THE HERMENEUTICAL TRIAD: A CASE STUDY OF Κόσμος IN 1 JOHN

By Bobby Howell

Introduction

In their monumental work, Köstenberger and Patterson discuss what they call the “hermeneutical triad.”[1] This triad, the authors claim, provides the interpreter with a framework through which proper interpretation can take place, and from which theological consistency and doctrinal substance can spring. They remark, “While discerning the spiritual message of Scripture—theology—is the ultimate goal of biblical interpretation, an appreciation of the historical-cultural background of a particular text and a proper understanding of its literary features are essential.”[2] In other words, theology, as it is connected with biblical interpretation, is not possible without the hermeneutical triad.

What these two men are discussing is the importance of considering three aspects to “correctly handle the word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15).[3] These three features are history, literature, and theology.

The Importance of History in Interpretation

It is vital to grasp the historical setting if one is to interpret Scripture correctly. Köstenberger and Patterson write, “In order for the interpretation of Scripture to be properly grounded, it is vital to explore the historical setting of a scriptural passage.”[4] The books comprising the Scriptures are historical. They were written by individuals at particular points of time, in exact cultures, at precise moments of antiquity. Thus, “every book in the Bible also has historical particularity.”[5]

Without a proper view of the historical context in which a text has been given, it is impossible to interpret it accurately. For example, without considering the historical setting of Philippians 4:13, one can easily attempt to apply Paul’s statement to any difficult situation one may face. Understanding that Paul was a prisoner of the Roman empire in a position in total dependence on other’s generosity helps one understand his point. He needed to be content in “whatever situation I am” (Phil. 4:13, ESV).[6] The context also limits the application, however, this in no way diminishes the importance of historical data.[7]

The Importance of Literature in Interpretation

“In keeping with the bedrock hermeneutical principle of interpreting the parts in light of the whole, we will proceed from the larger canonical framework to the literary genre and from there to specific linguistic features of various passages of Scripture,” write Köstenberger and Patterson.[8]

Their threefold division of literature importance can be illustrated in the table below:

Division of Literature for Biblical Interpretation
CanonGenreVarious Passages

            There are three aspects of this step within biblical interpretation. The first deals with the canon of Scripture. This step is helpfully defined by F.F. Bruce. He describes this step as “the interpretation of individual components of the canon in the context of the canon as a whole.”[9] Thus, one work (e.g., John’s first epistle), is interpreted in light of the rest of Scripture. Berkhof’s words are helpful at this point, “The Bible was not made, but grew, and the composition of its several books marks the stages of its progressive development. It is, in the last analysis, the product of a single mind, the embodiment of a single fruitful principle, branching out in various directions. The different parts of it are mutually dependent, and are all together subservient to the organism as a whole.”[10] The first step seeks to interpret the specific passage in light of the grand theme of Scripture.[11]

            The second step addresses the literary genre of the individual book or passage.[12] This step of the interpretative process examines the genre in which the passage resides. Köstenberger and Patterson state, “…these features—biblical genres or types of literature—are historical narrative, poetry and wisdom, and prophecy in the Old Testament, and historical narrative, parable, epistle, and apocalyptic in the New.”[13] Vanhoozer provides a brief definition, “A ‘genre’ (from the Latin genus, ‘kind’) is a species of literature.”[14] Utilizing the analogy of a map, Vanhoozer describes the importance of understanding genre, writing, “Each genre has its own ‘key’ and ‘scale.’ The ‘key’ explains what a text is about…. each genre has its own ‘scale,’ that is, its own conventions for thinking and its own manner of fitting words to the world.”[15] In other words, one must know the genre of the passage (i.e., poetry or narrative) to understand a said passage.

            The final step in the hermeneutical triad deals with the specific passage. There is much that factors into this step.[16] Briefly, the interpreter addresses the discourse, words, and their relationships to arrive at the intended meaning of the author.[17]

The Importance of Theology in Interpretation

            The third point in the hermeneutical triad is theology. Köstenberger and Patterson express this step as “the third and crowning aspect of the hermeneutical triad, theology.”[18] The authors make it clear that this third step applies what is learned from the first two steps in the form of doctrine. They write, “Doctrine is often viewed as a lifeless listing of a creed or confessional statement and contrasted with a vital spiritual first-hand experience of God….it is vital that we make sure that we derive our theology from the Bible rather than imposing our own preferred viewpoints onto Scripture.”[19] There is a need, then, to interpret the Scripture in light of the Scriptures. As the two authors note, “biblical theology is theology that is biblical, or, in other words, theology that is derived from the Bible rather than imposed onto the Bible by a given interpreter of Scripture.”[20]

            The third point, biblical theology, must maintain, at the very least, “two considerations.”[21] These are that it must be “historical” and “on its own terms.[22] Biblical theology develops doctrines organically, as Vos helpfully remarks, “It [biblical theology] exhibits the organic growth of the truths of Special Revelation.”[23]

Summary

            The hermeneutical triad developed by Andreas Köstenberger and Richard Patterson is “a compass will ensure that Bible students stay on track in their interpretive journey.”[24] With this brief introduction to the hermeneutical triad, it is now time to apply it to a book of Scripture, namely, 1 John, and in particular, John’s use of the word κόσμος.

The Hermeneutical Triad: A Case Study of Κόσμος in 1 John

Having discussed the major points of the hermeneutical triad, it is now time to apply these principles to a case study. John routinely uses the word κόσμος in his literature.[25] Not only will this result in a right interpretation of John’s first letter, as well as Johannine literature in general, but it will also yield further fruit in the theological understanding of κόσμος from a biblical-theological point of view. The apostle John wrote the first epistle that bears his name “somewhere between a.d. 85 and 100.”[26] Though this is debatable, it helps narrow the composition of this letter to the later part of his life. This allows the interpreter to discover the historical setting of the book. John, though unnamed in the epistle, discusses a variety of issues, such as assurance of salvation and the outworking of salvation.[27]

At the time of John’s first epistle, the church has been through a period of growth and persecution.[28] As the gospel expands beyond the boundaries of Israel, the church strives against physical persecution, but it also fought against theological errors.[29] Thus, many letters were written by the apostles encouraging endurance in the face of persecution as well as adherence to the apostolic faith.[30] John’s letter has several purposes, as noted by Akin, “To promote true joy in the child of God,” “To prevent the child of God from committing sin,” “To protect the child of God from false teachers,” and “To provide assurance of salvation for the child of God.”[31]

Furthermore, John was Jewish, the son of a fisherman.[32] His writings, in both his gospel account and his letters, demonstrate a knowledge of the Jewish faith.[33] Additionally, John demonstrates a deep understanding of the complexities of the faith.[34]

All of this information factors into one’s understanding of John’s letters, specifically 1 John. Köstenberger and others describe the letter in this way, “Since 1 John does not refer to specific names and places, contains little mention of specific events, and is general in its teaching, it seems that John focused on important truths of brad relevance to address as many believers as possible.”[35] This general destination, then, allows the reader to understand John is broadly addressing doctrine and warning.

