Aug 19, 2012

He Cannot Sin III

Hamartia is Anomia

"Whosoever committeth (the) sin transgresseth also the law: for (the) sin is the transgression of the law."  (I John 3: 4)

We may more precisely translate as follows:  "Whoever is committing (poieo - making or doing) the sin (the fatal error that brings downfall) also (kai) is making (poieo) the transgression of the law (anomia)."

Notice the use of the definite article in these words, which is absent in the KJV.  John seems to be referring to a specific act of sin.  It is possible that John is referring to the sin of the apostates referred to in his epistle. In verse 23 he wrote:

"And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment."

The sin of the apostates was that they no longer believed in the Jesus that John preached nor loved the brethren who were followers of the Apostle. Thus, "the sin" would be the sin of apostasy, or the sin that brings tragic downfall or loss of salvation.

"The transgression of the law" is from the single Greek word anomia. The latter part of the verse may therefore be simply translated as "the harmartia is the anomia."    

It seems that hamartia is the genus word and anomia is the difference word.  In other words, anomia, like adikia, is one characteristic of hamartia.  John is not equating the two words or making them synonyms.  Anomia is one of the several characteristics of hamartia.  In the first part of the verse the Apostle uses the word "also" (kai) which shows that he is not affirming that hamartia and anomia are synonyms.  In addition to other characteristics, hamartia is "also" anomia. 

"Nomos" is the Greek word for "law." When the alpha letter is prefixed it has the meaning of "without" or perhaps "no."  Thus, theist means a believer in God and atheist means one who believes there is "no God."  And, a gnostic is one who has knowledge but an agnostic is one who is "without knowledge."  Therefore, "anomia" literally means "without law" or "no law."  Many translations give the word "lawlessness" as a definition.

"For as many as have sinned (hamarton) without law (anomos) shall also perish without law (anomos): and as many as have sinned in (en) the law shall be judged by the law." (Rom. 2: 12)

"To them that are without law (anomois), as without law (anomos), (being not without law (anomos) to God, but under the law (without law - ennonos) to Christ,) that I might gain them that are without law (anomous)." (I Cor. 9: 21)

If hamartia were a synonym for anomia then it would not be possible to sin apart from law.  But, the above verses show that one can be "without law" (anomos) and yet be a sinner.  Thus, it is wrong to say that all hamartia involves law breaking.  We may say that all anomia is hamartia but not all hamartia is anomia. 

Wrote Trench:

"It will follow that where here is no law (Rom. 5:13), there may be ἁμαρτία, ἀδικία, but not ἀνομία...Thus the Gentiles, not having a law (Rom. 2:14), might be charged with sin; but they, sinning without law (ἀνόμως==χωρὶς νόμου, Rom. 2:12; 3:21), could not be charged with ἀνομία." (see here)

It is the purpose of the law to discover hamartia, as Paul said - "by the law is the knowledge of sin."  (Rom. 3: 20)

"What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet."  (Rom. 7: 7)

Is the law a hamartia, or a failure?  Is the law a mistake?  No, but the nomos is what discovers man's moral failure and his coming short.  Wrote Paul:

"But sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence. For without the law sin was dead."  (vs. 8)

"For when we were in the flesh, the motions of sins, which were by the law, did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death."  (vs. 5)

Man's inner character flaw is revealed by the law just as a mirror discovers what is held up to it.

Hamartia is Adikia

John also says that "all unrighteousness (adikia) is sin (hamartia)."  (1 John 5:17)  Thus, John says that adikia and anomia are elements of hamartia

Thus, all anomia and all adikia is hamartia, but not all hamartia is anomia or adikia.

What is righteousness?  It comes from the Greek word dikaiosynē and means to be right or correct.  It involves the idea of being upright.  W. E. Vine says that it denotes "the character or quality of being right or just;" it was formerly spelled "rightwiseness," which clearly expresses the meaning." 

It is used to characterize right action and behavior but also right character.  It involves right thinking and right disposition. 

A person who is a "sinner" (hamartōlos) is someone who is without righteousness and without law (or lawless).  The relationship of unrighteousness to being a hamartolos is seen in these words of Paul.

"For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous." (Rom. 5: 19)

Being "made sinners" is set in opposition to being "made righteous."  A sinner is one who is not right nor correct.  He is all wrong.  He is not right with God.  He does not recognize any law other than his own self. 

Hamartia & Ungodliness

Asebeia is the Greek word for "ungodly" or Godlessness.  It refers to living and acting as though God does not exist.  In the Greek New Testament, the main words used for “godliness” are “eusebeia” and “theosebeia.” The adjective “godly” is “eusebes” and the adverb “godly” is “eusebos.”

Godliness is God likeness.  Ungodliness is to be unlike God.  Man's sin, or hamartia, is his inner lack of righteousness and likeness to God.  Though he was originally created in the "likeness" and "image" of God, he has lost that likeness and is now not anything like God.  This original likeness consisted in "righteousness and true holiness."  (Eph. 4: 24)  He had no character flaw when he came pristine from the hand of his Maker. 

Man's loss of God likeness is also connected with his lawless (anomia) condition.  This condition speaks of his nonconformity to God's law.  God's law is but the image of God himself.  Thus, to be lawless means much the same thing as being unrighteous and ungodly

Christians are regularly confessing how they fall short of being who they want to be, and so they mourn their moral failures and their disobedience.

It is not a mechanical process that the Apostle is establishing in I John 1: 9 as if to say that no sin is forgiven that is not confessed. This is the error of the Pelagians and Catholics who think that if they die with any unconfessed sin then they are doomed.  No one even knows the depth of his own sin.  How can a man confess his sins if he is not even aware of them?  What the Apostle is saying is that the person who is walking with God and in the light is one who is a confessor of his hamartia.

The Chief Aspect of Hamartia

"For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth." (Rom. 10: 2-4)

Man has been sewing fig leaves together since the beginning in an attempt to hide his spiritual nakedness and wretchedness. Most of man's religion is "fig leaf religion." They are failed attempts to please God and to procure his favor.

"All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way..." (Isa. 53: 6)

"Yea, they have chosen their own ways..." (Isa. 66: 3)

John expands upon the classical meaning of hamartia as reflected in Aristotle by adding the ingredients of lawlessness, unrighteousness, ungodliness, and of guilt.

John does not seem to discriminate in his use of the term hamartia in his epistle leading up to 5: 16-18.  But, he clearly does so in chapter five.  But, of this more will be said in the next posting.

1 comment:

FolloweroftheLamb said...

These three have been very enlightening. Thank you, Stephen!