Alas, the last chapter of 1 John and I am both excited and sad that it has come to a close. But it is the inspired Word of God and therefore I will rejoice that by it we can draw closer to Christ through an understanding of His character and how we ought to live in light of His perfect atoning work. My only regret is that I have only scratched the surface in writing and capturing the fullness of these verses. But I am confident none the less that the Holy Spirit has revealed what He wanted to reveal to me for this season of my life. Perhaps I will, as child looking back at kindergarten artwork, will glance again at these studies later as I am more mature and instead of being embarrassed by my insufficiencies in exogeting these passages I will smile at the childlike faith by which I approached this study to begin with (2 Timothy 2:15) .
Anyways, I trust that this study will be a blessing to you. And as I continue my journey through the Word of God I hope to one day be able to say that I have not failed to teach the full counsel of the Word of God (Acts 20:26-27).
[1Jo 5:1 NKJV].
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
You almost have to read this twice since it is akin to a tongue twister. What John is saying here is that If you believe in Jesus and that He was born of God, and if you love God, then you also love Jesus. I love the fact that John says “whoever” here. This means exactly what it says. Anyone can believe in Jesus unto salvation and can have a relationship with God.
[1Jo 5:2 NKJV]
By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments.
In light of what John has just said we can understand that if God says that if we love Him that we will keep His commandments and then He adds that if we keep His commandment it is evidence that we love his Children. It is almost if John is working backwards here from the previous chapters. It is like spaghetti love all intertwined in Holy Spirit sauce! ;o)
[1Jo 5:3 NKJV]
For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome.
God loves us so much that He gives us His commandments. His commandments are not those from a cosmic killjoy out to keep us from having any kind of fun. He gives us His commandments to protect us and to help us fulfill His perfect will for us in our lives that we might bring Him honor and glory. Notice that John writes that His commandments are not burdensome. When we are in love with God it is a joy to keep His Word and to live out His commandments. Jesus speaks of the burden He gives us in Matthew 11:30 where He tells us that His yoke is easy and His burden is light. As opposed to the yoke that the law and flesh burden us with, it is a joy to carry the burden of love that the LORD gives us which is to protect us and see to our best interests.
[1Jo 5:4 NKJV]
For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world–our faith.
Just as Jesus overcame the world by rising from the grave, we too can have victory over the world. When we are born again we have a share in the victory which Jesus claimed for us. It is by faith that we are born again by the Spirit of God who dwells in us and empowers us to do mighty things for His glory. And we know where the source of our faith comes from. It comes from hearing the Word of God (Romans 10:17) and then by living out the Word of God in our lives (James 1:22).
[1Jo 5:5 NKJV]
Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?
John is stating simply that when we identify with Christ through our faith in Jesus we are saved. And those who are saved are born again into the Spirit. When we are born again into the Spirit we are guaranteed eternal life and victory over the grave. The world can not harm us for we are eternally secure in Jesus Christ. The worst that the world can do is take our mortal lives, but we can rest in the confidence that we will be immediately with the LORD and will be with Him for eternity (2 Corinthians 5:8). Therefore would should not fear the world which we have overcome by the blood of Jesus Christ (Matthew 10:28), rather we should reverence the LORD who is the author of our salvation (Hebrews 2:10).
[1Jo 5:6 NKJV]
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.
John points to the fact that Jesus came by water and blood. This is in reference to His birth and life as a man. There are many interesting comparisons here that we could discuss, but the one thing that has ministered to me the most is the fact that Jesus can empathise with me as a man. If you trace the lineage of Jesus you see some very interesting things too. We know that He was a Son of David in that He came through the bloodline of King David. God had promised David that the Messiah would be his descendent and that his line would reign forever (2 Samuel 7:16). John also ads that we need no other authoritative proof since the Holy Spirit bears witness of this fact. When we trust in the Holy Spirit who is truth we can easily accept the harder things like a virgin birth by faith. I mean let’s face it, apart from cloning how many people do you know who were born by immaculate conception, and even clones (if there are any) were not concieved by the Holy Spirit!
[1Jo 5:7 NKJV]
For there are three that bear witness in heaven: the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit; and these three are one.
But the Word does teach us that the testimony of 2 or more is required to legally establish a matter and so we see here that there are three that bear witness in Heaven (Deuteronomy 17:6). Heaven after all is the final court of arbitration. I have heard it said, “God said it, I believe it, that settles it.” But the fact of the matter is that whether you believe it or not, it is still truth. It would be better stated, “God said it, that settles it, I believe it.”
[1Jo 5:8 NKJV]
And there are three that bear witness on earth: the Spirit, the water, and the blood; and these three agree as one.