Κόσμος in Johannine Literature

            A brief examination of the historical setting and genre of literature has been offered. It is now time to address the third point of the hermeneutical triad: theology. The focus is on the word κόσμος. To begin with, what does κόσμος mean? It is found frequently in John’s writing, one hundred and five times, according to Enns.[36] There are eight possible definitions presented by Arndt and Gingrich.[37] These range from a simple “adornment” to “the planet upon which we live.”[38]

It seems that there are four primary usages in John’s literature. In several instances, John uses κόσμος to describe “the world as the earth, the planet upon which we live.”[39] This usage is used in a general sense, to describe “the habitation of mankind,” and “in contrast to heaven.”[40] John also uses the word to refer to “mankind,” in a universal way as well as a comprehensive way.[41] A third way that John uses κόσμος is “as the scene of earthly joys, possessions, cares, sufferings.”[42] The final and fourth way that John uses this word is to describe “the world, and everything that belongs to it appears as that which is at enmity w. God, i.e. lost in sin, wholly at odds w. anything divine, ruined and depraved.”[43] These usages, and select references, are displayed in Table 2.

The Four Usages of Κόσμος in Johannine Literature
Κόσμος as planetJohn 6:14; 9:39; 11:9, 27; 16:21, 28a; 18:37
Κόσμος as humanityJohn 1:29; 3:17b; 8:12; 9:5; 17:6; 1 John 4:14
Κόσμος as material possessions1 John 3:17
Κόσμος as opposition to GodJohn 12:31b; 14:30; 16:11; 1 John 4:4; 5:19

This list is not exhaustive. However, it does offer a wide range of usage by the apostle. With this foundation laid, it is time to evaluate the word as found within the first epistle. From this research, the theological implications can be displayed following the entirety of the Scriptures. As a result, the hermeneutical triad will be displayed in the research.

Κόσμος in 1 John

            From Table 2, one can see that there are four usages of κόσμος in the first epistle of John. Each occurrence will be examined to determine which definition is intended. After this examination, the findings will be summarized within this epistle. Theological implications will then be presented. After this, a framework for understanding the entirety of Scripture will be offered with pertinent examples.

1 John 2:2

1 John 2:2 describes the atoning death of Jesus “not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.” Colin Kruse offers a helpful summary of John’s thoughts, “In the present context it [the world] means the unbelieving world. Christ’s atoning sacrifice was made not only for ‘our’ sins (i.e., believers’ sins) but also for the sins of the unbelieving world.”[44] This usage will fall under the second category in Table 2, “κόσμος as humanity.” According to Ardnt and Gingrich, this would be classified as “the world as mankind…gener.”[45] While this is much debate surrounding the extent of the atonement, for present purposes, John’s usage of κόσμος refers to humanity.[46]

1 John 2:15-17

The next occurrence of κόσμος is found in 1 John 2:15-17. John warns his readers, “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.” Κόσμος appears six times in these three verses. There is one usage as will be shown.

John uses κόσμος to refer to that which opposes God. This is seen in all three verses.[47] W.E. Vines provides another definition of this usage, stating it refers to “the present condition of human affairs, in alienation from and opposition to God.”[48] Two key points help clarify the legitimacy of this rendering. First, the context demonstrates a contrast between followers of God and what Köstenberger, Kellum, and Quarles refer to as “secessionists.”[49] MacLeod further clarifies this when he writes, “He has been writing to them [i.e., God’s children], not about them. He is addressing his readers as genuine believers who possess a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.”[50] John’s letter has contrasted the children of God with those who oppose God regularly. Table 3 demonstrates this contrast through the first two chapters of this epistle.

The Contrasts of God’s Children with those who oppose God in 1 John Chapters 1-2
Description of God’s ChildrenDescription of Those Who Oppose God
Light (1:5)Darkness (1:5-7)
Confessed Sin (1:9)Unconfessed Sin (1:8, 10)
Keep God’s Commandments (2:3, 5-6)Failure to Keep God’s Commandments (2:4)
Love Brothers and Sisters (2:10)Hates Brothers and Sisters (2:9, 11)
Love for the Father (2:15)Love for the World (2:15-16)
Faithfulness to God (2:19)Unfaithfulness to God (2:19)
Anointing by the Holy One (2:20)Denier of the Holy One (2:22-23)
Authentic Faith (2:27)Counterfeit Faith (2:26-27)

It is apparent, then, that John is using κόσμος in contrast with God.

Akin reminds the reader of a second important factor that it is important to consider John’s use of κόσμος, writing, “The difference is found in the way John uses the term kosmos in each instance. Contextual considerations are crucial.”[51] As has been referenced (see Table 2), the context provides the reader with the necessary information in determining his intended usage. Hiebert notes this as well, writing, “The term basically denotes order, arrangement (the opposite of chaos), and hence an orderly system. It could be used to denote the earth (John 21:25), or the world of mankind (John 3:16) in its various organizations and systems. But because of the fallen nature of the human race, the term predominantly has an ethical import, the human race in its alienation from and opposition to God.”[52] Without dismissing the general idea, Hiebert focuses on the contextual usage.[53]

1 John 3:1

            In 1 John 3:1 John writes, “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.”The greater context of this epistle provides insight into the continual use of comparison between the children of God and the “secessionists.”[54] Again, the use of the hermeneutical triad provides immediate benefit to the work of the interpreter. One is reminded of this at the beginning of chapter two, “In order for the interpretation of Scripture to be properly grounded, it is vital to explore the historical setting of a scriptural passage, including any culture background features.”[55]

            However, it is equally important to consider the grammatical clues that limit the definition to a singular focus. Berkhof reminds readers of this important step, writing, “The interpreter must determine whether the words are used in their general or in one of their special significations, whether they are employed in a literal or in a figurative sense.”[56] John is contrasting the children of God and “the world.” At least two grammatical indicators limit his usage to that system that opposes God. In this verse, “ὁ κόσμος” is functioning as the subject of this clause. First, the usage of the phrase “διὰ τοῦτο” indicates a causal clause.[57] In other words, John explains why “ὁ κόσμος” fails to “know” God, as demonstrated in the failure of “ὁ κόσμος” to know the children of God. Though “a difference of opinion exists as to the antecedent of the pronoun in dia touto (‘for this reason’ or ‘on account of this’),” this in no way obfuscates John’s intended usage of “ὁ κόσμος.”[58] He is clearly describing a group of individuals living in opposition to God.

