Lectionary Calendar
Thursday, July 18th, 2024
the Week of Proper 10 / Ordinary 15
Take your personal ministry to the Next Level by helping StudyLight build churches and supporting pastors in Uganda.
Click here to join the effort!

Bible Commentaries
1 John 5

Everett's Study Notes on the Holy ScripturesEverett's Study Notes

Search for…
Enter query below:
Additional Authors

Verses 1-5

Summary of the Two Testimonies - 1 John 5:1-5 serves as a summary of the two testimonies of those who obey His word (1 John 4:1-6), and those who walk in love (1 John 4:7-21).

Verses 6-7

1 John 5:6 “This is he that came by water and blood, even Jesus Christ; not by water only, but by water and blood” Comments - The testimony of Jesus Christ coming by water could refer to His physical birth, while His testimony that comes by blood could refer to His redemptive work on Calvary and His resurrection (which are symbolized through the act of water baptism). His virgin birth testified to the physical birth of the pre-incarnate the Son of God, along with other signs and miracles that are recorded in the Gospels surrounding His marvelous birth. His resurrection testifies to the Deity of the Son of Man.

1 John 5:6 “And it is the Spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit is truth” Comments - That is, the Holy Spirit has born witness to these two testimonies. The Holy Spirit cannot lie because He is truth, or, everything proceeding from Him is true; he bears no false witness.

1 John 5:7 For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.

1 John 5:7 Textual Criticism 1 John 5:7 is generally referred to as the Three Heavenly Witnesses, or the Johannine Comma. Many scholars agree that the phrase “in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one, and there are three that bear witness in earth” was not a part of the original Greek text, while others argue in support of them. Stephen S. Smalley notes that the UBS 3 cites a number of Greek manuscripts that contain this “gloss” (61, 88 mg , 429 mg , 629, 636 mg , 918), but he says the earliest manuscript in this list only dates back to the twelfth century, and they depend upon “Latin tradition” rather than older Greek manuscripts. [36] In fact, this verse does not appear in Jerome’s original Latin Vulgate, written in A.D. 382 to 384, although it is found in the Vulgate manuscripts after the eighth century, thus the phrase found its way into later Greek manuscripts. Scholars tell us that this verse is missing from all early translations of the New Testament (Syriac, “Coptic, Armenian, Slavonic, Ethiopic, and Arabic”), [37] and it is not quoted by any of the earliest Church fathers of the second and third centuries. Erasmus omitted it from his first two printed Greek New Testament editions because it lacked support in all of the early Greek manuscripts, but added it to his third edition. [38] Smalley states the popular view that this phrase originally served as an “interpolation,” being added in the early centuries of the Church to explain the doctrine of the Trinity, which was being attacked by heretics, resulting in this gloss being added to some later Latin texts.

[36] Stephen S. Smalley, 1, 2, 3 John, in Word Biblical Commentary: 58 Volumes on CD-Rom, vol. 51, eds. Bruce M. Metzger, David A. Hubbard and Glenn W. Barker (Dallas: Word Inc., 2002), in Libronix Digital Library System, v. 3.0b [CD-ROM] (Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp., 2004), notes on 1 John 5:5-13.

[37] Albert Barnes, The First Epistle of John, in Barnes' Notes, Electronic Database (Seattle, WA: Hendrickson Publishers Inc., 1997), in P.C. Study Bible, v. 3.1 [CD-ROM] (Seattle, WA: Biblesoft Inc., 1993-2000), comments on 1 John 5:7.

[38] John Gill, 1 John, in John Gill’s Expositor, in OnLine Bible, v. 2.0 [CD-ROM] (Nederland: Online Bible Foundation, 1992-2005), comments on 1 John 5:7.

In contract, citations are given by the early Church fathers that provide strong support

of this text as an original part of the first epistle of John.

Athenagoras (A.D. 2 nd c.), a second century apologist, alludes to 1 John 5:7.

“Who, then, would not be astonished to hear men who speak of God the Father, and of God the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, and who declare both their power in union and their distinction in order, called atheists?” ( A Plea for the Christians 10)

Tertullian (A.D. 160-225) alludes to 1 John 5:7.

“Thus the connection of the Father in the Son, and of the Son in the Paraclete, produces three coherent Persons, who are yet distinct One from Another. These Three are, one essence, not one Person, as it is said, ‘I and my Father are One,’ in respect of unity of substance not singularity of number.” ( Against Praxeas 25)

Cyprian (d. A.D. 258) alludes to 1 John 5:7.

“The Lord says, ‘I and the Father are one;’ and again it is written of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, “And these three are one.” ( Treatises 1.6) ( ANF 5)

F. F. Bruce tells us that 1 John 5:7 first appears in the writings of the Priscillian, a Spanish Latin heretic (d. A.D. 385). [39] Priscillian writes:

[39] F. F. Bruce, The Books and the Parchments (Old Tappan, New Jersey: Fleming H. Revell Company, 1963), 210-1.

