cover of the ark of the covenant (Rom. 3:25; Heb. 9:5). We find the verb form ("hilaskomai") only in Lu. 18:13,

"But the tax collector (or: tribute contractor), standing far off (= remaining at a distance, in the background), continued unwilling even to lift up his eyes to heaven (or: unto the atmosphere or sky) – and in contrast kept on beating (striking) his chest, repeatedly saying, 'O God, at your mercy seat let me, the failure (the one who has missed the goal; the sinner), be sheltered in propitiation, and may You be favorably inclined to me!,'" and in Heb. 2:17,

"... so that He might become a merciful and a faithful (or: loyal) Chief Priest (Leading, Ruling or Beginning Priest) [in regard to] the things toward God, into the [situation] to be repeatedly and continuously overshadowing the failures (mistakes; errors; misses of the target; sins) of the People with a gentle, propitiatory covering and shelter."

In this context, we should consider 1 Pet. 4:8,

"because love is constantly covering (habitually throwing a veil over; progressively concealing; [and with other MSS: will be covering]) a multitude of failures (mistakes; errors; misses of the target; sins)." [Prov. 10:12] – especially considering that "God is Love."

I rendered the preposition "peri" literally, "around," giving a more graphic picture of the act of covering in order to provide shelter. And with this picture, Ezk. 16:8 comes to mind, where Yahweh "... spread His hem (or: skirt) over [Jerusalem] and covered [her] nakedness... and entered into covenant with [her]..." This was describing Yahweh's entering into covenant with Israel, using the metaphor of making her His wife. These last two references, which include Israel's story, should be kept in mind when seeking to understand vs. 2, above. Before it was a covenant with one nation, Israel. But now we see that the new covenant and the new covering include "the whole aggregate of mankind," or as Bultmann puts it, "the whole of the human world" (ibid. p 23). We see a similar thought expressed in John 1:29, where it says that the Lamb of God is the One "continuously lifting up and carrying away the Sin of the world, and removing the sin which belongs to and is a part of the System."

The giving of His life to us was sufficient to place a covering around all of humanity, and make them all His. You see, when Israel sacrificed an animal to the Lord, the animal became Yahweh's as a symbol signifying that Israel belonged to Yahweh. Here it is a better sacrifice (Heb. 9:23) that includes a covering for everyone with a "better covenant" (Heb. 7:22; 8:6). It is now a situation of "the hearts [not the mercy seat of the ark] having been sprinkled from a consciousness of evil" (Heb. 10:22).

Barclay comments, "There is in the New Testament a strong line of thought in which the universality of the salvation of God is stressed. God so loved the world that he sent his son (John 3:16). Jesus is confident that, if he is lifted up, he will draw all men to him (John 12:32). God will have all men to be saved (1 Tim. 2:4)" (Barclay, ibid. p 40).

Bultmann notes that "kosmos" (world) does not have the same meaning in this verse as it does in 2:15, below, but rather as how "the thought is encountered" in Rom. 3:23f

("You see, all at one point veered off the mark {or: all folks deviated; or: everyone fails; everyone sins}..."), 2 Cor. 5:19 ("God was existing within Christ {or: God was and continued being in union with [the] Anointed One} progressively and completely transforming [the] world to be other [than it is] in Himself, to Himself, for Himself and by Himself, not accounting to them {not putting to their account; not logically considering for them; not reasoning in them) the results and effects of their falls to the side (their trespasses and offences}...")

and 1 Tim. 2:6

("the One giving Himself a correspondent ransom {a ransom in the place of and directed toward the situation} over [the situation of and] on behalf of {or: for} all {everyone; all humanity and all things}...")

and then suggests that in this verse it refers to "the whole of the human world, as in John 1:29; 3:16f; 4:42; 12:47" (Bultmann, ibid. p 23).

3. And so within this [situation], if we could be continuously watchful and would habitually keep, guard, observe, and maintain His implanted purposes and internalized goals (or: inner projections of destiny), we [would] progressively know through experience and continue to recognize with insight, because we have come to know Him, and we now experience Him intimately with insightful knowledge.
(or: So in union with this [relationship] – should we constantly maintain His impartations from the finished product, and would observe His inward directives of destiny – we progressively know by experience, and recognize by insight, that we have known Him.)

