The Greek phrase that is used numerous times in 1 John and that is translated into English as “in Him” is translated in Northern One (Wolwale) as “really stick to and really remain good friends with God.”
John Nystrom (in The PNG Experience) explains:
“In the Sepik region of Papua New Guinea, several people gathered to conduct the final checking on the books of 1, 2, and 3 John and Jude. They were challenged to find the best way to write the description of a believer’s intimate union with Christ. The writer of 1 John says we are ‘in Him.’ That’s easy to express in English, but not in languages that only use ‘in’ for things inside other things, but don’t use it in a metaphorical way. How would you express this concept without using the word ‘in’?
“Unsure how to translate this, the team asked Wolwale local language expert Philip Musi for advice. Philip explained while demonstrating by putting his hand firmly to a nearby post, ‘It’s like a lizard who has really stuck himself to a tree.’ Everyone in the room knew exactly what that looked like.
“Now the revised draft of 1 John 2:28a in the Northern One Wolwale language reads: Kongkom uporo kinini, pone samo pangkana ka samo paipe fori uporo plau God.
“A rough English back translation is: ‘My good children, you-all really stick to and really remain good friends with God.'”
The Greek that is translated in English as “eternal life” is translated in various ways:
Lloyd Peckham explains the Mairasi translation: “In secret stories, not knowable to women nor children, there was a magical fruit of life. If referred to vaguely, without specifying the specific ‘fruit,’ it can be an expression for eternity.”
See also eternity / forever and salvation.
Following are a number of back-translations of 1 John 3:15:
- Uma: “All people who hate their relatives, they are the same as killers [emphatic]. And you know, relatives, that murders do not get good life forever.” (Source: Uma Back Translation)
- Yakan: “Whoever hates his fellow-man it is as if he has killed. And you know that a murderer has no everlasting life.” (Source: Yakan Back Translation)
- Western Bukidnon Manobo: “Anyone who acts against his companions, God considers him to be like a murderer; and we (incl.) know that if there is a person who wants to murder, he has not yet come to own life forever.” (Source: Western Bukidnon Manobo Back Translation)
- Kankanaey: “For the one who hates his brother/cousin is like the murderer just the same, and we know of course that the murderer, he doesn’t have the life that has no end.” (Source: Kankanaey Back Translation)
- Tagbanwa: “Because whoever ignores/spurns his sibling in believing, he is the same as a murderer of his fellowman. Isn’t it indeed so that you know already that, whoever is a murderer of his fellowman, he really doesn’t have life which is without ending?” (Source: Tagbanwa Back Translation)
- Tenango Otomi: “Everyone who hates his brother is like as though he were a murderer. And you know that not one murderer meets up with the new life.” (Source: Tenango Otomi Back Translation)
- Yatzachi Zapotec: “Any of us if we hate our fellows, before God we are like murderers. And we know that no one who is like that has eternal life.”
- Eastern Highland Otomi: “He who hates his sibling is a murderer. And you know that there is no murderer who has (possesses) the new life.”
- Tzotzil: “If we hate the brethren, we have already become killers. You know that whoever kills he has not received life forever.” (Source for this and two above: John Beekman in Notes on Translation 12, November 1964, p. 1ff.)