1 John 5:1-21 Comments by Stephen Ricker
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Everyone Born of God Overcomes the World
Comments for Study 6

1 John 5:1-21
Memory Verse: 1


I. This is the Victory (1-5)

1. Besides loving one's brother, what is the sign of being born again? (1) How does the illustration of a family (closely united under the love of the Father) tell us that everyone who loves God the Father will naturally love God's children? What kind of people do you suppose would love the children of God with his love? (2)

1 John 5:1 "Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves the father loves his child as well."

* "Everyone" -not exclusions; this includes all people.

* "believes" -In Greek its "pisteuo". It is from the Greek word "peitho" which is a prime verb meaning to convince, to pacify or conciliate; to assent, to rely." "Pisteuo" means; "to have faith (in, upon, or with respect to, a person or thing), i.e. credit; by impl. to entrust (espec. one's spiritual well-being to Christ); commit (to trust), put in trust with."

* "Jesus is the Christ" -There are many dimensions to the word Christ; Savior, Healer, Redeemer, King, Leader, Priest, God, Teacher, Counselor, Friend, ect. As I study the Bible I learn of these more and more. But most importantly believing that Jesus is the Christ is not the mind's knowledge or the heart's passion; It is having a personal relationship with Jesus.

* "born of God" -This is a term that of perhaps washed down with use in my time. Jesus taught Nicodemus about being born of God (John 3). Verses 5-8 say, "Jesus answered, 'I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, 'You must be born again.' The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.'" In John's letter here, I am given how and when this takes place in a Christian; it is when I believe that Jesus is the Christ.

* "loves the father loves the child" -Father and child are not capitalized here. If they are talking about Jesus and God the Father, then I do not know why these words are not capitalized. This is not always the case by today's father/son relationship standards. Perhaps in John's day this was a commonly held truth because a father had more influence on his child than anyone else. Therefore the son would be a lot like the father; in demeanor, thought. Then this would be true, "anyone who loves the father loves the son". If this is so than John seemingly takes this common phrase and uses it to describe a Christian's love for Jesus is the same as the love for his Father.

Another meaning of this verse is that John is talking about God the Father and the children of God (the church). This would seem to be the case when I look at verse 2. But again I must point out that father is not capitalized. Here again I would have to say John is using a common phrase to describe a spiritual truth.

1 John 5:2 "This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands."

* "love the children of God" -John's statement in verse 1 would rise the question, "How do I know that I love the children of God?" John answers it here with two points.

* "children of God" -John is talking about my love for the church only; not for unbelievers. I know that I am to love others (my neighbors) too, but I must not that John is very specific here.

* "by loving God" -In order for me to love the children of God truly, I need to love God. This is because human love has limitations. Also if I do not love God then logically I can not love his children who love him and aspire after him.

* "carrying out his commands" -It is true that many of the commands of God relate to my actions towards others. In fact the heart of the commands is love of God and others. Matthew 22:36- 40 says, "Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?" Jesus replied: "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments." John 15:10, 12, and 17 says, "If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father's commands and remain in his love." "My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you." "This is my command: Love each other." This letter of John echoes these verses.

2. Why are God's commands not burdensome? How does this emphasize that God's children obey God's commands and seek after righteousness out of great delight and joy instead of an oppressive sense of duty?

1 John 5:3 "This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome,"

* "his commands are not burdensome" -Because of my sinful nature the commands of God do seem burdensome. It seems hard to look the other way when I catch a glimpse of a scantily dressed female. It seems hard not to get angry enough to return evil for someone that cuts me off when I'm driving. It seems hard to resist the urged to buy things just because of a desire rather than a need. But in truth to a child of God, God's commands are not burdensome. When the love of God "glows" in my heart his commands are not burdensome at all. In fact these and other evils are very easy to avoid with the love of God in me. Not only is this true, but the commands of God is how I and all humans were meant to live. The commands of God are only truths of how it is meant to be. What is burdensome then? The battle between the sinful nature and the newly born image of God in my spirit. The battle between the world and God's established truths. I believe this is a sound thought.

3. Why does the author say that obedience to God is equated with overcoming the world, or with gaining the victory over the world? (4) How is such victory possible for believers? (4a; 3:24; 1 Co. 12:3) How does the author speak of two different aspects of victory for believers by using the different terms "overcoming" and "has overcome"?

4. For believers, how is such victory over the world gained ? (4a,b) How is it culminated? (5:1,2) What does this victory assure us? (3, Romans 8:37) (So, in this way, John completes the analysis of the marks of new birth for God's children in terms of love, obedience, and faith.)