We should not miss the solidarity with them that John expresses with the plural "we." I suggest that this is more than a rhetorical devise (the "epistolary we"). What he is saying applies to everyone – all are one body in Christ.

I expanded "tereo" in the first clause (watchful... maintain) to inform the reader of the semantic range of this verb. The present subjunctive suggests that we can constantly do this. The direct object of this verb is the word "entole" which is composed of the preposition "en" (within; and in composition: inner; internal) and the word "telos" (purpose; goal; destiny; finished product; end in view; final outcome). In common use it can mean a command, but when an officer gave a command to a soldier, he was implanting his purpose into him. When an owner gave a precept or an instruction to his slave, he was imparting his immediate goal into him/her and that instruction had to be internalized for the slave to carry it out. But our Father deals with us as children and friends, so I have chosen to emphasize the characteristics of the action, giving a picture of its mechanics, rather than simply use a common word that carries with it either a military or an owner-slave connotation. When God speaks to us, He projects an inner goal or destiny into us, implanting His Seed (Word) into our soil. He inserts a destiny into us.

Next in this verse, we come to two forms of the same verb "ginosko" (to know by intimate experience and have insight). In its first use here it is a present indicative. However, since I placed the dependent clause first and since it is in the subjunctive, I have added "[would]" to correspond to the "if" of the dependent clause, and thus to conform to English syntax. John is saying that "if we could do this, then we would "progressively know through experience and continue to recognize with insight." We would have increased knowledge and insight "because we have come to know Him, and we now experience Him intimately with insightful knowledge." It is in this last clause that we meet this same verb, but here it is in the perfect tense – which describes an action completed in the past but with present and continuing results. It is based upon the established experience of knowing Him that "watching... keeping... maintaining" His implanted purposes and internalized goals bring us progressive knowledge and continued insight. The "if-clause" suggests that progressive knowledge and continued insights are dependent upon tending the things that He has placed within us. This is like the metaphor of "abiding in the Vine" (John 15:1-10) where He says to His students, "Whenever you may observe, watch over, guard and keep My implanted goals, you will be remaining (abiding; dwelling) with the midst of and in union with My love..." (vs. 10).

Here Bultmann points out that "The theme of fellowship with God is now replaced by the theme of the knowledge of God.... [which] forms a substantive unity with the fellowship with God..." and later states that "There is no knowledge of God which as such would not also be 'keeping the commandments'." (ibid. p 24, 25).

4. The person who keeps on saying, "I have come to know Him by experience," and yet is not habitually keeping (observing) His implanted goals (impartations of the finished product within; inward directives), is a liar (exists being one who speaks falsehood) and God's Truth (the Reality of God; the Genuine Actuality which is God) is not (or: does not exist) within this one.

This statement could apply to anyone who claims to be a part of God's called-out covenant community but is not existentially living his or her life in accord with the truth and reality of the qualities and characteristics of the Life in Christ, namely in self-giving love. We could relate this to the parable of the sheep and the kids in Matt. 25. If we don't recognize Him in His brothers and give ourselves into their need, we are not ready for participation in His reign and have need of His purging fires in our lives.

Considering the spiritual environment that John has been addressing, this verse probably referred to the Gnostics among them – those who claimed to have a special knowledge. He says that their claims and their teaching are lies. The requirements of the "if-clause" of vs. 3 must be met if one is to have experiential knowledge of Him: of the truth and reality which is the Christ, and which was implanted, imparted, inserted within through the Word of Christ's destiny within humanity.

5. Yet whoever may be habitually keeping (attentively guarding to observe) His Word (Thought; Idea; message), truly (or: actually; in reality) within this person God's Love has been perfected and brought to its goal (or: the love which is God has been matured, finished and reached its purposed destiny). In this we constantly know experientially that we continuously exist within the midst of Him, and in union with Him.

Note that "God's Love" is the goal of the above "if-clause" in vs. 3, and of the "may be" of the first clause here. Note also the "His Word" explains the content of His imparted goal, inner directive and implanted destiny. It is keeping and observing His message – i.e., living out His idea of a loving covenant community that reaches out to others – that lets us know that our existence is in union with Him, and that we are in the midst of the Way, the Truth and the Life (John 14:6). It gives proof to us, by our own experience, that we have been placed in the Way pointed out: that we have been rightwised into being fair, equitable and in right relationship with Him and with humanity. John has here given a practical, simple definition of what Paul termed "dikaiosune," and what theology has termed "justification." It is a living state of being, not a "forensic fiction."

