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1 John 3:16-24 - Inner self finding sincerity a necessary possession

Updated: Apr 4, 2021

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We know love by this, that he laid down his life for us-- and we ought to lay down our lives for one another. How does God's love abide in anyone who has the world's goods and sees a brother or sister in need and yet refuses help?

Little children, let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action. And by this we will know that we are from the truth and will reassure our hearts before him whenever our hearts condemn us; for God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. Beloved, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have boldness before God; and we receive from him whatever we ask, because we obey his commandments and do what pleases him.

And this is his commandment, that we should believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us. All who obey his commandments abide in him, and he abides in them. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit that he has given us.


This is the Epistle selection for the fourth Sunday of Easter, Year B, according to the lectionary for the Episcopal Church. It will be read aloud after the mandatory Acts reading for the Easter season [Acts 4 this Sunday], which states, “this man is standing before you in good health by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth.” That will be followed by the singing of Psalm 23, which sings, “He revives my soul and guides me along right pathways for his Name's sake.” All will accompany the Gospel reading from John, where Jesus is recalled to have said, “there will be one flock, one shepherd.” Because of the theme told in Jesus’ metaphor, this is referred to as Good Shepherd Sunday.

Many times, especially as I read the Epistles, I see where long ‘sentences’ make it difficult for the reader to grasp what has been put into text. This means reading divine scripture should be done slowly and with the assistance of the divine within. I also often point out that nothing of divine scripture [found within the Holy Bible] was written in the English language [only Hebrew and Greek]. For Americans to read and memorize translations that have been put into English [in multiple versions], they are putting all their faith in some paraphrase of the truth – which can be true, half-true, or false [a false translation was presented in the Gospel reading from John 20, which stated “after a week,” when the truth said “after the day eighth”].

One thing that also stands out in the Epistles is the use of language that is nebulous. By that, I mean words are read and left to the reader to figure out just exactly what that nebulous word means. In this reading selection from First John, multiple times are written the words “love,” “heart,” “truth,” and “commandments.” While all those words bring about warm and fuzzy feelings of nicety and pleasantness the question is, “How many readers are thinking the same thing when they read those words?” Even the uses of “life,” as in “laying down a life,” or “abides” should bring up questions as to what that means.

In the past, I have painstakingly rewritten a reading from an Epistle, just to place emphasis on these points I have made. One must be forced to read divine scripture as one would read poetry. After all, we do not read novels of prose by going from verse to verse. We have to see all divine scripture as Yahweh [God], in His All-Knowing Mind, knowing I and you will read this Epistle, so it was written from the Mind of God with the intention being for us individually to read what is written. If one is too busy with one’s life to care about what God said to one, through a prophet, then that one is lost and pretending to be found.

In an effort now, I will make the above English translations appear in a completely new view, using words that come directly from a Greek resource as to the various words in English translation that can be used, based on the written text. I ask that one take the time to compare the two – the one above [NRSV] and this one I have created below.

Everything I present is verifiable, but it should be noticed that I do not translate the word “kai,” as that is a marker for importance to follow. I also break every ‘sentence’ into segments of words, which are ended by some form of punctuation. In verse 21, notice how the written text shows double angle brackets, single angle brackets and a left right arrow, which are directional marks [like the word “kai”] that cannot be properly translated, so they are ignored. The marks – everything about divine text – have meaning; with this divine syntax including the order of words. Thus, my English translations are literal, following the order of the Greek words written.

Please, take the time to compare these two versions of what was written in Greek, and then translated into English. Please note that my English translations are based on my selecting the one word in English that I feel has the best chance of conveying the truth intended. In that selection process, many possible translation options have been discarded. This means there is still more that could be stated below.


In this we have come to know that goodwill ,

because that one on behalf of us that human soul same self placed ;

kai we are obligated on behalf of these brothers ,

those human souls to place .


who now may possess this manner of life of this world ,

kai might notice this brother of him necessity possessing ,

kai might shut those emotions there away from of him ,

by what means that this which of God waits in him ?


Little children not we should take pleasure in word ,

nor that language ,

on the other hand in action kai sincerity .


kai in this we will come to know because from out of this sincere we are ,

kai before the face of him we will have confidence this inner self ours ,


because if should condemn ours that inner self ,

because in the widest sense exists this God of this inner self ours ,

kai he knows all .


