Tuesday, December 4, 2012

1 John 3:20 - For if our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and knows all things.

New International Version (©1984)
whenever our hearts condemn us. For God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything.New Living Translation (©2007)
Even if we feel guilty, God is greater than our feelings, and he knows everything.
English Standard Version (©2001)
for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything.
New American Standard Bible (©1995)
in whatever our heart condemns us; for God is greater than our heart and knows all things.
King James Bible (Cambridge Ed.)
For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things.
International Standard Version (©2008)
If our hearts condemn us, God is greater than our hearts and knows everything.
Aramaic Bible in Plain English (©2010)
For if our heart condemns us, how much greater is God than our heart? And he knows all things.
GOD'S WORD® Translation (©1995)
Whenever our conscience condemns us, we will be reassured that God is greater than our conscience and knows everything.
King James 2000 Bible (©2003)
For if our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and knows all things.
American King James Version
For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knows all things.
American Standard Version
because if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things.
Douay-Rheims Bible
For if our heart reprehend us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things.
Darby Bible Translation
that if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart and knows all things.
English Revised Version
whereinsoever our heart condemn us; because God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things.
Webster's Bible Translation
For if our heart condemneth us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things.
Weymouth New Testament
in whatever matters our hearts condemn us--because God is greater than our hearts and knows everything.
World English Bible
because if our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and knows all things.
Young's Literal Translation
because if our heart may condemn -- because greater is God than our heart, and He doth know all things.
Barnes' Notes on the BibleFor if our heart condemn us - We cannot hope for peace from any expectation that our own hearts will never accuse us, or that we ourselves can approve of all that we have done. The reference here is not so much to our past lives, as to our present conduct and deportment. The object is to induce Christians so to live that their hearts will not condemn them for any secret sins, while the outward deportment may be unsullied. The general sentiment is, that if they should so live that their own hearts would condemn them for present insincerity and hypocrisy, they could have no hope of peace, for God knows all that is in the heart. In view of the past - when the heart accuses us of what we have done - we may find peace by such evidences of piety as shall allay the troubles of an agitated soul, 1 John 3:9, but we cannot have such peace if our hearts condemn us for the indulgence of secret sins, now that we profess to be Christians. If our hearts condemn us for present insincerity, and for secret sins, we can never "persuade" or soothe them by any external act of piety. In view of the consciousness of past guilt, we may find peace; we can find none if there is a present purpose to indulge in sin.
God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things - We cannot hope to find peace by hiding anything from his view, or by any supposition that he is not acquainted with the sins for which our consciences trouble us. He knows all the sins of which we are conscious, and sees all their guilt and aggravation as clearly as we do. He knows more than this. He knows all the sins which we have forgotten; all those acts which we endeavor to persuade ourselves are not sinful, but which are evil in his sight; and all those aggravations attending our sins which it is impossible for us fully and distinctly to conceive. He is more disposed to condemn sin than we are; he looks on it with less allowance than we do. We cannot hope, then, for a calm mind in any supposition that God does not see our sins as clearly as we do, or in any hope that he will look on them with more favor and indulgence. Peace cannot be found in the indulgence of sin in the hope that God will not perceive or regard it, for we can sooner deceive ourselves than we can him; and while therefore, 1 John 3:19, in reference to the past, we can only "persuade" our hearts, or soothe their agitated feelings by evidence that we are of the truth now, and that our sins are forgiven; in reference to the present and the future, the heart can be kept calm only by such a course of life that our own hearts and our God shall approve the manner in which we live.

Clarke's Commentary on the BibleIf our heart condemn us - If we be conscious that our love is feigned, we shall feel inwardly condemned in professing to have what we have not. And if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, for he knows every hypocritical winding and turning of the soul, he searches the heart, and tries the reins, and sees all the deceitfulness and desperate wickedness of the heart which we cannot see, and, if we could see them, could not comprehend them; and as he is the just Judge, he will condemn us more strictly and extensively than we can be by our own conscience.

