The Deity of Jesus Christ in 1 John 5:20
“ἵνα γινώσκωμεν τὸν ἀληθινόν θεόν καὶ ἐσμὲν ἐν τῷ ἀληθινῷ ἐν τῷ υἱῷ αὐτοῦ Ἰησοῦ Χριστῷ οὗτός ἐστιν ὁ ἀληθινὸς θεὸς καὶ ζωὴ αἰώνιος” (the Original by John)
“That we may know the True God and we are in Him that is True in His Son Jesus Christ He is the True God and Eternal Life”
This reading is older than the others, and is quoted by at least four Greek Church Fathers, and also Latin; these would have read “τὸν ἀληθινόν θεόν” in their Greek Epistle of 1 John.
“That we may know the true God” (The Codex Alexandrinus, 5th cent)
Some Greek manuscripts of the Byzantine text-type. 27, 34, 40, 65, 66, 69, 80, 95, 97, 98, 99, acc to Scholz)
Athanasius, Bishop of Alexandria (AD 296-373; acc to Griesbach; Scholz)
Didymus the Blind (313-398), acc to Scholz)
“And so He is not only God, but also very God. And the same John most expressly affirms this in his epistle: “For we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know the true God, and that we may be in His true Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life.” (Augustine; On The Trinity. 354-430)
“That the Son also is true God, John himself declares in the Epistle, 'That we may know the only true God, and we are (in Him that is true, even) in His (true) Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life.'” (Basil of Caesarea. 330-379)
“S.John, who said of Him: We know is. John that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know the true God, and we are in His true Son Jesus Christ: this is the true God, and eternal life" (Cyril of Alexandria, died AD 444)
“And as to what understanding He has given us, he straightway added, That we may know the true God. Whom in this place does he mean as the true God but the Father Almighty? But, as to what he conceives also of the Almighty Son, he added, And that we may be in his true Son Jesus Christ. Lo, he says that the Father is the true God, and that Jesus Christ is His true Son. And what he conceives this true Son to be he shews more plainly; This is the true God, and eternal life.” (Gregory the Great, died 604)
Latin Vulgate, 4th century.
And the majority of the Ancient Versions of the New Testament.
We also know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding so that we may know the true God. We are in union with the one who is true, his Son Jesus the Messiah, who is the true God and eternal life” (International Standard Version)
“And we know that the Son of God is come: and he hath given us understanding that we may know the true God, and may be in his true Son. This is the true God and life eternal” (Douay-Rheims Bible, based on the Latin Vulgate)
For the sake of argument, let us assume here, that this reading is the correct one:
“And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us an understanding, that we may know Him Who is True; and we are in Him Who is True, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the True God and Eternal Life”
This does not mean that, “οὗτός ἐστιν ὁ ἀληθινὸς θεὸς καὶ ζωὴ αἰώνιος”, does not refer to Jesus Christ. The subject here is clearly “the Son”, Who is Jesus Christ. His Coming has given us a better understanding of “Him Who is True”, that is, God the Father.
Who does the “οὗτός” refer to?
In the first place it might be said, that had John written, “οὗτός ἐστιν ὁ ἀληθινὸς κύριος καὶ ζωὴ αἰώνιος”, that is, “He is the true Lord and Eternal Life”, there will be no reason whatsoever to argue for “οὗτός”, to refer to “Him Who is True”, Who is the Father. It is only because here John says, that Jesus Christ is, “ὁ ἀληθινὸς θεὸς”, that even some who are “Evangelicals”, have balked in applying these words to Jesus Christ. We have exactly the same issue elsewhere, like Titus 2:13, where Paul writes, “τοῦ μεγάλου θεοῦ καὶ σωτῆρος ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ”, literally, “the Great God and Saviour of us Jesus Christ”. Had Paul written, “τοῦ μεγάλου κυρίου καὶ σωτῆρος ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ”, “the Great Lord and Saviour of us Jesus Christ”, there will be absolutely no argument that all of the words are used for Jesus Christ! We have in Luke 1:16-17, “He will turn many of the sons of Israel to the Lord their God. And he will go before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of fathers to their children, and the disobedient to the understanding of the righteous, to make ready for the Lord a prepared people”. The “He will turn”, is John the Baptist, as the passage says. The “he will go before Him”, refers to John the Baptist going before Jesus Christ, as see in Isaiah 40:3, and Matthew 3:3, etc. Now, because we here have Jesus Christ, as “The Lord their God”, Who is Yahweh, there are some who try to force the “αὐτοῦ” (Him), not to refer to Jesus Christ, but God the Father! As they do for “οὗτός” in 1 John 5:20.
