1 John 5:17
All unrighteousness is sin: and there is a sin not unto death.
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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.All unrighteousness is sin ... - This seems to be thrown in to guard what he had just said, and there is "one" great and enormous sin, a sin which could not be forgiven. But he says also that there are many other forms and degrees of sin, sin for which prayer may be made. Everything, he says, which is unrighteous - ἀδικία adikia - everything which does not conform to the holy law of God, and which is not right in the view of that law, is to be regarded as sin; but we are not to suppose that all sin of that kind is of such a character that it cannot possibly be forgiven. There are many who commit sin who we may hope will be recovered, and for them it is proper to pray. Deeply affected as we may be in view of the fact that there is a sin which can never be pardoned, and much as we may pity one who has been guilty of such a sin, yet we should not hastily conclude in any case that it has been committed, and should bear constantly in mind that while there is one such sin, there are multitudes that may be pardoned, and that for them it is our duty unceasingly to pray. 17. "Every unrighteousness (even that of believers, compare 1Jo 1:9; 3:4. Every coming short of right) is sin"; (but) not every sin is the sin unto death.

and there is a sin not unto death—in the case of which, therefore, believers may intercede. Death and life stand in correlative opposition (1Jo 5:11-13). The sin unto death must be one tending "towards" (so the Greek), and so resulting in, death. Alford makes it to be an appreciable ACT of sin, namely, the denying Jesus to be the Christ, the Son of God (in contrast to confess this truth, 1Jo 5:1, 5), 1Jo 2:19, 22; 4:2, 3; 5:10. Such wilful deniers of Christ are not to be received into one's house, or wished "God speed." Still, I think with Bengel, not merely the act, but also the state of apostasy accompanying the act, is included—a "state of soul in which faith, love, and hope, in short, the new life, is extinguished. The chief commandment is faith and love. Therefore, the chief sin is that by which faith and love are destroyed. In the former case is life; in the latter, death. As long as it is not evident (see on [2652]1Jo 5:16, on 'see') that it is a sin unto death, it is lawful to pray. But when it is deliberate rejection of grace, and the man puts from him life thereby, how can others procure for him life?" Contrast Jas 5:14-18. Compare Mt 12:31, 32 as to the wilful rejection of Christ, and resistance to the Holy Ghost's plain testimony to Him as the divine Messiah. Jesus, on the cross, pleaded only for those who KNEW NOT what they were doing in crucifying Him, not for those wilfully resisting grace and knowledge. If we pray for the impenitent, it must be with humble reference of the matter to God's will, not with the intercessory request which we should offer for a brother when erring.

He intimates they should be cautious of all sin, especially more deliberate, (which the word adikia seems to import), but would not have them account that every sin would make their case so hopeless, as such sin, which he called sinning unto death, would do.

All unrighteousness is sin,.... All unrighteousness against God or man is a sin against the law of God, and the wrath of God is revealed against it, and it is deserving of death; yet all unrighteousness is not unto death, as the sins of David, which were unrighteousness both to God and man, and yet they were put away, and he died not; Peter sinned very foully, and did great injustice to his dear Lord, and yet his sin was not unto death; he had repentance unto life given him, and a fresh application of pardoning grace:

and there is a sin not unto death; this is added for the relief of weak believers, who hearing of a sin unto death, not to be prayed for, might fear that theirs were of that kind, whereas none of them are; for though they are guilty of many unrighteousnesses, yet God is merciful to them and forgives, Hebrews 8:12, and so they are not unto death.

{16} All unrighteousness is sin: and there is a sin not unto death.

(16) The taking away of an objection: indeed all iniquity is comprehended under the name of sin: but yet we must not despair therefore, because every sin is not deadly, and without hope of remedy.

1 John 5:17. To guard against indifference to transgressions occurring in the Christian’s life, the apostle continues: πᾶσα ἀδικία ἁμαρτία ἐστί.

ἀδικία is not synonymous with ἀνομία, chap. 1 John 3:4; for whilst ἀνομία there serves to strengthen the idea ἁμαρτία, the idea ἀδικία is here more particularly defined and strengthened by ἁμαρτία; ἀδικία, namely, is the character of every offence against that which is right, “every breach of duty” (Meyer). Though, on the one hand, every such transgression is sin; yet, on the other hand, it must be maintained that every sin does not lead to death; hence καὶ ἔστιν ἁμαρτία οὐ πρὸς θάνατον: καί is not adversative, but serves to emphasize the thought.

οὐ πρὸς θάνατον does not belong to ἐστιν (Luther: “some sin is not to death”), but to ἁμαρτία: “there is sin not unto death.

1 John 5:17. A gentle warning. “Principiis obsta.” Also a reassurance. “You have sinned, but not necessarily ‘unto death’.”

17. All unrighteousness is sin] A warning against carelessness about breaches of duty, whether in ourselves or in others. All such things are sin and need the cleansing blood of Christ (1 John 1:9, 1 John 2:2). Here, therefore, is a wide enough field for brotherly intercession. The statement serves also as a farewell declaration against the Gnostic doctrine that to the enlightened Christian declensions from righteousness involve no sin. Comp. the definition of sin as lawlessness in 1 John 3:4.

there is a sin not unto death] Or, as before, there is sin not unto death: Wiclif, Tyndale, Cranmer, and the Genevan here omit the indefinite article, though they all insert it in 1 John 5:16. A warning against despair, whether about ourselves or about others. Not all sin is mortal:—an answer by anticipation to the unchristian rigour of Montanism and Novatianism.

1 John 5:17. Πᾶσα ἀδικία) all wickedness. Instances of sin not unto death are of constant occurrence in life.—καὶ, and) and that too. The enunciation is this: Every wickedness is sin, (but) not (necessarily sin) unto death: but lest any one should interpret that too lightly, he prefaces it with the words, is sin.

Verse 17. - All unrighteousness is sin. "Among the faithful this ought to be an indubitable truth, that whatever is contrary to God's Law is sin, and in its nature mortal; for where there is a transgression of the Law, there is sin and death" (Calvin). But this terrifying truth brings with it a word of encouragement. For if all unrighteousness without exception is sin, it follows that not every sin is unto death. It is incredible that the slightest departure from righteousness should involve eternal damnation (see notes on chapter 1 John 1:7). 1 John 5:17Unrighteousness (ἀδικία)

This is the character of every offense against that which is right. Every breach of duty is a manifestation of sin. Compare 1 John 3:4, where sin is defined as ἀνομία lawlessness, and lawlessness as sin. See Romans 6:13.

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