John H. Niemelä1
Message of Life
Amen, amen, I tell you, the one who listens to My word and believes the One who sent Me has everlasting life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life (John 5:24).
Do not be shocked at this, because an hour is coming in which all those in the tombs will hear His voice and will come forth—those who have done good things, unto the resurrection of life; but those who have done substandard things, unto the resurrection of judgment (John 5:28-29).2
Those who interpret John 5:24 in light of 5:28-29 expect Jesus to summon all people (believers and unbelievers) to the Great White Throne (GWT). They regard verses 28-29 as universal. If that were actually so, John 5:24 would not promise believers an exemption from the summons to the GWT. It would only exempt them from eternity in the lake of fire.
By contrast, this article contends that John 5:24 promises that Jesus will not even summon believers to the GWT judgment. It goes without saying that they will never experience the lake of fire. Most of Christendom understands John 5:24 as older editions of the King James Version3 rendered it:
Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation [i.e., the lake of fire]; but is passed from death unto life (emphasis added).
Unfortunately, such an understanding serves as a catalyst for most of Christendom imagining that a believer’s destiny is not settled until the final judgment. That is the polar opposite of John 5:24’s promise. This article categorically denies that believers will be at the GWT. Paraphrasing Shakespeare in Hamlet:
To be [at the GWT], or not to be [at the GWT]? That is the question.
Analysis will proceed under the following outline:
- Hermeneutics and the order of operations.
- John 5:24 as the great divide.
- John 5:24 takes priority over 5:28-29.
- Three Grace views of 5:28-29.
a. Believing is the good that every believer has done.
b. The sinless regenerate-seed only does good.
c. Unbelievers doing good is hypothetical and impossible.
- Proof that unbelievers doing good is hypothetical and impossible.
a. The New Testament uses similar hypothetical arguments.
b. Unbelievers will be the last group to be resurrected.
c. “Hypothetical and impossible” is the simplest Grace view.
II. HERMENEUTICS AND THE ORDER OF OPERATIONS
Conflicting views of John 5:24 derive from opposed hermeneutical starting points. The following math problem illustrates:
4 + 1 × 3 = x
Should one add first or begin by multiplying? The results differ:
One student adds first (as if parentheses were around 4 + 1); the other multiplies first:
|Addition First||Multiplication First|
|Problem:||4 + 1 × 3||4 + 1 × 3|
|Interpretation:||(4 + 1) × 3||4 + (1 × 3)|
|Step 1:||5 × 3||4 + 3|
Mathematicians follow this order of operations: P = parentheses, E = exponents, M/D = multiply (or divide), A/S = add (or subtract). The acronym is PEMDAS. The student on the left erred by ignoring PEMDAS. The one on the right followed PEMDAS, multiplying before adding. That led to the correct answer: 7, not 15. Even if 100% of a teacher’s students answered 15, it is still wrong.
Virtually all interpreters start with 5:28-29. They assume that everyone (believers and unbelievers) will appear at the GWT. Taking 5:28-29 to affirm that believers will be at the GWT would preclude 5:24 from excluding believers from that judgment.4
Reversing the order of operations (starting with 5:24) yields an entirely different result. Jesus promised that no believer will appear at the GWT. This precludes including believers among “those in the graves” (5:28) who would appear at the Great White Throne.
Will Jesus judge believers at the GWT? Or will only unbelievers appear there?
III. JOHN 5:24 AS THE GREAT DIVIDE
Why is 5:24 the great divide? Why not 5:28-29? Grace interpreters stand unified against the majority view of 5:24. Despite agreeing that 5:28-29 does not mean that believers appear at the GWT, they differ on the particulars of those verses. Thus, 5:24 is the dividing point. Sections III–IV of this article will focus on why 5:24 (not 5:28-29) is the starting point; sections V–VI will show that one Grace position on 5:28-29 is the most consistent with 5:24.
