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Bible Commentaries

Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary

1 John 5

Verse 1

FAITH - THE OVERCOMING POWER

1) "Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ" Each or every person (Greek pisteuon) "trusting" is born or having been already begotten of God. The convicting Spirit and believing power are God-given. John 1:12; Romans 1:16; John 6:63.

2) "Is born of God." The gift of faith - under’ the wooing Spirit - enables the sinner to believe or trust in Jesus Christ. Yet each person must of his own will or volition place his faith in Jesus to be saved. John 3:3; John 3:5; Ephesians 2:8-10; Romans 5:1.

3) "And everyone that loveth him that begat" Each person who loves God - the One who took the initiative in his salvation - while he was yet a sinner by sending His son to die, His Word to be preached, and His Spirit to convict etc. Romans 5:6-10; Romans 10:17; John 16:8-11.

4) "Loveth him also that is begotten of him." The gift of love in the believer enables him not only to love God, but also to love His word, His church, and His brethren. John 15:12-14; John 15:23.

Verse 2

1) "By this we know" (Greek entouto ginosko-men) "in this matter" "we recognize" or comprehend - like begets like, in nature and kind, and those born of the Spirit, begotten of God, have a nature new affection of love for each other and the lost. 2 Peter 1:4.

2) “That we love the children of God." Love or an affection toward and affinity with the children of God is one certain Biblical evidence of one’s salvation. Malachi 3:16-17; Romans 12:9-10; Romans 13:10.

3) "When we love God." (Greek Hotan) "Wherever" we love God, or show love for God, in some way we must show love for each other. 1 John 4:11-13.

4) "And keep his commandments." The term, “poimen" means to "do or perform" the things He has commanded His begotten children to do. Romans 13:8; Colossians 1:4.

Verse 3

1) "For this is the love of God" "Greek haute" this is it - the love of God - identified, recognized, and validated.

2) "That we keep his commandments." (Greek Hina) "In order that" we might (Greek teromen) "Keep -or guard", even the commandments of Him - a) to love one another. John 13:34-35; b) to love and witness to the lost, John 20:21; Acts 1:8; John 14:21.

3) "And his commandments are not grievous," To do or perform our Lord’s commands to His begotten children, John asserts, is not grievous (Greek bareiai) See Matthew 11:30; John 14:15; John 15:12-14; John 15:27.

Verse 4

1) "For whatsoever is born of God." (Greek hoti pan to) Third person singular neuter gender, means "everything" having been begotten of God This appears to refer to 1 ) the spirit of Prayer of Manasseh 1:2) the mind of Prayer of Manasseh 1:3) the body of man, as well as the world in the regeneration. Romans 8:19-23.

2) "Overcometh the world." (Greek nika) conquers, subdues, or overcomes the world system of disorder rebellion and sin. Revelation 11:15.

3) "And this is the victory " (Greek haute estin he nike) "’This exists as the victory" - The evidence of victorious hope is declared to be faith in Jesus. Hebrews 11:1.

4) "That overcometh the world, ’ (Greek he nike sasa) the overcoming kind of victory - over the present world order - Abel had and used it, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses did. Hebrews 11:1-40.

5) "Even our faith." (Greek he pistis hemon) The "gift of faith" is offered to every responsible sinner - when a sinner accepts it of God and places it in Jesus Christ, it becomes "his faith" possession to eternal life, Ephesians 2:8-9; John 1:11-12; Romans 4:4-5.

Verse 5

1) "Who is he that overcometh the world” This is a rhetoric question - of necessary inference. affirmation nature. It indicates that the one conquering world, or the one subduing the world-order, keeping it under the will of Christ in his life, is a "Child of God." 1 Corinthians 9:26-27.

2) "But he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God." Faith’s trust in and obedience to Jesus Christ empowers one to be a fruit-bearing, faith-demonstrating servant of God. 2 Peter 1:4-12.

Verse 6

1) "This is he that came." John reaffirms that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, came into the world, a fact sustained by certain, specific, and valid evidence. John 1:29; John 3:16; Galatians 4:4-5; 1 Timothy 3:16.

2) "By water and blood. even Jesus Christ." His manifestation as the Son of God was audibly confirmed by the Father at His baptism. Matthew 3:13-17; John 1:31-34; and as His blood was shed the Father of Him was satisfied. Earth’s lights were turned on again. Isaiah 53:10-11.

