How does it change the meaning of the verse - 1 John 2:19?

What is the respective theological implication, if any?

1 John 2:19

KJV -"They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us." (ESV,NASB,NKJV,NAS,ASV)

YLT - "out of us they went forth, but they were not of us, for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but -- that they might be manifested that they are not all of us.

"ἐξ ἡμῶν ἐξῆλθαν ἀλλ’ οὐκ ἦσαν ἐξ ἡμῶν εἰ γὰρ ἐξ ἡμῶν ἦσαν μεμενήκεισαν ἂν μεθ’ ἡμῶν ἀλλ’ ἵνα φανερωθῶσιν ὅτι οὐκ εἰσὶν πάντες ἐξ ἡμῶν"

  • In the first clause the verb has the meaning 'went out'. Therefore they went out of us, but they were not of us is the sense.
    – Nigel J
    May 10, 2020 at 8:06
  • Is the sense refers to "they are not with us any more" or "they were never one of us" = never saved, (as Calvin presumed)?
    – Sam
    May 10, 2020 at 12:01
  • Logically, yes, it must be. They exited from us describes them and defines them. If they were of us they would not have exited.
    – Nigel J
    May 10, 2020 at 16:13

1 Answer 1


"ἐξ ἡμῶν ἐξῆλθαν ἀλλ’ οὐκ ἦσαν ἐξ ἡμῶν εἰ γὰρ ἐξ ἡμῶν ἦσαν μεμενήκεισαν ἂν μεθ’ ἡμῶν ἀλλ’ ἵνα φανερωθῶσιν ὅτι οὐκ εἰσὶν πάντες ἐξ ἡμῶν"

This Greek text illustrates why mere word studies are not effective. One must look at the syntax. There are verbs associated with these reoccurrences of ἐξ ἡμῶν, see bolded above.

The first occurrence is a verb of movement, ἐξῆλθαν. This gives the sense of moving away from someone/something.

The other occurrences are all stative[a] verbs of existence, ἦσαν and εἰσὶν from είναι (to be).

So while the first sense means 'to separate from' the next three are source as in 'belonging to'.

ἐξ is a form of εκ (out of or from) and ἡμῶν is "of is." Note that the verb in the first repeats the ἐξ.

So it is not an arbitrary decision to treat the ἐξ differently as if there is some bias being introduced. In fact, assuming one invariant meaning to a preposition may be committing the root fallacy. [b]

[a] Wallace ExSyn 358–60

All is not as it seems, however. A stative preposition can occur with a verb of motion, just as a transitive preposition can occur with a stative verb. In such instances, how are we to interpret the data? Note, for example, the uses of εις with a stative verb. εις generally has the meaning of movement into from without. However, when it is used with a stative verb, such as θρεω, κάθομαι , εισμεν, etc.,the idea of motion is negated by the stative nature of the verb. On the other hand, pisteuvw + εν is the equivalent of πιστεύω + εις (cf. Mark 1:15; John 3:15).5 The idea is “put one’s faith into” even though εν is used.

The general principle to follow is that the verb takes priority: Stative verbs override transitive prepositions, and transitive verbs override stative prepositions. In other words, just as the preposition virtually governs the noun, so also verbs govern the force of prepositions. There are few exceptions to this general rule.

[b] b. Root Fallacy As lexicographers have long noted, the root meaning of a word is not necessarily an accurate guide to the meaning of the word in later literature. The same is true of morpho-syntactic categories: one ought not look for some kind of invariant meaning that is always present with the preposition. The meaning of words changes in time. Further, a word has a field of meaning rather than a point. Such is no less true for prepositions than for other words. (ExSyn 362–63)

  • Does not the ἐξ itself a preposition denotes movement, from interior to outward? Beside, is not the word study the essential part of Hermeneutic?
    – Sam
    May 9, 2020 at 22:12
  • @Sam Not with a stative verb.
    – user33125
    May 9, 2020 at 22:21
  • Do you think for one simple preposition, there is word-study fallacy?
    – Sam
    May 9, 2020 at 22:22
  • @Sam See my added footnote
    – user33125
    May 9, 2020 at 22:35
  • @Sam Prepositions are not simple.
    – user33125
    May 9, 2020 at 22:37

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