1John 5 - Outline of 1John(MENU page)
III. God is Life (5:12,20), 5:1-21
Therefore, God's Children...
A. Receive His Life through New Birth, 5:1
B. Reveal His Life...
  1. by Loving His Children, 5:2-3
  2. by Overcoming the World, 5:4-6a
  3. by Believing His Witness, 5:6b-10
1. Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God:
and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him.
whosoever believeth... is born of God...-
The only means of entrance into God's family is via the new birth. Joh 3:3
To be born again, a person must believe {ie., trust} in Jesus Christ. Joh 1:12,13; 3:14-18
However, John is careful to say that you must understand and believe the truth: 'that Jesus is the Christ.'
     As John previously warned us, there are many antichrists in the world (1Joh 2:18,22-23; 4:3). The spirit of antichrist is actively deceiving and drawing men away from the Savior to destruction. False teachers proclaim false gospels and false christs that cannot save. Therefore, in the course of this letter, John has countered several errors, with the truth concerning the Person and Work of Jesus the Christ. He will re-emphasize some of these in this final chapter.
     All teachings must be proved (tested) against God's Word (the Truth) and by His Spirit (who enables discernment of truth from error).
Here is a brief summary of what John taught regarding the Gospel of Christ...
  1. The Person of Jesus the Christ...
    • Jesus, is the Christ, the Person anointed and appointed by God the Father to save His people from their sins (Joh 20:31; 1Joh 2:22).
    • This Person was eternally with the Father, before anything was created (Joh 1:1-4; 1Joh 1:1).
    • He came into the world, in His incarnation, becoming a real 'flesh and blood' man, through His virgin birth. Having been conceived by the Holy Spirit, the man Jesus, was uniquely the only begotten Son of God, truly God and truly man, and truly without sin (Joh 1:14,18; 1Joh 1:1-3).
  2. The Condition of Men...
    • With the sole exception of God's unique Son, every human being is under the wrath of God due to our sinful condition (1Joh 1:8,10).
  3. The Work of Jesus the Christ...
    • Jesus, the Christ, came into the world to take away our sins, and to destroy the works of the devil (Joh 1:29; 1Joh 3:5,8).
    • To do this, He voluntarily took our sin and guilt upon Himself, and offered Himself as our substitutionary sin offering, dying the death that we deserved in our place, and completely removing our guilt (Joh 19:30; 1Joh 2:2).
    • Because God the Son has eternal life in Himself, He arose victorious over sin and death (Joh 10:17,18), demonstrating that He had fully paid our debt, and had opened the way that we might enter into eternal life in fellowship with God the Father and the Son (Joh 14:1-3; 1Joh 1:4-7; 2:1).
  4. The Way of Salvation for men...
    • Access, into this new life in fellowship with God, is by placing your faith in 'Jesus the Christ,' that is, by entrusting yourself to Him, because of who He is, and because of what He has done and will do (1Joh 1:9; Joh 3:36; 5:24; 14:6; 20:31).
    • Those, who place their trust in Jesus Christ, are born into the family of God, receiving a new sinless nature from God (Joh 1:12,13; 1Joh 5:1). This new nature is evident in the present earthly life of the believer (1Joh 5:2,3), and will be perfected when we enter into the Presence of the Lord, at Christ's return (1Joh 3:2,3).
...and every one that loveth Him that begat, loveth him also that is begotten of Him.
Obviously, God's children ought to love the Father and the Son, by whom we have been born again.
But our love for Him ought to include everyone who has been born again into His family. 4:20,21
     The reality of the new birth is tested by the presence or absence of love for God and love for His children. 4:7,8
Test your love for fellow believers against 1Cor 13:4-7...
     True 'agape' Love...
  • always desires what is best for someone else.
  • does not seek attention for itself.
  • seeks to serve, not to be served.
  • covers a multitude of sins (ie., it does not gossip about another's faults,
    but rather, takes the matter to God in prayer, and assists the stumbler toward a right walk).
    [The few points shown above are incomplete excerpts from 1Cor 13.]
