Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown
If any . . . see—on any particular occasion; Greek aorist.
his brother—a fellow Christian.
sin a sin—in the act of sinning, and continuing in the sin: present.
not unto death—provided that it is not unto death.
he shall give—The asker shall be the means, by his intercessory prayer, of God giving life to the sinning brother. Kindly reproof ought to accompany his intercessions. Life was in process of being forfeited by the sinning brother when the believer's intercession obtained its restoration.
for them—resuming the proviso put forth in the beginning of the verse. "Provided that the sin is not unto death." "Shall give life," I say, to, that is, obtain life "for (in the case of) them that sin not unto death."
I do not say that he shall pray for it—The Greek for "pray" means a REQUEST as of one on an equality, or at least on terms of familiarity, with him from whom the favor is sought. "The Christian intercessor for his brethren, John declares, shall not assume the authority which would be implied in making request for a sinner who has sinned the sin unto death (I Samuel 15:35; I Samuel 16:1; Mark 3:29), that it might be forgiven him" [TRENCH, Greek Synonyms of the New Testament]. Compare Deuteronomy 3:26. Greek "ask" implies the humble petition of an inferior; so that our Lord never uses it, but always uses (Greek) "request." Martha, from ignorance, once uses "ask" in His case (John 11:22). "Asking" for a brother sinning not unto death, is a humble petition in consonance with God's will. To "request" for a sin unto death [intercede, as it were, authoritatively for it, as though we were more merciful than God] would savor of presumption; prescribing to God in a matter which lies out of the bounds of our brotherly yearning (because one sinning unto death would thereby be demonstrated not to be, nor ever to have been, truly a brother, I John 2:19), how He shall inflict and withhold His righteous judgments. Jesus Himself intercedes, not for the world which hardens itself in unbelief, but for those given to Him out of the world.
Other Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown entries containing 1 John 5:16:
1 John 5:17
1 John 5:18
2 John 1:5
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