Beloved ,

if that inner self < ours > « not should condemn » ,

confidence we possess with this God ,


kai which if we might ask ,

we receive from him ,

because those commandments of him we keep ,

kai they pleasing before the face of him we act .


kai this exists that commandment of him ,

in order that we should believe then name this Son of him ,

Jesus Anointed one ,

kai we should love each other ,

according to the manner in which he gave commandment to us .


kai this guarding those commandments of him ,

with him stays ,

kai he with him .

kai with this we have come to know that he remains with us ,

from out of this Spirit which to us he has given .


In this selection of nine verses, there are only ten capitalized words. When “God,” “Son,” “Jesus,” “Anointed one,” and “Spirit” are removed, there are only three that need understanding: “Beloved,” “Little children,” and “In.” The first word in these (roughly) two hundred words is a capitalized “En,” which simply translates as a preposition saying “in, on, at, by, or with.” However, by realizing capitalization elevates a word to a divine level of meaning that makes “In” be a powerful statement of Yahweh being “in, on, at, by, or with” a soul married to His Holy Spirit.

Simply by realizing how a little word like “En” can speak of spiritual depth unseen by normal eyes, it is easier to see “Beloved” and “Little children” as divine statements of relationship with Yahweh. One is in His family as “Beloved.” One is one of His “Children.” That then leads one to see “Son” not only as Jesus, but also every soul married to Yahweh, who becomes in the name of “Jesus,” as another “Anointed one” by Yahweh. This reading has to be seen in this light of personal relationship with Yahweh [“God”], which is more than simply saying, “I believe in God,” as a relationship says “I am born of God; thus I know Yahweh within my soul.”

There are thirty-three segments of words in these nine verses. Thirteen of those segments are begun by the word “kai,” marking them marked as important statements. Within verse 18 is a segment that includes the word “kai” in the middle, making the last word be shown as important. All of these marks of importance say John was not just writing a letter of vague things that he thought would make people feel good. John did not write generalities that can be read as affirmations of faith, because the only affirmation of faith is shown by acts – the purpose of the Easter season: to learn how to act as Jesus, by having become Jesus reborn.

In verse 16 are found the Greek words “psychēn” and “psychas,” which have been translated as “life” and “lives.” Associated with both words are “ethēken” and “theinai,” which mean “laid down” and “to lay down.” All of this that seems to speak of “life” and “death” relates back to the first word in the first segment of words that states “In.” Following that directional preposition of divine essence is “agapēn,” translated as “love.” In my corresponding translations, one can see how this verse takes on higher meaning.

When Yahweh is “In” one’s being, that union must be seen as a step taken out of “love,” which is marriage involving one’s “soul” [the truth of “life”], in a spiritual union. This union [“In”] is then one receiving “benevolence” or “goodwill,” which are the deeper meanings of “agapēn,” and less nebulous than “love.” For one to receive that “goodwill” from Yahweh, one must equally “lay down” one’s self-ego, where “self” reflects upon the “life” of a “soul” in a human body of flesh. The sacrifice of self [“life laid down”] for the “goodwill” of Yahweh is not for oneself, but for others. One then becomes the resurrection of Jesus, so one has become the Son, in a relationship with others likewise married to Yahweh, also reborn as Jesus [males and females]. Therefore, an obligation is created that bonds with others like oneself, so all become “brothers” [Christianity]. That must be seen in verse 16.

When one realizes a segment of words is begun by a “kai,” which says, “we are obligated on behalf of these brothers.” That becomes a commitment to serve Yahweh as one collective body of “brothers,” which is the intent behind true Christianity. It is not an exclusive group, as the purpose of Yahweh being “benevolent” to one wife, like all wives, is to send them out into ministry to draw others into a commitment of marriage to God, like themselves. In that way, more “brothers” are added, all in the masculine name “Jesus,” so both men and women human beings become related to Yahweh as Sons of man, all resurrections of the Jesus spirit.

