1 John 5:16
Parallel Verses
New International Version
If you see any brother or sister commit a sin that does not lead to death, you should pray and God will give them 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 you should pray about that.

New Living Translation
If you see a Christian brother or sister sinning in a way that does not lead to death, you should pray, and God will give that person life. But there is a sin that leads to death, and I am not saying you should pray for those who commit it.

English Standard Version
If anyone sees his brother committing a sin not leading to death, he shall ask, and God will give him life—to those who commit sins that do not lead to death. There is sin that leads to death; I do not say that one should pray for that.

New American Standard Bible
If anyone sees his brother committing a sin not leading to death, he shall ask and God will for him give life to those who commit sin not leading to death. There is a sin leading to death; I do not say that he should make request for this.

King James Bible
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.

Holman Christian Standard Bible
If anyone sees his brother committing a sin that does not bring death, he should ask, and God will give life to him--to those who commit sin that doesn't bring death. There is sin that brings death. I am not saying he should pray about that.

International Standard Version
If anyone sees his brother committing a sin that does not lead to death, he should pray that God would give him life. This applies to those who commit sins that do not lead to death. There is a sin that leads to death. I am not telling you to pray about that.

NET Bible
If anyone sees his fellow Christian committing a sin not resulting in death, he should ask, and God will grant life to the person who commits a sin not resulting in death. There is a sin resulting in death. I do not say that he should ask about that.

Aramaic Bible in Plain English
If a man sees his brother who sins a sin that is not worthy of death, let him ask, and Life will be given to him for those who are not sinning unto death; for there is mortal sin; I do not say that a man should pray for this.

GOD'S WORD® Translation
If you see another believer committing a sin that doesn't lead to death, you should pray that God would give that person life. This is true for those who commit sins that don't lead to death. There is a sin that leads to death. I'm not telling you to pray about that.

Jubilee Bible 2000
If any man see his brother sin a sin which is not unto death, he shall ask God, and he shall give him life that is, unto those that do not sin unto death. There is sin unto death, for which I do not say that you should pray.

King James 2000 Bible
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.

American King James Version
If any man see his brother sin a sin which is not to death, he shall ask, and he shall give him life for them that sin not to death. There is a sin to death: I do not say that he shall pray for it.

American Standard Version
If any man see his brother sinning a sin not unto death, he shall ask, and God will give him life for them that sin not unto death. There is a sin unto death: not concerning this do I say that he should make request.

Douay-Rheims Bible
He that knoweth his brother to sin a sin which is not to death, let him ask, and life shall be given to him, who sinneth not to death. There is a sin unto death: for that I say not that any man ask.

Darby Bible Translation
If any one see his brother sinning a sin not unto death, he shall ask, and he shall give him life, for those that do not sin unto death. There is a sin to death: I do not say of that that he should make a request.

English Revised Version
If any man see his brother sinning a sin not unto death, he shall ask, and God will give him life for them that sin not unto death. There is a sin unto death: not concerning this do I say that he should make request.

Webster's Bible Translation
If any man shall see his brother sin a sin which is not to death, he shall ask, and he will give him life for them that sin not to death. There is a sin to death: I do not say that he shall pray for it.

Weymouth New Testament
If any one sees a brother man committing a sin which is not unto death, he shall ask and God shall give him life--for those who do not sin unto death. There is such a thing as sin unto death; for that I do not bid him make request.

World English Bible
If anyone sees his brother sinning a sin not leading to death, he shall ask, and God will give him life for those who sin not leading to death. There is a sin leading to death. I don't say that he should make a request concerning this.

Young's Literal Translation
If any one may see his brother sinning a sin not unto death, he shall ask, and He shall give to him life to those sinning not unto death; there is sin to death, not concerning it do I speak that he may beseech;
Parallel Commentaries
Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary

5:13-17 Upon all this evidence, it is but right that we believe on the name of the Son of God. Believers have eternal life in the covenant of the gospel. Then let us thankfully receive the record of Scripture. Always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that our labour is not in vain in the Lord. The Lord Christ invites us to come to him in all circumstances, with our supplications and requests, notwithstanding the sin that besets us. Our prayers must always be offered in submission to the will of God. In some things they are speedily answered; in others they are granted in the best manner, though not as requested. We ought to pray for others, as well as for ourselves. There are sins that war against spiritual life in the soul, and the life above. We cannot pray that the sins of the impenitent and unbelieving should, while they are such, be forgiven them; or that mercy, which supposes the forgiveness of sins, should be granted to them, while they wilfully continue such. But we may pray for their repentance, for their being enriched with faith in Christ, and thereupon for all other saving mercies. We should pray for others, as well as for ourselves, beseeching the Lord to pardon and recover the fallen, as well as to relieve the tempted and afflicted. And let us be truly thankful that no sin, of which any one truly repents, is unto death.

