New International Version
If our hearts condemn us, we know that God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything.
New Living Translation
Even if we feel guilty, God is greater than our feelings, and he knows everything.
English Standard Version
for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything.
New American Standard Bible
in whatever our heart condemns us; for God is greater than our heart and knows all things.
King James Bible
For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things.
Holman Christian Standard Bible
even if our conscience condemns us, that God is greater than our conscience, and He knows all things.
International Standard Version
If our hearts condemn us, God is greater than our hearts and knows everything.
that if our conscience condemns us, that God is greater than our conscience and knows all things.
Aramaic Bible in Plain English
For if our heart condemns us, how much greater is God than our heart? And he knows all things.
GOD'S WORD® Translation
Whenever our conscience condemns us, we will be reassured that God is greater than our conscience and knows everything.
Jubilee Bible 2000
And if our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart and knows all things.
King James 2000 Bible
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.
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.
Parallel CommentariesMatthew Henry's Concise Commentary
3:16-21 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.
Verse 20. - Our heart means our conscience, not the affections, which would be σπάγχνα (verse 17). If we are conscious of sincere and habitual love, this will calm us when conscience reproaches us (comp. 1 John 1:9; 1 John 2:1, 2). St. John never uses the more technical term συνείδησις, which occurs in the Acts and 1 Peter, and is very frequent in St. Paul. God is greater than our heart. It is asked whether this means that he is more merciful or more rigorous. Neither the one nor the other. It means that, although our conscience is not infallible, God is. Our hearts may be deceived; he cannot be. He knoweth all things. An awful thought for the impenitent, a blessed and encouraging thought for the penitent, He knows our sins; but he also knows our temptations, our struggles, our sorrow, and our love.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
For 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.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
20. 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 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.
1 John 3:20 Additional Commentaries
Love One Another
…19We will know by this that we are of the truth, and will assure our heart before Him 20in whatever our heart condemns us; for God is greater than our heart and knows all things. 21Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God;…
Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died--more than that, who was raised to life--is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.
1 John 3:19
This is how we know that we belong to the truth and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence:
1 John 3:21
Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God
1 John 4:4
You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.
Treasury of Scripture
For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knows all things.
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NT Letters: 1 John 3:20 Because if our heart condemns us God (1J iJ 1Jn i jn 1 jo) Christian Bible Study Resources, Dictionary, Concordance and Search Tools