‘Then’ is a bit disturbing

So, in my last post I said that the ‘then’ here made me feel uncomfortable. Let me explain myself. Oh, by the way, click on the picture of the verse and you will get the notes I drew onto it.

The English version of the Bible that I am using is The Everyday Bible : New Century Version. (Nashville, TN.: Thomas Nelson, Inc., 2005.) and it says “Then the blood…” I was uncomfortable with the ‘then.’ It implied for me that the “if we live in the light” was a condition for having the blood of Jesus cleans us from all sin. It makes the one sentence follow or flow from the other. Does that mean that our cleansing depends on our walking in the light?

What is living or walking in the light? Is it being pure as God is pure or acting like God would act or following well God’s way of being in the light? It is not exactly obedience since no commands are mentioned but ‘being’ is, “as God is in the light.” I take this to be following or living out God’s moral character.

So, living out or like God’s moral character is a condition for having our every sin cleansed? That thought bothered me. So I looked at how other English versions translate the verse. Every other translation I read (13 translations) translates it “and the blood” not “Then the blood.” All of the English translations accept the NCV keep verse seven as one sentence and almost all of them put a comma in front of the word and. They put a comma in which made me question again, is that building a parallel between “we can share fellowship with each other” and “the blood of Jesus, God’s Son, cleanses us from every sin.” With the comma there is the implication really just the same as if it were a ‘then?’ I think it does. So, we are left in the same place.

Why does this disturb me? Because it implies that my salvation depends on me mimicking, living out God’s moral character. I have no problem seeing that active friendship (fellowship) with others can be broken because of sin, but can salvation be gained by living like God wants us to live? Fellowship being broken means that someone did something that was contrary to the ethos or values of the group. That makes perfect sense, but forgiveness based on shared values does not fit for me.

But before making this conclusion I decided to look into the verb “cleanses.” The English as it is in the NCV shows a present continuous action. That is what is in the Greek as well, “present, active, indicative.” Present here means ‘now’ in time. Active is the “subject is performing the action of the verb.”[1] Then indicative, “affirms what is real, actual, or certain. However, it is also used in conditional sentences.[2]” In other words the cleansing is without a doubt right now being performed by the blood of Jesus.

So, as I live a life that emulates God’s character I am being cleansed from every sin. Is salvation in question here or is this about becoming pure in daily life?

To answer that question I think we have to take a look at the sacrificial system they used around John’s time and see how Jesus changed it. But that is for a later post.


[1]Benjamin Chapman, Greek New Testament Insert., 2nd ed., revised. (Quakertown, PA: Stylus Publishing, 1994).

[2]Ibid

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