A 2013 book in Zondervan’s Counterpoints Series (Four Views on the Role of Works at the Final Judgment)5 conveniently shows John 5:24 as the great divide. Each contributor to a Views book represents a segment of Christendom. Three writers (Calvinist Thomas Schreiner, Anglican James Dunn, and Catholic Michael Barber) prioritize 5:28- 29, while Robert Wilkin emphasizes 5:24. The general editor, Alan Stanley, wrote the following summaries of each author’s view. The great divide in regard to John 5:24 is crystal clear:
Thomas R. Schreiner: Works will provide evidence that one actually has been saved: At the final judgment works provide the necessary condition, though not the ground for final salvation…
James D. G. Dunn: Works will provide the criterion by which Christ will determine eternal destiny of his people…
Michael Barber: Works will merit eternal life: At the final judgment, good works will be rewarded with eternal salvation…
Robert N. Wilkin: Works will determine rewards but not salvation: At the Judgment Seat of Christ each believer will be judged by Christ to determine his eternal rewards, but they remain eternally secure even if the judgment reveals they have failed to persevere in good works or in faith.6
Schreiner, Dunn, and Barber all surmise that believers will appear at the final (GWT) judgment. Wilkin does not. John 5:24 is a great divide within Christendom.
Each author wrote a main article, to which the others responded. Wilkin emphasizes the verse, mentioning it fourteen times, at least once in each essay. Schreiner and Dunn both mention it twice (but each only does so in a single essay); Barber avoids the verse entirely.7
John 5:24 Citations in Main Essays and Rebuttals
Akin to Schreiner, Dunn, and Barber, some translations render John 5:24 as if it only promises that believers will not end up in the lake of fire. They express it with some variation of “will not be condemned,” “will not come into condemnation,” or “will not be found guilty.”8 Instead, the promise is that believers will not even appear at the final (GWT) judgment. A great divide exists over the interpretation of John 5:24.
IV. PROOF THAT 5:24 TAKES PRIORITY OVER 5:28-29
John 5:22-30 has seven uses of the kri- family of words. Krinō (“to judge”) appears twice (5:22, 30), and krisis (“judgment”) has five uses (5:22, 24, 27, 29-30). Krima is not used here. Both John’s word choice and context are significant.9 Each requires analysis.
A. John’s Word Choice
Both English and Greek add suffixes to nouns. For example, the English suffix -al refers to an action. Examples include “arrival,” “denial,” and “removal.” Likewise, the Greek suffix -sis generally focuses on actions, not results of those actions. The renowned grammarian James Hope Moulton concluded his analysis of noun suffixes by saying:
In the classical [pre-300 BC], and still more in the Hellenistic period [300 BC–AD 300], a differentiation of meanings was observed in the use of the several formations: -sis then expressed the verbal abstract [the verbal action]…, and -ma the result of the action…10
B. The Context of John 5:22-30
Six uses of the kri- family of words in John 5:22-30 set the pattern for 5:24. Analysis will begin with the verses in which a verbal form appears.
1. “Krinō” and “Krisis” in John 5:22
For the Father judges [krinō] no one, but He has granted all [execution of] judgment [krisis] to the Son.
The Father will not judge at the GWT but will delegate that to the Son. Clearly, this speaks of people facing Jesus as Judge, i.e., the act of judging.
2. “Krinō” and “Krisis” in John 5:30
I can do nothing of Myself. As I hear, I judge [krinō], and My judgment [krisis] is righteous, because I do not seek My will, but the will of the Father who sent Me.
Again, this speaks of Jesus as Judge at the GWT.
3. “Krisis” in John 5:27
…and [the Father] has granted Him authority to execute judgment [krisin poieō], because He is the Son of Man.
Although krinō does not appear here, krisin poieō (“make judgment”) is equivalent. This follows the pattern.
4. “Krisis” in John 5:28-29
…an hour is coming in which all those in the tombs will hear His voice and [those raised from the tombs] will come forth— those who have done good things, unto the resurrection of life; but those who have done substandard things, unto the resurrection of judgment [krisis].
Consider the chronology for unbelievers here. They will rise, so Jesus can try them. Precisely, the phrase “resurrection of judgment” refers to being raised so they could appear at the GWT. Again, krisis refers to the act of judgment (the GWT), not to its result (the lake of fire).
5. “Krisis” in John 5:24
Amen, amen, I tell you, the one who listens to My word and believes the One who sent Me has everlasting life, and does not come into judgment [krisis], but has passed from death to life.
The other six uses of the kri- family of words in John 5:22-30 refer to the GWT. Everything in context points to krisis in 5:24 as a court appearance, not the lake of fire. Jesus promised that believers will not appear before Him as Judge.
