Monday, December 19, 2022

No Stay Do Bad Kine Stuff!

I love Greek. Has anyone noticed? I absolutely love this language! Notice what John does in 1 John 3 when describing the believer's relationship with sin:

  • In verse 6 he says that the believer "does not sin."
  • In verse 9a he says the believer "does not do sin."
  • And in verse 9b he says the believer "is not able to sin."

In each of these places, the Greek tense implies continuous or habitual action. This is brought out very nicely in the ESV:

keeps on sinning

will continue to sin

cannot go on sinning

Contrast this with the CSB's:

does not sin

does not sin

is not able to sin

However, the idea is one of making a practice of sinning. That's because the new birth involves a radical transformation of life. Thus, in John's theology at least, for a Christian to "go on sinning" would indicate he's never been born again. This is, in fact, what verse 10 clearly says: "Anyone who does not practice what it right is not a child of God."

No, John is not teaching sinless perfection. No, he is not saying that the Christian is impeccable. Instead, "the Christian's supernatural birth from God keeps him from habitual sin" (Stott, 133). 

Now do you see why the ESV's rendering is so much more helpful than the CSB's? It's the same difference in Spanish between "no peca" and "no practica el pecado." In French we would say, "ne pratique pas le péché." 

Of course, my favorite is the Hawaiian Pidgin Bible: "no stay do bad kine stuff"!