2 By this we know that we love the children of God,
when we love God, and keep his commandments.
3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments:
and his commandments are not grievous.
by this we know that we love the children of God...
Even our love, for our brothers and sisters in Christ, must be tested.
It is tested against two things which are superior to our love toward one another...
  • love for God...
    In the previous verse (v.1), John said that our love for God is demonstrated by love for His children.
    In the following verse (v.3), he says that love for God must be consistent with His commandments.
    Love for God's children cannot condone anything that must be hidden from Him.
  • observation of His commandments {GK=entole, instructions, precepts}...
    As we have seen repeatedly in John's first letter, chief among those commandments is that we have love one to another.
    Yet, this love is not an unconditional acceptance of all behaviors, for it is governed by God's commandments.
    Therefore, true love for my brethren is faithful to God's Word...
    • It does not make light of sin.
    • It does not make excuses for evil.
    • It always gives priority to God's Truth, not to human relationships.
For this is the love of God, that we keep {guard, watch, observe} his commandments...
...and His commandments are not grievous {burdensome}.
For God's children, who have been given a new nature, like that of Christ, obedience to the Father's will is not a burden, but a delight (Psa 40:8; Mat 11:28-30; Heb 8:10).
However, submission to God's Word may not be easy, because His way runs contrary to the way of the world and the will of the flesh. But His way is always best, and if followed, leads His children into the good that He desires for them (Psa 19:7-11).
4 For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world:
and this is the victory that overcometh the world, [even] our faith.
5 Who is he that overcometh the world,
but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?
...whatsoever is born of God overcometh {GK=nikao, prevails, is victorious over} the world... (3:8,9)
The new nature, which God has placed within the believer, need not remain in bondage to the ways of the world (2:13-17).
We are still in the world, but we are no longer of the world, for we have been born of God's Spirit.
However, we still have a fleshly nature, which has an affinity for the appeal of worldly things...
  • the lust of the flesh - for what feels good (the pleasures of sin which pass in a moment).
  • the lust of the eyes - for what looks good (the desire to possess treasures which will soon perish).
  • the pride of life - for what makes me look good (the quest for advantage over others, though my life is but a vapor).
...this is the victory that overcometh the world... our faith.
"Faith is the substance of things not seen..." (Heb 11:1).
By faith, the believer sees things the way God says they are:
  • The things of the world are shallow and passing.
  • The things of God are perfect and eternal.
But a correct view of the race course does not guarantee victory.
Our 'faith' must not only 'see' as God sees (a correct worldview), but also must 'look to' Christ for He is the Victor.
Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?
It is not the strength of our weak faith, but the power of the One in whom our faith is placed, that gives us victory.
In v.4, 'faith' is a noun. In v.5, it becomes a present tense verb: 'he that believeth...'
Victory belongs to the fully persuaded person who is continually and constantly trusting in Jesus, the Son of God.
You need this kind of faith to be born of God (v.1a). As His child, you need this kind of faith to walk with Him.
Our confidence must be in Him (Heb 12:1,2).
6. This is he that came by water and blood, [even] Jesus {the} Christ;
not by water only, but by water and blood.
And it is the Spirit that beareth witness
{testifies}, because the Spirit is truth.
7 For there are three that bear record
{testify} in heaven,
the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.
8 And there are three that bear witness
{testify} in earth,
the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one.
This is he that came by water and blood... Jesus the Christ...
This is the One in whom we must place our continual trust.
Yet, the world is full of false teachers who deny Him.
     Therefore, John cites the irrefutable testimony of several witnesses. In vs.6-11, the GK word 'marturia' from which we get the English word 'martyr' is used repeatedly. A martyr is a witness who gives unwavering testimony to that of which he is absolutely certain, even though his testimony may cost him dearly. In our English text, this word is translated by several different words. [In these places, in the text of v.6-11, in these notes, the editor has inserted the word 'testify' or 'testimony' within brackets { }.]
...the Spirit testifies, because the Spirit is truth...
