What does 1 John 3:6 mean?
ESV: No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him.
NIV: No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him.
NASB: No one who remains in Him sins continually; no one who sins continually has seen Him or knows Him.
CSB: Everyone who remains in him does not sin; everyone who sins has not seen him or known him.
NLT: Anyone who continues to live in him will not sin. But anyone who keeps on sinning does not know him or understand who he is.
KJV: Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him.
NKJV: Whoever abides in Him does not sin. Whoever sins has neither seen Him nor known Him.
Verse Commentary:
Two important truths are revealed in this brief verse. First, John has already defined those who "abide:" believers who walk in fellowship with Jesus Christ. Here, he adds that no one who continually sins does so as a result of a relationship with Christ. The typical interpretation of this passage is that a person who continually or repeatedly sins is an unbeliever, whereas a believer can sin, but only on occasion. While this is possible, the specific context is about the results of a relationship with Christ. True fellowship with Christ cannot result in sin—this is part of John's defense against the claim that the gospel gives people an excuse to do wrong.

The general context of this passage, and the rest of Scripture, is that a believer is marked by a changed life. A believer's life will involve some level of growth, known as "sanctification," and is expected to be noticeably different from that of an unbeliever. Of course, how much a person grows in their relationship is up to them, so a lack of spiritual maturity is in no means a test for salvation.

However, the person whose life does not change—who shows no change from their former life, or a distinction between them and the unbelieving world—reveals he or she has not seen or known Jesus. Though every believer is a work in progress, every believer's life should show a noticeable difference in living a life that becomes more like Christ. If a person's life is no different than that of a non-believer, there is no reason to be confident they are a true believer.
Verse Context:
First John 3:4–10 strongly condemns sin, and leaves no excuse for it. While this warning is often interpreted as a ''litmus test'' for salvation, John's specific audience is actually Christian believers. Salvation is no excuse for sin, because all sin is from the Devil, not God. Sin always disrupts our ''walk'' with God. And, those who only walk in sin and darkness cannot claim to be children of God.
Chapter Summary:
The third chapter of 1 John focuses mostly on the concept of love. Because of His love, God not only calls us His children, He actually makes us His children. John also explains how sin, including hate, is never the result of a proper relationship with God. Christians, in contrast to the world, are supposed to do more than simply ''feel'' love; we are to act on it, as well
Chapter Context:
Chapters 1 and 2 introduced the stark differences between those who truly have fellowship with Christ, as opposed to those who are ''in darkness.'' Chapter 3 continues this discussion, with a particular emphasis on love. This serves as a bridge, between John's descriptions of lives lived abiding either in darkness or light, to an explanation of how God's faithfulness gives us confidence as Christian believers.
Book Summary:
First John seems to assume that the reader is familiar with the gospel. Rather than re-state these facts, John is concerned with building confidence in Christian believers. At the same time, his words encourage believers to examine their own lives for signs of their relationship with Christ. This letter also challenges false teachers and their incorrect claims about Jesus. Many themes are shared with the Gospel of John.
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