3) "Not by water only, but by water and blood." While Jesus was declared to be the Son of God by God the Father at His baptism, manifested to men at His death by His shed blood, let it be noted that blood and water came from His side in death. John 19:34; John 19:37.

4) "And it is the Spirit that beareth Witness" The Spirit of God speaks, makes known to sinners their need of salvation and calls them to accept it, (Proverbs 1:22-23; Hebrews 3:7; Hebrews 4:7); and He seeks to lead the saved in the work of God, as He did Jesus. Luke 3:21-22; Luke 4:1; Luke 4:18-21; Romans 8:14; Romans 8:16.

5) "Because the spirit is truth." Jesus is truth, John 14:6; His Word is truth, John 17:17; and His Spirit is (exists as) truth. These be trinitarian guides in the will of the Father - a) The Son, b) His Word, c) the Holy Spirit, as promised by Jesus, John 16:8-11. Blessed and assured in salvation is each who follows them.

Verse 7

1) "For there are three that bear record in heaven." This passage verse seven, is of questionable origin, generally believed to have been inserted by some writer - not appearing in older manuscripts.

2) "The Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost. The truth of the passage seems sufficiently sustained by other passages of the New Testament.

3) "Arid these three are one" That the Father, (Word - Son) and Holy Spirit are one in the Godhead, each constituting a distinct being and personality is evident. Matthew 28:18-20; 2 Corinthians 13:14.

Verse 8

1) "And there are three that bear witness on earth" Establishing earthly testimony requires two or three witnesses to validate a claim. Our Lord has condescended to supply such to men regarding His being and acts. Deuteronomy 19:15; John 8:17-18; 2 Corinthians 13:1; 1 Timothy 5:19.

2) "The Spirit, and the water, and the blood." a) The Spirit bears witness to the believers spirit and conscience. Romans 8:16; Romans 8:26 b) The water bears testimony to one’s body (tactile testimony) by baptism, Romans 6:4-5. c) The blood bears witness before one’s eyes - in the Lord’s Supper. 1 Corinthians 11:25-26.

3) "And these three agree in one." The testimony of the Holy Spirit, the Water, and the blood all bear witness that the resurrected and coming Christ is the object and goal of the believing conqueror’s faith, John 16:13-15; Romans 6:4-5; Galatians 3:27; 1 Corinthians 11:23-27.

Verse 9

1) "If we receive the witness of men." John, the disciples, and Jewish law, accepted the witness of two people. Earthly testimony of depraved men, by two or more persons, is acceptable evidence. John 8:17-18.

2) "The witness of God is greater." John the beloved affirms that the testimony of the trinitarian God, whose testimony is verified as the Father, by His Son and the Holy Spirit, is greater testimony in nature, kind, truth, and holiness than that of depraved men who are more likely to err. No testimony is of any more trustworthiness than the character of the one testifying.

3) "For this is the witness of God" The witness of God, testimony of God, is by a) direct statement kind, b) specific example kind, and c) necessary inference kind as follows: a) Direct Statement - God the Father –Matthew 3:16-17; Matthew 17:5; John 20:21. b) Specific example - Jesus witnesses. John 8:28-32; John 10:9; John 10:17-18; John 10:27-30. c) Necessary inference or circumstantial evidence. John 5:33-39 lists the testimony of 1) John the Baptist, 2) the works of Jesus, 3) the testimony of the Father, and 4) the Scriptures. Add to this Peter and John; Acts 4:20 and Paul, 2 Timothy 3:16-17.

Verse 10

1) "He that believeth on the Son of God." (Greek ho pisteuon) "the one or anyone trusting" (eis ton huion tou theou) into the Son of God. John reaffirms that Jesus Christ is the Son of God in or into whom responsible sinners may trust. John 1:12.

2) "Hath the witness in himself". The witness (marturian) in the believer is the Holy Spirit in person. Romans 8:15-16; Romans 5:5.

3) "He that believeth not God." The one not trusting God concerning His claim to have sent His Son to save the lost. John 3:17.

4) "Hath made him a liar." (Greek pepoieken) "Has made Him out to be" a liar, prevaricator, an untrustworthy character, 1 John 1:10. To claim to believe in God, but reject what He says about himself, is to discredit His integrity.

5) "Because he believeth not the record." (hoti ou pepisteuken) "because he has not trusted" in the record or testimony God the Father, Son, Holy Spirit, John the Baptist, the miracles that Jesus performed, and His church, had borne witness of Jesus.

