1 John 1:9

Rob Matlack rmatlack at juno.com
Tue Aug 14 10:32:23 EDT 2001


On Tue, 14 Aug 2001 03:40:10 "George Blaisdell" <maqhth at hotmail.com>
writes:

snip (concerning 1 John 1:9)
> >Wouldn't it make better sense to see this as a general, timeless,
> >statement that something happens? If we want to title it, it would 
> >be a gnomic present. The idea then would be "If this happens, then
that
> >happens."
> 
> Would that not then be an aorist? I have heard of the gnomic aorist, 
> but not the gnomic present, in Greek.

[R. M.] I'm certainly no expert, but Wallace (I know he is not held in
high regard by some) does discuss the "gnomic present" of which he says,
"This usage is common". He discusses the idea as an action viewed as a
general fact (perhaps I have misread him). I find the idea here better
than the habitual. It does not seem that His faithfulness and justice is
habitual, it is a general truth, or that His forgiveness and cleansing is
conditioned on our habitual action. Are we not forgiven and cleansed the
first time we confess or do we have to have a habitual pattern?

> The ongoingness of the present tense is hard to deny - Habitual 
> seems about right, where confessing 
> one's sins is seen as an ongoing part of one's faith 
> that achieves their forgiveness by engendering the faithfulness of 
> God in His forgiving of them.
> 
> >I don't see how either progressive or habitual is required. It
> >seems more a statement of principle. The major truth is stated in 
> >1:5. The related truths or principles are stated in 1:6-10 -- 5 or 6 
> >depending on how you divide them.
> 
> If you are right, then how would you write them as being habitually 
> indicated?

[R. M.] I will escape to "context".

> John seems to love the present tense - Would you generally categorize 
> his usage of the present tense as gnomic?

[R.M.] I am not sure I would be qualified to say that. However, there is
the classic and controversial example of 1:8 and 3:9. Would you take both
as habitual or even ongoing? "Whoever has been born of God does not
habitually sin..." If so, then why can one not say "that we habitually
have no sin" (1:8)? Consider this use of the present in John's writing:
John 4:13-14 PAS hO PINWN EK TOU hUDATOS TOUTOU DIYHSEI PALIN hOS D' AV
PINi EK TOU hUDATOS hOU EYW DWSW AUTWi OU MH DIYHSEI EIS TOV AIWNA Does
it make sense to say that whoever habitually or continually drinks water
will thirst? Is this not more a statement of principle about something
that does happen? If you drink this, then you will get thirsty again.
What does one make of the aorist PINi?

Rob Matlack -- 620 E. 5th St., Minneapolis, KS 67467
RMatlack at juno.com      Hm: 785-392-2865   Church: 785-392-2089
"...that we may present every man mature in Christ Jesus."
"I can only say that I am nothing but a poor sinner, trusting in Christ
alone for salvation"  --  R. E. Lee
"It is not our task to secure the triumph of truth, but merely to fight
on it's behalf." -- Blaise Pascal
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