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Bible Commentaries
1 John 5

Bridgeway Bible CommentaryBridgeway Bible Commentary

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Verses 1-5

The character of Christian love (4:7-5:5)

It is God’s nature to love. Love in human nature has been spoiled by sin, but when people are born again by the work of God, they learn to love as God loves (7-8). The character of God’s love is seen in his act of giving his Son to die for those who have rebelled against him. They are worthy of death, but Jesus died to bear the judgment of sin on their behalf. As a result they can now have life (9-10). People cannot see God, but they can see that he lives within Christians when they practise his love. They show this most clearly when they love those who do not deserve it (11-12).
Christians have increased confidence in God through their inward possession of the Holy Spirit and their outward acknowledgment of Jesus Christ as the Son of God and the Saviour of sinners. They know that they live in God and that God lives in them (13-15). This new relationship with God (who is love) enables them to practise love towards other people as Jesus Christ did. This gives them added confidence that they are saved eternally and need never fear God’s judgment (16-18). In summary, if people love God they will love one another, but if they hate one another they cannot honestly claim to love God (19-21).
John repeats that people must believe in Jesus as the Son of God in order to be saved, and that love for God is inseparable from love for God’s people (5:1). If believers genuinely love God they will also obey his commandments. They will do this not in a legalistic spirit, but in a spirit of joy and willingness, for they will want to do what pleases God (2-3). They will find strength to be obedient through their faith in Jesus as the Son of God. Because Jesus overcame the world’s evil, the children of God who trust in Jesus can triumph also (4-5).

Verses 6-12


The basis of assurance (5:6-12)

Those who taught Gnostic-type theories did not believe that the person who died on the cross was Jesus Christ the Son of God. They claimed that ‘the Christ’ (i.e. God) descended on Jesus (the man) in the form of a dove after his baptism and empowered him to do miracles, but departed before his crucifixion. According to them, the Jesus who suffered and died was merely a man. He was not ‘the Christ’. In other words, ‘the Christ’ came through water (his baptism) but not through blood (his death).

John emphatically denies this by saying that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of God, through both experiences. John quotes three witnesses as evidence to support this. The first is the water, for Jesus was already both God and man when he was baptized (cf. John 1:29-34). The second is the blood, for the person who died on the cross was both God and man (cf. John 20:26-31; Acts 2:22-24). The third is the Spirit, for Christ’s indwelling Spirit is the one who confirms this truth to the Christian (cf. 1 John 2:20; 1 John 3:24; 1 John 4:13). When the testimonies of three witnesses are in agreement, they must be accepted as evidence that cannot be disputed (6-8; cf. Deuteronomy 19:15).

If people accept the testimony of their fellow human beings, how much more should they accept the testimony of God. And God says that the one who died for the sins of the world was his Son. To deny the union of the divine and the human in Jesus is to call God a liar (9-10). God’s Son is the source of eternal life, and those who accept God’s testimony and believe in his Son have eternal life also (11-12).

Verses 13-21

Practical results of assurance (5:13-21)

When Christians know with assurance that God has accepted them and given them eternal life, they will have confidence to come to him with their requests. First, however, they must consider God’s will, and not make requests from the wrong motives. They can then be assured that God will hear and answer their prayers (13-15). John encourages them to pray for one another, but he points out that there may be some cases where a person, through his sin, sets in motion a course of events that no amount of prayer can reverse. Christians must train themselves to see the difference between those cases where they should pray and those cases where they should not (16-17).
Sin is not a characteristic of Christians, because Christ keeps them from coming under the power of Satan. Since they belong to God, their lives are different from those of worldly people in general (18-19). John repeats that Jesus Christ, the Son of God who died for sinners, is the true God and he gives believers eternal life. The substitutes invented by the false teachers are false gods and must be avoided (20-21).

Bibliographical Information
Fleming, Donald C. "Commentary on 1 John 5". "Fleming's Bridgeway Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/bbc/1-john-5.html. 2005.
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