Gill's Exposition of the Entire BibleFor if our heart condemn us,.... Of want of love to the brethren, and of hypocrisy in it, as well as of any other sin; for the conscience, which is meant by the heart here, is accuser, witness and judge; it accuses of the evil of sin, and is as good as a thousand witnesses; and upon its own testimony pronounces guilty, and condemns.
God is greater than our heart: for he is the Maker of it, and he has the power over it, and the management of it; it is in his hands, and to be turned by him as he pleases; and he is the searcher and trier of it; and besides, is a swifter witness than conscience, and a superior Judge unto it.
And knoweth all things; that are in the heart; the principles of actions, and all the actions of men, for which their hearts condemn them; and all the sinfulness in them, and the aggravations of them; wherefore, as he knows them more perfectly, he judges of them more exactly, and will reprove more sharply, and condemn more severely for them: hence, if the condemnation of men's hearts and consciences be so very great, as sometimes to be intolerable and insupportable, what will be the righteous judgment, and dreadful condemnation of God? how fearful a thing will it be to fall into the hands of the living God! this sense is confirmed by the Syriac version rendering it, "how much greater is God than our hearts?" there is another sense given by some, which is not by way of terror, but comfort, and that is, that if the hearts of believers accuse, reprove, and condemn for sin through unbelief, or want of clear view of pardon and righteousness by Christ, God is greater, as in power, so in knowledge, than the hearts of men; and he knows the thoughts he has towards them, which are of peace, and not of evil; the covenant he has made with his Son, of which he is ever mindful; and what his Son has done, that he has made full satisfaction for sin, and brought in an everlasting righteousness: so that let sin, or Satan, or the world, or the law, or their own hearts condemn them, there is no condemnation of any avail unto them. But the former sense seems best to agree with the context.

Vincent's Word StudiesFor if our heart condemn us, God is greater, etc.
A very difficult passage. See critical note as above. Render, as Rev., shall assure our heart before Him whereinsoever our heart condemn us, because God is greater than our heart.
For (ὅτι)
To be rendered not as a conjunction (for, because) but as a relative, in whatsoever or whereinsoever.
Condemn (καταγινώσκῃ)
The word occurs only three times in the New Testament; here, 1 John 3:21, and Galatians 2:11. It signifies (1.) To note accurately, usually in a bad sense. Hence to detect (Proverbs 28:11); compare Aristophanes: "Having observed (καταγνοὺς) the foibles of the old man" ("Knights," 46). To form an unfavorable prejudice against. So Herodotus. Datis says to the Delians, "Why are ye fled, O holy men, having judged me (καταγνόντες κατ' ἐμεῦ) in so unfriendly a way?" (vi., 97). (2.) To note judicially: to accuse: to accuse one's self. So Thucydides: "No one, when venturing on a perilous enterprise, ever yet passed a sentence of failure on himself" (καταγνοὺς ἑαυτοῦ μὴ περιέσεσθαι; iii., 45). To give sentence, or condemn. To condemn to death. "Those who had fled they condemned to death" (θάνατον καταγνόντες; Thucydides, vi., 60). To decide a suit against one. So Aristophanes: "You judges have no maintenance if you will not decide against (καταγνώσεσθε) this suit" ("Knights," 1360). In Galatians 2:11, it is said of Peter that, because of his concessions to the Jewish ritualists, κατεγνωσμένος ἦν he stood condemned or self-condemned (not as A.V., he was to be blamed). His conduct was its own condemnation. This is the sense in this passage, the internal judgment of conscience.
Because (ὅτι)
This second ὅτι does not appear in the A.V. It is a conjunction.
Greater (μείζων)
Is this superior greatness to be regarded as related to God's judgment, or to His compassion? If to His judgment, the sense is: God who is greater than our heart and knows all things, must not only endorse but emphasize our self-accusation. If our heart condemn, how much more God, who is greater than our heart. If to His compassion, the sense is: when our heart condemns us we shall quiet it with the assurance that we are in the hands of a God who is greater than our heart - who surpasses man in love and compassion no less than in knowledge. This latter sense better suits the whole drift of the discussion. See critical note. There is a play of the words γινώσκει knoweth, and καταγινώσκῃ condemneth, which is untranslatable.