The Holy Spirit is the essence of truth, and reveals the truth to God's children. 4:6
For there are three that testify in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.
ie., the Triune Godhead is in perfect agreement with the Holy Spirit's testimony.
Note: Verse 7 is missing from the majority of Greek manuscripts. Some scholars think that a scribe may have inserted his own thoughts here. Others believe that an early scribe accidentally left this verse out, because the opening lines of v.7 and v.8 are identical. Having started to write v.7 "for there are three that testify...," his eyes skipped over the rest of the verse and he completed v.8. Having been inadvertently omitted from an early copy, the verse was absent in the many copies of that document. So, an accidental omission is easy to understand.
     But an intentional insertion of this verse is a little more difficult to explain. The expression used, in v.7, for the Trinity is unique in scripture. The usual formula is "the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost." We would expect that a scribe who inserted his own thought would have used that wording.
     However, the wording here ("The Father, the Word and the Holy Ghost") fits perfectly with what John wrote in John 1:1, "In the beginning was the Word..." and also with the heavenly nature of the testimony cited in v.7. The only begotten Son ministered for a few brief years on earth. Yet, as the Word, He has eternally existed in unity with the Godhead and in full agreement with the counsel of God... which, included the incarnation, death and resurrection of the Christ. That purpose, pre-determined long before the foundation of the world, was revealed to Israel's prophets, and foretold in God's written Word long before the prophesied events became history. Thus, the testimony of the Word, forever settled in heaven, agrees perfectly with the testimony of the Father and the Spirit.
...there are three that testify in earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one.
The Holy Spirit empowers the preaching of God's Word (Acts 1:8; 1Cor 2:1-5), and convicts the hearts of hearers (Joh 16:7-11).
     But what is the significance of 'the water and the blood'? (v. 6,8). These relate to historical events, which are part of the Holy Spirit's testimony to men concerning Jesus the Christ. There has been a great deal of discussion, among theologians, about what John meant by 'the water and the blood.'
The various suggestions are not in conflict, but rather are complementary:
  1. The water of His physical birth - the Incarnation of God the Son.
    When Mary's water broke at Jesus' birth, that water proclaimed, with the Holy Spirit, that God had taken our humanity upon Himself. (Luk 1:35; 2:7)
  2. The water of His baptism - the public Identification of the Son of God.
    When Jesus was baptized in water, John the Baptist testified that the Holy Spirit identified Him as the Son of God (Joh 1:32-34).
    The water of baptism proclaimed, with the Holy Spirit, that this man, Jesus, is the anointed One, the Christ of God.
  3. The blood and water that flowed from His side - the Indications of His death.
    The apostle, John, an eyewitness at Jesus' crucifixion, was deeply impressed by what he saw (as he reported in Joh 19:33-37).
    The water and the blood both testify to the reality of Jesus' humanity, as His body fluids spilled from His pierced side.
    The blood, poured out, proclaimed the reality of His physical death, for "the life of the flesh is in the blood." (Lev 17:11a)
    By means of the water and the blood, the Holy Spirit refutes the lies of antichrist.
    The truth is -- Jesus the Christ is come in the flesh.
  4. The blood and water that flowed from His side - the Interposition of God's Son for the sinner.
    His life was poured out in our behalf, as our substitute and propitiation. "...for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul." (Lev 17:11c)
    The blood and the water speak of various aspects our salvation.
    • He died in our place, to purge away our sin and guilt. (1Joh 2:2; Eph 1:7; 1Pet 1:18,19; Heb 10:4,11-18).
      The blood of Christ declares good things for believers. Abel's blood cried out for God's wrath against sin (Heb 12:24). Christ's blood satisfied God's wrath, put away sin, purifies the sinner and brings many sons to glory.
    • He lives to cleanse His own from all impurities,
      "with the washing of water by the word." (Eph 5:25,26; 1Joh 1:9; 2:1; Heb 10:22).
      Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
      Let me hide myself in Thee;
      Let the water and the blood,
      From Thy riven side which flowed,
      Be of sin the double cure,
      Save from wrath and make me pure.