            Another significant grammatical clue that demonstrates this usage is the surrounding context. Akin rightly states, “This latter view appears to be more appropriate in the immediate context. The child of God is unknown by the world because they have different fathers (i.e., God and Satan).”[59] This discussion of two fathers takes place in 3:7-10. John describes the origins of the two groups (i.e., children of God and children of the devil) with the repeated use of “ἐκ.” That preposition is used four times in 3:7-10. Once it is used in connection with the devil, while the other three occurrences connect to God.[60] Concerning the phrase “ἐκ τοῦ διαβόλου,” which in verse 8 is used as a predicate nominative, Wuest writes, “‘Of’, is ek, ‘out of,’ used with the ablative case, gives us the ablative of source. That is, his sinful propensities, issuing from his totally depraved nature inherited from Adam, find their ultimate source in the devil who brought about the downfall of our first parents.”[61] John’s usage, then, seems clear. He is referring to the group that opposes God.

1 John 3:13

            In this verse, connected to the overall context of chapter three specifically, and John’s epistle generally, the apostle exhorts his readers to not be surprised “εἰ μισεῖ ὑμᾶς ὁ κόσμος,” literally, “if [he] hates you [plural] the world.” Structurally, this is a first-class condition.[62] Though this has obvious implications, the focus remains on John’s use of “ὁ κόσμος.”[63] Contextually, it is connected with the surrounding context (see notes on 1 John 3:1). Akin connects this usage of the world with those who oppose God, writing, “John uses the word “world” (kosmos) here as he did in 2:15, indicating that evil is an organized system in opposition to God and under the control of the devil.”[64] Furthermore, the verb that John uses to describe the connection between “ὁ κόσμος” with “ἀδελφοί,” is powerful. The verb is “μισεῖ,” is a present, active, indicative, singular verb. It means “To strongly dislike or have aversion toward someone or something that usually results in separation between the one who hates and the thing hated.[65] It was noted above that the world has an innate hostility toward God.[66] Again, by following the guidelines within the hermeneutical triad, the interpreter is enabled to see the intended meaning by the apostle John.

1 John 3:17

            Continuing his discussion on love and hate (3:11-15), John begins a new section joining the love demonstrated by Jesus (vs. 16) with the love expected of His followers (vs. 17). John writes, “If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person?” (1 John 3:17) This verse presents several important issues to consider.

            To begin with, one could attempt to link John’s usage of “τοῦ κόσμου” with his usage in 3:7-10 and 13. That is, the interpreter could view this as a connection with the world as a system opposing God. However, this would be a fallacy. One must be careful not to engage in the “word study fallacy.”[67] Carson correctly notes, “the heart of the issue is that semantics, meaning, is more than the meaning of words. It involves phrases, sentences, discourse, genre, style.”[68] This is another instance of the importance of engaging the hermeneutical triad. The interpreter must consider the literature of a given book, and even within that book the differences in style and structure. To be specific, this involves syntax.[69] Through a study of John’s usage of κόσμος, one can readily see that, even in this brief epistle, John uses it in at least four ways (see Table 2). This eliminates the potential rendering of the world’s system.[70] However, returning to John’s statements, one can see another syntactical piece of information that provides further clarification to his particular usage. “Tοῦ κόσμου” is in the genitive case. Although there are difficulties in interpreting this case, one can see that John’s use here is not as problematic to determine.[71] “Tοῦ κόσμου” is modifying “τὸν βίον,” functioning adjectivally in an attributive way.[72] In other words, “it is goods of the world,” or “worldly goods.”[73] Furthermore, the context makes this clear. This demonstrates that John is referring to material possessions.

1 John 4:1-6

            This section provides six occurrences of κόσμος. It is found in verse 1 (once), 3 (once), 4 (once), and 5 (three times). These will be addressed in order. John writes in 4:1, “Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” How does John employ “τὸν κόσμον”? The case he uses is the accusative case. One immediately notices that it is the object of the preposition “εἰς.” Since εἰς only takes accusative objects, one needs to determine why John is employing this prepositional phrase. Considering the entire sentence (4:1), the only possible usage is spatial.[74] In other words, it is the location to which the “many false prophets” go.

            The question remains, “Which usage is John utilizing?” It seems material possessions can be ruled out easily. This leaves three possibilities: the world as the planet, the world as humans, and the world as the system opposed to God. Barker seems to have the world as a system in mind.[75] Akin provides additional details when he writes, “These false prophets have the world, that evil system under Satan’s control that opposes God, as their stage; and the scope of their influence and work includes all of humanity.”[76]

            Considering these two sources, it seems probable that John is referring to the world as that system opposed to God. But are there grammatical or syntactical clues that lead to this conclusion? There are several issues to consider. First, the context mirrors John’s comments in 2:18-28.[77] The parallels are as follows:

Parallels of 1 John 2:18-28 and 4:1-6
1 John 2:18-281 John 4:1-6
Antichrist is coming and antichrists have comeSpirit of antichrist is coming and false prophets are already present
Antichrists eventually separate from true believersFalse prophets have gone out into the world (i.e., separation)
Antichrists deny Jesus as MessiahFalse prophets do not acknowledge Jesus
Believers know God through the anointing of the SpiritBelievers demonstrate saving relationship through acknowledgement that Jesus is from God

Structurally, then, it is evident that the same line of thinking is present in chapter four as it was in chapter three.[78]

            Second, another key indicating factor is John’s use of “ἐξεληλύθασιν.” The word means “go out; come out.”[79] It is significant considering John’s constant employment of the preposition “ἐκ.” John uses ἐκ to draw a distinction of origin between the children of God and the children of the devil (3:7-10). It would seem that grammatically speaking, John is again distinguishing between God’s children and children of the devil. However, care must be taken not to draw too much from this point. In fact, rather than strengthen the view of several scholars, it seems that John is using “τὸν κόσμον” to refer to the humanity, and specifically lost humanity.[80] Kruse confirms this when he writes, “This [gone out into the world] is an allusion to those who left the community, the secessionists, who deny the incarnation (cf. v. 2; 2:18-19,22), and it implies that their affinity is now with the unbelieving world, not the Christian community.”[81]

            After writing about the test in verse 3, John then provides additional information about the spirit of the antichrist in verse 4. This spirit, as he writes, “is already in the world.” John uses the prepositional phrase “ἐν τῷ κόσμῳ” to define the location of the spirit’s presence. It seems evident that John is using this phrase in a “spatial” manner.[82] As with his use in 4:1, one must determine which world to which he is referring. Similar grammatical and syntactical clues are present in 4:3 as they were in 4:1. Kruse provides a clarifying statement, “The spirit of antichrist, the devil (cf. John 12:31), who is active in the inhabited world.”[83] Thus, he takes John using “τῷ κόσμῳ” to refer to the “inhabited world,” as in the world of humanity. Akin does not address this specifically. John Anderson describes this usage in two ways: the system opposed to God or the collective of humanity.[84] While that is certainly not out of the realm of possibility, it seems more likely that John is using this to refer to the inhabited world, including both God’s and the devil’s children.[85]

            Verse 4 contrasts “the one who is in you” and “the one who is in the world.” The difference lies in John’s consistent distinction between God and the devil. He does so by using similar wording and order.

