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1 John 5:16 (NIV)

If you see any brother or sister commit a sin that does not lead to death, you should pray and God will give them life. I refer to those whose sin does not lead to death. There is a sin that leads to death. I am not saying that you should pray about that.

(emphasis obviously added)

In that passage, it says that there is a sin that leads to death. What sin is he referring to here?

I'm seeking a mainstream Protestant exegesis of this scripture. I suspect that all denominations and doctrines that fall in this category will have similar understanding of this text. If I'm wrong, let me know and I'll refine my scope.

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I just read quite a few commentaries on 1 John 5:16 (after posting my "answer"). The answer really seems to depend on how you interpret death in this particular verse. It'll be interesting to read some different answers here. –  a_hardin Sep 7 '11 at 3:24

4 Answers 4

up vote 7 down vote accepted

The sin unto death is the sin that the sinner willfully, habitually and unrepentantly continues in. It may be any type of sin, that doesn't matter. What matters is that they refuse to change course. It is likely that the church has gone to them and warned them to repent, but they have not. The church is to withdraw from these, so that they will loose the protections normally afforded to the members (such as fellowship and prayer support). This lost, the unrepentant sinner is open to the devil's attack and the hope is that he/she will repent as a result of being "delivered to Satan," as was the case in 1 Corintians 5:

1Co 5:5 KJV To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.

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This is likely the unforgivable sin.

Matthew 12:32 (NIV)

32 Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.

(emphasis added here, too)

You can read more about this in the question Are there unforgivable sins?.

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Most all sin leads to death. This is how death entered the world. –  Ecommerce Consultant Sep 7 '11 at 2:29

What is “sin that leads to death” in 1 John 5:16?

Earlier in John's letter he states that those who have no love for their fellow Christians "abide in death".

1 John 3:14 We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death.

Even just a few verses earlier (5:12) John says that without Jesus there is no life.

1 John 5:12 He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.

It would seem that John is saying that the sin unto death is the rejection of or even disinterest in Jesus such that new and eternal life is not acquired. This state can be measured by a lack of love for other Christians.

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i think all sins leads to death , if we do not repent...

Hebrews 6 tells us - it is impossible to renew them to repentance who leavs the principles of the doctrine of Christ.

Hebrews 6:4 For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost,

5 And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come,

6 If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.

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