From: John M. Moe (John.M.Moe-1@tc.umn.edu)
Date: Wed Sep 10 1997 - 11:38:12 EDT

Paul S. Dixon wrote:
> Micheal, Carl, Paul, et al:
> (I had already started this message, paused for a walk with my lovely
> wife, found Micheal's email upon return, and decided to finish this.
> Coincidentally, Micheal's thoughts and mine were running parallel
> independently.)
> I would like some interaction on the significance of the clause, PISTOS
> ESTIN KAI DIKAIOS, in 1 Jn 1:9.
> Specifically, how does this follow in the conditional thought introduced
> by EAN hMOLOGWMEN TAS hAMAPTIAS hMWN? Certainly God's faithfulness and
> righteousness are not dependent upon the confession of our sins (2 Tim
> 2:13). Yet, this verse does say if we confess our sins, then He is
> faithful and righteous so that (if result hINA, otherwise, epexegetically
> "that is") He will forgive us our sins and cleanse our from all
> unrighteousness. How does God's faithfulness and righteousness follow
> from the confession of our sins?
> First of all, it is important to note this is a conditional and that it
> is not valid to infer the negation, "if we do not confess our sins, then
> it is not so that God is faithful and righteous so that He will forgive
> our sins, etc." This, of course, is the error of some who fall into the
> trap of believing that unless we confess every known (or, even unknown
> [?]) sin before we die, then we are indeed in hot water.
> Not only is this bad logic, but it also impugns the faithfulness and
> righteousness of God, making it dependent upon our confession of sins.
> How, then, does our confession of sins result (this is the apodosis of
> the conditional) in the faithfulness and righteousness of God, if God's
> faithfulness and righteousness stand regardless?
> (Now I resume, after the walk and after reading Micheal's email.)
> Micheal's explanation is interesting, though, as he says, John's order
> seems rather awkward. I agree. Let me give another explanation.
> If after the protasis and at the beginning of the apodosis we supply by
> ellipsis, GINWSKOMEN or OIDAMEN (both key and prevalent words in the
> epistle), then the difficulty is eliminated. John is then saying, if we
> confess our sins, then we know God is faithful and just so that our
> cleansing and forgiveness is assured.
> This has the advantage of making our confession of sins the basis for our
> assurance of God's faithfulness and righteousness. It does not make our
> confession the condition for God's faithfulness and righteousness. The
> basis of our assurance is the practice of the confession of sin, the
> first example of walking in the light (v. 7).
> The strongest argument is support of this is simply that such
> argumentation is typical of John throughout the book. John says
> GINWSKOMEN: "that we know him, if ..."(2:3); "by this that we are in
> Him"(2:5); "that we are of the truth"(3:19); etc. There are many other
> occurrences of this thought using both words for "know". No one can
> question this. After all, the purpose of the book is given in 5:13.
> John writes to those who believe that you may know (EIDHTE) that you have
> eternal life.
> John argues that God is light (v. 5). The direct implication of this is
> that those who are children of light necessarily reflect that by walking
> in the light, vv 6-7. The first example of walking in the light versus
> walking in darkness: denial versus customary confession of sin, vv 8-10.
> Those who walk in darkness are characterized by denial of sin, both in
> the sin nature and in the committal of sin. But, for those who practice
> confession of sins, these are the ones who know that God is faithful and
> righteous resulting necessarily in their cleansing and forgiveness (which
> parallels v. 7b, the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all
> unrighteousness).
> Paul Dixon


This is very close to my own understanding of this passage.
        Yes! I think most English readers do infer the negative "If we
confess" (then it gets fuzzy and unthought out or they would recoil from
the idea that our lack of confession would make God unfaithful and
unjust) "He won't forgive us."
        Absolutely! the negative cannot be inferred, nor need it be
The result of not confessing (saying that we have no sin) is stated
positively in the context "we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in
        John is here coaxing those who might be so fearful and ignorant
of God and his ways that they would try to hide their sin, into
confession. It is not a conditional statement at all. It is (and here I
get into trouble with the proper terms again) "invitational,"
"encouraging," something like that. To the child afraid to fly we
might say something like "If we get on an airplane in is powerful enough
and safe enough to take us where we want to go."
        This is very close, as I said above, to what i uderstand you
to be saying Paul. It is intended to convey knowledge of God, not
instructions on how to get forgiven, I think what's different in my
understanding is this note of coaxing, gentle pleading, which I think
the context conveys.

Thanks for hearing me out

John M. Moe

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