1:6 If we say we have fellowship with him and yet keep on walking 1 in the darkness, we are lying and not practicing 2 the truth. 1:7 But if we walk in the light as he himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses 3 us from all sin. 4 1:8 If we say we do not bear the guilt of sin, 5 we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. 1:9 But if we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous, 6 forgiving 7 us our sins and cleansing 8 us from all unrighteousness.
sn The relationship of the phrase keep on walking to if we say is very important for understanding the problem expressed in 1:6. If one should say (εἴπωμεν, eipwmen) that he has fellowship with God, and yet continues walking (περιπατῶμεν, peripatwmen) in the darkness, then it follows (in the apodosis, the “then” clause) that he is lying and not practicing the truth.
2 tn Or “living according to…”
3 tn Or “purifies.”
4 tn BDAG 50 s.v. ἁμαρτία 1 defines this term as “a departure fr. either human or divine standards of uprightness” (see 1 John 5:17 where ἁμαρτία [Jamartia] and ἀδικία [adikia] are related). This word occurs 17 times in 1 John, of which 11 are singular and 6 are plural.
sn From all sin. Sometimes a distinction between singular “sin” and plural “sins” has been suggested: Some would see the singular all sin of 1:7 as a reference to sinfulness before conversion and the plural sins of 1:9 as a reference to sins committed after one became a Christian. This amounts to making 1:7 refer to initial justification and 1:9 to sanctification. But the phrase all sin in 1:7 is so comprehensive that it can hardly be limited to preconversion sins, and the emphasis on “walking” in 1:7 strongly suggests that the Christian life is in view (not one’s life before conversion). In 1 John 1:8 sin appears as a condition or characteristic quality, which in 1:10 is regarded as universal. Apart from forgiveness in Christ it results in alienation from God (2:15) and spiritual death (3:14). But according to 1 John 1:7, cleansing from sin is possible by the blood (representing the sacrificial death) of Jesus.
5 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).
6 tn Or “just.”
7 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.
8 tn Or “purifying.”