About Jesus     Steve Sweetman

Home Page

This Section - Chapters 5

Previous Section

ch. 5:1-12     ch. 5:13-21


Faith In The Son Of God (ch. 5:1-12)


In verse 1 we read that “everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God …”  A number of times John has made such a comment in his short letter.  For example, he’s told us that if we love our brothers, we are born of God.  But what he says here is the bottom line to our salvation.  It is the foundation to the reasons why we are born of God. 


It is “believing” that Jesus is in fact the Christ, meaning, the “sent one from God”.  This speaks to the Deity of Christ that Cerinthus and his followers denied. 


We need to understand that “believe” is more than agreeing with the truth.  It is giving yourself to the truth.  John is saying that one who gives himself to the truth  that Jesus is truly the Christ, is born of God.  Mentally accepting the fact of an historical Jesus, is not believing as defined in New Testament terms.


Then anyone  “who loves the father, loves the child as well”, John says.  It appears that “the father’ here is a generic father, and not Father God.  The NIV does not capitalize the word father, so in the translators minds they must have felt this verse was not applying to  God the Father.  In prior verses they did capitalize “Father” when John spoke of God.


There is also no word for father in the Greek text. The KJV may be more specific in their translation when they use the word “beget”. 


Thus what John is probably saying here is that anyone who loves a father loves that father’s son as well.  If this is the case in a generic sense, it should be the case when it comes to God the Father and Jesus His Son.  The relationship between God and Jesus is what really is in question here, that is, in light of the false teaching that states the Jesus is not divine.    


In verse 2 John says that “this is how we know we love the children of God, by loving God and  carrying out his commands.  You’d think we would know if we love our brothers by our actions, and I’m sure John would agree with that statement.  He’s already told us if we love in action and truth, we are of the truth.  But here he says that we know if we love our brothers, we obey God’s commands. Part of obeying God is to love our brothers.  Also part of obeying God is to love our brothers in the way in which He wants us to love our brothers, not merely the way we want to love our brothers. 


In verse 3 John says that “this is love”, that we obey his commands, “and His commands are not burdensome”.  If we truly do love God, what He tells us to do should not be a problem to us.  It is only when we rebel and want to do our own thing that His commands become bothersome and a burden to us.  When John says this, he is saying that there is real concrete proof that one actually loves God.  Thus love demands action.  In this case, loving God demands obedience.


Verse 4 says that everyone “born of God, overcomes the world”.  By using the word “overcome” John is telling us that there is a struggle and a process to overcome the effects of the world in our lives.  This is the process of sanctification.  Such overcoming is thus possible.


In today's church, I don't see much thought given to overcoming the world.  The reason why John speaks of overcoming the world is that the early church saw the world system and its ways as being corrupt and something to be rescued from.  I don't believe many Christians view the world in this way.  We like the world more than we should, and I believe that shows in the way we live. 



Then in verse 5 he says, “this is the victory that overcomes the world, even our faith”. It is our faith that enables us to overcome the world.  But even a better way of saying it is that our trust in Jesus helps us overcome the world in our lives.  And really, it is not our trust or faith, it is Jesus Himself that helps us overcome.  Our trust only allows Him access into our lives to give us the ability to overcome.


Verse 5 also says,  “only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God…”  It is only through giving your life to Jesus as God’s Son, can one really overcome the world.  Cerinthus and his followers were thus trying to overcome the world through other means.  John says that this won’t work.


Verse 6 says that Jesus came by water and blood, not by water alone.  This is how I view this verse, and its not my thinking alone, but is generally accepted thinking among  many scholars, yet not all.  Water refers to Jesus’ baptism, and blood refers to the cross. 


Cerinthus believed that Jesus was born of Mary and Joseph and at His baptism became the eternal Son, the eternal Word entered Jesus, and at that point Jesus the human became Jesus the Son of God.  Cerinthus also believed that once Jesus hung on the cross the eternal Word left the body of Jesus and He became an ordinary man and died as a man. 


What John is saying here is that Jesus came by water and blood.  When Jesus came to His baptism, He was God.  His baptism did not make Him the Son of God.  It was the initiation into His ministry.  Also when Jesus died, He died as the Son of God to forgive the sins of the world.  Jesus died as the Son.  He was more than a man.