Verse 17 uses words that speak of “possessions,” where being in possession of things [the “world”] means one’s soul is in “need” of spiritual possession. When Yahweh “abides” in one’s flesh, merged with one’s soul, that divine presence allows one to feel the “necessity” of showing others the way to true “possession” [eudamonia - divine possession] Then, the “world” no longer leads one to ruin. The essence of John’s question is, “How could one turn away from someone in such spiritual need?”

This means verse 17 then focuses importance on being able to determine who is obviously in spiritual need, as those needing to be touched by one who has married Yahweh and is the resurrection of Jesus in the flesh, having the power of God and Christ to both notice spiritual lack AND having the ability to pass that divine spirit on. It is equally important to realize that making a determination of spiritual need in another and not acting to pass the spirit on is impossible, as only the one to receive rejecting it keeps that from happening.

Verse 18 then addresses those who Yahweh sends out as His shepherds and those who have become lost sheep. This can be seen in the capitalization of “Teknia,” or “Little children.” In that a form of the word typically translated as “love” appears, where “agapōmen” better applies as meaning “we should take pleasure.” The aspect of “not” preceding this word says real “love” does not “take pleasure in” the suffering of others, or thinking one is better than another. Being a shepherd is a duty not born out of physical love, meaning pleasure is not a reward of that work done [tending sheep]. Therefore, one should not voice salvation as something one “loves,” as that causes others to react negatively. One should not entice with loving talk, nor use something written as the reason one is there, searching for those who are lost.

Verse 19 is then two important statements about how a shepherd goes about serving Yahweh. First, one must be sincere. Second, one must wear the face of God, which means displaying a confidence that become reassuring to others. In these two important qualities, the NRSV has used the words “truth and “heart.”

The Greek word “alētheias” can translate as “truth,” but just as we read that translation as what Jesus said to Pilate, prompting him to ask, “What is truth?” the same nebulosity exists here. The word better bears fruit when known to mean “reality, sincerity, and straightforwardness.”

The Greek words “kardian” and “kardia” can translate as “heart,” but the same word bears more impact in reality as “mind, character, inner self, will, and intention.” As such, it becomes most important that one act with sincerity, from an inner confidence that comes from knowing Yahweh is with one, just like He was with Jesus. It is not one's emotions that lead one to serve Yahweh. It is Yahweh merged with one's "inner self" ["heart"] that has one act.

Verse 20 then makes more sense when the nebulosity of “heart” is replaced by one’s “inner self.” This is the same core of all human beings, as a soul. Before one becomes reborn as Jesus, through marriage of a soul to Yahweh’s Holy Spirit, one was also a simple “inner soul” in search of higher meaning. When the NRSV translates “God is greater than our hearts,” this needs to be read as the concept that all life has a soul breathed into flesh by God. However, God being greater means a soul alone is in need of rejoining with Yahweh; and, that is the purpose of Him sending His Son, to be merged within us, so all who are lost can be found.

The presence of a “kai” before “God knows all things” says there is more to that than saying something everyone knows [all who believe in God]. The importance marked is saying that a soul alone knows nothing. This refers back to taking no pleasure in word or tongue, which means quoting Scripture as some weak form of evangelism. A soul alone is lost and knows little of importance. Therefore, one must marry Yahweh and become Jesus reborn, in order for the truth to be revealed to His servants.

Verse 21 then begins with the capitalized “Beloved,” which must be seen as one who has been found, as one who has married Yahweh and been reborn in the name of Jesus [family]. That one then has the knowledge of Yahweh at one’s disposal.

This then brings up the segment of words that is complete with extra marks that do not show up in translations. The NRSV translates it to say, “if our hearts do not condemn us,” but when seeing “hearts” [written in the singular, as “heart ours”] as “inner self” [i.e.: a soul alone] the equation mark needs to be grasped.

The left right arrow says, “If one is true, then the other is true.” Thus, what is stated [without reading the bracket marks] says, “if that [one all knowing by God’s presence] is “ours” [a union of two, both possessing the same flesh from within], being a true statement, then one must see another in the same way one was prior to marriage to Yahweh, because oneself was not condemned for lack of that divine union. It is the confidence that comes from a divine possession within that leads one to find others in the same need as one once was.

