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

From: Paul S. Dixon (
Date: Fri Sep 12 1997 - 04:02:13 EDT

Again, I will try to kill two or more birds here with one sling.

On Thu, 11 Sep 1997 15:01:22 -0500 "Carl W. Conrad"
<> writes:
>At 1:12 PM -0500 9/11/97, James H. Vellenga wrote:
>>> From: "Paul S. Dixon" <>
>>> Date: Thu, 11 Sep 1997 13:01:00 EDT
>>> <snip>
>>> Carl, thanks for leaving the door open. I do think you may be
>>> missing something. I will use this opportunity to respond to you,
John V,
>>> and Jonathan, since they also responded in agreement with you.
>>> If: 1) the present tenses in 1:6-10 are customary/habitual, and if
>>> 2) the children of God cannot be characterized by customary/habitual
>>> (1 Jn 3:9), synonymous with and parallel to "walking in darkness" (1:
>>> and exemplified in both the denial of the presence of sin (1:8) and a

>>> denial of ever having committed sin (v. 10), then it follows that
>>> passages cannot ever be true of the children of God. They reflect
only the
>>> children of darkness. Even if the EIPWMENs in 1:8 and 1:10 are
>>> aorists, certainly hOMOLOGWMEN and PERIPATWMEN (9,7 respectively) >>>
are customary/habitual presents.
>>> The present tense in 1 John does seem highly significant and the
>>> customary/habitual nuance with it. John wants the believers to
>>> know that they have eternal life (5:13) and the whole epistle is
>>> around these tests by which they can know: confession versus denial
>>> sins (1:8-10), obedience versus disobedience (2:3 ff), love versus
>>> profession of the Son versus denial (2:18 ff), practice of
>>> versus practice of unrighteousness (2:29-3:10), etc. All these tests
>>> contain present tenses where the customary/habitual nuance is
>>> prevalent.
>>> Furthermore, still amplifying here, 1 Jn 3:9 rules out the
>>> that a child of God will ever or is even able to sin. Of course,
>>> this is present tense and can only be customary/habitual.
>>> Paul Dixon
>>Hmmm. This seems to raise the question of what the customary/habitual
>>tense means.
>>The NIV, for example, in 1 John 3.9, translates the present tense
>>POIEI as "will continue to" -- more of a persistence than a custom
>>or habit. I've often found it useful to translate the imperfect
>>or present subjunctive as "keeps Xing" (X representing the root
>>verb) -- this seems to indicate persistence rather than custom
>>or habit. Thus in 1.6, for example, one could read
>> Whenever we say that we're having a partnership with him
>> and [yet] keep going around in the darkness
>>This doesn't mean that we're necessarily out of the kingdom,
>>or even not in it yet, but that at least for the time being
>>we're continuing in a mode of hiding (my interpretation).
>>This also doesn't mean that we were never walking around in
>>light, but that at the time "we say" we're having a partnership
>>that we're persisting in contrary behavior.
>>I didn't try to memorize all Rolf Furuli's diagrams, but they
>>did seem to allow for different places of stopping and starting
>>behavior for both aorist and non-aorist verbs. So I think the
>>most we can say is that the deprecated behavior is occurring
>>just before, just after, and during the "we say". Yes? No?

Then there is always the KJV which renders it, "Whosoever is born of God
doth not commit sin," which only encouraged the sinless perfectionism
The NASV renders it, "no one who is born of God practices sin," conveying
nicely the customary/habitual nuance. The Amplified Bible has,
"...habitually practices sin." But, of course, truth is not determined
by weighing the translations.

The customary/habitual present tense does not denote constant,
uninterrupted activity, perhaps as the progressive present does (which is
denoted by the line). Rather, as Robertson says (p. 880), it is more
iterative and graphically denoted by the continual dotting of points (. .
. . . . .). Thus, when John says, "no one who is born of God practices
sin ... and he cannot sin" (NASV), the customary/habitual idea
communicated is that he is not characterized by a lifestyle of habitual
sin. He cannot be characterized by sin, that is, if his sinful acts were
graphed, they would not form a continuous dotted line. That is the

Now, let me argue for the customary/habitual nuance, then I would like to
hear your argument for persistence.

Actually, I've already argued this (see way above). In summation: the
customary/habitual nuance of the present tense is critical to John's
argument, for he is giving ways by which the children of God can know
they have eternal life. Essentially, the argument hinges around their
habitual lifestyle of: confession of sin versus denial of it (1:6-10),
obedience versus disobedience (2:3ff), love versus hatred, belief in the
Son versus denial; righteousness versus unrighteousness, etc. As
elsewhere in scripture (cf Mt 7:15-23; 2 Pet. 1) so here they are called
to look at their own lives, especially in comparison to the lives of
those who had left the fellowship (2:18 ff). There is a striking
difference. Its called a radical change, that change which occurs in the
life of a sinner and turns him around, so that the change is evident not
only to others, but to himself.

1 Jn 3:6-10 may be the most persuasive in this line of thinking. We
would undoubtedly agree that the present tenses throughout the passage
should be taken in the same way. How should we take the present
participle in 6b, hO hAMARTANW? If we say as "persistent sinning," then
certainly the one who persists in sin has never seen or known God (same
verse). That is, he was never saved. This is unescapable. Do you want
to say this? This, of course, contradicts your interpretation of 1:6
(above) where you say, "this doesn't mean we are necessary out of the
kingdom ... but that at least for the time being we are continuing in a
mode of hiding."

Wow, its late. Better stop for now. Sorry that I couldn't get to Carl.
Actually, I think I did answer his objections, since he was taking the
same position.

Paul Dixon

>Yes, I do think that Paul's opened up a can of worms here. The only
>in which I would really be willing to accept his notion of a sharp
>between what children of darkness do and what WE as believers do in 1
>1:6-10 would have to be in the same manner as I accept both Romans 7
>Romans 8 as a description of a believer's existence simultaneously in
>and spirit. I really don't believe that half the verses in 1 Jn 1:6-10
>talking about what others rather than ourselves are doing. So yes,
>about 1 Jn 3:9 and the apparent paradox?
>In checking through resources I have at hand, I find one discussion of
>"paradox" of these two passages:
>In his Hermeneia commentary Bultmann resolves this "contradiction"
>1 Jn 3:9 and the understanding of 1:6-10 that I argued this morning
>"The resolution of the contradiction lies in the fact that the MENEIN
>('abiding') of the SPORA ('seed') is understood as the gift of God's
>('love', 3:1), which remains for the believer a possibility not to be
>so that he can always call upon that gift, even though he in fact
>sins. OU
>DUNATAI hAMARTANEIN ('he is not able to sin') is therefore to be
>as the possibility of not sinning, which the believer has received as
>unforfeitable gift of God's love, a possibility that is always to be
>realized, as v 10 immediately indicates. The gift of a possibility
>includes a demand, and thus the demand itself can be understood as a
>Consequently, v 9 can speak one-sidedly of a gift." (Fortress Press,
>p. 53).
>I do think that James is right here about these present tenses: that
>customary or habitual action may not be the point of the present
>subjunctives so much as persistence, continuing on (to sin, to walk in
>darkness)--whether or not one really wants to and intends to do so.
>Let's leave that door open in both directions, Paul.
>Carl W. Conrad
>Department of Classics/Washington University
>One Brookings Drive/St. Louis, MO, USA 63130/(314) 935-4018
>Home: 7222 Colgate Ave./St. Louis, MO 63130/(314) 726-5649
> OR

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