1 John 3:4
Parallel Verses
New American Standard Bible
Everyone who practices sin also practices lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness.

King James Bible
Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.

Darby Bible Translation
Every one that practises sin practises also lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness.

World English Bible
Everyone who sins also commits lawlessness. Sin is lawlessness.

Young's Literal Translation
Every one who is doing the sin, the lawlessness also he doth do, and the sin is the lawlessness,

1 John 3:4 Parallel
Commentary
Barnes' Notes on the Bible

Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law - The law of God given to man as a rule of life. The object of the apostle here is to excite them to holiness, and to deter them from committing sin, perhaps in view of the fact stated in 1 John 3:3, that everyone who has the hope of heaven will aim to be holy like the Saviour. To confirm this, he shows them that, as a matter of fact, those who are born of God do lead lives of obedience, 1 John 3:5-10; and this he introduces by showing what is the nature of sin, in the verse before us. The considerations by which he would deter them from indulging in sin are the following:

(a) all sin is a violation of the law of God, 1 John 3:4;

(b) the very object of the coming of Christ was to deliver people from sin, 1 John 3:5;

(c) those who are true Christians do not habitually sin, 1 John 3:6;

(d) those who sin cannot be true Christians, but are of the devil, 1 John 3:8; and,

(e) he who is born of God has a germ or principle of true piety in him, and cannot sin, 1 John 3:9.

It seems evident that the apostle is here combating an opinion which then existed that people might sin, and yet be true Christians, 1 John 3:7; and he apprehended that there was danger that this opinion would become prevalent. On what ground this opinion was held is unknown. Perhaps it was held that all that was necessary to constitute religion was to embrace the doctrines of Christianity, or to be orthodox in the faith; perhaps that it was not expected that people would become holy in this life, and therefore they might indulge in acts of sin; perhaps that Christ came to modify and relax the law, and that the freedoM which he procured for them was freedom to indulge in whatever people chose; perhaps that, since Christians were heirs of all things, they had a right to enjoy all things; perhaps that the passions of people were so strong that they could not be restrained, and that therefore it was not wrong to give indulgence to the propensities with which our Creator has formed us. All these opinions have been held under various forms of Antinomianism, and it is not at all improbable that some or all of them prevailed in the time of John. The argument which he urges would be applicable to any of them. The consideration which he here states is, that all sin is a transgression of law, and that he who commits it, under whatever pretence, is to be held as a transgressor of the law. The literal rendering of this passage is, "He who doeth sin (ἁμαρτίαν hamartian ) doeth also transgression" - ἀνομίαν anomian. Sin is the generic term embracing all that would be wrong. The word transgression (ἀνομία anomia) is a specific term, showing where the wrong lay, to wit, in violating the law.

For sin is the transgression of the law - That is, all sin involves this as a consequence that it is a violation of the law. The object of the apostle is not so much to define sin, as to deter from its commission by stating what is its essential nature - though he has in fact given the best definition of it that could be given. The essential idea is, that God has given a law to people to regulate their conduct, and that whatever is a departure from that law in any way is held to be sin. The law measures our duty, and measures therefore the degree of guilt when it is not obeyed. The law determines what is right in all cases, and, of course, what is wrong when it is not complied with. The law is the expression of what is the will of God as to what we shall do; and when that is not done, there is sin. The law determines what we shall love or not love; when our passions and appetites shall be bounded and restrained, and to what extent they may be indulged; what shall be our motives and aims in living; how we shall act toward God and toward people; and whenever, in any of these respects, its requirements are not complied with, there is sin.

This will include everything in relation to which the law is given, and will embrace what we "omit" to do when the law has commanded a thing to be done, as well as a "positive" act of transgression where the law has forbidden a thing. This idea is properly found in the original word rendered "transgression of the law" - ἀνομία anomia. This word occurs in the New Testament only in the following places: Matthew 7:23; Matthew 13:41; Matthew 23:28; Matthew 24:12; Romans 4:7; Romans 6:19; 2 Thessalonians 2:7; Titus 2:14; Hebrews 1:9; Hebrews 8:12; Hebrews 10:17, in all which places it is rendered "iniquity" and "iniquities;" in 2 Corinthians 6:14, where it is rendered "unrighteousness;" and in the verse before us twice. It properly means lawlessness, in the sense that the requirements of the law are not conformed to, or complied with; that is, either by not obeying it, or by positively violating it. When a parent commands a child to do a thing, and he does not do it, he is as really guilty of violating the law as when he does a thing which is positively forbidden. This important verse, therefore, may be considered in two aspects - as a definition of the nature of sin, and as an argument against indulgence in it, or against committing it.

I. As a definition of the nature of sin. It teaches.

(a) that there is a rule of law by which the conduct of mankind is to be regulated and governed, and to which it is to be conformed.

(b) That there is sin in all cases where that law is not complied with; and that all who do not comply with it are guilty before God.

(c) That the particular thing which determines the guilt of sin, and which measures it, is that it is a departure from law, and consequently that there is no sin where there is no departure from law.

The essential thing is, that the law has not been respected and obeyed, and sin derives its character and aggravation from that fact. No one can reasonably doubt as to the accuracy of this definition of sin. It is founded on the fact:

continued...

1 John 3:4 Parallel Commentaries

Library
The Growth and Power of Sin
'And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the Lord. And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock, and of the fat thereof. And the Lord had respect unto Abel, and to his offering: But unto Cain, and to his offering, he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell. And the Lord said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen? If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

The Purifying Influence of Hope
'And every man that hath this hope in Him purifieth himself, even as He is pure.'--1 John iii. 3. That is a very remarkable 'and' with which this verse begins. The Apostle has just been touching the very heights of devout contemplation, soaring away up into dim regions where it is very hard to follow,--'We shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.' And now, without a pause, and linking his thoughts together by a simple 'and,' he passes from the unimaginable splendours of the Beatific Vision
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture Ephesians, Peter,John

The Death of Christ for his People
"He laid down his life for us."--1 John 3:16. COME, believer and contemplate this sublime truth, thus proclaimed to thee in simple monosyllables: "He laid down his life for us." There is not one long word in the sentence; it is all as simple as it can be; and it is simple because it is sublime. Sublimity in thought always needs simplicity in words to express itself. Little thoughts require great words to explain them; little preachers need Latin words to convey their feeble ideas, but great thoughts
Charles Haddon Spurgeon—Spurgeon's Sermons Volume 46: 1900

The Warrant of Faith
We sing, and sing rightly too-- "My soul, no more attempt to draw Thy life and comfort from the law," for from the law death cometh and not life, misery and not comfort. "To convince and to condemn is all the law can do." O, when will all professors, and especially all professed ministers of Christ, learn the difference between the law and the gospel? Most of them make a mingle-mangle, and serve out deadly potions to the people, often containing but one ounce of gospel to a pound of law, whereas,
Charles Haddon Spurgeon—Spurgeon's Sermons Volume 9: 1863

Cross References
Matthew 5:19
"Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

Acts 23:3
Then Paul said to him, "God is going to strike you, you whitewashed wall! Do you sit to try me according to the Law, and in violation of the Law order me to be struck?"

Romans 4:15
for the Law brings about wrath, but where there is no law, there also is no violation.

1 John 5:17
All unrighteousness is sin, and there is a sin not leading to death.

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