“As John says ‘and there are three which give testimony on earth, the water, the flesh the blood, and these three are in one, and there are three which give testimony in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Spirit, and these three are one in Christ Jesus.’” ( Liber Apologeticus) [40]

[40] See Priscilliani Quae Supersunt, ed. Georgius Schepss, in Corpus Scriptorum Ecclesisticorum Latinorum, vol. 18 (Vindobonae: f. Tempsky, 1889), 6. See the English translation by Don C. Hewey, Complete List of New Testament Manuscripts that Verify 1 John 5:7 (1998-99) [on-line]; accessed 17 July 2010; available from http://www.1john57.com/1john57.htm; Internet.

Jerome (A.D. 324-420) tells us that 1 John 5:7 had been left out of some Bibles by disloyal translators, saying:

“…especially at the particular passage where the unity of the Trinity in the first epistle of John is read, in which indeed disloyal translators are truly, actually guilty of calling it a common mistake.” ( Prologue to the Seven Canonical Epistles) ( PL 29 cols. 827-829) (author’s translation).

Gregory of Nazanzian (A.D. 329-389) discusses the Trinity, making an allusion to 1 John 5:7

“…but the very fact of being Unbegotten or Begotten, or Proceeding has given the name of Father to the First, of the Son to the Second, and of the Third, Him of Whom we are speaking, of the Holy Ghost that the distinction of the Three Persons may be preserved in the one nature and dignity of the Godhead. For neither is the Son Father, for the Father is One, but He is what the Father is; nor is the Spirit Son because He is of God, for the Only-begotten is One, but He is what the Son is. The Three are One in Godhead, and the One Three in properties.” ( Orations 32.9) ( NPF2 7)

Victor Vitensis (late 5 th c.), bishop of Vita, quotes 1 John 5:7.

“There are three who bear witness in Heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit, and these three are one.” ( De Persecutione Vandalica 3.13) ( PL 58 col. 227C) (author’s translation)

Vigilius (fl. A.D. 500), bishop of Thapsus, quotes 1 John 5:7-8.

“There are three, it is said, who give a witness on earth, water, blood, and the Beloved, three are in us; and there are three who give witness in heaven, the Father, the Word and the Spirit, and these three are one.” ( Contra Varimadum 1.5) ( PL 62 Chronicles 35:0 9B) (author’s translation)

Cassiodorus (A.D. 485-580), Roman author and monk, cites 1 John 5:7-8.

“Which event testifies on earth three mysteries: water, blood, and spirit, which we read in the Lord’s Passion is fulfilled; in heaven, moreover, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and the three are one God.” ( Epistola S. Joannis Parthos 10) ( PL 70 col. 1373A) (author’s translation)

Isidore (A.D. 560-636), the archbishop of Seville, cites 1 John 5:7-8.

“Since there are three which give testimony on earth: the Spirit, water, and the Blood; and the three are of one in Christ Jesus; and there are three which declare a testimony in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Spirit, and the three are one” ( Testimonia divinae Scripturae 2) ( PL 83 col. 1203C) (author’s translation)

In conclusion, we have to admit that this phrase was known by the early Church as far back as the fourth century, and remained popular enough to be used by many of the later Church fathers.

Illustration - The Lord gave my wife an illustration of the Trinity in a dream in March 2001. Although this illustration has been used by others, she saw that the Father is like the sun; Jesus is like the light that radiates from the sun; and the Holy Spirit is like the heat that is produced from the light.

Verses 8-21

1 John 5:10 “because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son” Comments - The record is God’s Word. When we deny God’s Word, we call God a liar.

1 John 5:14-15 Illustration - Many people were praying that I would return and finish Seminary after I left it and the Southern Baptist denomination in 1983. However, as I saw in the Scriptures, this was not according to God’s will to finish Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary at that time. God’s will prevailed in this prayer since I was endeavoring to forsake a religious structure and to following Jesus Christ. However, their prayer was ultimately answered when I later returned to finish my degree.

1 John 5:16 If any man see his brother sin a sin which is not unto death, he shall ask, and he shall give him life for them that sin not unto death. There is a sin unto death: I do not say that he shall pray for it.

1 John 5:16 “he shall ask” Comments - In the Old Testament, the high priest asked for forgiveness of his sins and the sins of the people . We can intercede, as priests of God, for others. God granted forgiveness (a covering) of the sins of the people when the high priest interceded.

1 John 5:16 “There is a sin unto death: I do not say that he shall pray for it” Comments The “sin unto death” means that there is a sin that believers can commit that results in eternal separation from God. This possibility is more clearly explained in Hebrews 6:4-6; Hebrews 10:26-29.