6. Summary of Word Choice and John 5:22-30’s Context
Schreiner, Dunn, and Barber attempt the wrong order of operations in John 5:24 and 28-29. They ignore John’s choice of krisis (not krima), a word normally focused upon action, not result. Most of Christendom neglects the Biblical equivalent of PEMDAS (parentheses, exponents, multiply/divide, add/subtract). Bad hermeneutics lead to catastrophic results. A great divide ensues.
V. THREE GRACE VIEWS OF 5:28-29
Free Grace advocates agree that John 5:24 promises to exclude believers from the GWT. Despite unity there, three consistent Grace views of 5:28-29 exist, as Wilkin clarifies:
[B] This could be an example of Johannine use of absolute language. Positionally speaking, all believers are holy and sinless. [C] It is also possible that Jesus is pointing out the futility of salvation by works… [A] Another view is that the reference to doing good alludes to believing in Jesus.11
This article will treat the views in the following order:
- Believing is the good that every believer has done.
- The sinless regenerate-seed only does good.
- Doing good is hypothetical and impossible for unbelievers.
A. Believing Is the Good that Every Believer Has Done
The pertinent part of the passage reads:
…all those in the tombs will hear His voice and will come forth— those who have done good things,12 to the resurrection of life…
John Hart is one of many holding this view.13 He states it in a totally transparent way, even surfacing the key difficulty with the view:
In this passage, all Christians are considered to be those who did the good [ta agatha] deeds (v. 29), namely, they exercised faith in Jesus (see the contrast between believing and disobeying [the command to believe] in 3:36), and they will go to a resurrection of life.14
One difficulty here is that good (things) is plural. Another is that believing is not something that a believer does; it is something that happens. A person is persuaded that Jesus guarantees him or her eternal life. Believing is not something that one does, but that one experiences.15
B. The Sinless Regenerate Seed Only Does Good
Again, the following is the portion of the passage which this view seeks to explain:
…all those in the tombs will hear His voice and will come forth— those who have done good things, to the resurrection of life…
Zane Hodges proposed the Sinless Regenerate Seed view in 1979.16 He reiterated his argument in his commentary on John:
It is perfectly true that even after we are born of God, we continue to live in a sinful body that expresses itself all too often. But it is the unmistakable doctrine of the Apostle John that, in the final analysis, “whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His seed remains in him and he cannot sin because he has been born of God”17 (1 John 3:9). This verse means exactly what it says, but of course it is the new person created by regeneration that “does not… and cannot sin.”18
In 1 John 3:9 Zane Hodges rightly notes that the sinless regenerate seed cannot sin. However, the problems with this view of John 5:29a seem insurmountable. John directs his gospel to unbelievers. Thus many19 of his parenthetic asides assist unbelieving readers to understand difficult ideas.20 In a book for unbelievers, would not John need to have added a parenthetic aside to clarify this result of regeneration? It seems far too advanced for unbelieving readers— without a parenthetic explanation.21 Another solution is needed.
C. Doing Good is Hypothetical and Impossible for Unbelievers
Before I make a case for the view, a brief explanation of the passage under this model is appropriate. Again, the passage provides context for the analysis:
…all those in the tombs will hear His voice and will come forth— those who have done good things, to the resurrection of life…
A rewording of this passage may make the “hypothetical and impossible view” clearer.
At the GWT, any unbeliever who has lived an absolutely perfect life, consistently doing only perfect and good things, would receive eternal life while standing before the judge.
No unbelievers at the GWT will be found to have lived perfect lives meriting eternal life. Jesus did not predict that He will find any who did good. He will find none.
Chuck Swindoll offers some clarity on John 5:28-29:
Theoretically, a person can go to trial before the judge and, if he or she is found to be morally perfect, gain eternal life. However, in a practical sense, no one is morally perfect. Therefore, to face judgment without grace is to face condemnation. Consequently, Jesus uses the two ideas interchangeably; judgment is condemnation [e.g., reaching a verdict to condemn]. His point, then, is to avoid judgment altogether by grace that is received through belief.22
The analysis of the “hypothetical and impossible” offer will focus on three issues:
- The New Testament uses similar hypothetical offers.
- Only unbelievers will be in graves at the time of the GWT.
- “Hypothetical and impossible” avoids a bait-and-switch.
