Most translations (KJV, ESV, NASB...) translates of.

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.

The NIV translates for.

Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them.

The word translated is the greek: τοῦ

Please correct me if I'm wrong but it seems that:

The first translation implies that the Father has a type of love, and whoever loves the world, that type of love that the Father has, such a person does not.

The second states that a person who loves the world does not love the Father.

These are quite different meanings, why the difference in translation? And which one is more accurate?

  • I'm sorry to have to point out, this isn't at all a Question of Biblical Hermeneutics but solely of linguistics. Which source do you want to compare to NIV, and how many different direct translations have you read… never mind indirect translations through other languages? Feb 26, 2021 at 22:21

2 Answers 2


English Standard Version

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.

of the
τοῦ (tou)
Article - Genitive Masculine Singular
Strong's Greek 3588: The, the definite article. Including the feminine he, and the neuter to in all their inflections; the definite article; the.

Πατρὸς (Patros)
Noun - Genitive Masculine Singular
Strong's Greek 3962: Father, (Heavenly) Father, ancestor, elder, senior. Apparently a primary word; a 'father'.

The genitive of possession lays stress on the person who owns something. In this case, the person is the Father. It is the Father's love, not a human's love.

For this verse, ESV translation is more faithful than NIV.

In https://biblehub.com/1_john/2-15.htm, 17 versions translate it as "of the Father". Only 3 translate it as "for the Father".

My translation:

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the Father's love is not in him.


The matter at hand here is the meaning of the grammatical construction of the Greek genitive which occurs in several forms. Let us take a less controversial example, the Phrase "faith of Jesus" which is πίστεως Ἰησοῦ (pisteos Iesou), Rom 3;22, 26, Gal 2:16, 3:22, Rev 14:12. Does this mean -

  • Our faith/trust in Jesus, or
  • Jesus' faithfulness

Technically, this is equivalent to asking: is the intent of the genitive subjective (Jesus' faithfulness) or objective (our faith in Jesus). The genitive in both Greek and English is capable or meaning either, equally. Each case must be decided on the context.

In the case of the phrase "love of Jesus" such as in Eph 3:18, 19, Rom 8:35, 2 Cor 5:14, 2 Tim 1:13, etc, the intention is always Christ's love for us and others as a model we should emulate.

Love of the Father

We have exactly the same situation with the genitive phrase, "love of the Father" (1 John 2:15) - is it our love for the Father, or, His love for us? In this case, we have some explicit texts to tell us the answer.

  • 1 John 3:1 - See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him.
  • 1 John 4:19 - We love because He first loved us.

That is, our love for others is modeled on, and springs from the love that Jesus and the Father have for us.

  • Do you have any idea why the NIV translator choose "for"? It's hard to believe it's a mistake. Feb 24, 2021 at 3:40
  • @GratefulDisciple - I cannot answer that except to say that they translated the article as though it was dative (to or for) rather than genitive (of).
    – Dottard
    Feb 24, 2021 at 4:12

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