1 John 1:9

George Blaisdell maqhth at hotmail.com
Tue Aug 14 16:15:22 EDT 2001

George Blaisdell
Roslyn, WA

"Be not troubling of you the heart..."
[From the Gospel of John, Chapter 14, verse 1.]

>From: Rob Matlack

> > >Wouldn't it make better sense to see this as a general, timeless,
> > >statement that something happens? [a gnomic present]

> > 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.

Well, ongoing actions can easily be illustrative of general facts, for when 
we say that the sun is rising, who can deny that the sun rises on a very 
daily basis?  I have found it useful, when the aorist is used gnomically, to 
translate it as a simple present, not an ongoing one.  'The sun rises' is 
gnomic [timeless] and 'the sun is rising' is ongoing and thus present tense 
for the Greek.

>It does not seem that His faithfulness and justice is habitual,

Agreed.  The text only indicates that it is our confessing of our sins that 
is indicated, and that God is faithful and just in response to our 
confessing, [not only setting aside the sins we are confessing but also 
cleansing us from all unrighteousness].

>it is a general truth,

Agreed.  EAN hOMOLOGWMEN = "If we should be confessing..." [subjunctive] And 
this is the first part of the general truth - The 'we' part.

>or that His forgiveness and cleansing is conditioned on our habitual 

The text only says that He is faithful, and just too, INA AFHi!  And here is 
the aorist!  Very parallel to the Lord's prayer [5th petition] where we ask 
that God forgive us our sins [aorist] as we are forgiving [present] all our 
debtors.  [I translate that one as "As we KEEP forgiving ALL OUR debtors."] 
We have to keep doing something so that God in His faithfulness will simply 
DO something in response.

>Are we not forgiven and cleansed the first time we confess or do we have to 
>have a habitual pattern?

This is an interpretive matter that is outside of the focus of b-greek, as I 
understand matters -

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

>...there is the classic and controversial example of 3:9.

KAI OU DUNATAI hAMARTANEIN  "And not able is he to be sinning..."

If this were an aorist infinitive, John would be saying that he is unable to 
sin at all, and since we all sin, it would be a lie, so he puts it in the 
present infinitive, which places it as an ongoing matter, and the one born 
of God is unable to ***keep on*** sinning, [for he will confess and repent 
of the sins he commits.]

>Would you take [this] as habitual or even ongoing? "Whoever has been born 
>of God does not habitually sin..."

Perhaps that word 'habitual' is getting in the way.

>If so, then why can one not say "that we habitually have no sin" (1:8)?
John is drawing a fine line, for on the one hand, we all sin, and on the 
other, those born of God are unable to be sinning, so that the power of the 
present tense as an ongoing matter is to my seeing very much forced into 
view.  We cannot truthfully say that we are not having sin [1:8], yet we 
must not be sinning [3:9] - And the "keeping on" quality of the present 
tense usage in John is about the only light that keeps the coherence of the 
text in view.

>Consider this use of the present in John's writing: John 4:13-14 PAS hO 
>EYW DWSW AUTWi OU MH DIYHSEI EIS TOV AIWNA Does it make sense to say that 
>whoever habitually or continually drinks water will thirst?

All it says is that whoever is drinking [present active participle] this 
well-water will get thirsty again, but whoever should drink [aor. subj. 
active] the water that Christ will be giving [future ongoing, yes?] should 
never thirst [aorist subj]...  The tense play in John is to my mind an 
awesome thing to behold, and is easily lost if we do not use the '-ing' form 
of translating the present tense.

>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 PIHi?

We agree on the outcome here, but I am hoping that I am showing a more 
textual way of getting there!!

Thanks, Rob...


Get your FREE download of MSN Explorer at http://explorer.msn.com/intl.asp

More information about the B-Greek mailing list