1 John 5:4 "for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith."

* "overcomes the world" -Even though there is a spiritual battle going on the winners are already predestined to be those born of God, which includes me. This is or at least can be a day to day, event by event occurrence.

* "faith" -Faith is the key to the victory. Earlier I talked of the love for God. This I believe stems from faith. As the song goes, "Faith is the victory." If I believe I do.

1 John 5:5 "Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God."

* "believes that Jesus is the Son of God" -The faith that victories is made of is not general. Rather it is specific.

II. The Spirit, the Water, and the Blood, the Witnesses to the Son (6-12)

5. What does 'water' and 'blood' in verse 6 symbolize? (Mark 1:10,11; 14:24) How does this tell us about the beginning and the end of Jesus' ministry as well as the historical Jesus being the Son of God throughout his ministry? Who testifies that Jesus is the Christ and the Son of God? (6) How does he verify this truth to us? (John 1:32-34; 2:27; 1 Co. 12:3)

1 John 5:6 "This is the one who came by water and blood--Jesus Christ. He did not come by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth."

* "This is the one" -Refers to Jesus, the Son of God. John is revealing to the reader about Jesus whom we believe in and by thus believing we overcome the world.

* "water and blood" -There are several beliefs as to what this means. They are:
    A) Water symbolizes Jesus' baptism, and blood symbolizes his death. These are mentioned because Jesus' ministry began at his baptism and ended at his death. John is reacting to the heretics of this day (mainly the Gnostics) who said that Jesus was born only a man and remained so until his baptism. At that time, they maintained, the Christ (the Son of God) descended on the human Jesus, but left him before his suffering on the cross -so that it was only the man Jesus who died. Throughout this letter John has been insisting that Jesus Christ is God as well as man (1:1-4; 4:2; 5:5). He now asserts that it was this God-man Jesus Christ who came into our world, was baptized and died. Jesus was the Son of God not only at his baptism but also at his death. This truth is extremely important, because, if Jesus died only as a man, his sacrificial atonement would not have been sufficient to take away the guilt of man's sin.
    B) Water and blood are the means by which Jesus saves. Thus Jesus comes to us personally by water and blood. (Heb. 9:13; Num. 19:9) Cleansing outward and inward-water baptism outwardly; the blood of Jesus inwardly.
    C) Jesus was of water and blood, human. When a baby is born there is blood and water. The water is from the mother and the blood is from the father. This is a proven medical fact. Then when Jesus died a spear was thrust into his side bringing forth water and blood.

* "the Spirit who testifies"-Depending on which one a person prescribes to above this meaning could change. Still, they all come down to these two ways: The Spirit descended on Jesus at his baptism and he continues to confirm in the hearts of believers. The apostolic testimony that Jesus' baptism and death verify that he is the Christ, the Son of God.

6. Why was the author presenting three witnesses that testify that Jesus is the Christ? (Deut. 19:15) What is the significance of each witness in terms of the counterpart ministry in the hearts of the believers?

1 John 5:7 "For there are three that testify:"

* "For there are three that testify" -The Old Testament law required "two or three witnesses" (Deut. 17:6; 19:15) The first believers kept to this (1 Tim. 5:19).

1 John 5:8 "the Spirit, the water and the blood; and the three are in agreement."

* "the Spirit"

* "the water"

* "the blood"

* "the three are in agreement" -According to the law if the three were in agreement then it was to be considered as truth. This system was put into place so that human error and evil would not convict an innocent person and so the truth could be maintained.

1 John 5:9 "We accept man's testimony, but God's testimony is greater because it is the testimony of God, which he has given about his Son."

* This verse is similar to Jesus' words in John's gospel. John 5:31-38 says, "If I testify about myself, my testimony is not valid. There is another who testifies in my favor, and I know that his testimony about me is valid. You have sent to John and he has testified to the truth. Not that I accept human testimony; but I mention it that you may be saved. John was a lamp that burned and gave light, and you chose for a time to enjoy his light. I have testimony weightier than that of John. For the very work that the Father has given me to finish, and which I am doing, testifies that the Father has sent me. And the Father who sent me has himself testified concerning me. You have never heard his voice nor seen his form, nor does his word dwell in you, for you do not believe the one he sent."

* "We" -This is not just John, not just the apostles, not just the first century believers, not just those who saw and hear Jesus; rather it is all true Christians.

* "Man's testimony" -any man's testimony. By believing another's witness to us about Jesus is enough to be a child of God.

* "but" -Even though believing another's witness about Jesus is enough as I have just said. It is not the last and only witness to us.

