Re: 1 John 3:9

From: Steven Craig Miller (
Date: Tue Dec 21 1999 - 22:21:03 EST

To: Grant Polle,

Maximilian Zerwick, in his grammar "Biblical Greek" (1963), writes:

<< In the latter place [1Jn 3:9] 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 hARMARTANEIN (present: be -- habitually -- a sinner) because he is born of God, i.e. cannot continue the sinful life that was his before his regeneration >> (sec. 251).

Buist M. Fanning, in his "Verbal Aspect in New Testament Greek" (1990), investigates this problem at some length (pp. 211-216) and concludes:

<< ... the habitual interpretation of 1 John 3:4-10 is certainly 'possible,' based on NT usage >> (216).

I personally have my doubts. I have doubts as to the possibility of a "habitual present" with the negative particle "OU" where the resulting meaning clearly means that one only occasionally does this thing, but one does not do it on a habitual bases. It just doesn't make sense to me.

-Steven Craig Miller
Alton, Illinois (USA)
Disclaimer: "I'm just a simple house-husband (with no post-grad degree), what do I know?"
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