In my last post I posed the question of what does the word for “confess” mean in 1 John 1:9 and mentioned the only meaning I’d long thought it had: “to speak the same thing, agree with, name, cite.”
But it turns out there are other meanings for homologeo as well, each of these taken from well-known Greek dictionaries and lexicons:
“to declare openly by way of speaking out freely, such confession being the effect of deep conviction of facts” [Vine]*
“to make an emphatic declaration, often public, and at times in response to pressure or an accusation – ‘to declare, to assert.’ ” [Louw & Nida]**
“to express openly one’s allegiance to a proposition or person – ‘to profess, to confess, confession.’ ” [Louw & Nida]**
“to acknowledge a fact publicly, often in reference to previous bad behavior – ‘to admit, to confess.’ ” [Louw & Nida]**
“to make a statement” or “bear witness” in a legal sense. [Kittel]***
“to make solemn statements of faith,” “to confess something in faith.” [Kittel]***
“to acknowledge something, ordinarily in public” [BDAG]****
The first time Pastor Farley laid all that out I was pretty surprised. In fact, he claimed that all the other usages of the word “confess” in the New Testament were in the public declaration category.
Well, I found that hard to believe, so I did a word search of my own (I use e-sword which, if you don’t know about it, is free Bible study software you can download HERE. You do have to pay for the NASV Bible if you want to download that, but most of the other materials are free.)
Anyway, I did a word search. And, my goodness! Pastor John was right. “Confess,” when connected with “sin” only shows up twice in the entire New Testament – once in 1 Jn 1:9 and once in James 5:16 where believers are told to “confess your sins to one another.”
“Confess” itself shows up only 8 times altogether; of those, two are the verses mentioned above, one is Rev 3:5 when Jesus will confess the names of overcomers before the Father and His angels and the other five all involve a version of confessing Jesus as Lord before men, in the sense of being saved. (I would now put 1 Jn 1:9 in this latter category, as well)
I was shocked! For an action that supposedly determined something as crucial as the restoration of fellowship of the Spirit, I’d have thought it would have shown up much more.
Following that, I did a phrase search of “filling of the Spirit” or “filled by the Spirit” or just “Holy Spirit”, and found no indication whatsoever that the person involved confessed their sins prior to being filled. Not at Pentecost, nor in all the incidents afterward when the Spirit empowered someone. If they were said to pray at all, it wasn’t to ask to be filled with the Spirit or to confess sins, it was usually that they would speak boldly and communicate the Gospel clearly.
That was as surprising to me as the results of searching for confess and moved me very far along the line of agreeing with Pastor Farley that the Bible really doesn’t tell “Church Age believers, who are indwelt by the Holy Spirit, that confessing our sins results in the filling of the Holy Spirit.”
This is not to say that we don’t sin after salvation (hysterical laughter at the very idea) nor that it’s fine to just sin willfully and do nothing about it… But that’s for another day…
**Louw & Nida - Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament based on Semantic Domains by Eugene A. Nida, Johannes P. Louw Louw-Nida Greek Lexicon is a modern Greek lexicon using the concept of “semantic domains.” This lexicon differs from other lexicons in that it does not arrange words alphabetically and it does not give one listing of a word with all of that word’s meanings after it. Instead, it breaks words down by their various shades of meaning. It then groups all of those entries together and organizes them by topics and sub-topics.
***Kittel – Theological Dictionary of the New Testament by Gerhard Kittel : “One of the most widely-used and well-respected theological dictionaries ever created”
****BDAG - Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, 3rd ed. (BDAG) by Walter Bauer, Frederick William Danker. Described as an “invaluable reference work” (Classical Philology) and “a tool indispensable for the study of early Christian literature” (Religious Studies Review) in its previous edition, this new updated American edition of Walter Bauer’s Wörterbuch zu den Schriften des Neuen Testaments builds on its predecessor’s staggering deposit of extraordinary erudition relating to Greek literature from all periods. Including entries for many more words, the new edition also lists more than 25,000 additional references to classical, intertestamental, Early Christian, and modern literature