ὁ ἐν ὑμῖν

ὁ ἐν τῷ κόσμῳ

To which world is John referring? There are two possibilities: the world as the system opposed to God and the world as humanity. One key aspect to determine the usage is the two uses of “ὁ.” They are distinguished by the modifying prepositional phrases, “ἐν ὑμῖν” and “ἐν τῷ κόσμῳ,” respectively. It is used in its “spatial” sense.[86] The contrasts that have appeared in John’s letter also provide further evidence that John is discussing, not only two sources (i.e., God and the devil), but also two people groups (i.e., children of God and children of the devil). Anderson notes, “It [τῷ κόσμῳ] refers to all that is hostile to God. The word is used here in its moral sense rather than as a location.”[87] While Kruse takes a broader definition, it seems clear that, from the specific distinction between God’s and the devil’s people.[88] Akin seems to agree with Anderson when he writes, “The world is the devil’s domain, and its philosophy is an expression of his values and agenda.”[89]

            The next verse provides additional information for the false prophets. John writes, “They [i.e., the false prophets from 4:1] are from the world and therefore they speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them.” This verse provides two uses of κόσμος. The first use, which is found in the first two appearances (“ἐκ τοῦ κόσμου” and “ἐκ τοῦ κόσμου”) refers to the world as a system opposing God. Within the specific context (i.e., 4:1-6), the false prophets are distinguished from the children of God. This, in turn, provides a greater degree of certainty that this is the worldly hostility to God. Anderson provides a detailed overview when he pens, “It is a metonymy for the customs, culture, and philosophy of unregenerated mankind, who live in the world and who are hostile to the concepts from God. It is the sinful principle found in sinful mankind. It is all that is ruled by the devil.”[90]

            In other words, the origin of the false prophets is that system in complete opposition to God.[91] Likewise, their speech reflects this hatred toward God. Anderson notes, “It indicates that the source of their ideas comes from the viewpoint of the culture and philosophy of the world around them.”[92] “They speak continually (lalousin, present tense) from the world,” writes Akin.[93] While the children of God hold to the incarnation of Christ, the false prophets operate within the realm of the world.

            Those inhabitants of the world “listens to them.” This is the second usage referring to humanity, specifically unsaved humanity.[94] There is a circular line of thinking that John presents. The people of the world speak in the worldly language to the inhabitants of the world, all reflective of the hatred toward God.

1 John 4:9, 14, 17

            In verse nine, John describes the salvific effort of God by sending Jesus through His incarnation. This takes place in a physical location, i.e., the world. There are three possibilities. John could be using this word to describe the inhabited world. Likewise, he could also use it to describe the planet. Finally, John could use it as that which opposes God.

The third interpretation is unlikely. First, John adds the phrase “that we might live through him.” John includes himself with the believers, separating themselves from the unsaved world.[95] Second, it seems evident that considering John’s consistent comparison of the children of God and the children of the devil seems to rule out any savable aspect of this system of the world.  This leaves the first two definitions as possibilities.

Though the earth is possible, the general context of 1 John seems to rule this usage out of place. Though the creation will be restored (cf. Rom. 8:22-25), the primary focus of Scripture in general, and 1 John in particular, is on God’s people.[96] Thus, John is employing “τὸν κόσμον” to refer to the inhabited world (i.e., humanity).

This same usage is found in verse fourteen as well.       Barker adds clarity to this, writing, “Therefore, since there is such a close connection between seeing and testifying and the gift of the Holy Spirit, it is likely that the author meant his words to include his readers and to be applied to all Christians throughout history.”[97]

The inhabited world of humanity is also found in verse seventeen. John writes, “In this world we are like Jesus.” Though there is debate on what John meant by “we are like Jesus,” the intended meaning of “τῷ κόσμῳ τούτῳ” is clear.[98] It is the inhabited world, the location of human existence.

1 John 5:4-5

            In the final chapter of John’s epistle, there are four final usages of κόσμος, three appearing in 5:4-5. These two appearances have the same wording in verse four, “νικᾷ τὸν κόσμον” and “ἡ νικήσασα τὸν κόσμον.” The differences are in the controlling verb and verbal. “Νικᾷ” is a present, active, indicative, third person, singular verb. The verbal, “ἡ νικήσασα,” is an aorist, active, participle, singular, nominative, and feminine. The general idea is “conquer; overcome; prevail.[99] While there are implications for the verb and verbal, the focus is on the accusative noun found twice, “τὸν κόσμον.” Both uses function as direct objects of the verb and verbal, respectively.[100]

            This provides the grammatical foundation for understanding John’s usage as relating to that system that opposes God. There is conquering and there is the one conquered. The one conquered is that system in opposition to God.[101] Barker refers to it as “the kingdom of death.”[102]This same idea is present in verse five. The victory, “ἡ νίκη” is the belief in the incarnation, life, and ministry of Messiah.[103] That system, led by Satan, followed by unsaved humanity, and displayed through rebellion against God, will be overcome. That is John’s intended idea.

1 John 5:19

            There is one more appearance of κόσμος in this letter. John writes, “We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one.” In this section, John is issuing concluding comments summarizing his letter.[104] Continuing the distinguishing of believers and unbelievers, John once again discusses the origins of individuals and implications for life (5:18-20). The believer originates from God while unbelievers “[are] under the control of the evil one.” John uses “ὁ κόσμος” to describe them. There are at least two reasons to accept this usage.