John says that the Holy Spirit gives witness to what he is saying is the truth.  John, in one sense of the word is telling his readers that what he is writing is the inspired Word of God, as Christians believe today.


In verses 7 and 8 John talks about 3 witnesses, the Spirit the water, and the blood.  The Law of Moses required there to be 3 witnesses to settle any dispute.  Here John says that there are 3 witnesses that support the truth that Jesus is the Son of God.  The Spirit is a person  The water and blood are obviously not a real person but real events that point to the Messiahship of Jesus. The voice that came from Heaven at Jesus’ baptism announcing to those watching that Jesus was in fact God’s Son and that God loved Him gives proof that Jesus was the Christ.  The miracles of the cross also prove the same.  Those who felt the earthquake, saw the darkness and stood by the cross, even the soldiers acknowledged the divinity of Jesus.


In verse 9 John says that “we accept man’s testimony”.  He’s saying that in any court procedures the testimony of a man is valid in a court of law.  If this is the case, the testimony of God Himself, as seen through the Holy Spirit, Jesus baptism and His death should be even more convincing.  At this point John sounds a bit like Paul in using a logical approach to defend the deity of Christ.


In verse 10 Johns says that ‘anyone who believes has this testimony in his heart”. If you have really given your life to Jesus, then the testimony that Jesus is God is a deeply held conviction within you.  You are thus capable of spreading this news to others.  You in fact also become a witness to this truth.


John goes on to call non-believers liars once again, because they are not believing what God has said.  They are thus promoting something that is not true.  Their gospel is a lie and they are liars.  I think John, who is seen as one of the more gentle of the apostles, would not last long in our present world using such language as he does here.


Verse 11 says that “God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son”.  John makes it very clear.  eternal life is only found in Jesus, nowhere else. He’s also made it clear that it is through believing, through giving one’s life to the Son that we can have eternal life. If we don’t give ourselves to Him, then it is clear we don’t have eternal life.


This section ends with the simple statement that says, “they that have the Son have life, and they that don’t have the Son don’t have life”.  You can’t get any clearer than that.


When it comes to eternal life and the way in which John uses it hear, he is speaking about life after physical death with Jesus.  Those without Jesus have eternal life too,  but it is in the Lake of Fire .



Concluding Remarks  (ch. 5:13-21)


John gives another reason why he is writing this letter.  In verse 13 he says, “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”. 


These people believe in “the name of the Son of God”, that means, “in the name of Jesus”.  This means that these people realize that they are representatives of Jesus.  As Jesus represented His Father, so John’s readers, and us, represent Jesus. Believing in His name means to give yourself to Jesus as His representatives.  Christians represent Jesus to the world.  We should then live as the representatives that we in fact are. 


It seems to me that John was writing to remind these people, to assure these people, that they in fact had eternal life because they gave themselves to Jesus. As he said earlier, they had passed from death to life.


We must note that the reason why they had eternal life according to John is because they “believed”.  Trusting in Jesus is what brings us into life eternal.  There is no other way.


Verse 13 speaks of "the name of Jesus".  This is one misunderstood term in our day.  The name of Jesus is not simply the way we end a prayer.  We bear Jesus' name.  We go out into the world as representatives of Jesus because He is no longer here in a physical body to represent Himself.  As one works for a company that has a name, so one works and lives for Jesus.  This is what the name of Jesus means.  


In verse 14 John speaks of being confident in approaching God and asking  anything “according to His will”.  Here the plain and simple truth about asking anything of God is seen.  We ask according to His will.


John says that if we ask according to His will, which means, we ask in His name, which means, we ask anything as His representatives, God will hear us.  Then once He hears us, He answers us.  If we don’t receive what we ask for, then we ask outside of His will. There are things that hinder our prayers from being answered.


We need to note here that the things we ask for are the things that helps us represent Jesus to the world.  They are not personal things.  The reason why I say this is because we are to ask in the name of Jesus as His representatives.  Asking is in direct relation to representing Jesus and the work that needs to be done in that representation.   If you are a carpenter and work for a particular person, you represent that person.  If you need a hammer to help you do your work, you ask your employer for a hammer and he gives it to you.  If you want a hammer for personal use at home, he is not obligated to give it to you.  The same is so with Jesus.  This is one thing that is clearly not understood  in Christian circles.  