6) "That God gave of His Son." God voluntarily, by compassion, not by compulsion, gave witness of His Son in the above cited ways, See John 1:14; John 1:17; John 3:14-18; John 5:33-43.

Verse 11

1) "And this is the record." The direct record, witness, or testimony is cited as follows:

2) "That-God hath given to us eternal life." That the trinitarian (theos) God has (Greek edoken) given or "doled out to us", of His own will and accord, life eternal, John 3:14-15; John 10:27.

3) "And this life is in His Son." (Kai haute he zoe), and this God-given eternal life, exists or is in His Son. Apart from His Son none can have eternal Life. John 8:24; John 3:36; Acts 4:11-12.

Verse 12

1) "He that hath the Son hath life." (ho echon ton huion) The one having, holding, or possessing the Son, a possible present experience, (Greek echei ten zoen) "has the life", of eternal kind and nature, God-life John 3:36; John 5:24.

2) "And he that hath not the Son of God." Anyone without Jesus Christ indwelling his heart, affections, thru the new birth, John 6:47-48; John 17:2-3.

3) "Hath not life." Does not have, hold, or possess the life of eternal "kind" and "nature" which Christ brought, which God gives to them that believe. John 10:10; John 17:21-23; John 3:18; John 3:36; Mark 16:16.

Verse 13

1) "These things have I written." (Greek tauta agrapsa) These things I wrote or "have written". The "these things" refers to the subject matter of the letter constituting evidences by which one might know and the world know that one was saved, and might have full joy. 1 John 1:4.

2) "Unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God" (tois) unto or directed to or toward those trusting in the name of the heir or Son of God.

3) "That ye may know that ye have eternal life." (Greek hina) in order that, or for the purpose that, (eidete) you all may know, perceive, or comprehend “ye have, hold or possess eternal life." The terms know, known, and knoweth are used more than twenty times in 1Jo as verifying affirmations that the born Sons of God possessed life of eternal kind nature. It is just as possible for a saved person to know that he is saved as for an unsaved person to know he is unsaved and just as logical. 1 John 3:2; 1 John 3:14; 1 John 4:7; 1 John 4:13; 1 John 4:15; 2 Corinthians 5:1.

RESTING ON CERTAINTIES

When that Christian and scientist, Sir Michael Faraday, was dying, some journalists questioned him as to his speculations concerning the soul and death "Speculations!" said the dying man, in astonishment, ’I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day."

- Gospel Trumpet

4) "And that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God." "to believe" on is to rely, trust, or depend on the offers and promises of the Son of God. John 6:37; Matthew 11:28-30. John 14:1-3; Hebrews 13:3-5; Hebrews 10:36-37; Romans 10:8-13.

Verse 14

1) "And this is the confidence." This exists as confidence (Greek parresia) boldness - as in 1 John 2:28, whatever the Son of God has promised, the believer should accept as a sea[ of surety.

ARE YOU SURE

As an humble fisherman lay dying, his pastor asked, "are you sure, John?" Rising on his elbow the old man bade him look seaward through the open window. "Are the Seven Stones still there?" he asked. "And the Twin Maidens and the Wolf Rock -are they still there?" "Yes, yes," replied his pastor, "they are still there." Lying back upon his pillow, the dying man said, reverently: "The mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed; but my kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, saith the Lord that hath mercy on thee." (Isaiah 54:10)

- Christian Herald

2) "That we have in Him." (hen echomen pros auton) which we have or hold toward Him. (pros) (face to face.)

3) "That, if we ask anything according to His will" (Greek aitometha) "we sincerely request" (kata) according (to thelema) the high, holy, will of Him, not from one’s fleshly desires, James 4:3; Matthew 20:20; Matthew 20:22.

4) "He heareth us." He hears or heeds us. John 14:13-14; John 15:16; John 16:24; Romans 8:26-27. As a mother listens for the cry of her sick child and hastens to help, so the Lord gives heed to needy men who earnestly implore Him. Psalms 40:1-3; Psalms 145:18-19.

Verse 15

1) "And if we know that He hear us." If He is alive to hear, if we know or understand from past experience, from the testimony of others, and from His word, that He hears us. 1 John 2:1-2; Hebrews 7:25.

2) "Whatsoever we ask." He gives heed to grant, defer, or reject our petitions, according to His knowledge of our need and our good.

3) "We know that we have the petitions " (echomen ta aitemata) we have the requests - objects of our pleas - This expresses bold confidence of possession by anticipation, by faith in his word. John 14:13-14.