John says essentially, “If that is not enough proof for you then you must consider that fact that Jesus was born a man physically because He was born of water and blood. That with the testimony of the Spirit leaves no room for doubt.”
[1Jo 5:9 NKJV]
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.
If we will accept the testimony of men as binding in a court of law then certainly we must accept the testimony of God the Father, who testifies of His own Son. There is no greater testimony than that of God.
[1Jo 5:10 NKJV]
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.
When we give our lives to Christ, immediately we are indwelt by the Holy Spirit who testifies of Christ. Since God is truth and cannot lie, if you do not believe His testimony then you become the liar since God testified of His Son and God speaks the truth.
[1Jo 5:11 NKJV]
And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son.
We have great confidence in our salvation since it the testimony of God that His Son would be the propitiation for our sins. We cannot doubt the Word of God or His promises. If He promises us eternal life through His Son then we are guaranteed eternal life through His Son. To deny our salvation would be to call God a liar. We can rest assured that our salvation is secure in Him.
[1Jo 5:12 NKJV]
He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.
Apart from Christ there is no eternal life, at least not the kind that you and I desire. Listen, we are all going to live forever. The address where we will live is the question. Those who trust in Jesus and receive eternal life will enjoy it in His presence for all eternity in Heaven. Those who deny His gift will live forever in outer darkness and will never have the joy of seeing His face.
[1Jo 5:13 NKJV]
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.
John gives us the purpose for his letter to the church here. He states that he is writing to build our confidence and the assurance of our salvation so that we will not fail to continue believing in the One who gives us our salvation. As believers we must not be turned aside to fables that would seek to move us from the assurance that we have in Christ regarding our salvation, and instead spend our time focusing the race before us (1 Timothy 4:7).
[1Jo 5:14 NKJV]
Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.
As we set our minds on Christ God will give us what we need for the task at hand. We can have confidence that if we ask Him for anything that He will hear us. The emphasis that we need to have here is on asking for things according to His will. God is a giver of good gifts, but as I have said before He is not some celestial vending machine where we can pick whatever we want or that He is even bound to give us what we want. But we can rest assured that He will hear us and give us what we need to do His will according to His will.
[1Jo 5:15 NKJV]
And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.
Again, it is important that whatever we ask be asked according to His will for His purposes and His glory. The Apostle James had something to say about this in James 4:3. We should never ask for things from God out of selfish motivations and expect anything to come of our petitions. Rather we should seek the LORD’s will in all that we do and ask for things that we need in order to bring glory to Jesus. God is faithful and He knows what we have need of. God will always answer your prayers. He will say, “Yes” when we need something; He will say, “No” when we don’t need something; and He will say “Wait” when when don’t need something right now. Just as God gave manna from Heaven to feed the wandering Israelites in the wilderness, He will give us our daily bread. He always gives us what we need when we need it and not a moment sooner or a moment later than we need it.
I can recall in my own life numerous occasions where God has provided for me in a time of need. Whether it was spiritual, physical or otherwise, God’s timing has always been perfect in my life. This is why I can be content with any place I find myself. Sometimes God is the God of the 11th hour. Sometimes when it seems like you can’t handle any more, God will do an amazing work that makes you feel silly for ever doubting.
[1Jo 5:16 NKJV]
If anyone sees his brother sinning a sin [which does] not [lead] to death, he will ask, and He will give him life for those who commit sin not [leading] to death. There is sin [leading] to death. I do not say that he should pray about that.
In light of our prayer life, a large majority of what we find ourselves praying for will be in intercessory prayer for others. We should be men and women of prayer. We should be in constant communion with God throughout the days of our lives praying to the Father. And what John points out here is that when when we see a brother entrenched in sin we ought to be in prayer for them. But he points out this sin leading to death. There are several explanations for this. One suggestion is that John is referring to the unforgivable sin, which is blasphemy of the Holy Spirit, or denying Christ and His work. A more likely explanation is that Christians who willfully sin can do so to the point that God takes them out of the world rather than allow them to continue in their sinfullness. In this case the backslidden Christian does not lose their salvation or their eternal life, but they lose their heartbeat and their temporal life here on earth. Either way John says that we do not need to pray about this in intercession for it is beyond prayer to the point that it is now in God’s hands to deal with.