Pulpit Commentary

Verse 16. - How does this position respecting God's hearing our prayers affect the question of intercession for the salvation of others, and especially of an erring brother? If any prayer can be made with confidence of success, surely it is this. It is an unselfish prayer; a prayer of love. It is also a prayer in harmony with God's will; a prayer for the extension of his kingdom. St. John points out that this reasonable expectation has limits. The prayer of one human being can never cancel another's free-will. If God's will does not override man's will, neither can a fellow-man's prayer. When a human will has been firmly and persistently set in opposition to the Divine will, our intercession will be of no avail. And this seems to be the meaning of "sin unto death; "willful and obstinate rejection of God's grace and persistence in unrepented sin. "Death" corresponds to the life spoken of above; and if the one is eternal (verse 13), so is the other. Sins punished with loss of life in this world, whether by human law or by Divine retribution, cannot be meant. Christians have before now suffered agonies of mind, fearing that they have committed what they suppose to be the "sin unto death." Their fear is evidence that they have not committed any such sin. But if they despair of pardon, they may come near to it. There are certain statements made respecting this mysterious passage against which we must be on our guard. It is laid down as a canon of interpretation that the sin unto death is one which can be known, which can be recognized as such by the intercessor. St. John neither says nor implies this. He implies that some sins may be known to be not unto death. Again, it is asserted that he forbids us to pray concerning sin which is unto death. The apostle is much more reserved. lie encourages us to intercede for a sinning brother with full confidence of success. But there is a limit to this. The sinner may be sinning unto death; and in that case St. John cannot encourage us to pray. Casuistical classifications of sins under the heads of mortal and venial have been based upon this passage. It lends no authority to such attempts; and they have worked untold mischief in the Church. The apostle tells us that the distinction between mortal and venial exists; but he supplies us with no test by which one man can judge another in this respect. By pointedly abstaining from making any classification of sins into mortal and venial, he virtually condemns the making. What neither he nor St. Paul ventured to do we may well shrink from doing. The same overt act may be mortal sin in one case and not in another. It is the attitude of mind with which the sinner contemplates his act before and after commission that makes all the difference; and how seldom can this be known to his fellow-men! The change from αἰτεῖν to ἐρωτᾷν is noteworthy. The former is used in verses 14, 15, and the beginning of verse 16; the latter at the end of verse 16. The latter is the less humble word of the two, being often used of equals or superiors requesting compliance with their wishes. Perhaps St. John uses it here to indicate that a prayer of this kind is not a humble one.

Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible

If anyone see his brother sin,.... Those who have such an interest at the throne of grace, and such boldness and freedom there, should make use of it for others, as well as themselves, and particularly for fallen believers; for a "brother"; not in a natural or civil sense, but in a spiritual sense, one that is judged to be born again, and belongs to the family and household of God, and is a member of a Gospel church; and so is under the watch, inspection, and care of the saints; and is observed to sin, as the best of men are not without it, nor the commission of it, in thought, word, or deed: and this sin of his is

a sin which is not unto death; every sin, even the least sin, is in its own nature mortal, or deserving of death; the proper wages of sin is death, yea, death eternal; yet none of the sins of God's elect are unto death, or issue in death, in fact; which is owing not to any different nature there is in their sins, or to their good works which counterbalance them; but to the grace of God, and to the blood and righteousness of Christ, by which they are pardoned and justified, and freed from obligation to punishment, or eternal death, the just demerits of them: but how should another man know that a brother's sin is not unto death, when it is of the same nature and kind with another man's? it is known by this, that he does not continue in it; he does not live in the constant commission of it; his life is not a course of iniquity; that sin he sins is not a governing one in him; though he falls into it, he rises up out of it through divine grace, and abides not in it; and he has a sense of it, and is sorry for it, after a godly sort, loaths it, and himself for it; is ashamed of it, ingenuously confesses it, and mourns over it and forsakes it: now when any strong believer or spiritual man sees or knows that a brother has sinned, and this is his case,