4) "That we desire." (ha hetekamen ap autou) which we earnestly request from Him. The picture is that of a child’s trust in a care filled father who never turns away his child’s request in time of need. John 15:16; John 16:23-24

Verse 16

1) "If any man see his brother." "Should anyone see or observe his brother". Believers are to let their lights shine, "Walk circumspectly," realizing that others are looking on. Matthew 5:15-16; Ephesians 5:16-17.

2) "Sin a sin which is not unto death." (Greek harmartanonta hamartian) sinning a (kind of) sin -(Greek me pros thanaton) not bringing him face to face with death - a sin not of mortal kind, capital punishment kind. Divinely sanctioned civil government has always sanctioned civil judgment for capital moral wrongs.

3) "He shall ask, and he shall give him life." Both limited mercy and judgment are mingled and shown in society for sins that are not of death-bearing-nature. Cities of refuge were provided for one who killed another by accident or without malice aforethought. At the horns of the altars and in those cities, compassion and mercy were found. Numbers 35:25-27.

4) "For them that sin not unto death." Let us by Divine admonition pray for restoration of an erring brother unless we know such a request would not be in the will and according to the Word of God. Galatians 6:1; Hebrews 6:18; While God may send affliction for sins of the flesh, He will also give or extend life when such sins are confessed - as Hezekiah and Jonah-did. 2 Kings 20:1-5; Jonah 1:1 to Jonah 2:10.

5) "There is a sin unto death." There exists, John asserted, a kind of sin, (hamartia) (Greek pros) "face to face" with death. The Mosaic Law specified the kind of sins, specific sins, that required one’s forfeiting life for such acts, Each of the Ten Commandments carried the irrevocable penalty previously sanctioned. Genesis 9:6.

6) “I do not say that he shall pray for it." For this kind of sin John did not command the born ones of God to pray. John did not forbid prayer for the person, but did not ask that prayers be made for lives of capital punishment nature sinning ones to be spared. The Lord forbade Jeremiah to pray for such. Jeremiah 7:16; Jeremiah 11:14. Some have considered this sin to be the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost, but it is not "seen" in a brother and perhaps none can know when a sinner commits it. Matthew 12:32.

Verse 17

1) "All unrighteousness is sin." (pasa adikia) all kinds of unrighteousness - a) thoughts, b) imaginations, and c) deeds exist as and constitute lawlessness against the holiness of God. a) thoughts Proverbs 24:9; Matthew 12:36; Matthew 15:19, b) imaginations, Genesis 6:5; and c) deeds Romans 3:23.

2) "And there is a sin not unto death." There is John affirms, lawlessness not unto, or bringing one face to face with death. Sin can be overcome in Jesus Christ, thru the new birth, 2 Corinthians 5:17, and the power of the Spirit, Galatians 5:25; 1 John 1:8-9. Daily sins should be daily confessed and may be daily forgiven, keeping one in daily fellowship with God and one another, 1 John 1:7; Matthew 6:11-15.

Verse 18

1) "We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not." John affirmed that he and true disciples knew, that (pas ho geggenemenos) the one having been begotten of God sins not, or misses not the mark. This seems to be directed concerning the "inner whosoever", as declared, 1 John 3:9; Ephesians 3:16; 2 Corinthians 4:16. Man’s spirit, begotten of God’s Spirit, constitutes the sinless inner man. John 3:6; John 6:63; 2 Peter 1:4.

2) "But he that is begotten of God keepeth himself." The one having been begotten of God, the inner-man, the sinless "whosoever" of Divine nature, (Greek terei) guards himself.

3) "And that wicked one toucheth him not." And the (poneros) evil one (apeptai) touches him (the begotten one) not. He is sealed unto the day of redemption of the sinful outer man. Ephesians 1:13-14; Ephesians 4:30. Satan may touch the body of the redeemed as he did Job and Paul, but the whole man belongs to God by virtue of the new birth and indwelling Spirit, 1 Corinthians 6:19-20. The outer man should be in subjection to the inner man, quickened of the Spirit, to subdue and use the body to the glory of God. Romans 7:1-25; 1 Corinthians 9:26-27; Galatians 5:25; Job 1:1-22; 2 Corinthians 12:7. Our security is in Christ who is in the hand of God and the new man, new creature is in us, the believer, John 10:29; John 17:21; John 17:23; 2 Corinthians 5:17.