Nowhere in the entire New Testament, is God the Father called, “ζωὴ αἰώνιος”= “Eternal Life”
In this Epistle, John begins chapter one:
“What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have observed, and have touched with our hands, concerning the Word of life-- that life was revealed, and we have seen it and we testify and declare to you the eternal life (τὴν ζωὴν τὴν αἰώνιον, literally, “the Life the Eternal”) that was with the Father and was revealed to us--what we have seen and heard we also declare to you, so that you may have fellowship along with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ” (verses 1-3)
Jesus Christ is clearly called here by John, “the Life the Eternal”. In his Gospel John also writes concerning Jesus Christ, “In Him was life (ἐν αὐτῷ ζωὴ ἦν), and the life (ἡ ζωὴ) was the light of men” (1:4). A different reading from the 2nd century, has: “ἐν αὐτῷ ζωὴ ἐστιν”, “in Him is Life”, the present, continuance Life. In John 14:6, we read, “Jesus said to him, I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life (ἡ ὁδὸς καὶ ἡ ἀλήθεια καὶ ἡ ζωή); no one comes to the Father but by Me”. In Acts 3:15, Peter says of Jesus Christ, “τὸν δὲ ἀρχηγὸν τῆς ζωῆς ἀπεκτείνατε”, which is literally, “But The Author of Life you killed”. Or, as the HCSB Version reads: “And you killed the source of life”.
For John to refer “οὗτός”, to the Father, would be tautological here. He has already said, “that we may know Him Who is True; and we are in Him Who is True”, where he calls the Father “True” twice. Why would he yet again say of the Father, “οὗτός ἐστιν ὁ ἀληθινὸς θεὸς καὶ ζωὴ αἰώνιος”? In John’s Gospel, chapter 1, verse 2, we read, “οὗτος ἦν ἐν ἀρχῇ πρὸς τὸν θεόν”, where the KJV reads, “The same was in the beginning with God”. It is clear, that “οὗτός” refers to the last mentioned Person, “καὶ θεὸς ἦν ὁ λόγος”, which is Jesus Christ.
The evidence is clear that John in this verse in the fifth chapter of his First Epistle, according to what I believe to be the better and stronger textual evidence, has Two distinct Persons Who are called, “τὸν ἀληθινόν θεόν” = “The True God”.
In the Original and best attested in the textual evidence, for John 1:18, we read:
“θεὸν οὐδεὶς ἑώρακεν πώποτε μονογενὴς θεὸς ὁ ὢν εἰς τὸν κόλπον τοῦ πατρὸς ἐκεῖνος ἐξηγήσατο”
“God no one has seen at any time, the Unique God Who is eternally in close relation with the Father, He has revealed Him”
There we have Two Who are distinct from each Other, Who are equally called God. Notice that in both cases, “θεὸν and θεὸς”, are without the definite article in the Greek, both having exactly the same meaning.
Yet we have those who continue to reject the Absolute Equality of Jesus Christ with God the Father, and His Absolute Deity. These passages destroy the heresy that teaches God is One Person. The Bible is very clear for those who are honest enough to accept what it Teaches, that The One God in the Holy Bible, is Eternally Three distinct, but equal Persons: The Father, Jesus Christ, and The Holy Spirit.