he shall ask; he shall pray to God for him, that he would administer comfort to him, discover his love, and apply his pardoning grace to him, and indulge him with his presence and the light of his countenance:

and he shall give him life; that is, God shall give the sinning brother life; by which may be meant comfort, that which will revive his drooping spirits, and cause him to live cheerfully and comfortably, that so he may not be swallowed up with over much sorrow; or he shall grant a discovery of the pardon of his sin unto him, which will be as life from the dead, and will give him a comfortable hope of eternal life, of his right unto it, and meetness for it:

for them, or "to them"

that sin not unto death, as the Syriac and Arabic versions render it; for this phrase is only descriptive of the persons to whom life is given by God, upon the prayers of saints for them, and not that this life is given to him that prays, and by him to be given to the sinning person. The Vulgate Latin version renders the whole thus, "and life shall be given to him that sins not unto death"; which leaves the words without any difficulty: the Ethiopic version indeed renders it, "and he that prays shall quicken him that sins a sin not unto death"; and this sense some interpreters incline to, and would have with this text compared 1 Timothy 4:16.

There is a sin unto death; which is not only deserving of death, as every other sin is, but which certainly and inevitably issues in death in all that commit it, without exception; and that is the sin against the Holy Ghost, which is neither forgiven in this world nor in that to come, and therefore must be unto death; it is a sinning wilfully, not in a practical, but doctrinal way, after a man has received the knowledge of the truth; it is a wilful denial of the truth of the Gospel, particularly that peace, pardon, righteousness, eternal life, and salvation, are by Jesus Christ, contrary to the light of his mind, and this joined with malice and obstinacy; so that there is no more or other sacrifice for such a sin; there is nothing but a fearful looking for of wrath and fury to fall on such opposers of the way of life; and as the presumptuous sinners under Moses's law died without mercy, so must these despiteful ones under the Gospel; see Matthew 12:31. Some think there is an allusion to one of the kinds of excommunication among the Jews, called "shammatha", the etymology of which, according to some Jewish writers, is , "there is death" (t).

I do not say that he shall pray for it; the apostle does not expressly forbid to pray for the forgiveness of this sin, yet what he says amounts unto it; he gives no encouragement to it, or any hopes of succeeding, but rather the reverse; and indeed where this sin is known, or can be known, it is not to be prayed for, because it is irremissible; but as it is a most difficult point to know when a man has sinned it, the apostle expresses himself with great caution.

(t) T. Bab. Moed Katon, fol. 17. 1.

Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary

16. If any … see—on any particular occasion; Greek aorist.

his brother—a fellow Christian.

sin a sin—in the act of sinning, and continuing in the sin: present.

not unto death—provided that it is not unto death.

he shall give—The asker shall be the means, by his intercessory prayer, of God giving life to the sinning brother. Kindly reproof ought to accompany his intercessions. Life was in process of being forfeited by the sinning brother when the believer's intercession obtained its restoration.

for them—resuming the proviso put forth in the beginning of the verse. "Provided that the sin is not unto death." "Shall give life," I say, to, that is, obtain life "for (in the case of) them that sin not unto death."

I do not say that he shall pray for it—The Greek for "pray" means a REQUEST as of one on an equality, or at least on terms of familiarity, with him from whom the favor is sought. "The Christian intercessor for his brethren, John declares, shall not assume the authority which would be implied in making request for a sinner who has sinned the sin unto death (1Sa 15:35; 16:1; Mr 3:29), that it might be forgiven him" [Trench, Greek Synonyms of the New Testament]. Compare De 3:26. Greek "ask" implies the humble petition of an inferior; so that our Lord never uses it, but always uses (Greek) "request." Martha, from ignorance, once uses "ask" in His case (Joh 11:22). "Asking" for a brother sinning not unto death, is a humble petition in consonance with God's will. To "request" for a sin unto death [intercede, as it were, authoritatively for it, as though we were more merciful than God] would savor of presumption; prescribing to God in a matter which lies out of the bounds of our brotherly yearning (because one sinning unto death would thereby be demonstrated not to be, nor ever to have been, truly a brother, 1Jo 2:19), how He shall inflict and withhold His righteous judgments. Jesus Himself intercedes, not for the world which hardens itself in unbelief, but for those given to Him out of the world.

