Re: Contradictions in 1 John?

From: Paul S. Dixon (
Date: Wed Sep 17 1997 - 23:56:34 EDT

On Wed, 17 Sep 1997 14:24:17 -0400 Jonathan Robie
<> writes:
>At 01:19 AM 9/17/97 EDT, Paul S. Dixon wrote:
>>Yes, and thank you for asking. The first time I read your above
>>statement, "I think this phrase really does say that a child of God
>>can not sin," I gave you the benefit of the doubt. I thought, well
>>Jonathan is somehow still seeing the present tense in his translation
>>of "sin." But, now it is more evident that what you are doing is
>>reading backwards from the English, than reading from the Greek.
>Well, not exactly. I was working from the Greek without a translation,
>but I do seem to have misinterpreted the present infinitive -- I haven't

>spent much time on infinitives, and this got me into trouble. I don't
>an English translation to misinterpret the Greek, I can do that directly

>from the original!

Ha! I love a guy who can laugh at himself.

>The question I had involves the interpretation of the present
>infinitive hAMARTANEIN:
>Does this mean (1) can not sin (ever), or (2) can not (habitually)
>Zerwick and Robertson each go for #2.
>Robertson's Word Pictures says:
>"And he cannot sin" (KAI OU DUNATAI hAMARTANEIN). This is a wrong
>translation, for this English naturally means "and he cannot commit
>sin" as if it were KAI OU DUNATAI hAMARTEIN or HAMARTHSAI (second
>aorist or first aorist active infinitive). The present active infinitive
>can only mean "and he cannot go on sinning" as is true of hAMARTANEI in
>verse 8 and hAMARTANWN in verse 6...Paul has precisely John's idea in
Rom. >6:1 EIPMENWMEN THI hAMARTIAI (shall we continue to sin, present
>subjunctive) in contrast with hAMARTHSWMEN in Rom. 6:15 (shall we
>commit a sin, first aorist active subjunctive).

Yes, yes. But, I still prefer the NASV customary rendering, "no one who
is born of God practices sin." But, you have the idea.

>Zerwick's Grammar says:
>251. The application of a similar consideration to the verb
>hAMARTANEIN (aorist: commit sin in the concrete, commit some sin or
>hAMARTANEIN (present: be a sinner, as a characteristic *state*), offers
a >solution to the apparent contradiction between 1 Jo 2,1 and 3,9. In
the latter
>place John seems to suppose that Christians cannot sin, but in 2,1 he
>admonishes them not to sin. Here however he says GRAFW hUMIN hINA MH
>hAMARTHTE (aorist:not to commit sin), whereas in 3,9 he says that he who
is >born of God OU DUNATAI hAMARTANEIN (present: be -- habitually -- a
sinner) >because he is born of God, i.e. cannot continue the sinful life
that was his >before his regeneration. (Cf. Rom 6,1 as compared with

I am overjoyed. This is what I've been saying all along, but apparently
it wasn't being communicated. But, now you've got it. That is great!
Praise be to God.

Now, do you see a contradiction between 3:9 and 1:8?

>Just for comic relief, Robertson's Massive Yellow Tome says "the force
>of the present infinitive is so normal as to call for little comment"

Ah yes. But now, what about those who take this as an aoristic present?
Forget it.

Paul Dixon

>Jonathan Robie
>POET Software, 3207 Gibson Road, Durham, N.C., 27703

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