1 John 5:16-17 (KJV) If any man see his brother sin a sin which is not unto death, he shall ask, and he shall give him life for them that sin not unto death. There is a sin unto death: I do not say that he shall pray for it. 17 All unrighteousness is sin: and there is a sin not unto death.
The same two verses from the Greek MSS, a transliteral version:
1 John 5:16-17 (Greek Transliteral) If-ever anyone may-be-perceiving the brother of-him missing [harmartano] (sinning), missing [harmartia] (sin) no toward death he-shall-be-requesting he-shall-be-giving to-him life to-the ones-missing [harmartano] (ones-sinning) no toward death is missing [harmartia] (sin) toward death not about (concerning) that I-am-saying that he-should-be-asking. 17 Every (all) un-justness (injustice) missing (harmartia) (sin) is and is missing (harmartia) (sin) not toward death
I have to say from the outset that this is what I reluctantly call a ‘nuisance’ passage of The Holy Scriptures and not because it actually is a nuisance, but because of the nuisance people and/or deceivers that misinterpret it and construe all manner of lying perverted nonsense around it and from it, making it a nuisance for those of us who know what it’s about or know what we are talking about. Not because of anything I can boast in, but because Yashua Messiah has taught me what I know and I being one of His messengers.
So what do these annoying people do that makes it such a nuisance? Quite simply, they say that there are some sins that lead to death and others that don’t. Hello, excuse me, shall I write that again, ‘cos it’s a real cracker? Yes I will: They interpret this as John saying that there are some sins that lead to death and other sins that do not lead to death. BOY! How do they work that out!!?? Never mind let’s not go there for we’re only interested in The Truth and nothing else.
Having said that, the first thing we need to realise is that there are two slightly but crucially different Greek words at play here. This means that two types of sin are being described but, unfortunately, these differences are not being conveyed into the English of the KJV (now there’s a surprise). However, we’ll deal with the simple stuff first by asking this question: Is John countering what Yashua Messiah said right at the beginning of His Word regarding the sin issue?:
Genesis 2:16-17 (KJV) And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of The Garden thou mayest freely eat: 17 But of The Tree of The Knowledge of Good and Evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.
OK, let’s be very clear about this, because if we sin we die, and deserve to die the eternal death, with no new life in the first resurrection, and no matter what the sin. So what is John talking about when he says there is a sin unto death and a sin that is not unto death and, even more interestingly, there are those that do sin but NOT sins unto death? Is sinning now OK?
Now as I have already stated there are two kinds of sin at play here and both are worthy of the eternal death penalty, but has John created a conundrum whereby one kind of sin is forgiveable and another kind that is not forgiveable? Well there are some very weird people out there who think that he has, but in Truth, if we are of The Truth, Yashua Messiah, we know that that cannot be, because sin is always sin, so what’s going on and where do we start in order to gain true understanding of these verses?
Right here in 1 John 1, John’s first epistle, where we learn that John’s letters were worded appropriately, where necessary, to non-believers and likewise appropriately, where necessary, to believers. Please revue and study my article entitled: “1 John 1 – Chapter 1 of John’s Letter Explained,” for all the details. Moreover, to make things easier I will copy one or two verses here to make my point:
1 John 1:1-3 (KJV) That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of Life; 2 (For The Life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and shew unto you that eternal life, which was with The Father, and was manifested unto us;) 3 That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that YE ALSO MAY HAVE FELLOWSHIP WITH US: and truly our fellowship is with The Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ. (Emphasis mine)
Pay careful attention here, because John is making a declaration: “that which was from the beginning” and that means it’s NEW NEWS and he is making it plain to these NEWBIES that they also may have fellowship with that congregation. In other words these were people who were not yet in fellowship with the brethren of that congregation. They were sinners, lost and unsaved, and what were their sins??? Easy, they were sins that were unto death and in the Greek language they are known as ‘harmartia’ sins which means to sin or to do evil or to break The Law (The Commandments).
And Paul confirms this:
Romans 6:23 (KJV) For the wages of sin (harmartia sin) is death; but the gift of God is Eternal Life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Brackets mine)
Notice, Eternal Life is through Yashua Messiah, not through the Cainite-Judeo-Christian Religion or fear based obedience to The Law, that is, slave-ation under The Law not salvation under Yashua Messiah’s Glorious Grace.
1 John 1:7 (KJV) But if we walk in The Light, as He is [in] The Light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin. (Square brackets mine)
If we walk in The Light, and who is The Light? Yashua Messiah is The Light. If we walk in The Light we then have fellowship with Yashua Messiah and with those who also walk in The Light, and we, and they are forgiven all of their sins.
Now what if these people sin? Would their sins be sins unto death i.e. ‘harmartia’ sins? God forbid, because they are now forgiven ALL their sins, and they live under Grace, so their sins are sins that are not unto death. How come, I hear you ask? Again that’s easy, because being born of God (Born Anew as new people) they already have Eternal Life:
1 John 5:11 (KJV) And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this Life is in His Son.
Eternal Life is in The Father’s Son i.e. belief in Yashua Messiah and in no one else, nor in anything else. There is no Eternal Life in the Cainite-Judeo-Christian Religion nor in fear-based obedience to The Law or for anyone attempting to save themselves by obedience or thinking they can remove sin from their lives by obeying – none.
So what are these sins that are NOT unto death? They are ‘harmartano’ sins, not ‘harmartia’ sins, otherwise known as sins of “missing the mark” or sins of “falling short,” not sins of doing outright deliberate evil. The thing is, are these ‘harmartano’ sins, sins? Yes of course they are sins, but they are sins that only a certain kind of man or woman can commit, that is, a saved man or a saved woman. The lost and unsaved cannot commit sins that would be deemed as “missing the mark sins.” i.e. ‘harmartano’ sins. How is that so? Quite simply, because a Born Anew believer now has an innate desire not to sin knowing that he is already sinless, as a sinless being, being born of God. This is a condition he or she already has through salvation and belief and faith in Yashua Messiah. Hence John says elsewhere:
1 John 3:9 (KJV) Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for His Seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.
Hey, but that doesn’t make any sense to me, I hear you say. If someone who is Born of God cannot sin, what’s John talking about when he says there are sins, albeit ‘harmartano’ sins, not ‘harmartia’ sins, that are being committed by those who are Born of God? Again that’s simple, because Born of God believers still reside in dead bodies of sin that still occasionally sin and because they are born of God those sins are not imputed to them. They are not imputed to them because they are not LIVING (‘harmartia’) sins, they are DEAD (‘harmartano’) sins.
Listen folks, whilst we remain in these vile bodies of death, we will sin – period. This, though, is not the issue, because the Born Anew believer, as a new creation – a new man or woman, as a sinless creation has or, should have, an innate desire not to sin because they have been made sinless. We are now obligated not to sin. The unsaved and lost man or woman has no such innate desire to do this, because they still reside in LIVING bodies of sin. They will sin and make excuses with virtually no regrets whatsoever, some remorse maybe or carnal sorrow, but that’s about it and they will carry on regardless.
So if we see our brother in The Faith committing a ‘harmartano’ sin, we should pray and ask The Father to point it out to him, wake him up, and get him back on the straight and narrow. If, on the other hand, we see a lost soul sinning a sin unto death, by all means pray that he or she might be called of The Father to His Son and saved, but do not request that they be forgiven, because The Father will definitely not hear that prayer request.
I hope I have made this tricky, ‘nuisance’, issue plain for ALL to understand – even those of the wretched Cainite-Judeo-Christian Religion and, of course, those even more wretched Judaisers, condemning themselves whilst still invoking The Law upon themselves.