III) 1 JN 5:14-17


IV) 1 JN 5:18-21


A) [1 Jn 5:18]:

"We know that Whoever having been born of God does not sin; but He Who was born of God guards Himself [from sin] and the wicked [one] does not touch Him."

"oidamEn .oti ..pas .........ho ..gEgEnnemEnos ..Ek tou ThEou

"We know that whoever that having been born of .the .God

ouch hamartranEi all' ho gEnnetheis .......ek tou ..ThEou terEi

not .. does sin..........but he [that] was born of [the] God .....guards

Eauton, kai ..ho .poineros .......ouch .... huptEtai autou

Himself, and the wicked [one] does not touch .....Him.


It is true that all Christians are born of God as it says in Jn 1:12-13:

a) [Jn 1:12-13]:

(v. 12) "Yet to all who received Him, [Christ, (v. 10)], to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God -

(v. 13) children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God."

but only the believers' spirits are immediately born again, (Jn 3:6), not their physical bodies as yet, nor their souls, (Ro 7:14-25 []), until they depart from this mortal life, (1 Cor 15:42-54). This is corroborated by Paul's statement indicating that believers do retain their sin natures and thus certainly do not meet the qualifications of 1 Jn 5:18 quoted previously because they do commit acts of sin, (cf. 1 Jn 1:8, 10).

b) [Compare Ro 7:18-25 ]:

(v. 18) "I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.

(v. 19) For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do - this I keep on doing.

(v. 20) Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.

(v. 21) So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me.

(v. 22) For in my inner being I delight in God's law; [Notice that the speaker is a born again believer for his "inner being" delights in God's law]

(v. 23) but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members.

(v. 24) What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?

(v. 25) Thanks be to God - through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God's law [i.e., Paul is a believer], but in the sinful nature a slave to the law of sin."

So the three points made in 1 Jn 5:18, to wit:

Whoever having been born of God:

i) does not sin

ii) guards Himself from sin

iii) the devil does not touch Him

place the particular One born of God in view in 1 Jn 5:18 outside of the born again believer in this life and on the Lord Jesus Christ Himself.


"Whoever that having been born of God does not sin" =

Some interpreters attempt to render "ouch hamartranEi", lit. "does not sin", (present tense) to be "does not continue to sin" or "does not continuously sin" in order to say that one who is a true believer [whatever that means] does not continuously or habitually sin. However, this rendering would add words to the passage that are not there in the original text. It also ignores the fact that after ceasing from sinning, any single sin is a continuation thereof and all believers are certainly guilty of that on a regular basis:

a) [1 Jn 1:8]:

"If we [believers, (v. 2:2)] claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us."

The present tense of the verb to not sin cannot be modified to mean continue, continuously, habitually, etc. without insertion into the original text of additional words. Since Scripture teaches that no born again believer can claim to be without sin even for a moment; thus no Christian meets the criteria of this passage in 1 Jn 5:18.

[Dr. Zane C. Hodges states, 'The Epistles of John', Grace Evangelical Society Publishers, Irving, Texas, 1999, pp. 142-143]:

"The opinion was widely popular for a number of decades that the key to understanding 1 John 3:9 [see below in quotes] is to be found in the present tense of the verb to sin. In this view the verse should be read, 'Whoever has been born of God does not continue to sin, for His seed remains in him; and he cannot continue to sin; because he has been born of God.'

...The meaning of this is supposed to be that prolonged continuation in sin does not occur if one is born again.

But this raises more questions than it answers. Do not all Christians continue to sin until the day of their death? Furthermore, do not all Christians sin daily? Isn't daily sin a continuation in doing it? What could the proposed translation possibly mean? Or, how can anyone claim not to be continuing to sin? Does the born again person come to some point at which he ceases to sin? The proposed translation solves nothing.

There is no doubt that in an appropriate context the Greek present tense can have a progressive force like 'he is sinning.' But the introduction of ideas like 'continue to' or 'to go on doing' require more than the Greek tense to make them intelligible. For this purpose there were Greek words available which are actually used in the New Testament. For example, diapantos occurs in Luke 24:53: '...and [they] were continually [= diapantos] in the temple praising and blessing God.' The same word occurs in Hebrews 13:15: 'Therefore by Him let us continually [= diapantos] offer the sacrifice of praise to God.' (See also: Mark 5:5; Acts 10:2; 24:16; Romans 11:10; Hebrews 9:6). The Greek phrase eis to diEnekes could have the same meaning (cf. Hebrews 7:3; 10:1). The Greek present tense did not by itself convey such ideas....

It is highly probable that if John had meant... [continue to sin] ... he would have used the available Greek words to make his point. No first century Greek reader or hearer was likely to get a meaning such as [continue to sin] without the necessary additional words....