The single left bracket indicates "inner self" [a soul] is "less than" a union - "of us" or "ours". The brackets surrounding "ours" is that marriage between soul and God's Holy Spirit. The double left angle brackets show that [if true married to Yahweh] another not married is doubly less than. That lesser state does not condemn one for being a lost soul, but the double right brackets indicate the spreading of the Holy Spirit to one who opened his or her inner self to receive the Spirit. Coming from marks, not words, none of this can ever be stated in translation.

Verse 22 then says, “we receive from him whatever we ask, because we obey his commandments and do what pleases him.” [NRSV] This is a conditional statement, rather than some blanket blessing of unlimited wealth, power, and influence [as “whatever” implies]. It says when one filled with the Holy Spirit asks to help another, then Yahweh will supply help one as needed. This condition is then based on one’s commitment to Yahweh and obeying His Commands. It must be clearly understood that us human beings always act as the servant and Yahweh is always the Master, with Jesus one’s Lord. A soul in submission to Yahweh asks Him for “whatever” Jesus says to ask for. God is never the servant of those not His wives.

Verse 23 then confirms that by saying [NRSV], “And this is his commandment, that we should believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us.” Here, the verse is begun by the word “kai,” so it is important to realize Jesus said the greatest commandment was “to love God with all our heart, minds and souls.” When that “love” of Yahweh has become enforced by the Law [one’s marriage vows], then one becomes “in the name of God,” where “Jesus” means “Yahweh Will Save” [or “Yah(weh) Saves”].

Once in that name, then Jesus has commanded “brothers” in his name [true Christians] “to love one another.” That must be realized as being a commandment Jesus gave to his disciples and other family and followers of his [including Judas Iscariot] AND NOT TO THE WHOLE WIDE WORLD [most of which is sinners refusing to be found]. When Jesus said that to them, they had proved their devotion in service to him [thereby Yahweh], so they were the bridesmaids whose lamps were always kept full of oil.

This reality is then stated in verse 24, as “All who obey his commandments abide in him, and he abides in them.” That is three segments of words, two of which are begun by the word “kai.” Rather than writing “all,” John wrote “this one guarding the commandments of him,” where it is up to the individual, not some collective where there can be found safety in numbers. Each one must obey the commandments, which Yahweh writes on each one’s “inner self” [“heart”].

The element of “abiding” says Yahweh “reside” within one’s flesh, not out in outer space or some nebulous place like heaven. Heaven is where the “heart” is, with the “inner self” [a soul] being where God lives, merged with His Holy Spirit. Thus, the second “kai” importantly says, “Yahweh resides in those who keep his commandments.” That importance says it is impossible to keep Yahweh’s commandments without being married to Him.

When verse 24 concludes by stating [NRSV], “And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit that he has given us,” here the segment of words leading up to the comma mark begins with a “kai.” That places importance on how one knows Yahweh dwells within one’s body of flesh. It is important knowledge that comes from one’s personal experience with God’s presence, knowing that presence leads one automatically to act like Jesus reborn. This is not some wishy-washy feeling or some weak brain-led thought; as, it is knowing Yahweh, knowing Jesus. That is then explained as being due to the presence of “Spirit” [a capitalized “Pneumtos”], which must be known to be God’s Spirit that makes one Holy, like Jesus, therefore a Saint.

As an Epistle reading for a Sunday known for the Good Shepherd, it is difficult to see the connection readily apparent in the reading as translated by the NRSV. After slowing down the reading process and carefully analyzing the text and the translation possibilities [along with the systems necessary to realize to understand divine texts], the reason the elders chose this proves appropriate. This becomes John speaking about what needs to happen to become a Good Shepherd.

As a reading selection for a Sunday in the Easter season, when all seekers of truth are being prepared to be sent out into ministry for Yahweh, this repeats the necessity to become Jesus reborn. It is impossible to go into ministry as an only “inner self” [having physical “heart”], without divine assistance. Salvation cannot be gained by doing nothing or only doing that which brings self-pleasure and self-satisfaction. Being a shepherd is hard work and it comes with little respect from those who are happy with lives of sin. Being a shepherd means ministry is a set expectation. Therefore, one needs to be tested in how one rejects the lures of sacrificing God for personal gains and learn to depend [faith-trust] on angels meeting one’s needs.

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