            First, there is the contrast directly mentioned by John. There are children of God and children of the world.[105] There is a clear peculiarity between these two groups.[106] Second, the statement “the whole world is under the control of the evil one,” provides additional clarity to John’s intended meaning. The only two viable options are the world as humanity (limited to unsaved by the contrast), and the world as the system opposed to God. While the system has some potential, ultimately John ties the word to unsaved humanity.[107]

Conclusion

            Utilizing Köstenberger’s and Patterson’s hermeneutical triad, one can properly understand the varied uses of ὁ κόσμος in John’s first epistle. By briefly examining the historical background, the interpreter understands the regular contrast between God’s children and the secessionists. This information helps the interpreter also understand the diverse use of ὁ κόσμος. By discussing the genre, syntax, and grammar, additional clarification was gained. Finally, weaving the theological implications throughout the study offered further insight into the four-way use of ὁ κόσμος. By utilizing the hermeneutical triad, students of biblical interpretation can rightly understand the Word of God. This important task is highlighted by the authors when they write, “In the area of hermeneutics, this translates into fallacies arising from the neglect of the context, prooftexting, eisegesis, improper use of background information, and other similar shortcomings.”[108]

            Furthermore, the triad also provides insights into understanding ὁ κόσμος throughout the rest of Scripture. While there are four different ways John uses the word, the following two examples will focus exclusively on the world as a system opposing God.

            Beginning in Genesis chapter ten and running through the Scriptures until the book of Revelation, Babylon is used to describe the enemy of God. Mackintosh writes, “Not that we are to look upon the Babylon of the Old Testament Scripture as identical with the Babylon of the Apocalypse. By no means. I believe the former is a city; the latter, a system; but both the city and the system exert a powerful influence against God’s people.”[109] There is no doubt that historically speaking, Babylon was an ancient city.[110] However, as one employs the theological point of the triad one can see that the world is present, even in the first book of the Bible.[111]

            The second example is Egypt. Scripture demonstrates the importance of the Exodus event in the nation of Israel.[112] Scripture also contrasts God with Pharoah as representative of Egypt. Ryken, at the beginning of his treatment of the book of Exodus, displays the fruits of the hermeneutical triad when he writes, “This part of Exodus is about Satan’s opposition to God’s plans and promises for his people.”[113] Ryken is using the concepts of the world developed by John to view the nation of Egypt and the oppression by Pharoah of the people of God. Thus, while conducting the necessary historical background research and necessary linguistical investigation, Ryken not only gleans theology but biblical theology.[114]

            The incorporation of the hermeneutical triad will, as the authors posit, provide the student of Scripture the necessary tools for right interpretation and application of the Word of God.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Akin, Daniel L. 1, 2, 3 John, vol. 38, The New American Commentary. Nashville: TN, Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2001.

Allen, David L.  Hebrews, The New American Commentary. Nashville, TN: B & H Publishing Group, 2010.

Anderson, John. An Exegetical Summary of 1, 2, and 3 John, 2nd ed. Dallas, TX: SIL International, 2008.

Austin, Bill R. Austin’s Topical History of Christianity. Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 1983.

Barker, Glenn W., Lane, William L., and Michaels, J. Ramsey. The New Testament Speaks. New York, NY: Harper & Row Publishers, 1969.

________., “1 John,” in Kenneth L. Barker & John R. Kohlenberger III, Zondervan NIV Bible Commentary Volume 2: New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1994. 1077-1109.

Bates, William H. “The World: An Inductive Exegesis and an Exposition,” Bibliotheca Sacra, Vol. 68, no. 269, (Jan. 1911), 105-131.

Beeke, Joel R. and Smalley, Paul M. Reformed Systematic Theology Volume 2: Man and Christ. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2020.

Berkhof, Louis. Principles of Biblical Interpretation. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1950.

Brannan, Rick. The Lexham Analytical Lexicon to the Greek New Testament. Logos Bible Software, 2011.

Bruce, F.F. The Canon of Scripture. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1988.

Cairns, Earle E. Christianity Through the Centuries: A History of the Christian Church Revised and Enlarged. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Academic, 1981.

Carson, D.A. Exegetical Fallacies Second Edition. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 1996.

Chafer, Lewis Sperry. “For Whom Did Christ Die?” Bibliotheca Sacra, Volume 105, no. 417 (Jan. 1948), 7-35.

Conniry, Jr., Charles J. “Identifying Apostolic Christianity: A Synthesis of Viewpoints,” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society, Volume 32, no. 2 (June 1994), 247-261.

Duvall, J. Scott and Hays, J. Daniel. Grasping God’s Word: A Hands-On Approach to Reading, Interpreting, and Applying the Bible 3rd Edition. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2012.

Enns, Paul. The Moody Handbook of Theology Revised and Expanded. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 2008.

Fee, Gordon D. and Stuart, Douglas. How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth 3rd Edition. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2003.

________. , New Testament Exegesis: A Handbook for Students and Pastors Revised Edition. Louisville, KY: Westminster/John Knox Press, 1993.

Gentry, Peter J. and Wellum, Stephen J. Kingdom through Covenant: A Biblical-Theological Understanding of the Covenants 2nd Edition. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2018

Gibson, David and Gibson, Jonathan eds., From Heaven He Came and Sought Her: Definite Atonement in Historical, Biblical, Theological, and Pastoral Perspective. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2013.

Goldingay, John. Baker Commentary on the Old Testament Pentateuch: Genesis. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2020.

Hart D. G., and Muether, John R. With Reverence and Awe: Returning to the Basics of Reformed Worship. Phillipsburg, NJ: 2002.

Hiebert, D. Edmond. “An Expositional Study of 1 John Part 3: An Exposition of 1 John 2:7-17,” Bibliotheca Sacra, Vol. 145, no. 580 (Oct. 1988), 420-435.

________., “An Expositional Study of 1 John Part 5: An Exposition of 1 John 2:29-3:12,” Bibliotheca Sacra, Vol. 146, no. 582, (Apr. 1989), 198-216.

________., “An Expositional Study of 1 John Part 8: An Exposition of 1 John 4:7-21,” Bibliotheca Sacra, vol. 147, no. 585 (Jan. 1990), 69-88.

Hodges, Zane C. “Hebrews, 1, 2, and 3 John,” in John F. Walvoord and Roy B. Zuck, eds. The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures by the Dallas Seminary Faculty New Testament Edition. Colorado Springs, CO: David C. Cook Publishers, 1983.

Kline, Meredith G. “The Old Testament Origins of the Gospel Genre,” Westminster Theological Journal, Vol. 38, no. 1 (Fall 1975), 1-27.

Köstenberger, Andreas J., Kellum, L. Scott, and Quarles, Charles L. The Cradle, the Cross, and the Crown: An Introduction to the New Testament. Nashville, TN: B&H Publishing Group, 2009.

_____., Merkle, Benjamin L. and Plummer, Robert L. Going Deeper with New Testament Greek: An Intermediate Study of the Grammar and Syntax of the New Testament Rev. Ed. Nashville, TN: B&H Academic, 2020

Kruse, Colin G. “1—3 John,” in D.A. Carson, gen. ed., NIV Biblical Theology Study Bible. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2018.

Ladd, George Eldon. A Theology of the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1974.

Mackintosh, C. H. Genesis to Deuteronomy: Notes on the Pentateuch. Neptune, NJ: Loizeaux Brothers, 1980.

