1 John Part 13

The final chapter of 1 John continues to deal with significant issues affecting our faith and continues to refute Gnosticism.

1  Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves Him who begot also loves him who is begotten of Him. 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 burdensome. 1 John 5:1-3 (NKJV)

John here again establishes how we are born again. It is by believing that Jesus is the Christ, the Anointed One of God. What John is pointing to, and the readers of his day understood, was that Jesus was the long awaited Messiah. The Greek word we translate as ‘Christ’ is the equivalent of the Hebrew word we translate as ‘Messiah.’ When we enter into this heart belief of Jesus as our Messiah, our Saviour, we can walk out our faith in love for those around us who are also born again, because we have the same Father. We can be assured we are His children when we keep His command to love. His commandments are not a burden because they are an exhortation to walk in who and what we truly are. An important point is that while John refers to the ‘children of God’ a number of times in his epistle he also is clear, as in 3:10, that those who do not know Jesus are children of the devil. This may offend some of our sensibilities but it is the truth of scripture.

John now moves into our basis for victory in our lives

4  For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world – our faith. 5  Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? 1 John 5:4-5 (NKJV)

If we are born of God we have within us the capacity to overcome the values of the world that try to shape us into their mold. This happens just as surely as water flows downhill. The water does not work to flow downhill. It is natural for the water. So to it is natural for us to pursue and seek after Him if we are born again. Our applied faith in Him will consistently bring us through to victory. That is not to say it is always easy. I know in my own life the battles I have fought and continue to fight. I also know however that there is something within me that will not allow me to be anything but a believer. It is His nature, which has become my nature via the new birth. No matter how much my flesh may at times get the upper hand, and appear to be winning the battle, there is always something within that rises up and overcomes. That something is His nature within me that manifests as faith, a gift from Him! This happens because everything He is He imparted to me in seed form at my conversion. As I pursue a relationship with Him through prayer, fellowship, and the word He brings forth fruit from the seed of His nature that He planted within me.

John now turns to the inward witness we can possess. It is one thing to have someone tell us something, it is quite another to have an inner experience and awareness. I have been a few places in the backcountry in the mountains. It is one thing to have someone describe them or show me pictures, quite another to crest a mountain ridge and see a beautiful vista that someone had described. Reality far outweighs the description!

6  This is He who came by water and blood – Jesus Christ; not only by water, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit who bears witness, because the Spirit is truth. 7  For there are three that bear witness {in heaven: the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit; and these three are one. 8  And there are three that bear witness on earth}: the Spirit, the water, and the blood; and these three agree as one. 1 John 5:6-8 (NKJV)

A portion of this passage is has been disputed a great deal over the years and in most modern translations it is removed from midway through verse 7 to near the end of verse 8 (the text I italicized and placed in the fancy brackets above). Some believe the bracketed section was added to bolster the idea of the Trinity. I am not going to enter into some type of dispute, (though I do have some well thought out and researched reasons for my own position in terms of which New Testament manuscript stream is the most accurate). For those who are born again the issue need not be one of dispute. The Trinity is well established in other parts of scripture and this side of eternity we will never know conclusively whether the disputed words belong in the scriptures. Therefore the question we need to ask is what John was trying to communicate even without the disputed passage. His point is that the Spirit, water, and blood are in agreement. John is saying that in this agreement the Spirit bears witness. The word witness is a Greek word that means ‘to bear witness or testify’ (see below). What John is communicating is that if we are open to receive the Spirit’s witness and have a love for truth (2 Thess. 2:10) then the Spirit is ‘ready and able’ to testify within us to the reality of who Jesus is, the Son of God and Lord of glory.

μαρτυρω martureō verb – Bear witness, be a witness, testify.

Johannine Literature

John, in contrast to the Synoptics, made martureō a central term in his gospel. This term always has a legal meaning which carries over into his epistles as well. John considered his own role as that of “witness” to the wonderful story of Jesus (John 21:24; cf. 1 John 1:2; 4:14; 2 John 3; Revelation 1:2; 22:18). John the Baptist is portrayed as a “witness” to Jesus (John 1:7,8,15,32; 5:33), and Jesus himself “testified” to His identity by what He did (John 5:36; 10:25).

Complete Biblical Library Greek-English Dictionary, The – The Complete Biblical Library Greek-English Dictionary – Lambda-Omicron.

In the following verses John continues with his theme of the witness of God.

9  If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater; for this is the witness of God which He has testified of His Son. 10  He who believes in the Son of God has the witness in himself; he who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed the testimony that God has given of His Son. 11  And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. 12  He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. 13  These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God. 1 John 5:9-13 (NKJV)

This passage flows from and clarifies the preceding three verses. The issue is whether we are walking by the internal witness of God or the external witness of God. This takes us right back to the Gnostic issue John was addressing. No matter how much someone may try to convince us that the truth is a lie, that is a lie, and if we will look to the Lord in our spirit we can know the reality of the truth that we are children of God. We do not need to go through some special “enlightenment” experience because we have the true light living within! Anyone who claims that Jesus is not the Son is lying and anyone who has been born again has the Son living within and the Son will not bear witness to a lie. John is really reaffirming the truth that Jesus spoke when He said that if our heart desires are right we will know whether or not any teaching is from the Father (Jn. 7:17). This is basically a restating of the truth of Deuteronomy 4:29, that if we seek Him wholeheartedly we will find Him and this includes finding Him in any manifestation of truth.

Let us both seek and know Him with our whole heart!

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I have been walking with Jesus since 1985. I am currently retired from my career in the helping professions but still focused on ministering to others. I completed a Doctorate of Philosophy in Apologetics in September 2020.

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