I am really scratching my head on this verse.

John 15:22, “If I [Jesus] had not come and spoken to them, they would not have sin; but now they have no excuse for their sin.”

It seems from the context just before this that the “them” and “they” pronouns refer to “the world.”

What on earth could this mean? If jesus had not “spoken to them” they would not have sin?!

Now I can only think of one place in the text where someone talked to humanity and caused sin... that is Genesis 3, and the agent that spoke to humans and caused “the world” to have sin is the serpent! This would identify Christ with the serpent in Eden?!

This is the NRSV translation and seems to track the greek well. This sense is conserved across to the KJV too.

Any ideas?

  • 2
    do you ask this because the usual commentaries are not satisfying?
    – Dottard
    Jun 19 '20 at 2:11
  • Most of the commentaries that I read mangle it to mean that he says They would not have a pretext for sin... given the following verses... but that is not what it says... it says they would not have SIN itself. Is the answer that a word (e.g. Cloak) was left out in a copy?
    – Gus L.
    Jun 19 '20 at 2:27
  • The word in question is πρόφασις which means excuse or pretext. I doi not know where the KJV got its "cloak" from!
    – Dottard
    Jun 19 '20 at 2:35
  • What do you mean “the word in question?” I am asking the question about the first half of this verse. The commentaries say he means “pretense for sin” not “sin” but that makes no sense. Sin has been critiqued since Genesis 4. It is not like it was a new revelation from Jesus that we have sin.
    – Gus L.
    Jun 19 '20 at 10:37
  • 1
    See also Romans 3:20, 5:13, 7:7.
    – Lucian
    Jun 19 '20 at 10:38

Metaphorically, Jesus is referring to the worldly people, not literally the physical world.

He continues in John 15:25:

But this is to fulfill what is written in their Law: 'They hated me without reason.'

This references Psalm 69:4

Those who hate me without reason outnumber the hairs of my head; many are my enemies without cause, those who seek to destroy me.

Here, it is clear that it refers to people.

  • Yes, I know. That is what I meant. “They” are humans in the world.
    – Gus L.
    Jun 19 '20 at 2:20

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