Bultmann sheds additional light, here, "...God's reality and his love are identical, as stated in 4:8, 16: ho theos agape estin ('God is love'). It is thereby also determined that the to theou ('of God') [in the last phrase of this verse] is not an objective genitive ('love for God'), but rather a subjective genitive ('God's love for men')" (ibid. p 25). He further notes that when it speaks of "has been perfected" it "means that brotherly love is brought to fulfillment..." (ibid. p 26).

6. The person habitually speaking [thus, as though] to be constantly abiding (remaining; dwelling) within Him, is continuously under obligation himself also to go on walking about (= behaving and conducting his life) just as That One (or: on the level and in the sphere as [He]) walked (or: walks; = lives His life).

Again, we are instructed that the ideas of "abiding (remaining; dwelling)" – cf John 15:1-13 – and of being "within Him" means living our lives "just as" He lived His life. "Jesus is thus referred to as the model and the foundation of Christian conduct" (ibid., p 26). Cf John 13:15.

Or, since the verb "walk," in reference to His life, is in the aorist tense, it can be translated as a simple English present, "walks." This would infer that John was speaking of His living His life within us, His body, and this would suggest an ontological sense of being in union with Christ (vs. 5, above) – not just an agreement of our will with His.

7. Beloved ones, I am not writing an implanted goal (impartation of the finished product within; inward directive of purpose) new in kind or quality to you (or: for you), but rather an old implanted goal (impartation of the finished product within; inward directive of destiny) which you folks have continually had (or: were habitually holding) from [the] beginning. The old implanted goal (impartation of the finished product within; inward directed destiny) is the Word (Thought; Idea; message) which you folks heard (or: attentively hear [and thus obey])!

In other words, he is saying, "This is nothing new to you, it is what was told to you from the start. You have had this idea placed in your minds with the first message you heard about the Christ, and it has been this very Truth that you were habitually holding." Recall the words of Jesus in John 13:34,

"I am giving to you men a new implanted goal (an inward purposed directive different from that which had been formerly; an impartation of a finished product and destiny that is new in kind and character): that you folks are to be continuously and progressively loving (or: should constantly love) one another, just as (correspondingly as; to the same level as; in the sphere as) I love you folks so that you also may constantly (or: would habitually) love one another,"

so we see that what John is speaking of here is indeed the original goal of Christ's covenant community. In fact, for the Jews of the recipient communities, the idea of loving one's neighbor dates at least to Lev. 19:18.

8. Again, (or: Once more) I am writing to you an implanted goal (impartation of the finished product within; inward directive) new in kind and quality, which is (exists being) true (actual; real; genuine) within Him, and within you [other MSS: us], that the Darkness (the obscure dimness of the realm of the shadows and of lack of the light of the Day; [note: a figure of the ignorance of the prior system and realm] is progressively being caused to pass by, and the True Light (or: = real knowledge and understanding; = Light of the new Day) is already (before now) progressively shining and appearing.

In the message brought by Jesus quoted with the previous verse, we see that the folks participating in the new reality of the reign of God are told to love and accept one another "just as" Jesus, the Good Shepherd, loves them. He loved the whole aggregate of humanity and gave His life for all. This was beyond Lev. 19:18 which was an injunction that applied only to those of their own community (their neighbors). Not only that, His teaching called His students to love their enemies and pray for their persecutors (Matt. 5:44). This was certainly a revolutionary idea.

John is adding something more to the message here. Not only has the Christ come and given Light to the world, but with this dawning of the eschatological Day of the Lord (or, Christ), "the Darkness is progressively being caused to pass by." The old order of the previous age of ritual and animal sacrifice at a physical temple is about to vanish (John 4:21-24). Also see Heb. 8, beginning with vs. 6, "But now..." on through vs.13:

"In thus to be saying "new," He has made the first (or: former) "old," and that [which is] progressively growing old and obsolete (failing of age), [is] near its disappearing (vanishing away)."

