Re: Contradictions in 1 John?

From: Glen Riddle (
Date: Tue Sep 16 1997 - 16:36:02 EDT

Jonathan Robie wrote:
> At 05:20 PM 9/15/97 EDT, Paul S. Dixon wrote:
> <most of the text deleted>
> I carefully followed your argument, but there are two central points that
> make it difficult for me to accept it - two points which have each been
> raised at least once, but which I have not seen you address:
> 1. The omens speak against it
> Paul Dixon wrote:
> >But, there is no conflict here. EAN EIPWMEN hOTI hAMARTIAN OUK ECOMEN
> >(1:8a) must be interpreted in light of the contrasting parallel in 1:9a,
> >EAN hOMOLOGWMEN TAS hAMARTIAS hMWN. What is being contrasted here is an
> >habitual denial of sin which is characteristic of nonbelievers, those who
> >habitually deceive themselves and in whom the truth is not, versus those
> >who habitually confess sins, who have the assurance that God is faithful
> >and just to forgive them their sins.
> EAN EIPWMEN, EAN hOMOLOGWMEN - these are some of the WMENs I am talking
> about. John says "we", including both him and the "little children" (TEKNIA)
> to whom he writes. How can this "we" refer to non-believers?
> 2. If we can't sin, how can we sin?
> I think that 1 John 3:9 clearly says that we can not sin. As I said in my
> previous message,
> >There is a logical contradiction here. Paul wants
> >to take the present POIEI as a habitual present,
> >and argues that a child of God may sin, but can
> >not dwell in sin. Dale disagrees, pointing out that
> >verse 3:9 also says that that the child of God OU
> >DUNATAI hAMARTANEIN. I think that some people missed
> >the fact that DUNATAI is also present tense - at the
> >raw, literal level, I think that this phrase really
> >does say that a child of God can not sin. If I am wrong
> >about this, I would appreciate it if someone would explain
> >how it could be interpreted differently.
> I would be interested in knowing how you would address this point.
> Grace and peace,
> Jonathan
> ***************************************************************************
> Jonathan Robie
> POET Software, 3207 Gibson Road, Durham, N.C., 27703
> ***************************************************************************

this so-called conflict is created by trying to fit I Jn. 3.9 into an
assumed overall message giving evidences of salvation. If one can back
up to chapter one and take John's first statement about what he writes
about: fellowship and full joy, and then not try to force the continual
and habitual present on 3.6 and 3.6 the problems no longer exist. John
writes about the absolute diffences of the old man and the new man. The
old man (I Cor. 2,14) is born of the devil and can do no righteousness
as he notes in I Jn. 3.6. However, the new man (the reconciled creation
of II Cor 5.21 is born of an incorruptible seed and can do not wrong--it
is created in the righteousness of Jesus Christ and can only do
righteousness. When John says that the one born from God cannot sin, he
simply means what he says. Only the new man created in righteousness can
abide in Christ and when doing so, he is not sinning (3.6). I don't know
why we try to make John so difficult. We do the same with Hebrews and
James by preconceived notions that they use salvation and justification
in a purely soteriological sense. Pity.

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