1. The New Testament Uses Similar Hypothetical Offers
Although Zane Hodges did not accept the “hypothetical and impossible view” of John 5:28-29, he did so elsewhere. In fact, in 2005 or 2006, I told him my view of this passage. His first words were, “I, of all people, should hold your view.” He said this, because he is well-known for taking this approach in Rom 2:6-7:
In line with the teaching of the Gospel of John as well as Jewish thought in general, this future destiny is identified in terms of eternal life. God will certainly give it to any who deserve it by persisting in good work.
Unfortunately, no one does this. As Paul later makes quite clear, “There is none righteous, not even one. There is no one doing good, there is not so much as one” (Rom 3:10, 12). Yet the principle remains true that, if there were someone who did do good persistently, and who was indeed righteous, God would give him eternal life because of that.23
On the same page, Hodges sets forth Jesus proposing a hypothetical and impossible option to a lawyer:
When a specialist in the Jewish law (NKJV = “lawyer”) asked Him, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus asked the counter question, “What is written in the law? What is your reading of it?” (Luke 10:25-26). The lawyer then proceeded to quote the two foremost commandments of the law, the commands to love God and neighbor. To this Jesus replied simply, “You have answered rightly; do this and you will live” (Luke10:27-28). The problem was, of course, that neither the lawyer himself, nor anyone else (other than the Lord Jesus) has ever, or will ever, fulfill these two supreme commandments.24
Once again Jesus set a hypothetical and impossible option before someone in the hope that the hearer would recognize: “That’s impossible.” People who realize the impossibility of earning eternal life often become open to a gift by grace. In John 5, Jesus was confronted by religious leaders who wanted to kill Him because He told a man to pick up his mat (John 5:16). They demanded perfect adherence to their rules. Jesus sought to put His sandal on their foot—for them to realize that He, the Judge at the GWT, would demand perfection. They would be infinitely better off to accept His offer of life (5:24) than to face Him as judge (5:28-29). This is not the NT’s only use of a hypothetical and impossible offer.
2. Only Unbelievers Will Be in Graves at the Time of the GWT
As 1 Cor 15:22-23 notes, the resurrection of believers will occur in stages:
- Church age believers will rise in the pretribulation Rapture.
- Tribulation saints will rise for the beginning of the Millennium (Rev 20).
- OT saints will have a role in the kingdom; they rise before the Millennium begins.25
- Millennial saints who die will be part of the first resurrection. Their resurrection will be prior to the GWT.26
Who will still be unresurrected at the time of the GWT? Only unbelievers will still be in tombs. Note that 5:28 speaks of “all those in the tombs,” not “all those who are in the tombs.” Jesus did not say, “everyone who ever was in a tomb” will participate in 5:28-29.27 He spoke of those who would still be in tombs at the time of the GWT. Thus, it is vital to remember that the GWT is after the Millennium. Unbelievers will be the sole participants.
3. Hypothetical Avoids a Bait-and-Switch
Whether one holds that believing is the good that every believer does (Grace view 1) or the sinless regenerate-seed approach (Grace view 2), both assume that Jesus asserts that believers will do good. Of necessity, both views see Jesus introducing the Bēma, at which believers’ works will be judged. Therefore, both views logically envisage Jesus saying in John 5:24, “Only unbelievers will be judged.” So far, so good. But only a few verses later, they imagine Jesus saying, “Unbelievers will be judged at the GWT; believers will be judged at the Bēma.” That creates a bait-and-switch.
View 3 avoids this difficulty. Only a tiny part of John 5 speaks of the promise of everlasting life for believers (5:21, 24-26, 40). On the other hand, 5:22-23 and 27-39, 41-47, warn them that rejecting Him will result in facing Him as judge. In verse 27, Jesus turns from a focus upon Himself as the life-giver to His role as their future judge at the GWT.
The topic in 5:28-29 does not include believers. The focus shifts to unbelievers at the GWT. In John 5:24, Jesus promised categorically that believers will not appear at the GWT, but in 5:28-29 He asserted that unbelievers certainly will be there.
Grace people need not struggle over an imaginary bait-and-switch. John 5 does not say, “Believers will not be judged [GWT], but believers will be judged [Bēma].” Rather, Jesus promised in 5:24 that believers will not be judged at the GWT, but 5:28-29 certifies that unbelievers will be judged there.