Hebrews 6:4-6, “For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.”

Hebrews 10:26, “For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins,”

There is a place of no deliverance which man can bring himself after continued rebellion against God. Proverbs 29:1 tells us that a person who has often rejected counsel will come to a place where there is no longer a place of repentance to be found.

Proverbs 29:1, “He, that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy .”

Proverbs 6:15, “Therefore shall his calamity come suddenly; suddenly shall he be broken without remedy .”

The nation of Judah came to this point because of the hardness of the people’s heart towards the truth. The Lord told Jeremiah not to pray for them.

Jeremiah 7:16, “Therefore pray not thou for this people , neither lift up cry nor prayer for them, neither make intercession to me: for I will not hear thee.”

2 Chronicles 36:16, “But they mocked the messengers of God, and despised his words, and misused his prophets, until the wrath of the LORD arose against his people, till there was no remedy .

Illustration - Kenneth Hagin gives an excellent illustration of how a person gives place to sin to the degree that God says no longer pray for him/her. The Lord gave him a vision of a person who was being tempted by demons. In this vision, he saw the demons sitting on someone's shoulder, whispering thoughts into her mind. This Christian resisted the demons for a while. One day this person meditated on those evil thoughts, and acted on them. Hagin saw a black spot form in this person’s head. As this person continued in this sin, the Holy Spirit would deal with him. Finally, this person rejected the Holy Spirit's conviction, and gave himself over to this evil lifestyle. At this point, Hagin saw this black spot move from his head to his heart. This showed that the person had given himself, his heart over to the sinful habit, and willingly rejected the will of God. [41]

[41] Kenneth Hagin, I Believe In Visions (Tulsa, Oklahoma: Faith Library Publications, c1984, 1986), 76-82; Kenneth Hagin, The Triumphant Church (Tulsa, Oklahoma: Faith Library Publications, c1993, 1994), 104-14.

1 John 5:17 Comments - The context of 1 John 5:17 is about sin in the life of a believer. A sin that is not unto death would be things such as sins of omission when we fail to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit. We may fail to witness or to give in an offering. Such sins will not bring us to hell, but do hinder our walk with the Lord. In contrast, a “sin unto death” would be one of the sins listed as a vice in the epistles. Galatians 5:19-21 and Ephesians 5:3-6 says that those who practice these acts of commission will not inherit the kingdom of heaven. Thus, when a believer walks in these types of vices and does not repent, God will remove His Holy Spirit and turn such a one over to a reprobate mind where there is no longer any hope. This is what we see happening in Hebrews 6:4-6; Hebrews 10:26, where a believer willing chooses to continue in sin.

1 John 5:17 All unrighteousness is sin: and there is a sin not unto death.

1 John 5:18 We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not.

1 John 5:18 Comments - There are two interpretations of 1 John 5:18, based upon the two variant textual readings of αυτόν and εάυτόν .

1. Greek ( αυτόν ) This verse could be paraphrased to read, “But He (Jesus) that was begotten of God keeps him (safe).” See NIV, GNB, The Living Bible, NASB, RSV.

NIV, “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 does not touch him.”

GNB, “We know that none of God’s children keep on sinning, for the Son of God keeps them safe, and the Evil One cannot harm them.”

RSV, “We know that any one born of God does not sin, but He who was born of God keeps him, and the evil one does not touch him.”

2. Greek ( εάυτόν ) - Thayer interprets this phrase to say that he (the believer) keeps “himself such as he is, i.e. begotten of God.” (see τηρέω b). This translation goes well with 1 John 5:21, “Little children, keep yourselves from idols.”

1 John 5:18 Comments - Kenneth Copeland interprets 1 John 5:18 to mean that a child of God who walks in love is in the realm of a sinless life. He lives a life of repentance so that anything he does wrong is put under the blood of Jesus, our Great High Priest. [42]

[42] Kenneth Copeland, Believer’s Voice of Victory (Kenneth Copeland Ministries, Fort Worth, Texas), on Trinity Broadcasting Network (Santa Ana, California), television program, 7 April 2010.

1 John 5:19 And we know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness.

1 John 5:20 And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life.

1 John 5:21 Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen.

1 John 5:21 “Amen” Comments - In the Textus Receptus the word “Amen” is attached to the end of all thirteen of Paul’s epistles, as well as to the Gospels of Matthew and Mark, and to the General Epistles of Hebrews , 1 and 2 Peter , 1 and 2 John, and to the book of Revelation. However, because “Amen” is not supported in more ancient manuscripts many scholars believe that this word is a later liturgical addition. For example, these Pauline benedictions could have been used by the early churches with the added “Amen.”

Bibliographical Information
Everett, Gary H. "Commentary on 1 John 5". Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghe/1-john-5.html. 2013.
Ads FreeProfile