An Alphabetical Analysis
Volume 7 - Doctrinal Truth - Page 184 of 297
'Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse
ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting
holiness (or taking it to its logical conclusion in practice) in the
fear of God' (2 Cor. 7:1).
Redemption is both 'from' and 'to'.  Sin underlies the whole purpose of
redemption, and necessitates its peculiar characteristics.  It is impossible
to underestimate the importance of a Scriptural understanding of sin.  The
purpose of the ages, redemption, death, and resurrection, indeed practically
all doctrine, prophecy, and practice are shaped and coloured by its fact and
While it is possible for a study of words to remain barren and
lifeless, yet no true doctrine of sin can be attained which ignores the words
that are used in Scripture, and the meanings which that usage establishes.
To study these words we must consider the Hebrew of the Old Testament, the
Greek of the New Testament, and also the Greek of the LXX, the latter which,
though uninspired, forms a providential link, or bridge, whereby the original
Hebrew idea as contained in the Old Testament can be discovered in the New
without reference to classical Greek.  We can therefore express deep
gratitude for the overruling providence of the Lord, Who has so wonderfully
provided us with a ready means of extending and of checking our knowledge and
interpretation of the Old Testament Hebrew.
Sin is essential failure
The word that stands for sin in its widest meaning in the Old Testament
is derived from the Hebrew word chata, which finds its Greek equivalent in
the New Testament word hamartano.  The meaning of both the Hebrew and the
Greek word is failure.  The word chata is used in a non-doctrinal sense in
Judges 20:16, where we read of 'seven hundred chosen men left-handed, every
one of whom could sling stones at an hair breadth, and not miss'.  In
Proverbs 19:2 we read, 'He that hasteth with his feet sinneth'.  The word
'sinneth' here has been rendered 'strayeth', 'trippeth', 'miss his step'.
Cremer gives the derivation of hamartano as privative or negative, and
meiromai, not to become participator in, not to attain, not to arrive at a
goal.  Numerous examples can be found in classical Greek writers where the
word means 'to miss', as in shooting (Iliad 23. 857), or 'to miss the way'
(Thucyd. 3. 98, 2).  As a rule the LXX renders chata by hamartanein; other
renderings are rare.
The apostle Paul gives expression to the radical idea of sin in Romans
3:23 when he says, 'For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God'.
Sin is essentially negative
At first sight it may appear that these two words, chata and hamartano,
chosen by God to express generic sin, are not strong enough; that we look in
vain for the guilt, the transgression, the positive wickedness of sin.  Upon
closer acquaintance with the subject we learn that wickedness and rebellion
with all their concomitants spring from that initial failure on the part of
man.  Man was made in the image of God, and placed on the earth to have
dominion.  By the deception of Eve, Satan caused Adam to miss the mark, to
come short of the glory of God expressed in this image, and he who had been