What is the appropriate response to an objector who asks whether the Bēma compromises the truth of 5:24? “Absolutely not.” The topic in this portion of John 5 is whether one will be judged at the Great White Throne. Jesus promised that believers will not be judged there, but unbelievers will. He said nothing about the Bēma here.
An illustration may help. My wife Diane and I purchased lifetime senior passes to U.S. national parks. They are not passes to any state, county, or municipal parks. We did not buy passes to every park everywhere. Similarly, Jesus did not offer exemption from all assizes, but to the one specific judgment that is a major focal point in John 5.
View 3 allows saying that the only judgment in view is the GWT. Jesus said nothing here about believers doing good. Why not? Eternal life is a gift to believers. He spoke of the requirement that unbelievers would need to be perfect to merit eternal life. Believers receive eternal life without merit, so why would Jesus stipulate something about their doing good? Why would He hint at their facing a judgment (albeit a different one) in a context exempting them from the GWT judgment?
We have seen that John 5:24 is the great divide in Christendom. Three scholars (Thomas Schreiner, James Dunn, and Michael Barber) represent the vast majority of those who call themselves Christian. They all regard John 5:24 as nothing more than a promise that believers will not be in the lake of fire.
Why? They and their compatriots ignore John 5’s order of operations (a Biblical counterpart to PEMDAS28). John 5:24 takes priority over 5:28-29, because verse 24 categorically promises that believers will not appear at the GWT. Therefore, 5:28-29 describes the judgment of unbelievers.
Grace people are clear on 5:24 but diverge in their approaches to 5:28-29. Some say that believing is the good thing that every believer does, but the verse speaks of having done good things (plural). Also, believing is not a thing done, but something experienced.
Other Grace people opt for the sinless regenerate seed, but that is a deep theological truth for a book designed for unbelievers. John typically adds parentheses to help unbelieving readers understand anything difficult. Though 1 John 3:9, indeed, speaks of this truth, John 5 certainly does not.
The final Grace position is that Jesus spoke hypothetically: Those who (theoretically) have done good would be raised unto life. That is, if any unbeliever were absolutely perfect, Jesus would not deny that person eternal life. No such unbelievers ever have or ever will exist. No one will receive eternal life through merit.
The arguments in favor of the “hypothetical and impossible offer view” are that Scripture uses such arguments elsewhere with unbelievers; the only ones still in the graves at the time of the GWT will be unbelievers; and this is the only Grace view that escapes the bait-and-switch.
How might one sum up the two passages?
Jesus promised that believers will not appear at the Great White Throne (5:24), but He guarantees that unbelievers will appear there to see if any reached perfection (5:28-29): the hypothetical and impossible requirement that an unbeliever would need to attain.
1 This article is a revision of “Wrong Way on John 5:28-29: Will There Be Any Who Did Good Things?” delivered May 25, 2022, at the Grace Evangelical Society National Conference in Denton, TX.
2 Unless otherwise noted, all NT citations are from the Faithful Majority Translation (FMT), copyrighted by John H. Niemelä. This is an in-process translation of the New Testament from the Majority Text.
3 The New King James Version corrects the older versions here.
4 Of course, no believer will go to the lake of fire. The crux is whether 5:24 promises more—that believers will not appear at the Great White Throne.
5 Alan P. Stanley, general editor, Four Views on the Role of Works at the Final Judgment, Counterpoints Series: Bible and Theology, series ed., Stanley N. Gundry (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2013).
6 Stanley, The Role of Works, back cover, wrote all four statements to summarize each author’s view. Emphasis added.
7 See Thomas R. Schreiner, “Justification Apart from and by Works at the Final Judgment Will Confirm Justification” in The Role of Works, 92-93; James D. G. Dunn, “If Paul Could Believe Both in Justification by Faith and Judgment according to Works, Why Should That Be a Problem for Us?” in The Role of Works, 57-59.
