1 John 3:20
Parallel Verses
English Standard Version
for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything.

King James Bible
For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things.

American Standard Version
because if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things.

Douay-Rheims Bible
For if our heart reprehend us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth 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.

1 John 3:20 Parallel
Vincent's Word Studies

For if our heart condemn us, God is greater, etc.

A very difficult passage. See critical note as above. Render, as Rev., shall assure our heart before Him whereinsoever our heart condemn us, because God is greater than our heart.

For (ὅτι)

To be rendered not as a conjunction (for, because) but as a relative, in whatsoever or whereinsoever.

Condemn (καταγινώσκῃ)

The word occurs only three times in the New Testament; here, 1 John 3:21, and Galatians 2:11. It signifies (1.) To note accurately, usually in a bad sense. Hence to detect (Proverbs 28:11); compare Aristophanes: "Having observed (καταγνοὺς) the foibles of the old man" ("Knights," 46). To form an unfavorable prejudice against. So Herodotus. Datis says to the Delians, "Why are ye fled, O holy men, having judged me (καταγνόντες κατ' ἐμεῦ) in so unfriendly a way?" (vi., 97). (2.) To note judicially: to accuse: to accuse one's self. So Thucydides: "No one, when venturing on a perilous enterprise, ever yet passed a sentence of failure on himself" (καταγνοὺς ἑαυτοῦ μὴ περιέσεσθαι; iii., 45). To give sentence, or condemn. To condemn to death. "Those who had fled they condemned to death" (θάνατον καταγνόντες; Thucydides, vi., 60). To decide a suit against one. So Aristophanes: "You judges have no maintenance if you will not decide against (καταγνώσεσθε) this suit" ("Knights," 1360). In Galatians 2:11, it is said of Peter that, because of his concessions to the Jewish ritualists, κατεγνωσμένος ἦν he stood condemned or self-condemned (not as A.V., he was to be blamed). His conduct was its own condemnation. This is the sense in this passage, the internal judgment of conscience.

Because (ὅτι)

This second ὅτι does not appear in the A.V. It is a conjunction.

Greater (μείζων)

Is this superior greatness to be regarded as related to God's judgment, or to His compassion? If to His judgment, the sense is: God who is greater than our heart and knows all things, must not only endorse but emphasize our self-accusation. If our heart condemn, how much more God, who is greater than our heart. If to His compassion, the sense is: when our heart condemns us we shall quiet it with the assurance that we are in the hands of a God who is greater than our heart - who surpasses man in love and compassion no less than in knowledge. This latter sense better suits the whole drift of the discussion. See critical note. There is a play of the words γινώσκει knoweth, and καταγινώσκῃ condemneth, which is untranslatable.

1 John 3:20 Parallel Commentaries

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge


Job 27:6 My righteousness I hold fast, and will not let it go: my heart shall not reproach me so long as I live.

John 8:9 And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the oldest, even to the last...

Acts 5:33 When they heard that, they were cut to the heart, and took counsel to slay them.

Romans 2:14,15 For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law...

1 Corinthians 4:4 For I know nothing by myself; yet am I not hereby justified: but he that judges me is the Lord.

1 Corinthians 14:24,25 But if all prophesy, and there come in one that believes not, or one unlearned, he is convinced of all, he is judged of all...

Titus 3:11 Knowing that he that is such is subverted, and sins, being condemned of himself.


1 John 4:4 You are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.

Job 33:12 Behold, in this you are not just: I will answer you, that God is greater than man.

John 10:29,30 My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand...

Hebrews 6:13 For when God made promise to Abraham, because he could swear by no greater, he swore by himself,


Psalm 44:20,21 If we have forgotten the name of our God, or stretched out our hands to a strange god...

Psalm 90:8 You have set our iniquities before you, our secret sins in the light of your countenance.

Psalm 139:1-4 O lord, you have searched me, and known me...

Jeremiah 17:10 I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.

Jeremiah 23:24 Can any hide himself in secret places that I shall not see him? said the LORD. Do not I fill heaven and earth? said the LORD.

John 2:24,25 But Jesus did not commit himself to them, because he knew all men...

John 21:17 He said to him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, love you me? Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, Love you me?...

Hebrews 4:13 Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight...

Revelation 2:23 And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searches the reins and hearts...

Cross References
Romans 8:34
Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died--more than that, who was raised--who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.

1 John 3:19
By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before him;

1 John 3:21
Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God;

1 John 4:4
Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.

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