I am reminded of a man who was a part of our fellowship that fell away. There is no doubt that at one point he lived and professed the name of Christ. Through a series of sinful acts and church discipline the brother was not permitted to be a part of the fellowship any longer until he repented of flagrant sinfulness which he practiced openly. Years passed and the man continued in his rebellion. I watched as this man lost everything that he had. My prayers were continuously before the LORD on his behalf as often as he came to mind. I was likely the last hold-out from the church as the man had been ostricized by the community of believers that he was once a part of. By an act not of my doing the lines of communication with this fallen brother were severed and though attempts were made by him to reach out to me again, I have felt a forboding in my spirit to reciprocate the communication. Perhaps this sifting that he is going through will bring him to repentence. I certainly hope with faith that this man will one day be restored, yet there comes a time when even the most faithful friend must step aside and watch as God performs His work.
And so even now, this man is heavy on my heart. If he happens across this post somehow by divine providence then I want J.P. (abbreviated for him) to know that I love him and pray that the LORD will accomplish the mighty work that He is doing through this season of discipline. I look forward with no reservation of celebrating the faith with him once again.
[1Jo 5:17 NKJV]
All unrighteousness is sin, and there is sin not [leading] to death.
John is kind to point out that not all sin is sin leading to death, and I am grateful as a sinner that this is the case. Although sometimes I would much prefer to be taken home to be with the LORD than live another minute and risk sinning against my LORD. But I am thankful all the more for His grace and mercy on me, and so I am quick to repent of my sinfullness and seek the LORD’s forgiveness. But John is also faithful here to point out that all unrighteousness is sin.
[1Jo 5:18 NKJV]
We know that whoever is born of God does not sin; but he who has been born of God keeps himself, and the wicked one does not touch him.
Again as in 1 John 3:6, John is speaking to habitual sin. As believers in Christ we are no longer to live in habitual sin, and when we do sin we must keep a short account with God. What John is saying here is that the believer in Christ keeps himself. That is Jesus is the one who keeps him. We are under the wing of the Almighty when we surrender our lives to Him. He is our protector and he keeps us from the wicked one.
[1Jo 5:19 NKJV]
We know that we are of God, and the whole world lies [under the sway of] the wicked one.
Just as the world recieves the world and those who are of God recieve God; each is subject to the sway of the one or One they are subjected to. In other words, believers are not subject to the influence of the wicked one. Instead, we are influenced by God through the Holy Spirit that is within us. No longer are we bound to the lives of sin which lead to death. We have overcome by the blood of the Lamb and have victory over this world and its influence through the power of the resurrected Christ.
[1Jo 5:20 NKJV]
And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us an understanding, that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life.
John shares with us here the privileged position that the believer finds himself. The understanding we have of our salvation is our confidence. We only understand the significance of our salvation as God pours into us. The closer we come to Christ the more clearly we see the profound truth of who He is and what He has done for us. Jesus is God and in Him is eternal life. This is the knowledge that is revealed to believers and so we can rest assured that our salvation, though unmerited by us, is secure none-the-less in the finished work of Jesus on the cross and in His resurrection from the dead and in His reign with the Father.
[1Jo 5:21 NKJV]
Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen.
John concludes his letter with this prayer of intercession. Again, John effectionately refers to us as little children. His request on our behalf is that we would keep ourselves from idols. I think that emphasis he places on idolotry is worthy to be noted. John understood that idols are not merely carved images that people worship. Even in John’s time people set themselves up as idols, they worshipped their things as idols, and even title and position in John’s time was a form of idolatry.
And so as we wrap up this book of 1 John I am truly touched by the encouraging way in which John nails home our immovable salvation. This reassurance is a faithful presentation of the will of God for the life of the believer. We should never stray from the faith or be turned aside along the way when this salvation cost so much. Granted it did not cost us a thing, nor could we ever offer such a great sacrifice on our own. It is only by the blood of Jesus that we are redeemed. God chose to redeem the unredeemable because of His love for us. As faithful servants of the Most High we too must follow His example and love others as He has loved us. With great position comes greater responsibility. We are positioned in such a place that we now have eternal life in Christ. Since we did not have to work to achieve it our work should be the result of it. In other words, we should be about the business of serving the Father in love. We should be the arms that embrace those who are in the world that are lost and hurting. We should love the unlovable because we too were once unlovable. We cannot know love apart from God but now that we know God we know love and since we know love we are obliged to share this great love with everyone that we encounter.
My prayer is that those who read these words of mine would come to know the power of the work of God in their lives. That they too might share in the promise of eternal life and be transformed to love others and love God. My personal life is a testimony of the grace of God. My testimony is mine and no one can refute it. But still His testimony is greater. Jesus is God. He did not have to die, but chose to in order that we might be saved. He loves us so much that He is not willing that any should perish. He has made Himself manifest so that we might have salvation, and He sent the Holy Spirit that we might be filled as the confirmation of the completed work that He has done on our behalf. It is by His Spirit that we now have the ability to love and it is fitting, therefore, that we should love with the same everlasting love that He loves us with.