Re: hINA, this time in 1 John 1:9

From: Micheal Palmer (
Date: Tue Sep 09 1997 - 23:49:18 EDT

Thanks to Paul Dixon for a clear coverage of the contextual factors leading
to verse 9. I will mention the one point of slight disagreement if have,
but not without stating first that I find much to agree with in his post.

At 12:09 AM -0400 9/7/97, Paul S. Dixon wrote:

>Likewise, in v. 9 if we customarily confess our sins, then the necessary
>result is: God is faithful and righteous, and if God is faithful and
>righteous, the necessary result (hIVA) is that He will forgive us of all

??? God's faithfulness and righteousness are the necessary result of our

Even if we don't infer the negation ('If we don't confess, God won't be
faithful...'), as you correctly say we cannot, your statement still looks
problematic. Surely it is the following clause ("He will forgive") which is
the result, not God's faithfulness and righteousness.

I believe the problem is that the parts of the sentence do not follow the
logical order of the assertions (at least not the order in which an English
speaker would expect to find them in their most basic configuration). If we
put the sentence in the order of what seems to me to be its main
implications, it would look something like this (with necessary changes to
mood and tense/aspect--though a native speaker may have decided to use
present forms where I have used future):

        If we confess our sins God will forgive us our sins and cleanse us
        all unrighteousness because he is faithful and righteous.

Unfortunately [:-)], this is not the way the author said it. The way it is
stated in the text is grammatical, but a little cumbersome. That does NOT
mean that it's bad Greek. It's just not highly polished rhetoric.

It's almost as if the author changed his mind about the structure of the
sentence mid stream:

        If we confess our sins. . .
        God is faithful and righteous, so he will forgive us our sins and
        cleanse us from all unrighteousness [if we confess our sins].

But this shift does not affect the grammaticality of the sentence in Greek.
It is perfectly grammatical, just a little awkward for those of us reading
it many centuries later.

Of course, I agree with Paul and Carl that the INA clause is a result
clause (or, as Carl put it, an 'epexigetical' clause expressing the result
of God's faithfulness and righteousness).

Micheal W. Palmer
Religion & Philosophy
Meredith College

Visit the Greek Language and Linguistics Gateway at

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.4 : Sat Apr 20 2002 - 15:38:28 EDT