1 John 1:9

Rob Matlack rmatlack at juno.com
Wed Aug 15 09:42:39 EDT 2001

I think I failed to make myself clear. The example of 1 John 3:9 in
contrast with 1:8, EAN EIPWMEN hOTI hAMARTIAN OUK EXOMEN..., was given to
show that the "continuing" idea of the present cannot be pressed too far.
Clearly both of these cannot be translated with the same "keep on" idea
as you suggest. I agree with Mark Wilson that the "apparent contradiction
in John ("does not sin") is not resolved by any tense use". I was not
suggesting it could be.

On Tue, 14 Aug 2001 16:15:22 "George Blaisdell" <maqhth at hotmail.com>
(R. M. had written)
> >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.

It clearly is!

> >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.

I must honestly say that this makes no sense to me (perhaps I am not
seeing clearly). I do not believe that the present tense can bear the
weight of having to carry the "keeping on" aspect. PAS hO GEGENNHMENOS EK
TOU QEOU hAMARTIAN OU POIEI..., If one who has been born of God does not
keep on doing sin (3:9a with your emphasis on keeping on), then would it
not be true that he/she does not keep on having sin [1:8, EAN EIPWMEN
hOTI hAMARTIAN OUK EXOMEN...?To me demanding the idea of keeping on in
these passages confuses the issue. Again, Mark is right. The answer lies
elsewhere and that "elsewhere" is off limits on B-Greek. 

I was trying to show the same weakness in the John 4:13-14 passage. How
can one who is drinking get thirsty. If he drinks continually, he won't.
My point seems to be almost the opposite of yours. I would say that the
present cannot bear the weight of demanding the "keeping on" idea. 

In your previous post you ask if I would "generally categorize his
[John's] usage of the present tense as gnomic?" I have since run across a
reference to an article by J. P. Louw, "Verbal Aspect in the First Letter
of John," Neotestamentica 9 (1975). Louw is quoted in the reference
"...expository discourse of which the First letter of John is an example,
employs the present predominantly for it is a zero tense of factual
actuality." This sounds similar to my idea of taking it as a statement of
truth or principle. Is anyone familiar with Louw's ideas? In rural Kansas
I do not have access to much in the way of libraries.

> >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!!

If we got to the same place, great! The problem may be more communication
than anything else. :-)

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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