The "True Light" which embodies the "true gnosis (knowledge; insight)" is "already progressively shining and appearing" as the message of the Christ spreads throughout the world. What had been looked for by the prophets of old was now present and growing. Nothing else needed to be sought through mystic experience or secret knowledge. The Reality of the kingdom of God had arrived and His sovereign influence was in action.

9. The person who keeps on speaking [thus, as though] to be within the Light, and yet is constantly hating (or: regarding with ill-will) his brother (or: = fellow believer; or: fellow member of his society), is a liar and continues being within the Darkness (the obscure dimness of the realm of the shadows and lack of the light of the Day; = prior night) until the present moment.

It was "the Darkness" that was the state of existence (both in Judaism and in the pagan religions) before the coming of the Christ – "the Light" (John 1:4-9; 3:19-21). Hate and ill-will are the very opposite of Love and acceptance, just as darkness is the opposite of the Light. It was the hate that killed the Christ, just as hating another person makes one a murderer (3:15, below). A person cannot be in union with the Light and be hating others. So the person who claims to be a Christian but hates someone else is really not a Christian, but is lying and is in darkness.

With regard to the false teachers, assuming that they were teaching Gnosticism, John is calling them liars because in their elitism they actually had ill-will toward those that they considered to be "average" believers within the community. John is saying that what they presume to be enlightened "knowledge" was nothing more than the darkness (ignorance) that existed before the advent of the Light. (cf Matt. 5:21-22)

10. The person habitually loving (seeking accepting reunion with) his brother constantly abides (remains; dwells; = has his home) within and in union with the Light, and there exists no snare (trap-spring; stick upon which bait is put; = cause for stumbling) within him.

Love is the quality and character of God and of His Light (Christ). It is the opposite of hate and darkness. Here John gives further instruction of how we can know that we are within Christ, and "in union with the Light." When we are really operating in love there will be no cause for stumbling within us, causing us to stumble; no trap-spring within us to ensnare or stumble other folks. If we are always "seeking accepting reunion" with people, we are on the right track – we are walking in the Light of the Way.

11. But the person habitually hating (or: repeatedly having ill-will toward) his brother (or: = fellow believer or fellowman) constantly exists within the Darkness (the obscure dimness of the realm of the shadows, lacking of the light of the Day) and so continuously walks about amidst the Darkness, and has not seen so is not aware where he is progressively departing (or: habitually going away), because that Darkness blinds (or: blinded) his eyes.

Again, hate is a sign of darkness. It is an absence of love and acceptance of people. When we are in darkness we are not being led by God's Spirit; we are not existing as "sons of God" because we are hating folks. We thus do not know where our life is going and are ignorant of our destiny. We are not participating in the rightwised conduct, the peace or the Spirit-generated joy of kingdom (Rom. 14:17). The false teachers were "blind guides" (Matt. 23:16-26), as were the Pharisees. Much of the divisive teaching of Christianity with the "us and them" mentality which results in exclusion of others has continued this same tradition of darkness. Elitism has been the plague of every religion.

12. I am writing to you, little children (or: young born ones), that the failures (mistakes; sins; deviations; situations of missing the goal) have been sent away (or: caused to flow away; put away; divorced; forgiven) for you through His Name (or: because of the Name which is Him)!

Whether he is referring to the work of the cross, in the phrase "through His Name"/ "because of the Name...," or whether John is speaking prophetically in the Word of this letter, saying that he, John, is sending away the mistakes of the group, in not certain. Recall that Jesus said to His disciples in John 20:23,

"If you folks should send away (dismiss; allow to depart; forgive; pardon; divorce) the mistakes (sins; errors; failures) of certain ones, they have been sent away for them (or: have been and remain pardoned in them; have been dismissed or divorced by them). If you would continue holding fast and controlling (or: should keep on grasping and exercising strength; or: can restrain, hinder, hold back) those of certain ones, they have been and continue being held fast and controlled (seized; grasped; restrained)."

Which ever, and perhaps both, we are here instructed in the power and authority of His Name, and he is referring to the results as a statement of fact. See the discussion on "little children" in 2:1, above. He may here be speaking of categories of development within the group, or of age levels.

A word about "His Name" seems appropriate here. "The Jews used the name in a very special way. The name is not simply that by which a person is called; it stands for the whole character of a person in so far as it has been made known to men" (Barclay, ibid. p 53). Ps. 9:10 tells us,

"Those who know Your Name put their trust in You."