      [hymn: 'Rock of Ages', by A.M.Toplady]
    • His life flows, as living water, within all who trust in Him. (Joh 7:37-39; Rev 21:6; 22:17)
    His offer, of living water, is declared to all who are athirst, by the Lord, His Spirit and His bride.
 
Now we are confronted with the question: What will you do with this testimony?
9 If we receive the witness {testimony} of men, the witness {testimony} of God is greater:
for this is the witness
{testimony} of God which he hath testified of his Son.
10. He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness
{testimony} in himself:
he that believeth not God hath made him a liar;
because he believeth not the record
{testimony} that God gave of his Son.
We regularly accept the testimony of men.
"In the mouth of two or three [human] witnesses, every word shall be established" (Deu 19:15; Mat 18:16).
At the words of men, serious matters are settled, and 'life or death' verdicts are determined.
The testimony of God is greater {in importance, value, and trustworthiness}...
You cannot afford to ignore the testimony of God. To reject His Word, is to make Him out to be a liar, though He is the standard of Truth, and the righteous Judge before whom each of us must give account. Your case will not go well before Him, if you accuse Him of being a liar. Yet, this attitude is all too common.
  • Do you think He has no case against you? 1Joh 1:10
  • Do you reject the Savior whom He has provided for you? 1Joh 2:22
  • By rejecting the testimony of God concerning His Son, you not only say that God is a liar, but you also declare that you are not one of God's children, for God's children believe His Word (v.1).
The children of God have His testimony within themselves (v.10a), for...
"the Spirit [Himself] beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God..." (Rom 8:16)
"And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father." (Gal 4:6)
 
III. God is Life (5:12,20), 5:1-21
Therefore, God's Children...
C. Rest in His Life...
  1. Possessing Eternal Life in His Son, 5:11-13
  2. Praying Confidently according to His Will, 5:14-16
  3. Preserving Fidelity to the True God, 5:17-21
11 And this is the record {testimony},
that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.
12 He that hath the Son hath life;
[and] he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.
13 These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God;
that ye may know that ye have eternal life,
and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.
...this is the testimony... God hath given to us eternal life... this life is in His Son.
This statement sums up the divine testimony concerning Christ's Person and Work (v.6-10).
God gave His only begotten Son, so that we who are perishing might have eternal life, in Him. Joh 3:16
We are perishing because of our sin (Isa 64:6; Rom 6:23).
Jesus took our sin and died our death, that we might live in Him. 1Joh 4:9-10,14-15; Joh 20:31
...he that hath the Son hath life...
Joh 1:4; 5:26; 11:25,26; 17:1-3; 1Joh 1:1-3; Col 3:3,4
...he that hath not the Son hath not life. Joh 3:36
...I have written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God, that ye may know that ye have eternal life...
You can know for sure! Eternal life is the present possession of everyone who has placed their trust in Christ.
In v.13, the words "ye have" are present tense. Likewise, in Joh 5:24, the words "hath... is passed..." are present tense.
Through faith in Christ, the believer is 'now' a child of God, born with His eternal life, and eagerly looking forward to being with Him and like Him (1Joh 3:1-3).
     Throughout this letter, John has presented several tests by which God's little children can know that they are truly born of God, as they see evidence of the new nature within (eg., 2:3,5,29; 3:14; 4:12,13). In this closing chapter, John declares that the new birth belongs to "whosoever" is trusting in Jesus the Christ (v.1). Such faith rests upon the unchangeable testimony of God concerning His Son (v.6-11; Heb 6:17-19), which is further confirmed to the believer's heart by the Holy Spirit (v.10).
Evidently, it is God's desire that His children should "know that ye have eternal life."
     "Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine! Oh, what a foretaste of glory divine..." [hymn, by F.J.Crosby]
...and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.-
This line is addressed to believers who are already God's children through faith in Christ.
God wants His children to have unshakeable confidence in the One in whom we are already trusting. Php 1:6
Simply trusting every day,
Trusting through a stormy way;
Even when my faith is small,
Trusting Jesus that is all.
