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Bible Commentaries
1 John 5

Hampton's Commentary on Selected BooksHampton's Commentary

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Verses 1-2

Loving the Brethren

Generally speaking, it is easier to love that which is near and seen than that which is far away and unseen. Earlier, John had said, "No one has seen God at any time (verse 12). It is important to remember that man was created in the image of God ( Gen_1:26-27 ). Christians should love that spiritual image in every man. To fail to do so is to fail to love God. Such love should especially be shown for brethren in the family of God, or the church. The love commanded by John is not affection but a looking out for the best interests of the object loved. In fact, that is the same love God's children are commanded to have for their enemies, their neighbors and their brethren ( 1Jn_4:20-21 ; Mat_5:44-48 ; Mat_22:35-40 ; Joh_13:34-35 ).

Some may have been thus led to ask, "Who is my brother?" Those who continue to believe Jesus, the man, is also the Christ, deity, are born of God, or His sons. God is the one who begat all Christians ( Jam_1:17-18 ) and those begotten of Him would all be brethren in the Lord. Thus, when one loves God, who begat him, he should also love his brethren, who were likewise begotten of the Father ( 1Jn_5:1 ).

The Christian's love of God and keeping His commandments is the perfect display of his love for the brethren. For example, Gal_6:1-2 commands all the spiritual ones to restore brethren overtaken in faults and help bear one another's burdens. Heb_10:24-25 commands Christians to provoke one another unto love and good works by being present at all the assemblies of the saints to encourage them to keep on going despite daily pressures. By giving careful attention to himself and the doctrine, Paul told Timothy he would be able to save himself and his listeners ( 1Ti_4:16 ). So, Christians in the first century were given a number of instructions intended to direct them in properly loving God through displaying love for their brothers ( 1Jn_5:2 ).

Verses 3-5

Keeping On Keeping God's Commandments

If anyone really loves God, he will keep on keeping His commandments ( 1Jn_5:3 ; Joh_14:15 ; 2Th_1:7-8 ). John explained that those commandments are not burdensome, which Thayer says means "the keeping of which is grievous". One could refer to other passages that speak of the daily bearing of one's cross or entering the strait gate and wonder at John's words here. However, when compared to the law of Moses or the terrible judgment that will fall on those who do not keep God's commandments, the Christians' burden truly is light ( Mat_11:28-30 ). Remember, Jesus' strength and support belong to those who seek to do the Father's will ( Php_4:13 ; Mat_28:20 ; 1Co_10:13 ).

Another reason God's commandments should not be considered burdensome is found in 1Jn_5:4 . All that Christians have to give up will result in victory over sin, Satan and all the forces of evil. The Christians' faith gives them such victory. Notice how closely faith and the keeping of God's commandments are tied together in John's thinking. There is great overcoming power in believing Jesus is the resurrected Son of God ( 1Jn_5:5 ; 1Th_4:14 ; 1Co_15:20-22 ).

Verses 6-10

Witnesses to Jesus' Sonship

The Gnostics taught that Jesus was a man, and Christ, the Deity, came upon Him at baptism and left Him before the crucifixion. John says Jesus was the same both in the waters of baptism and at the shedding of blood in His death ( Mat_3:13-17 ; Joh_19:31-35 ). The Spirit bore witness to Jesus' Deity by descending like a dove at His baptism ( Joh_1:32-34 ). He continued, and continues, to bear witness as to Jesus' death and resurrection through the testimony of the apostles ( Act_2:1-47 ). His witness can be relied upon since it is true, as John personally knew and could testify ( Joh_16:13 ). Thus, it can be said there are three that testify to Jesus' Lordship and Deity. The Father called him Son at His baptism, transfiguration and resurrection. The Spirit, by descending at Christ's baptism and helping in the resurrection, also testified to His Sonship. Of course, Jesus also laid claim to being God's Son ( 1Jn_5:6-8 ).

Men accept the testimony of other men and should much more readily accept that of God. God has surely testified that Jesus is His Son ( Mat_17:1-5 ). When the Christian keeps on believing on Jesus as God's Son, the Holy Spirit abides in him as proof of his faithfulness ( Rom_8:9 ; Gal_4:6 ). God's testimony in scripture is sufficient to prove Jesus is God. To reject that scriptural testimony is to reject God's witness and call Him a liar ( 1Jn_5:9-10 ).

Verses 11-15

The Means and Results of Having Eternal Life

Jesus was sent to open the way to eternal life in heaven, and to believe on Him, in the obedient way already discussed in earlier comments, is to gain that life ( Joh_17:3 ). Having eternal life in heaven is contingent upon having the Son, or being a Christian ( Joh_20:30-31 ; Mar_10:29-30 ). In 1:4, John had said he wrote that their joy would be made full. Certainly, there is no fuller joy than in knowing one will be in heaven. As long as one walks in the light (1:7), he can know eternal life is his promised possession. Literally, John was writing to those who would keep on believing ( 1Jn_5:11-13 ). How can one really claim to believe Jesus is God's Son and fail to obey Him?

Having eternal life as a promise from God also gives the Christian confidence in his prayer life. God will answer if Christians pray in accord with His will (compare Mar_11:15 ; Mar_11:24 ; Joh_14:14 ; Joh_15:7 ; Jam_4:3 ; 1Jn_3:22 ). Christians can be sure God will give them those things which are in their best interests ( Mat_7:7-11 ). They are so sure that God hears them that they can know He answers their prayers, even though the answer may not come in the way anticipated ( 1Jn_5:14-15 ).

Verses 16-21

"Sin Leading to Death"

John next wrote about a "sin leading to death." Several other passages in scripture appear to speak of that sin ( Heb_6:4-6 ; Heb_10:26-27 ; 2Pe_2:20-22 ; 1Ti_5:6 ). If all of these are describing the same sin, we conclude it involves a state of rebellion against God from which the sinner will not repent. Turner uses Lamech as an example of one committing such sin ( Gen_4:16-24 ). Woods notes God will forgive confessed sins (1:8) and concludes this is unconfessed sin, which would coincide with our thought on the rebellious nature of the sin unto death. Christians can pray for the brother who has a pliable heart and can still be moved to repent ( 1Jn_5:16 ; compare Gal_6:1-2 ).

One might conclude that sin is natural, cannot be avoided, therefore will not hurt. Lest one reach that conclusion, John says all violations of God's commandments are sin. Such need not destroy the soul, if one is willing to confess and let the Advocate plead his case ( 1Jn_5:17 ; 1Jn_1:9-10 ; 1Jn_2:1 ). Christians will not continue in sin but will turn from their sins when confronted with them. As long as one stays on God's side, the devil will not be able to harm him ( Rom_8:31 ). Christians are God's children, while the worldly minded are children of the devil ( 1Jn_5:18-19 ).

Jesus came from God to help man understand things pertaining to eternal life. Anyone can know Jesus, and the Father through Him, and abide in Him in the church. So, Christians know the one God and have eternal life. Because of all John had said before, God's children should avoid false gods that eternal life might remain theirs ( 1Jn_5:20-21 ).

Bibliographical Information
Hampton, Gary. "Commentary on 1 John 5". "Hampton's Commentary on Selected Books". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghc/1-john-5.html. 2014.
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