Verse 19

1) "And we know that we are of God." He who is saved can know, be assured that he is saved, and know who his earthly father is. Experimentally, personally, one can know that he is saved, a child of God. Testamentarily, he can know he is saved by the inner witness of God’s Spirit, and thru evidence of changed lives he can know that he and others are saved. This is essentially John’s testimony of what faith in Christ brings one.

2) "And the whole world lieth in wickedness." (Greek kai ho kosmos holos) and the totality of the present world order or system (en ponero, ketai) in wickedness (the wicked one) helplessly lies. Nothing .in the deranged world order has life or power to cleanse or redeem it, of man, or living creature, or matter - organic or inorganic. Romans 8:19-21

Verse 20

1) "And we know that the Son of God has come." (oidamen de hoti) we, indeed, know that (ho huios tou theou ekei) the Son of God has come. John begins a final affirmation that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, had come. To deny or question this was to join hands with Antichrists, gnostics, agnostics, and infidels, 1 John 4:2-3.

2) "And hath given us an understanding." (Kai dedoken hemin dianoian) and has given (doled out to us of His own accord) an understanding or comprehension of His being, who He is and who His Father is. Matthew 16:17; 1 Corinthians 2:13-16. The believer is therefore said to have been given "the mind of Christ." 1 Corinthians 2:16.

3) "That we may know Him that is true." (Greek hina) in order that, as an aid to, or to the end that -purpose clause - (ginoskomen ton alethinon) we might know or recognize the One that is true - the true God and the true Christ is the one true God, as revealed by the Holy Ghost. John 17:3; 1 John 2:20, 1 Corinthians 8:5-6.

4) "And we are in Him that is true." The true believer born or begotten child of God is in (abides in (Greek Alethinon) the true One - the true God by abiding in His Son, for the Son is in the Father, the sphere of His spiritual being.

5) "Even in His Son Jesus Christ." To be in God is tautologically, to be in His Son, Jesus Christ, John 17:20-23; John 14:10-11; John 14:20; John 10:38.

6) "This is the true God, and eternal life." There be "gods" false, and "the God" true. This is the Hebrew-Christian concept. Exodus 20:1; Exodus 20:3; Psalms 115:2-8; 1 Corinthians 8:5-6; Ephesians 4:4-6. The true God self-existing with life as a Divine attribute, who can not lie and can not die, gives to believers "eternal life," of His self-existing nature and kind - this is given thru faith in Jesus Christ His Son, John 10:27-28; John 3:14-16; 1 John 5:13.

Verse 21

1) "Little children" (Greek teknia) Dear children begotten ones, very dear to the aged apostle. This is an affectionate term of care and compassion John, the apostle of love, used throughout this letter, beginning with chapter 2 verse 1.

2) "Keep yourselves from idols." (Greek phulaksate) guard or separate yourselves - don’t keep company or associate with idols. (Heauta), yourselves is a reflexive pronoun emphasizing personal responsibility of every believer for his religious conduct as it may affect others, as 1 Corinthians 6:19-20; 1 Corinthians 8:1-13; 1 Corinthians 9:27; 1 Corinthians 10:16-22. (Greek apo ton eidolon) away or from association and identify with idols. "Keep the camel’s head out of the tent," lest the tent of Christian life and influence be diminished or destroyed, 2 Corinthians 6:14-17; 1 Thessalonians 1:9.

THE CAMEL’S NOSE

Once in his shop a workman wrought, With languid hand and listless thought, When through the open window’s space Behold, a camel thrust his face: "No my nose is cold," he meekly cried; "Oh, let me warm it by thy side."

Since no denial word was said, In came the nose, in came the head; As sure as sermon follows text, The long and scraggy neck came next; And then as falls the threatening storm, In leaped the whole ungainly form.

Aghast, the owner gazed around, And on the rude invader frowned, Convinced, as closer still he pressed, There was no room for such a guest; Yet more astonished heard him say, "If thou art troubled, go away, For in this place I choose to stay." Oh, youthful hearts, to gladness born, Treat not this Arab lore with scorn.

To evil habits’ earliest wile

Lend neither ear, nor glance, nor smile.

Choke the dark fountain ere it flows,

Nor e’en admit the camel’s nose.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Blessed Hope Foundation and the Baptist Training Center.
Bibliographical Information
Garner, Albert & Howes, J.C. "Commentary on 1 John 5". Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghb/1-john-5.html. 1985.