MacLeod, David J. “The Love That God Hates,” Emmaus Journal, Vol. 4, no. 1 (Spring 1995), 3-20.

Niemelä, John. “Finding True North in 1 John,” Chafer Theological Seminary, Vol. 6, no. 3 (July 2000), 25-48.

Owen, John. The Death of Death in the Death of Christ. Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth Trust, reprint 2007.

Patterson, Richard D. “Contours of the Exodus Motif in Jesus’ Earthly Ministry,” Westminster Theological Journal, Vol. 66, no. 1 (Spring 2004), 25-46.

Robinson, Adam. “Abhorrence,” ed. Douglas Mangum et al., Lexham Theological Wordbook, Lexham Bible Reference Series. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2014.

Ryken, Philip Graham. Exodus: Saved for God’s Glory. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2015.

Ryrie, Charles C. Basic Theology: A Popular Guide to Understanding Biblical Truth. Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1999.

Schreiner, Thomas R. The King in His Beauty: A Biblical Theology of the Old and New Testaments. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2013.

Stott, John R. W. The Letters of John: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 19, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1988.

Tan, Randall K. J. “A Linguistic Overview of 1 John,” Southern Baptist Journal of Theology, Vol. 10, no. 3, (Fall 2006), 68-76.

Thiessen, Henry C. Lectures in Systematic Theology. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, reprinted 1994.

Vanhoozer, Kevin J. Is There Meaning in this Text? The Bible, The Reader, and the Morality of Literary Knowledge. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1998.

Vincent, Marvin R. Word Studies in the New Testament Volume II: The Writings of John, The Gospel, The Epistles, The Apocalypse. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, nd.

Vos, Geerhardus. Biblical Theology: Old and New Testaments. Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth Trust, reprinted 2017.

Wright, N. T. The New Testament and the People of God. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 1992.

Wuest, Kenneth S. Wuest’s Word Studies from the Greek New Testament for the English Reader Volume Four: Golden Nuggets, Untranslatable Riches—Bypaths in These Last Days. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1966.

Yarbrough, Robert. “1 John,” in Clinton E. Arnold, gen. ed., Zondervan Illustrated Bible Background Commentary Volume 4: Hebrews to Revelation. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2002.

Zuck, Roy B. Basic Bible Interpretation: A Practical Guide to Discovering Biblical Truth. Colorado Springs, CO: Cook Communications, 1991.


[1] Andreas J. Köstenberger and Richard D. Patterson, Invitation to Biblical Interpretation: Exploring the Hermeneutical Triad of History, Literature, and Theology (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregal Academic, 2011), 67.

[2] Köstenberger and Patterson, Invitation to Biblical Interpretation, 68.

[3] Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture is from the New International Version.

[4] Ibid., 93.

[5] Gordon D. Fee and Douglas Stuart, How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth 3rd Edition (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2003), 21, emphasis theirs.

[6] Though presenting their thoughts in a different way, J. Scott Duvall and J. Daniel Hays offer a helpful example of the triad on Philippians 4:13. See J. Scott Duvall and J. Daniel Hays, Grasping God’s Word: A Hands-On Approach to Reading, Interpreting, and Applying the Bible 3rd Edition (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2012), 237-246.

[7] See Roy B. Zuck, Basic Bible Interpretation: A Practical Guide to Discovering Biblical Truth (Colorado Springs, CO: Cook Communications, 1991), 76-90.

[8] Köstenberger and Patterson, Invitation to Biblical Interpretation, 151.

[9] F.F. Bruce, The Canon of Scripture (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1988), 291.

[10] Louis Berkhof, Principles of Biblical Interpretation (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1950), 53.

[11] See Köstenberger’s and Patterson’s remarks, Invitation to Biblical Interpretation, 151.

[12] This will be determined by the passage chosen. For example, 1 John is a letter (or, epistle) and must be interpreted as a letter. The book of Acts, however, has several literary genres. For a brief discussion of these genres, see L. Scott Kellum, Exegetical Guide to the Greek New Testament: Acts (Nashville, TN: B&H Academic, 2020), 6-10.

[13] Köstenberger and Patterson, Invitation to Biblical Interpretation, 237.

[14] Kevin J. Vanhoozer, Is There Meaning in this Text? The Bible, The Reader, and the Morality of Literary Knowledge (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1998), 342.

[15] Vanhoozer, Is there Meaning in this Text?, 343.

[16] See, for example, Köstenberger and Patterson, Invitation to Biblical Interpretation, 575-576; Andreas J. Köstenberger, Benjamin L. Merkle, and Robert L. Plummer, Going Deeper with New Testament Greek: An Intermediate Study of the Grammar and Syntax of the New Testament Rev. Ed. (Nashville, TN: B&H Academic, 2020), 441-469, 483-497; and Berkhof, Principles of Biblical Interpretation, 67-109.

[17] Köstenberger and Patterson, Invitation to Biblical Interpretation, 575; Duvall and Hays, Grasping God’s Word, 152-161, 164-168, and 170-180.

[18] Köstenberger and Patterson, Invitation to Biblical Interpretation, 693.

[19] Ibid., 694.

[20] Ibid.

[21] Ibid., 698.

[22] Ibid.; see also Geerhardus Vos, Biblical Theology: Old and New Testaments (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth Trust, reprinted 2017), 16. For an example of how this works, Beeke and Smalley offer a biblical-theological development of the image of God, see Joel R. Beeke and Paul M. Smalley, Reformed Systematic Theology Volume 2: Man and Christ (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2020), 161-174.

[23] Vos, Biblical Theology, 17.

[24] Köstenberger and Patterson, Invitation to Biblical Interpretation, 66. It should be noted that though the term “hermeneutical triad” is original with Köstenberger and Patterson, the authors acknowledge these aspects are not new. See page 24.

[25] Paul Enns, The Moody Handbook of Theology Revised and Expanded (Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 2008), 138-139.

[26] Daniel L. Akin, 1, 2, 3 John, vol. 38, The New American Commentary (Nashville: TN, Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2001), 27; see also Robert Yarbrough, “1 John,” in Clinton E. Arnold, gen. ed., Zondervan Illustrated Bible Background Commentary Volume 4: Hebrews to Revelation (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2002), 177.

[27] Andreas J. Köstenberger, L. Scott Kellum, and Charles L. Quarles, The Cradle, the Cross, and the Crown: An Introduction to the New Testament (Nashville, TN: B&H Publishing Group, 2009), 792-795. Though the apostle does not sign his name, conservative scholarship, in general, adheres to his authorship. Ibid, 783-790.