This signifies that they knew His nature. In the same way, Ps. 25:11 lays claim to Who He is in the plea for pardon: "for the sake of Your Name" – i.e., "Your reputation." Ps. 31:3 bases a request for guidance "for the sake of Your Name" because Yahweh was David's "mountain crag and stronghold." Ps. 20:7 professes that they "trust in the Name of Yahweh our God" instead of trusting in military might, because His Name represented His power and sovereignty. Thus, here, we see that it is because of the authority that John bears as a member of His body who represent Him, as well as the power inherent is His Name itself, that John can make this statement. His Name equals His Word.

13. I am writing to you, fathers (or: parents), that you have by experience known, and now have intimate insight of, the One [Who is] from [the] beginning (or: the Original One). I am writing to you, young men (or: youths), that you have overcome (conquered; are victorious over) the one bringing a gush of misery
(or: the useless, unprofitable situation; the wicked man; the evil one; the bad situation or sorry plight; the worthless man; the pernicious and knavish fellow; the one causing anguish and painful labor; the condition full of harassed toil and annoying perils; the base fellow) – and this now exists as a decided victory.

The categories of "fathers," "young men" and "little boys and girls, or servants" (in vs.14) seems to suggest that in this passage he is directing his words to the age-groups that compose the community, recognizing each as significant and important – as opposed to the false teachers who would only recognize the elite of the group: those with the supposed gnosis. The term "fathers" (pateres) has been found in papyrus writing where it referred to both male and female, and thus have I inserted "(or: parents)" as a possible meaning (e.g. cf Nyland, ibid. p 374, note 6, and others).

The fathers have experience in knowing Christ. The phrase "the One [Who is] from [the] beginning (or: the Original One)" is a clear reference to John 1:1 where Christ is identified as the Logos (Word). He is reminding them that they have intimate insight into the truth of Christ, so they should not be easily led astray for exotic teachings.

He reminds the young people that in Christ they have overcome this unprofitable situation (or: the person who is bring a gush of misery into their lives; the useless false teacher; the one who is causing anguish and painful labor and harassing toils – the base fellow that is adding unnecessary religious practices to your lives). My bold translation gives the most literal meaning of the word "poneros", and the parenthetical expansions give the full sweep of its semantic range. Unfortunately, traditional doctrines have personified this word as always indicating "the devil." But if we let the context instruct us, we will see that John is most likely referring to the false teachers that were among them.

Notice the effect of the perfect tense of "overcome." He is saying that they presently have the victory, in a complete of having overcome it. Again, he is either reminding them of their ongoing victory in Christ, or he spoke prophetically into their lives, bring release from the worthless situation and knavish person that had brought it about.

14. I write to you, little boys and girls, or servants, who might be hit for discipline (or: those of the age for being educated and trained), that you have by experience known the Father; I write to you, fathers (or: parents), that you have by experience known, and now have insight into, the One [Who is] from [the] beginning (or: the Original One). I write to you, young men (or: youths), that you are (or: exist being) constantly strong, and God's Word (Logos; Thought; Idea; message) continuously dwells (abides; remains) within you and you have overcome (conquered; are the victor over) the one bringing a gush of misery (see parenthetical expansion in verse 13, above).

I brought the first clause, which addresses again the boys and girls, or servants, into vs. 14 because of the similarities of the dependant "that" clauses in both this and the next clause that addresses again the fathers/parents. The first one speaks of knowing the Father, while the second is a reference to Christ. I suggest here that John is referencing the words of Jesus in John 14:7, 9-11, and I quote vs. 7 here,

"Since you men have personally and experientially known Me (or: If you folks had insight of Me or were acquainted with Me), you will also personally and experientially
know and perceive My Father [other MSS: you would likely have seen and now know
(or: perceive) My Father, as well]. And so from right now (this moment) you are intimately, experientially and progressively knowing Him (or: gaining insight of Him) and have seen [Him]."

He is likely repeating the last clause about overcoming for emphasis. But here he adds the idea of their being "constantly strong" because "God's Word... dwells" in them as the reason for this. Of this second clause, Bultmann observes, "... the strength of the 'young men' rests on the fact that God's word 'abides [dwells]' in them and determines their existence" (ibid. p 32).


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