1 John 5:16 Additional Commentaries
Context
Purpose and Concluding Remarks
15And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him. 16If anyone sees his brother committing a sin not leading to death, he shall ask and God will for him give life to those who commit sin not leading to death. There is a sin leading to death; I do not say that he should make request for this. 17All unrighteousness is sin, and there is a sin not leading to death.…
Cross References
Numbers 15:30
"'But anyone who sins defiantly, whether native-born or foreigner, blasphemes the LORD and must be cut off from the people of Israel.

1 Samuel 12:19
The people all said to Samuel, "Pray to the LORD your God for your servants so that we will not die, for we have added to all our other sins the evil of asking for a king."

Job 42:8
So now take seven bulls and seven rams and go to my servant Job and sacrifice a burnt offering for yourselves. My servant Job will pray for you, and I will accept his prayer and not deal with you according to your folly. You have not spoken the truth about me, as my servant Job has."

Jeremiah 7:16
"So do not pray for this people nor offer any plea or petition for them; do not plead with me, for I will not listen to you.

Jeremiah 11:14
"Do not pray for this people or offer any plea or petition for them, because I will not listen when they call to me in the time of their distress.

Jeremiah 14:11
Then the LORD said to me, "Do not pray for the well-being of this people.

Hebrews 6:4
It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit,

Hebrews 6:6
and who have fallen away, to be brought back to repentance. To their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace.

Hebrews 10:26
If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left,

James 5:15
And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven.

1 John 5:17
All wrongdoing is sin, and there is sin that does not lead to death.
Treasury of Scripture

If any man see his brother sin a sin which is not to death, he shall ask, and he shall give him life for them that sin not to death. There is a sin to death: I do not say that he shall pray for it.

he shall ask.

Genesis 20:7,17 Now therefore restore the man his wife; for he is a prophet, and …

Exodus 32:10-14,31,32 Now therefore let me alone, that my wrath may wax hot against them, …

Exodus 34:9 And he said, If now I have found grace in your sight, O LORD, let …

Numbers 12:13 And Moses cried to the LORD, saying, Heal her now, O God, I beseech you.

Numbers 14:11-21 And the LORD said to Moses, How long will this people provoke me? …

Deuteronomy 9:18-20 And I fell down before the LORD, as at the first, forty days and …

2 Chronicles 30:18-20 For a multitude of the people, even many of Ephraim, and Manasseh, …

Job 42:7-9 And it was so, that after the LORD had spoken these words to Job, …

Psalm 106:23 Therefore he said that he would destroy them, had not Moses his chosen …

Ezekiel 22:30 And I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, …

Amos 7:1-3 Thus has the Lord GOD showed to me; and, behold, he formed grasshoppers …

James 5:14,15 Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; …

There.

Numbers 15:30 But the soul that does ought presumptuously, whether he be born in …

Numbers 16:26-32 And he spoke to the congregation, saying, Depart, I pray you, from …

1 Samuel 2:25 If one man sin against another, the judge shall judge him: but if …

Jeremiah 15:1,2 Then said the LORD to me, Though Moses and Samuel stood before me, …

Matthew 12:31,32 Why I say to you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven to men…

Mark 3:28-30 Truly I say to you, All sins shall be forgiven to the sons of men, …

Luke 12:10 And whoever shall speak a word against the Son of man, it shall be …

2 Timothy 4:14 Alexander the coppersmith did me much evil: the Lord reward him according …

Hebrews 6:4-6 For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have …

Hebrews 10:26-31 For if we sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge …

2 Peter 2:20-22 For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through …

I do not.

Jeremiah 7:16 Therefore pray not you for this people, neither lift up cry nor prayer …

Jeremiah 11:14 Therefore pray not you for this people, neither lift up a cry or …

Jeremiah 14:11 Then said the LORD to me, Pray not for this people for their good.

Jeremiah 18:18-21 Then said they, Come and let us devise devices against Jeremiah; …

John 17:9 I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which you …

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