* "God's testimony" -This is the Holy Spirit's testimony talked about in verses 6-8.

One could says for John this could also be God's testimony to the disciples while Jesus was still on this earth (i.e. at Jesus' baptism, on the mountain of transfiguration, in John 12:28).

* "is greater" -No matter if John was referring to the testimonies of God to him personally or to the individual, we all receive God's testimony of the Holy Spirit in our hearts. And this testimony is the one that we rely on to continually confirm that Jesus is the Son of God, the Christ.

7. Why is God's own testimony greater than any other witness? (11-12) How is it possible for this testimony to be planted in the heart of a believer? (10) Why is believing in the Son of God through God's testimony so important?

1 John 5:10 "Anyone who believes in the Son of God has this testimony in his heart. Anyone who does not believe God has made him out to be a liar, because he has not believed the testimony God has given about his Son."

* "Anyone who believes in the Son of God" -No believer is excluded. All true Christians has the testimony of God in their heart.

* "has this testimony in his heart" -This is amazing and true. I find that I am like my son and daughter were towards Lisa and I when they were little (and older if they are willing to admit it). They continually need reassuring from our presence and love. In the same way I often find myself looking in my heart for this testimony of God. The three are there and they testify to me. Of course God's testimony to me is not only when I seek it. At times he rebukes me, guides me, warns me, showers his love on me, gives me his approval of my actions... God does not appear to me, rather he testifies to me in my heart. As John says, this testimony is much weightier.

* The second sentence in this verse is for those who the Holy Spirit has revealed the truth to, but they reject it. Matthew 12:31 says, "And so I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven."

1 John 5:11 "And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.

* "And this is the testimony" -Up until now John has talked about the testimony, but has not said what the testimony was. Although I have talked about the testimony of God to me, not necessarily referring to what John is about to say, it is one in the same. For saying one is the same and leads to the other

* "God has given us eternal life" -The Holy Spirit reveals this truth to me. I have eternal life. I will live forever. This is a gift of God. He has "given" it to all Christians. He did not have to do it, but he did. It is free of charge and debt. Although I own him I am not required to pay for it.

* "and this life is in his Son" -Jesus often said, "I am the life," in those direct words of ones similar to them. God also testifies this to the believer. I know that life in in Jesus, God's Son. John 1:4 says, "In him was life, and that life was the light of men." Jesus is my life.

1 John 5:12 "He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life."

* This verse is self explanatory

III. Concluding Remarks (13-21)

8. What was John's purpose in writing this letter to the Christians?

9. What is the confidence which believers in fellowship with God may enjoy? (14; 3:21) What is the condition for powerful prayer fellowship? How does this confidence affect the prayer life of Christians?

1 John 5:13-15 "I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life. This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us--whatever we ask--we know that we have what we asked of him."

* "I write these things so that" -John had a purpose. I have a purpose in writing these Bible studies. The purpose is not just for self, but for others. I hope to share with others freely with the same motive as John.

* "to you who believe in the name of the Son of God" -He was writing to people who already believe.

* "so that you may know that you have eternal life" -the antichrist was telling them that if they didn't accept the new teaching then they would not have eternal life. I hear this same statement today from the modern day antichrists.

10. What does 'sin that leads to death' refer to? What kind of petition are we sure God will answer? What is the outcome of this prayer.

1 John 5:16-17 "If anyone sees his brother commit a sin that does not lead to death, he should pray and God will give him life. I refer to those whose sin does not lead to death. There is a sin that leads to death. I am not saying that he should pray about that. All wrongdoing is sin, and there is sin that does not lead to death."

* "he should" -advice is to pray.

* "sin that... lead to death" -that would be the sin of blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit testifies that Jesus is the Son of God and the Son of Man. Anyone who dies not believing in this will die physically and spiritually.

* "sin that does not lead to death" -all sins except blasphemy of the Spirit that are humbly confessed and repented of in the name of Jesus are forgiven.

11. What are the three certainties that Christians know? With which did John conclude his letter? (18-20) What is the author's final affectionate admonition?

1 John 5:18-21 "We know that anyone born of God does not continue to sin; the one who was born of God keeps him safe, and the evil one cannot harm him. We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one. We know also that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true. And we are in him who is true--even in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life. Dear children, keep yourselves from idols."

* "does not continue in sin" -the key word is continue in sin. He is not saying that we never sin once we believe.

* "the whole world is under control of the evil one" -Many today do not believe they are under the control of Satan. They think they are in control of themselves. They have been fooled.