1 John 2:13 ESV

"I am writing to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. I am writing to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one. I write to you, children, because you know the Father." My emphasis.

you know/egnokate perfect, ind' active.

you have overcome/nenikekate perfect, ind' active.

you know/egnokate perfect, ind' active.

1 John 2:13 NKJV

"I write to you, fathers, Because you have known who is from the beginning. I write to you, young men, Because you have overcome the wicked one. I write to you, little children, Because you have known the Father."

you have known/Greek perfect.

you have overcome/Greek perfect.

you have known/Greek perfect.

A. Why does ESV treat perfects differently?

B. Why does the ESV differ from the NKJV? [If perfects can be translated different ways, on what basis might it differ with the NKJV?]

What does the Greek mean?

C. You know {Christ] who is from the beginning of time.

D. You have known [Christ] from the beginning of his ministry.

  • You need to learn basics of Greek translation to ask such questions. Not always the translation will have same tense as Greek bec of diff in language. I write is also egrapsa (I wrote) in the sentence but it won't be natural to English. So we change tenses for translation purpose. Should be closed for low quality opinion based.
    – Michael16
    Oct 7, 2022 at 3:36
  • @Michael16 I have tried to improve question and show how different translations leave themselves open to different implications. And then going back to see which might be closest to the Greek.
    – C. Stroud
    Oct 7, 2022 at 11:28
  • both translations mean exactly the same thing. The point D. is very unreasonable option to interpret it.
    – Michael16
    Oct 7, 2022 at 13:13

1 Answer 1


[I will ignore the difference in verse division between some Greek and English versions and treat all three clauses as contained in the 1 John 2:13.]

The three pertinent verbs in 1 John 2:13 are:

  • ἐγνώκατε = "you(pl) have known" = perfect indicative active, 2nd person
  • νενικήκατε = "you(pl) have overcome" = perfect indicative active, 2nd person
  • ἐγνώκατε = "you(pl) have known" = perfect indicative active, 2nd person

It is true that some versions translate the first and final verb differently as follows:

  • "you know" is used by NIV, NLT, ESV, BLB, NASB, NAB, NRSV, etc.
  • "you have known" is used by KJV, NKJV, ISV, NET, etc.
  • "you have known" and "you know" is used by BLB.

The only explanation I can suggest is the different classes of Christians to which John writes, namely,

  • "fathers" who are the most experienced and have longest time of belief and practice
  • "young men" who are less experienced but in the greatest vigor of spiritual life
  • "young children" who have just come to believe

I do not know why some versions do this. However, I am no defender of any particular Bible version, and this question should properly be addressed to the translation committees of each version.

Perhaps, a better translation in these cases might be "you have come to know" as in done in versions such as CSB, HCSB. Such a translation is "allowable" but also emphasizes the perfect tense with the present reality, which may also explain the other versions use of simple present tense.

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