[28] Bill R. Austin, Austin’s Topical History of Christianity (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 1983), 43-55; Earle E. Cairns, Christianity Through the Centuries: A History of the Christian Church Revised and Enlarged (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Academic, 1981), 55-85; N. T. Wright, The New Testament and the People of God (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 1992), 450-452.

[29] For the physical persecution, see: Acts 4:5-22; 5:17-42; 6:8-15; 7:54-8:3. Many other references could be cited. For the theological errors affecting the church, see Köstenberger, Kellum, and Quarles, The Cradle, the Cross, and the Crown, 419-420, 792-795.

[30] The letter of Hebrews is an excellent example. Allen remarks, “Historically, the most common purpose advocated suggests the author is attempting to dissuade his Jewish Christian readers from a relapse into Judaism brought on by increasing persecution and a desire for the stability of the old faith.” David L. Allen, Hebrews, The New American Commentary (Nashville, TN: B & H Publishing Group, 2010), 79. See Jude 3 for one reference to the apostolic faith; see also Charles J. Conniry, Jr., “Identifying Apostolic Christianity: A Synthesis of Viewpoints,” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society, Volume 32, no. 2 (June 1994), 247-261.

[31] Akin, 1, 2, 3 John, 32. Stott discusses a different opinion, though he does not differ with Akin’s summary in any significant way. See John R. W. Stott, The Letters of John: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 19, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1988), 43-55.

[32] See Matt. 4:18-22; Mark 1:16-20; Luke 5:2-11; and John 1:35-42; see also Glenn W. Barker, William L. Lane, and J. Ramsey Michaels, The New Testament Speaks (New York, NY: Harper & Row Publishers, 1969), 397-400.

[33] Köstenberger, Kellum, and Quarles, The Cradle, the Cross, and the Crown, 305-325, 800-804.

[34] Enns, The Moody Handbook of Theology, 135-144.

[35] Köstenberger, Kellum, and Quarles, The Cradle, the Cross, and the Crown, 791.

[36] Enns, The Moody Handbook of Theology, 138. According to Logos Bible Software,

[37] William F. Arndt and F. Wilbur Gingrich, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1957), 446-448.

[38] Ibid., 446-447.

[39] Ibid., 447.

[40] Ibid.

[41] Ibid.

[42] Ibid.

[43] Ibid.

[44] Colin G. Kruse, “1—3 John,” in D.A. Carson, gen. ed., NIV Biblical Theology Study Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2018), 2260.

[45] Arndt and Gingrich, A Greek-English Lexicon, 447.

[46] For a discussion on the atonement from a definite atonement perspective, see: David Gibson and Jonathan Gibson, eds., From Heaven He Came and Sought Her: Definite Atonement in Historical, Biblical, Theological, and Pastoral Perspective (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2013); John Owen, The Death of Death in the Death of Christ (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth Trust, reprint 2007); for a discussion from an unlimited atonement perspective, see: Lewis Sperry Chafer, “For Whom Did Christ Die?” Bibliotheca Sacra, Volume 105, no. 417 (Jan. 1948), 7-35; Henry C. Thiessen, Lectures in Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, reprinted 1994), 241-242; Charles C. Ryrie, Basic Theology: A Popular Guide to Understanding Biblical Truth (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1999), 367-373; and Millard J. Erickson, Christian Theology 2nd Ed. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1998), 841-858.

[47] For an expositional discussion of these verses, see Andrew David Naselli, “Do Not Love the World: Breaking the Evil Enchantment of Worldliness (A Sermon on 1 John 2:15-17),” Southern Baptist Journal of Theology, Vol. 22, no. 1 (Spring 2018), 111-124.

[48] W.E. Vine, Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Old and New Tetament Words (Old Tappan, NJ: Fleming H. Revell Company, 1981), 233, s.v. world.

[49] Köstenberger, Kellum, and Quarles, The Cradle, the Cross, and the Crown, 793.

[50] David J. MacLeod, “The Love That God Hates,” Emmaus Journal, Vol. 4, no. 1 (Spring 1995), 3-20.

[51] Akin, 1, 2, 3 John, vol. 38, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2001), 108.

[52] D. Edmond Hiebert, “An Expositional Study of 1 John Part 3: An Exposition of 1 John 2:7-17,” Bibliotheca Sacra, Vol. 145, no. 580 (Oct. 1988), 433.

[53] Köstenberger and Patterson, Invitation to Biblical Interpretation, 575-576; Duvall and Hays, Grasping God’s Word, 191-195.

[54] Köstenberger, Kellum, and Quarles, The Cradle, The Cross, and the Crown, 792-795; Colin G. Kruse, “1—3 John,” 2255.

[55] Köstenberger and Patterson, Invitation to Biblical Interpretation, 93.

[56] Berkhof, Principles of Biblical Interpretation, 74.

[57] Daniel B. Wallace, Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics: An Exegetical Syntax of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1996), 369; cf. Köstenberger, Merkle, and Plummer, Going Deeper, 402.

[58] Akin, 1, 2, 3 John, 134.

[59] Ibid.

[60] John will continue this contrast with a brief discussion on Cain, whom John refers to as one “who belonged to the evil one” (1 John 3:12). Interestingly, John uses the Greek phrase “ἐκ τοῦ πονηροῦ,” demonstrating origin or source. Wallace, Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics, 371.

[61] Kenneth S. Wuest, Wuest’s Word Studies from the Greek New Testament for the English Reader Volume Four: Golden Nuggets, Untranslatable Riches—Bypaths in These Last Days (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1966), 148; D. Edmond Hiebert, , “An Expositional Study of 1 John Part 5: An Exposition of 1 John 2:29-3:12,” Bibliotheca Sacra, Vol. 146, no. 582, (Apr. 1989), 214.

[62] Wallace, Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics, 690; Köstenberger, Merkle, and Plummer, Going Deeper, 418, Akin, 1, 2, 3 John, 156.

[63] For example, John Anderson writes, “It is viewed as an already existing condition [Alf, Lns, My, Ws]. However, although hatred is a fact, individual Christians do not always encounter it [AB].” See John Anderson, An Exegetical Summary of 1, 2, and 3 John, 2nd ed. (Dallas, TX: SIL International, 2008), 116. See also Akins comments, where he writes, “presents this hostility not as a potential or foreseeable threat but rather as a present reality, a reality that is to be expected.” Akin, 1, 2, 3 John, 156.

[64] Ibid., 156.

[65] Adam Robinson, “Abhorrence,” ed. Douglas Mangum et al., Lexham Theological Wordbook, Lexham Bible Reference Series (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2014), emphasis original.

[66] See note 42.

[67] D.A. Carson, Exegetical Fallacies Second Edition (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 1996), 27-64.

[68] Ibid., 64.