8 The KJV, NAB, NETB, NIRV, NLT, and Webster Bible are some that misinterpret the verse in this manner.
9 John’s Gospel uses krima only once (9:39), speaking of judgment’s result, not the act.
10 James Hope Moulton, Accidence and Word-Formation in James Hope Moulton and Wilbert Francis Howard, A Grammar of New Testament Greek, vol. 2, (Edinburgh, SCT: Clark, 1920), 355. Neither Moulton nor I claim that every occurrence of every -sis Greek noun refers to action, nor that every occurrence of every -ma noun refers to result. It is a general pattern. (Section IVB of this article contends that the general pattern holds true here.) Romans 5:16 is an important exception, in which krima is an action (the verdict), while katakrima is the result (the judicial sentence). The 160 NT -sis words follows [KRISIS is capitalized]: agalliasis, aganaktēsis, ainesis, aisthēsis, anablepsis, anachusis, anadeixis anagnōsis, anairesis, anakainōsis, anakrisis, analēmpsis, analusis, anamnēsis, anapausis, anapsuxis anastasis, anesis, anoixis antapodosis, antilēmpsis, antithesis, apantēsis, apekdusis, aphesis, aphixis apochrēsis, apodeixis apokalupsis, apokatastasis, apokrisis, apolausis, apolutrōsis, apothesis, athetēsis, athlēsis, auxēsis, basis, bebaiōsis, biōsis, brōsis, chrēsis, deēsis, diagnōsis, diairesis, diakrisis, diēgēsis, dikaiōsis, diorthōsis, dosis, egersis, ekbasis, ekdikēsis, ekplērōsis, ekstasis, elegxis eleusis, endeixis endōmēsis, endusis, enteuxis enthumēsis, epanorthōsis, epignōsis, epilusis, epipothēsis, episustasis, epithesis, erēmōsis, exanastasis, genesis, gennēsis, gnōsis, hairesis, halōsis, halusis, hexis homoiōsis, horasis, hupantēsis, huparxis hupokrisis, hupomnēsis, hupostasis, hupotupōsis, husterēsis, iasis, kakōsis, katabasis, katakrisis, katanuxis katapausis, katartisis, kataschesis, kataskēnōsis, kathairesis, katoikēsis, kauchēsis, kausis, kinēsis, klasis, klēsis, koimēsis, kolasis, KRISIS, ktisis, kubernēsis, lēmpsis, lusis, lutrōsis, metalēmpsis, metathesis, morphōsis, nekrōsis, opsis, orexis osphrēsis, parabasis, paradosis, paraklēsis, paratērēsis, paresis, pepoithēsis, peripoiēsis, perithesis, phanerōsis, phasis, phronēsis, phusiōsis, phusis, poiēsis, pōrōsis, posis, praxis prognōsis, prophasis, proschusis, proskarterēsis, prosklisis, proslēmpsis, prothesis, ptoēsis, ptōsis, purōsis, rhusis, stasis, sumphōnēsis, sunantēsis, sunchusis, suneidēsis, sunesis, sunkatathesis, suzētēsis, tapeinōsis, taxis teleiōsis, tērēsis, thelēsis, thlipsis, zētēsis.
11 Robert N. Wilkin, “John,“ The Grace New Testament Commentary, rev. ed., ed. Robert N. Wilkin (Denton, TX: Grace Evangelical Society, 2019), 192.
12 ”Good (things)“ is plural in Greek, as is worthless (things) (5:29).
13 I once held this view. It may be attractive but does not quite fit the passage.
14 John F. Hart, “John” in The Moody Bible Commentary, Michael Rydelnik and Michael Vanlaningham, gen. eds. (Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 2014), 1622.
15 Someone will object, “Believing is an active voice. Therefore, believing is done by people.” No, that is not the active voice’s only use. Daniel B. Wallace, Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1996), 411) defines simple active, “The subject performs or experiences the action. The verb may be transitive or intransitive. This [the subject performing or experiencing the action] is the normal or routine use, by far the most common [of the active]” (italics his; underlining mine).
Buist M. Fanning, Verbal Aspect in New Testament Greek, Oxford Theological Monographs (Oxford, ENG: University Press, 1990; reprint, Oxford, ENG: Clarendon, 2002), 135-36, names a category of verbs to which pisteuō belongs, “Verbs of passive cognition, mental attitude or emotional state. No focus on exertion to maintain knowledge. Attitude or to act in keeping with it” [emphasis in original]. He then appended some verbs in that category. I started with his list, but (1) removed verbs lacking active forms, (2) added noeō, (3) added basic definitions, and (4) made pisteuō bold. His list appears on ibid., 136; the resulting list follows:
agrupneō (to be alert); ginōskō (to know) [in present tense]; grēgoreō (to be alert); dokeō (to think); elpizō (to hope); exoutheneō (to disdain); epithumeō (to desire); euaresteō (to take delight); eudokeō (to take delight); thelō (to desire); katheudō (to sleep); kataphroneō (to despise); merimnaō (to be anxious); mimnēskō (to remember); mnēmoneuō (to remember); noeō (to perceive); nomizō (to think); oida (to know); pisteuō (to believe); prosdokaō (to expect); phroneō (to think).
