Last post I talked about the Greek word for “confess,” homologeo, and said it was only found 8 times in all the NT. That was not correct. Homologeo only turns up 7 times; the word in James 5:16, rendered “confess” is actually exomologeo, which means “to acknowledge.”
In all but one case, both words are clearly used for verbal declaration or proclamation to others (men or angels) and almost always in declaring belief in Christ. The only usage of the word that is not clear is 1 John 1:9. Take a look:
Mat 10:32 “Therefore everyone who confesses Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven. [~JESUS as reported by Matthew}
Luk 12:8 “And I say to you, everyone who confesses Me before men, the Son of Man will confess him also before the angels of God; [~JESUS as reported by Luke, who was associated with Paul]
Rom 10:9 that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; [~PAUL]
Php 2:11 and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. [~PAUL]
1Jn 1:9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. [~JOHN]
1Jn 4:3 and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world. [JOHN]
Rev 3:5 ‘He who overcomes will thus be clothed in white garments; and I will not erase his name from the book of life, and I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels. [~JESUS as reported by John]
And finally, the word exomologeo, meaning to acknowledge and here translated “confess”:
Jas 5:16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much. [~JAMES, written to dispersed Jewish Christians before Paul, the recipient and primary communicator of “mystery” or church age doctrine, was even saved]
So, leaving aside the latter verse, the word homologeo is used five times in the New Testament in the context of believing in Christ, and once for proclaiming or announcing overcomers’ names to the angels in heaven.
This aggregate of usage seems important to me in helping one come to a conclusion regarding what is meant in 1 Jn 1:9)because…
1. If John is addressing believers and unbelievers in chapter 1 of 1 John, and he is…
2. And if he is running through a series of contrasts between what makes a believer versus an unbeliever, which he is…
3. And all the other times in the New Testament (including John’s own uses of the word) homologeo is used in its public confession/declaration connotation, with most of those relating to salvation…
It seems most compelling on the basis of the aggregate to put “confess our sins” in the same category as “confess Jesus as Lord.” That is, it’s referring to salvation, not confession of post-salvation sins.
However, some have insisted that since Jesus and the Apostles grew up and lived under the Old Testament, we cannot come to a conclusion merely on the basis of what we find in the New Testament. Rather we must go back to the Old Testament Hebrew and look at the meaning and usage of the Hebrew word for “confess” in the “many” instances in which it appears there. And in the OT, as we all know, it was used mostly for confessing sins, right?
I agree that we should take a look at those usages as well, so that is what I did. But that is not what I found…