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1 John 1:8-10

Context
1:8 If we say we do not bear the guilt of sin, 1  we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. 1:9 But if we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous, 2  forgiving 3  us our sins and cleansing 4  us from all unrighteousness. 1:10 If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar and his word is not in us.

1 tn Grk “say we do not have sin.” The use of ἔχω + ἁμαρτία (ecw + Jamartia) is an expression limited to John and 1 John in the NT. On the analogy with other constructions where ἔχω governs an abstract noun (e.g., 1 John 1:3, 6, 7; 2:28; 3:3, 15, 21; 4:16, 17; 5:12-13), it indicates that a state is involved, which in the case of ἁμαρτία would refer to a state of sin. The four times the expression ἔχω + ἁμαρτία occurs in the Gospel of John (9:41; 15:22, 24; 19:11) all refer to situations where a wrong action has been committed or a wrong attitude has already existed, resulting in a state of sin, and then something else happens which further emphasizes the evil of that action or attitude. Here in 1 John 1:8 the sense is the same. The author is addressing people who have sinned (resulting in a state of sin), warning them that they cannot claim to be free from the guilt of that sin. The context of 1 John does not imply libertinism (where sins are flaunted as a way of demonstrating one’s “liberty”) on the part of the opponents, since the author makes no explicit charges of immoral behavior against his opponents. The worst the author explicitly says is that they have failed to love the brethren (1 John 3:17). It seems more likely that the opponents were saying that things a believer did after conversion were not significant enough to be “sins” that could challenge one’s intimate relationship with God (a relationship the author denies that the opponents have to begin with).

2 tn Or “just.”

3 tn The ἵνα (Jina) followed by the subjunctive is here equivalent to the infinitive of result, an “ecbatic” or consecutive use of ἵνα according to BDAG 477 s.v. 3 where 1 John 1:9 is listed as a specific example. The translation with participles (“forgiving, …cleansing”) conveys this idea of result.

4 tn Or “purifying.”



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