1 John 1:9

Mark House mhouse at fuller.edu
Mon Aug 13 15:06:48 EDT 2001

"B. Perryman" <blperryman at hotmail.com> wrote:

> I'm  looking for a literal translation of 1 John 1:9.
> I'd like to know how the grammar impacts the translation of this text.

It seems to me that the tenses of the passage beginning with v. 6 are quite
instructive. With the exception of the verbs of saying ("If we should
say..."), we consistently have present tenses. The only other exceptions are
the subordinate verbs in the v. 9 hINA clause ("in order that he might
forgive...and cleanse..."). These main-verb present tenses seem to point, as
often do, to action which is progressive or ongoing in character. When I go
over this passage with my students, I like to bring out these present
progressives in a vivid way, such as:

v. 6: "If we say that we are having (enjoying) fellowship with him, and are
walking in darkness, we are lying and not practicing the truth...."

If we follow the progressives into v. 9, we have something like: "If we are
confessing our sins, he is faithful and just....

It seems to me that if one accepts this present progressive scheme, the
implication is unavoidable that the confessing is part of the ongoing
experience of the believer. Whatever theological implications may flow from
that, however, are beyond the purview of this list.

Mark House
Sometime Adjunct Baby Greek Prof.
Fuller Theological Seminary

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