Geneva Study BibleFor {4} if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things.
(r) If an evil conscience convicts us, much more ought the judgment of God condemn us, who knows our hearts better than we ourselves do.

People's New Testament3:20 For if our heart condemn us. If we have a troubled conscience because we have not kept the law of love,
God is greater than our heart. God, who is greater and whose condemnation is a far more serious affair,
and knoweth all things and seeth our failure in duty.

Wesley's Notes3:20 For if we have not this testimony, if in anything our heart, our own conscience, condemn us, much more does God, who is greater than our heart - An infinitely holier and a more impartial Judge. And knoweth all things - So that there is no hope of hiding it from him.

Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary20. Luther and Bengel take this verse as consoling the believer whom his heart condemns; and who, therefore, like Peter, appeals from conscience to Him who is greater than conscience. "Lord, Thou knowest all things: thou knowest that I love Thee." Peter's conscience, though condemning him of his sin in denying the Lord, assured him of his love; but fearing the possibility, owing to his past fall, of deceiving himself, he appeals to the all-knowing God: so Paul, 1Co 4:3, 4. So if we be believers, even if our heart condemns us of sin in general, yet having the one sign of sonship, love, we may still assure our hearts (some oldest manuscripts read heart, 1Jo 3:19, as well as 1Jo 3:20), as knowing that God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things. But thus the same Greek is translated "because" in the beginning, and "(we know) that" in the middle of the verse, and if the verse were consolatory, it probably would have been, "Because EVEN if our heart condemn us," &c. Therefore translate, "Because (rendering the reason why it has been stated in 1Jo 3:19 to be so important to 'assure our hearts before Him') if our heart condemn (Greek, 'know [aught] against us'; answering by contrast to 'we shall know that we are of the truth') us (it is) because God is greater than our heart and knoweth all things." If our heart judges us unfavorably, we may be sure that He, knowing more than our heart knows, judges us more unfavorably still [Alford]. A similar ellipsis ("it is") occurs in 1Co 14:27; 2Co 1:6; 8:23. The condemning testimony of our conscience is not alone, but is the echo of the voice of Him who is greater and knoweth all things. Our hypocrisy in loving by word and tongue, not in deed and truth, does not escape even our conscience, though weak and knowing but little, how much less God who knows all things! Still the consolatory view may be the right one. For the Greek for "we shall assure our hearts" (see on [2644]1Jo 3:19), is gain over, persuade so as to be stilled, implying that there was a previous state of self-condemnation by the heart (1Jo 3:20), which, however, is got over by the consolatory thought, "God is greater than my heart" which condemns me, and "knows all things" (Greek "ginoskei," "knows," not "kataginoskei," "condemns"), and therefore knows my love and desire to serve Him, and knows my frame so as to pity my weakness of faith. This gaining over the heart to peace is not so advanced a stage as the having CONFIDENCE towards God which flows from a heart condemning us not. The first "because" thus applies to the two alternate cases, 1Jo 3:20, 21 (giving the ground of saying, that having love we shall gain over, or assure our minds before Him, 1Jo 3:19); the second "because" applies to the first alternate alone, namely, "if our heart condemn us." When he reaches the second alternate, 1Jo 3:21, he states it independently of the former "because" which had connected it with 1Jo 3:19, inasmuch as CONFIDENCE toward God is a farther stage than persuading our hearts, though always preceded by it.

Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary3:16-21 Here is the condescension, the miracle, the mystery of Divine love, that God would redeem the church with his own blood. Surely we should love those whom God has loved, and so loved. The Holy Spirit, grieved at selfishness, will leave the selfish heart without comfort, and full of darkness and terror. By what can it be known that a man has a true sense of the love of Christ for perishing sinners, or that the love of God has been planted in his heart by the Holy Spirit, if the love of the world and its good overcomes the feelings of compassion to a perishing brother? Every instance of this selfishness must weaken the evidences of a man's conversion; when habitual and allowed, it must decide against him. If conscience condemn us in known sin, or the neglect of known duty, God does so too. Let conscience therefore be well-informed, be heard, and diligently attended to.

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