In addition, this appeal to the Greek tense, if used elsewhere in the epistle, would lead to havoc. For example.... if we translate 1 John 1:8 as 'if we say that we do not continually have sin, we deceive ourselves,' the result is a contradiction of 3:9 translated the same way. If someone who is born of God does not continually have sin, why should he not say, ''I do not continually have sin'? But if he does say this, he 'deceives' himself according to 1:8. Thus the proposed translation of 3:9 will not work in 1:8. If applied there it produces a contradiction with 3:9."


Some interpreters try to limit the meaning of "whoever" in the phrase "Whoever that having been born of God" to only that born again spirit part of the born again believer. Paul calls this the "inner being" (Ro 7:22). So only the "inner being" of the believer is claimed by some interpreters as sinless in 1 Jn 5:18. This however is not supported by the context since the entire individual is in view in the passage, body, soul and spirit. No where in 1 John is the spirit of the born again believer referred to as acting separately from the body and soul such that it does not sin, as opposed to the other parts which do. The previous section and the last verse of 1 John, for example, have the whole believer in view: body, soul and spirit, as they exhort the believer, the one born of God not to sin, especially noting the consequences of it:

a) [1 John 5:16-17]:

(v. 16) "If anyone sees his brother commit a sin that does not lead to [physical] death, he should pray and God will give him life. I refer to those whose sin does not lead to death. There is a sin that leads to death. I am not saying that he should pray about that.

(v. 17) All wrong doing is sin, and there is sin that does not lead to death."

[And then verse 18 immediately follows]:

(v. 18) We know that Whoever that having been born of God does not sin...."

Verses 16 and 17 previous to verse 18 indicate that individuals born of God, "brothers" can and do sin. Then verse 18 which immediately follows, has in view "Whoever that having been born of God does not sin..."

And then verse 21 ends the passage and 1 John with:

"Dear children, keep yourselves from idols", i.e., do not sin.

Is there a contradiction here? Answer: Not if born again believers are not in view in verse 18 - whole or in part.

A cont.) [1 Jn 5:18 cont.]:

"We know that Whoever having been born of God does not sin; but He Who was born of God guards Himself [from sin] and the wicked [one] does not touch Him."

So since Christians do retain their sin natures and thereby their capacity to commit acts of sin; they are therefore not without sin, nor capable to guard themselves from sin all the time;

And since the evil one can and does touch the born of God believer at times when he is out of fellowship with God - which frequently happens with the best of them, (1 Jn 1:8, 10);

Then there is only One Who qualifies as an individual Who is born of God, Who does not sin and Whom the evil one does not touch: Jesus Christ Himself. And this determination then leads to the content of the next two verses:

B) [1 Jn 5:19]:

(v. 19) "We know that we [believers, (ref. vv. 13-15)] are of God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one."

Because of the fact that Jesus Christ is born of God and is absolutely perfect and without sin Who "guards Himself [from sin] and the wicked [one] does not touch Him, (v. 18)";

and because we believers have trusted in God's testimony about His Son relative to eternal life, (1 Jn 5:9-13), we believers are thereby assured of being in His Son - in Christ - and of God as opposed to others of the world who are of the devil.

This is the stark contrast between good and evil that author John is making: Jesus Christ "Who does not sin" and the devil and the world who do nothing but evil. In view of this, all believers are to make the distinction in their daily lives choosing good over evil via constant submission to the message of the holiness of God as found in His Word and thereby abiding in Christ and leading holy lives as their Savior Jesus Christ is holy.

C) [1 Jn 5:20]:

(v. 20) "And we know that the Son of God has come, and has given us understanding, in order that we might know Him Who is true, and we are in Him Who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life."

Notice the reference to the only One Who meets the qualifications of verse 18: "The Son of God has come, (v. 20)" "that having been born of God [the Incarnation] does not sin, but He [that] was born of God guards Himself, and the wicked [one] does not touch Him, (v. 18)"


"We know [by Jesus Christ in Whom we have trusted] that we [believers] are of God and [by that contrast] the whole world lies in the power of the evil one, (v. 19),

"And we know that the Son of God has come, and has given us understanding, in order that we might know Him Who is true, and we are in Him Who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life, (v. 20)."

So the main theme of the Book of First John to practice righteousness through Jesus Christ our Lord and not practice sin is repeated here and at the end of the epistle in verse 21 which follows:

D) [1 Jn 5:21]:

(v. 21) "Little children, guard yourselves from idols."

Believers still retain their sin natures, (such that they can sin and at times they do practice sin, (1 Jn 1:8, 10). But the result of our Lord's qualification of sinlessness and His work on the cross is such that all who believe in Him become children of God - capable of righteousness in their lives when they choose to abide in Him because He is righteous and does not sin. And John's last admonition to his "little children" relative to practicing godly righteousness is to "guard yourselves from idols", i.e., guard yourselves from putting anything before God in priority. When this is not heeded, it becomes a key factor in preventing the child of God from living righteously.