Let me illustrate the upshot of the citations of Wallace and Fanning: “I know that I am writing this near Knoxville on a cool, breezy, and sunny summer morning with a few clouds.” My body detects the coolness. My knowledge of time (morning), place (near Knoxville), date (early summer), and weather (cool, sunny, with a few clouds) does not derive from action or decision, but from sensory perception and mental awareness. My knowledge (belief) concerning time, place, date, and weather is not an action. Theodore Mueller, “Linguistic Nonsense about Faith,” Concordia Theological Quarterly 48 (January 1984): 61-66, has helpful analysis along the same lines.
16 Zane C. Hodges, “Those Who Have Done Good—John 5:28-29; Part 6 of Problem Passages in the Gospel of John,” Bibliotheca Sacra 136 (April–June 1979): 163-64.
17 See Zane C. Hodges, The Epistles of John: Walking in the Light of God’s Love (Denton, TX: Grace Evangelical Society, 1999), 140-44, for a presentation of the evidence for this view of 1 John 3:9.
18 Zane C. Hodges, Faith in His Name: Listening to the Gospel of John (Corinth, TX: Grace Evangelical Society, 2015), 109.
19 Clarifying difficulties is a common (but not the only) reason for parentheses. Often, they give emphasis.
20 Merrill C. Tenney in “Footnotes of John’s Gospel” (Bibliotheca Sacra 117 (October 1960): 364, lists 59 parenthetic asides in John. Gilbert Van Belle in Les parenthèses dans L’Évangile de Jean: Aperçu historique et classification texte grec de Jean, Studiorum Novi Testamenti Auxilia, ed. Frans Neirynck, vol. 11 (Louvain, BEL: University Press, 1985), 243-329, typed in the Greek text of John from Nestle26, adding parentheses and endashes (–) to mark parentheses and parentheses within parentheses. Excluding parentheses within parentheses, I count 174 parentheses in Van Belle. John’s Gospel has at least 100 parentheses.
21 John 7:39 illustrates clarifying parentheses, (“Now He said this about the Spirit, whom those who believe in Him were about to receive, for the Holy Spirit was not yet given because Jesus was not yet glorified.”).
22 Charles R. Swindoll, John, Swindoll’s Living Insights New Testament Commentary (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House, 2014), 119.
Unfortunately, Swindoll imagines (per his flowchart) that John 5:24 involves “all of humanity” facing “judgment before death κρίμα (krima).” This approach is from his mind, not from exegesis: (1) John 5:24 does not even use krima; (2) it speaks of believers avoiding krisis; (3) and 5:28-29 speaks of a judgment of those in graves, not a pre-death judgment. When Swindoll stays with the text, he is clear; when he strays, he gets lost.
23 Zane C. Hodges, Romans: Deliverance from Wrath (Corinth, TX: Grace Evangelical Society), 63.
24 Ibid., 63-64.
25 Scripture does not say when they will rise, but it must be prior to the start of the Millennium.
26 This is suppositional, since Scripture does not address this. However, I argue that no saints (of any dispensation) will be part of the GWT judgment, because John 5:24 is a trans-dispensational promise. It was true for the age of Israel believers (prior to Pentecost); it is true for church age believers; it will be true for believers under the return to the age of Israel during the Tribulation. How could this trans-dispensational truth be revoked for Millennial saints?
27 Lest anyone go on autopilot—traditionally, people think of part of the passage speaking of the first resurrection and part about the second resurrection. If so, every human being would participate. Instead, the passage speaks only of unbelievers, so the participants would be the only ones unresurrected after the first resurrection is totally completed.
28 Parentheses, exponents, multiplication/division, addition/subtraction (see the introduction to this article). When one violates the proper order of operations, wrong answers result.