In verse 16 John tells his readers to pray for the brother that is committing a sin that does not lead to death so God will give this person life.  Then John says that there is a sin that does lead to death and he suggests that you shouldn’t pray for the person in this case.


There’s a couple things to note concerning verses 16 and 17.  One thing to consider are the two types of sin.  There is a sin that leads to death and there are sins that don’t lead to death.  According to Paul, all sins cause death, that is, “the wages of sin is death”. (Rom. 6:23) 


There is only one sin that brings complete death and that is the sin of unbelief, or denying Jesus.  Cerinthus was in the process of trying to make John’s readers commit this sin.  If they laid aside their faith and did not believe anymore, they’d experience spiritual death.  They would lose their salvation. Unbelief, or out and out denial of Jesus is the sin that leads to death.


All other sin produce some kind of death in one’s relationship to Jesus, but these sins don’t cause you to lose your salvation.  Forgiveness can be found for these sins.  Forgiveness can be found for all sin except the sin of unbelief.  It makes no logical sense that God forgives someone who denies Jesus.  If this were so, then Jesus coming to earth, His death and resurrection is in vain.  God could have simply proclaimed everyone saved, whether they believe or don’t believe. 


John says we can pray for the one who sins a sin not unto death.  We should be praying for all of us then, because we all sin daily. 


Why John says that we shouldn’t necessarily pray for the one who is laying aside his faith is unknown to me  the moment. 


In verse 17  John says that “all wrong doing is sin and there is a sin that does not lead to death”.  This is John’s definition of sin.  “All wrong doing is sin”.  Anything that goes against the very nature of our Holy God is sin. This means that we sin more than we think.  God’s mercy and grace, and the cross of Jesus has covered these sins over so that God can no longer see them in one sense of the word. 


Verse 18 says that “we know that anyone born of God does not continue to sin”.  We’ve talked about this earlier.  Christians do sin, sometimes knowingly and sometimes unknowingly, but we do sin. What I believe John is saying here is that we no longer live a lifestyle of sin, where sin and selfishness is our God.  A real Christian will sin, but deep in his heart he wants to follow Jesus.  A non-Christian has no underlying will to follow Jesus.


Then John says, “the one who is born of God keeps him safe and the evil one cannot harm him”.   “The one born of God’ refers to Jesus, who keeps the Christian safe from the devil.  God protects us from the devil.  If the devil harms us, it is because we have allowed him to harm us, or else God has given satan permission to harm us, which sometimes is the case.    


We see John’s view of the world in verse 19.  He confirms that he and his readers are children of God.  He also says that “the whole world is under the control of the evil one”.  I believe this was the thinking of the early Christian church, that is, the world belonged to the devil.  You were either on God’s side, or the devil’s side.  There is no middle ground.  This is what I believe John is saying here.  Peter in Acts 3 tells his listeners to rescue themselves from the world by giving themselves to Jesus.  The first century Christian believed that the world was controlled by the devil and that people needed to be rescued from the devil and the world.  We should believe the same today.


Verse 20 says that Jesus has come to give us understanding. The understanding spoken of here is the things we can understand pertaining to the things of God.  John goes on to say that this understanding leads us to actually knowing God, which for the most part, is the inner desire of mankind.   Both knowledge and understanding are important.  They go hand in hand.  First comes the knowledge, and then comes the understanding to how to appropriate the knowledge.  One thing that is lacking in Christians today is a desire for Biblical knowledge.  This means that there is no understanding in such people. 


The last part of verse 20 is important.  It shows the Deity of Christ.  “We are in Him, meaning God, who is true, - even His Son, Jesus Christ.  He (meaning Jesus) is the true God and eternal life”.  Jesus is God.  Jesus was God in human flesh when upon this earth. 


John closes this letter by saying “keep yourselves from idols”.  Anything we give ourselves to is an idol. The word “believe” means to give yourself to.  Anything we give our lives to is an idol.  Does this mean that if one gives himself to his business and becomes a great success is idolizing his business?  It can mean that.  It doesn't mean a Christian can’t be a successful businessman.  A Christian business man should operate his business as a representative of Jesus.  You might say, that the business man is not his own boss, that Jesus Himself is the boss of his business.


John simply ends this letter by reminding his readers that they need to avoid idolatry and stay focused on Jesus, as we do today.   Idolatry is simply putting something or someone ahead of Jesus in your life.                                            


Previous Section


Home Page