[hymn, 'Trusting Jesus', by E.P.Stites]
14. And this is the confidence that we have in him,
that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us:
15 And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask,
we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.
16 If any man see his brother sin a sin [which is] not unto death,
he shall ask, and he shall give him life for them that sin not unto death.
There is a sin unto death:
I do not say that he shall pray for it.
These verses tell us we can have confidence in prayer.
It is critical to observe that this confidence rests "in Him."
It is because He is our Advocate and High Priest that we have access to God's throne in prayer (2:1; Heb 4:14-16, where 'boldly' means 'with confidence'; Heb 10:19-22, where 'boldness' means 'confidence').
...that if we ask anything according to His will, He heareth us.
Requests that are 'according to His will' {ie., aligned with His desires} will be...
  • from a heart in accord with His Word. Psa 66:18; 1Joh 3:22-24
    Often we 'ask amiss' according to worldly thinking (Jam 4:3).
  • with dependence upon the Holy Spirit (Rom 8:26,27).
    In ourselves, we don't know how to pray or what to ask for.
    Often, we are moved to prayer, by the pressures and problems of life, rather than by God's Spirit.
         For example, Paul prayed repeatedly for personal healing, before he knew the Lord's mind on the matter. There was nothing wrong with asking for healing, but God had something better in mind for him (2Cor 12:8-10).
         If we would heed the Spirit's groanings, He who knows our hearts will move us to ask for what is on our Lord's heart. Joh 15:7,8
if we know that He hear us... we know that we have the petitions that we desired of Him.
Yet, because our understanding of His will is imperfect, His answer may not come when or how we were expecting.
In His wisdom, our Father may need to tell His child, 'Not now,' or 'Not that way.'
But we can be sure that He will do what is best (Mat 7:7-11).
     Some pray presumptuously, thinking that they can force God's hand, or that, because "Jesus Christ [is] the same yesterday, today and for ever" (Heb 13:8), He must do today what he did during His earthly ministry. At that time, He healed the sick and raised the dead. But today, He is not raising the dead, and He may or may not heal upon request. He is the same, but His methods have changed. There is coming a day when He will raise the dead and abolish every disease. But that day is not now. We will be disappointed in prayer, if we fail to 'rightly divide the Word of Truth' (2Tim 2:15).
If any man see his brother sin a sin which is not unto death, he shall ask, and he shall give him life...
While it is not wrong to pray for physical healing (Jas 5:14,15), our primary concern should be for spiritual health of our brothers and sisters.
     Prayer, that the unsaved will find "life" in Christ, is according to God's will (2Pet 3:9). However, here, John calls us to pray when we are aware that a "brother" has fallen into sin. cp. Gal 6:1,2
     Why should we ask for "life" for a brother? Isn't every born again believer secure in the eternal life which is in Christ?
Yes. However, sin is a deadly thing...
  • Your sinning 'brother' may not truly be born again.
    You may not know whether the 'brother' has fallen away because he yielded to temptation, or because he never was a true believer (eg., 1Joh 2:19; Titus 1:16; 2Pet 2:1). If he is only a professed 'brother,' he is in danger of eternal loss, for he is still dead in trespasses and sins. "The supreme sin of this epistle is the denying of the essential humanity and eternal Deity of Jesus of Nazareth. That denial is a sin unto [eternal] death. Such sin is not committed by one who is born of God." [in quotes, GWms]
  • Your sinning brother may be on the brink of judgment.
    The Lord sometimes judgmentally removes a sinning believer out of this life through physical death. Ananias and Saphira lied to the Holy Spirit to impress others with their spirituality (Acts 5:1-11). You and I are warned against living a lie, by partaking of the Lord's Supper, while living in habitual sin, which dishonors the Lord who bought us (1Cor 11:27-30).
For a sinning brother, whose heart responds to God's Word, and is moved toward repentance, we may ask confidently, for his restoration to fellowship with the Lord. (eg., Peter's denial of Christ was a serious sin. But because the Lord knew his heart and prayed for him, he was 'converted' {ie., turned around}. Luk 22:31-34)
There is a sin unto death: I do not say that he shall pray for it.