[69] Gordon Fee defines syntax as “the arrangements and interrelationships of words in larger constructions.” Gordon D. Fee, New Testament Exegesis: A Handbook for Students and Pastors Revised Edition (Louisville, KY: Westminster/John Knox Press, 1993), 92

[70] One could also use logical reasoning to determine that the God-hating world is not intended here.

[71] Köstenberger and Patterson, Invitation to Biblical Interpretation, 586-587; Wallace, Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics, 73-74; Köstenberger, Merkle, and Plummer, Going Deeper, 89-90.

[72] Köstenberger, Merkle, and Plummer, Going Deeper, 92-93.

[73] Cf. Marvin R. Vincent, Word Studies in the New Testament Volume II: The Writings of John, The Gospel, The Epistles, The Apocalypse (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, nd.), 352.

[74] Wallace, Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics, 369.

[75] Glenn W. Barker, “1 John,” in Kenneth L. Barker & John R. Kohlenberger III, Zondervan NIV Bible Commentary Volume 2: New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1994), 1099.

[76] Akin, 1, 2, 3 John, 171.

[77] Ibid., 169.

[78] Akin draws a similarity in 3:13-24 as well. See Akin, 169. For an expansive treatment on the similarities within Johannine literature, see John Niemelä, “Finding True North in 1 John,” Chafer Theological Seminary, Vol. 6, no. 3 (July 2000), 25-48.

[79] Rick Brannan, The Lexham Analytical Lexicon to the Greek New Testament (Logos Bible Software, 2011), s.v., ἐξέρχομαι.

[80] Arndt and Gingrich, A Greek-English Lexicon, 447.

[81] Kruse, “1—3 John,” 2263.

[82] Wallace, Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics, 372.

[83] Kruse, “1—3 John,” 2263.

[84] Anderson, An Exegetical Summary of 1, 2, and 3 John, 141.

[85] Considering the context, in which John is encouraging his readers to test the spirits, this conclusion seems to be strengthened.

[86] Wallace, Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics, 372.

[87] Anderson, An Exegetical Summary of 1, 2, and 3 John, 142.

[88] Kruse, “1—3 John,” 2263.

[89] Akin, 1, 2, 3 John, 174.

[90] Anderson, An Exegetical Summary of 1, 2, and 3 John, 143.

[91] D. G. Hart and John R. Muether, With Reverence and Awe: Returning to the Basics of Reformed Worship (Phillipsburg, NJ: 2002), 28-30.

[92] Anderson, An Exegetical Summary of 1, 2, and 3 John, 143.

[93] Akin, 1, 2, 3 John, 174.

[94] Anderson, An Exegetical Summary of 1, 2, and 3 John, 143.

[95] Barker, “1 John,” 1101; Zane C. Hodges, “Hebrews, 1, 2, and 3 John,” in John F. Walvoord and Roy B. Zuck, eds. The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures by the Dallas Seminary Faculty New Testament Edition (Colorado Springs, CO: David C. Cook Publishers, 1983), 899.

[96] For an in depth treatment of this concept presented through the covenants, see Peter J. Gentry and Stephen J. Wellum, Kingdom through Covenant: A Biblical-Theological Understanding of the Covenants 2nd Edition (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2018); Thomas R. Schreiner, The King in His Beauty: A Biblical Theology of the Old and New Testaments (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2013); for a covenant theological perspective, see Guy Prentiss Waters, J. Nicholas Reid, and John R. Muether, eds. Covenant Theology: Biblical, Theological, and Historical Perspectives (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2020). For a discussion of the restoration of creation, see Enns, The Moody Handbook of Theology, 387-392.

[97] Barker, “1 John,” 1102.

[98] Barker, “1 John,” 1103; Walvoord and Zuck, The Bible Knowledge Commentary, 900; and Kruse, “1—3 John,” 2264; and D. Edmond Hiebert, “An Expositional Study of 1 John Part 8: An Exposition of 1 John 4:7-21,” Bibliotheca Sacra, vol. 147, no. 585 (Jan. 1990), 83-85.

[99] The Lexham Analytical Lexicon to the Greek New Testament (Logos Bible Software, 2011).

[100] Wallace, Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics, 179-181.

[101] Walvoord and Zuck, The Bible Knowledge Commentary, 901; Akin, 1, 2, 3 John, 192-193. For a brief discussion of what it means to overcome the world, see Akin, 1, 2, 3 John, 192-193; Anderson, An Exegetical Summary of 1, 2, and 3 John, 171.

[102] Barker, “1 John,” 1104.

[103] Concerning the NIV’s rendering of as “victory,” Akin writes, A translation that keeps the root the same in English would read: ‘For everyone born of God conquers the world. This is the conquering that has conquered the world, even our faith.’” Akin, 1, 2, 3 John, 192. See also Barker, “1 John,” 1104-1105.

[104] Barker, “1 John,” 1108-1109; Kruse, “1—3 John,” 2258 and 2265.

[105] Vincent, Word Studies in the New Testament, 373.

[106] For a thorough study of this, see Randall K. J. Tan, “A Linguistic Overview of 1 John,” Southern Baptist Journal of Theology, Vol. 10, no. 3 (Fall 2006), 72-74.

[107] William Bates argues for this, though in a different context (i.e., Satan as the god of this world). See William H. Bates, “The World: An Inductive Exegesis and an Exposition,” Bibliotheca Sacra, Vol. 68, no. 269 (Jan. 1911), 112-114; see also George Eldon Ladd, A Theology of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1974), 612-613.

[108] Köstenberger and Patterson, Invitation to Biblical Interpretation, 61.

[109] C. H. Mackintosh, Genesis to Deuteronomy: Notes on the Pentateuch (Neptune, NJ: Loizeaux Brothers, 1980), 56.

[110] John Goldingay, Baker Commentary on the Old Testament Pentateuch: Genesis (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2020), 182-184, 186-190.

[111] Gentry and Wellum connect this method of interpreting the Old Testament. See Gentry and Wellum, Kingdom through Covenant, 132.

[112] See Richard D. Patterson, “Contours of the Exodus Motif in Jesus’ Earthly Ministry,” Westminster Theological Journal, Vol. 66, no. 1 (Spring 2004), 25-46; Meredith G. Kline, “The Old Testament Origins of the Gospel Genre,” Westminster Theological Journal, Vol. 38, no. 1 (Fall 1975), 1-27.

[113] Philip Graham Ryken, Exodus: Saved for God’s Glory (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2015), 27, 29-30.

[114] This is precisely the benefit of the hermeneutical triad, specifically the biblical theology aspect. See Vos, Biblical Theology, 17-18.

One thought on “The Hermeneutical Triad: A Case Study of Κοσμος in 1 John

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