Habitual Sin and the Christian

In Greek class we were discussing the Middle/Passive form of the verb and looking at 1 John 3:9. I know I started speaking grammar, but don’t let that intimidate you, the truth we learned from this passage is incredible. Our major translations in English make the statement “and he cannot sin” as active; the one born from God is the one inhibiting the ability for that saint to habitually sin; however, the form of the verb is middle or passive so it actually cannot be translated that way.

Quick grammar lesson.

Middle is a voice in Greek that does not exist in English and means the subject is not only producing the action of the verb, but also receiving the action. We would express a similar idea with “he did this for himself (or his own benefit)”; although that is a bit more reflective than middle voice.

Passive means that the action of the verb is being acted upon the subject.

To justify an active translation on a middle/passive form of Greek, some grammarians have come up with the concept of a “deponent verb” in error. A deponent verb is a verb that never occurs in Scripture in an active form, but these grammarians think that it should be translated as active. This not only violates the normal grammar of the Kione Greek, it is actually unsupported when you examine the words they think must be translated as active, even though their form is passive or middle. Without justifiable evidence to show that in the original language exceptions were made on a regular basis by using the wrong form of a verb to express an idea that is not inherent to its form, […]