For a brother, who lives in arrogant disregard for God's Word, and in unrepentance of known sin, there is little hope. John does not encourage us to pray for his restoration.
     In all but this last sentence of v.14-16, the GK verb 'aiteo' {to desire, to require} (or its noun form) occurs five times (ask, desire, petitions). This type of prayer confidently expects to receive that which it 'requires,' because the request is in harmony with God's will.
     But in this sentence, the word "pray" is not a confident request, because we cannot tell how God will deal with the rebellious brother. The word used, here, {GK=erotao, to enquire} means: to explore the possibilities, to implore though the answer is unsure, to ask in weakness and uncertainty regarding an indefinite outcome. This kind of prayer can only turn the matter over to God... and having given it to Him, has nothing more to say.
17 All unrighteousness is sin: and there is a sin not unto death.
18. We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not;
but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself,
and that wicked one toucheth him not.
19 [And] we know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness.
20 And we know that the Son of God is come,
and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true,
and we are in him that is true, [even] in his Son Jesus Christ.
This is the true God, and eternal life.
21 Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen.
all unrighteousness is sin: there is sin not unto death. (omit the indefinite article 'a sin')
The wages of sin is death. There is no sin that does not deserve that sentence.
But God has provided redemption and eternal life for all who turn in faith to Christ (Rom 6:23),
and He has provided the means of cleansing and restoration for the believer who falls into sin (1:9).
...we know that whosever is born of God sinneth not...
The new nature within God's child cannot sin. 2:29; 3:9,10
Therefore, it would be an exceptional situation, in which one of God's born again children sins a 'sin unto death,' which requires such severe chastening that the believer must be taken home prematurely.
...he that is begotten of God keepeth {attends to, watches} himself... the wicked one toucheth {ie., grasps} him not.
Satan will tempt you, just as he tempted Jesus. But there is nothing in your new nature that Satan can get his hands around, for it is Christ who lives within you (cp. Gal 2:20; Joh 14:30). In Him, we have victory over the enemy (v.4,5). Only when a believer chooses to walk in the flesh, according to the lusts of the old nature, can Satan wreak havoc in his life... and he will, if we don't tend to ourselves (1Pet 5:8).
The child of God will be careful to keep himself clean for the sake of his Lord, and quick to confess and repent, when he stumbles. 1:9; 2:1; 3:3; Psa 17:4
...we know {GK=eido, see} that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness.
God's children are living in a hostile world.
We must be aware of who we are, and vigilant concerning where we are.
...we know {ie., see} that the Son of God is come and hath given us an understanding {GK=dianoia, a mind to comprehend}...
The Holy Spirit has enabled us to understand what the world denies. 2:20-22, 1Cor 2:12-14
...that we may know {GK=ginosko, to know thoroughly and intimately}...
  • ...Him that is true.
  • ...we are in Him that is true, even in His Son Jesus Christ.
  • ...this is the true God, and eternal life.
    Three times, in v.20, our attention is directed to that which is "true" {GK=alethinos, that which is without false appearance} namely God the Father and God the Son.
         "I Am that I Am" does not masquerade as something other than He is. No matter how deeply you know Him, or for how long (even for eternity), you will never find a hidden flaw or weakness in Him. Those who trust in Him will never be disappointed.
         To know Him is eternal life (Joh 17:3). To have fellowship with Him is the joy of eternity (1:3-7; Psa 16:11).
Little children {ie., born ones}, keep {guard} yourselves from idols.
This word for 'idol' {GK=eidolon} refers to whatever 'appears to the eyes' though it is imaginary or counterfeit. The things of this world are like a vanishing mirage, empty and without substance. Unregenerate men pursue such things, which include the 'untruths' presented by the spirit of antichrist.
Amen.
The joy, of God's children, is to walk in fellowship with Him that is True. 1:4; Mat 6:13

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