Lectionary Calendar
Thursday, July 18th, 2024
the Week of Proper 10 / Ordinary 15
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Bible Commentaries
1 John 5

Bengel's Gnomon of the New TestamentBengel's Gnomon

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Verse 1

1 John 5:1 . Πᾶς , every one ) The scope and design of this paragraph is plain from the conclusion, 1 John 5:13 . καὶ πᾶς , and every one ) He who does not love his brother, does not love God: ch. 1 John 4:20 . He who loves God, loves his brother also. With great elegance the apostle so places the mention of love in this part of the discussion, that faith, which is the beginning and end of the whole discussion, should be referred to (regard should be had to faith) at the close. καὶ ) also . Στοργὴ , spiritual love , is great towards any brother. Where there is aversion, the new life is immediately injured. τὸν γεγεννημένον , him who is begotten ) An Enthymem, the conclusion of which is: He that believes delights in the love of all who love God; and in turn loves them: 1 John 5:2 .

Verse 2

1 John 5:2 . Καὶ , and ) ἓν διὰ δυοῖν . Comp. 1 John 5:3 .

Verse 3

1 John 5:3 . Βαρεῖαι οὐκ εἰσὶν , are not grievous ) to the regenerate, who love; and in themselves. In themselves they are pleasant: but the expression, not grievous , is in contradiction and opposition to those who think them grievous .

Verse 4

1 John 5:4 . Πᾶν τὸ γεγεννημένον , everything which is born ) John 3:6 , note. τὸν κόσμον , the world ) which is opposed to keeping the commandments of God and to the knowledge of Jesus Christ, and all things which the world presents in one’s way to invite and terrify. ἡ νίκη , the victory ) The more faith grows strong in the heart, the more does the world yield. ἡ πίστις , faith ) See the efficacy of faith.

Verse 5

1 John 5:5 . Τίς ἐστιν , who is he? ) Every one that believeth, and none but he, overcomes. He esteems nothing in comparison with the Son of God.

Verse 6

1 John 5:6 . Οὗτός ἐστιν ) This is He . John sets forth the reason why he ascribes victory over the world to him who believes that Jesus is the Son of God: namely, because in truth that faith in Jesus as the Son of God has invincible strength, from the testimony of men, which is sufficiently strong, but much more from the testimony of God, which has complete strength. ὁ ἐλθὼν , who came ) He does not say, ὁ ἐρχόμενος , coming , in the present, but ὁ ἐλθὼν , in the aorist tense, having the force of the preterite: as ch. 1 John 1:2 , ἐφανερώθη , was manifested ; 1 John 4:2 , ἐληλυθότα ; and below, 1 John 5:20 , ἥκει . For ἥκω , in the present, does not signify I come , but I am come (1 John 5:20 , note): whence John adds in the same place, and hath given , in the preterite. Jesus is He who ought to have come, on account of the promises respecting Him; and who is truly come: and this the spirit, and the water, and the blood do testify and prove. διʼ ὕδατος καὶ αἵματος , by water and blood ) The water signifies baptism, which John first administered, hence called the Baptist, and sent to baptize in water for this reason, that Jesus might be manifested as the Son of God: John 1:33-34 . Moreover baptism was also administered by the disciples of Jesus: John 4:1-2 ; Acts 2:38 , etc. The blood is certainly the blood of one, and that Jesus Christ, which was shed at His passion, and is drunk in the Lord’s Supper. Ἰησοῦς ὁ Χριστὸς , Jesus the Christ ) Jesus, who came by water and blood, is by this very fact pointed out, as the Christ . οὐκ ἐν τῷ ὕδατι μόνον , not in water only ) He just before said, by ; He now says, in . Each particle is opposed to χωρὶς , apart from : 1 Corinthians 11:11-12 ; Hebrews 9:7 ; Hebrews 9:12 ; Hebrews 9:25 . The apostle shows, that the words immediately preceding are used with due consideration. The article τῷ has the force of a relative. By seems to refer more particularly to the water , and in to the blood: for John, who baptized with water, preceded the coming of Jesus, and Jesus came by (through) water: but Jesus, when He had finished the work which the Father had given Him to do, bestowed the blood; therefore He had before come in blood . ἀλλʼ ἐν τῷ ὕδατι καὶ τῷ αἵματι , but in water and blood ) He not only undertook, when He came to baptism , the task of fulfilling all righteousness, Matthew 3:15 , but He also completed it by pouring out His blood , John 19:30 ; and when this was done, blood and water came forth from the side of Jesus Christ, being dead on the cross. The same chapter, John 5:34 . καὶ τὸ Πνεῦμά ἐστι τὸ μαρτυροῦν , and it is the Spirit that beareth witness ) He beareth witness of Jesus Christ: 1Jn 5:5 ; 1 John 2:22 ; 2 John 1:9 . ὅτι τὸ Πνεῦμά ἐστιν ἡ ἀλήθεια , because the Spirit is the truth ) The apostle declares what he here means by the word Spirit , namely, the truth . But what does he mean by the word truth? There is no doubt but that, in this professed enumeration, he embraces in some way all things which appertain to the testimony concerning Jesus Christ, except the Divine testimony itself. We shall collect these testimonies from the writings of St John and others of the New Testament. The Scriptures testify of Jesus Christ, John 5:39 , that is, Moses and the prophets, John 5:46 ; John 1:46 ; Acts 10:43 ; John the Baptist testified, John 1:7 . Afterwards the apostles bare testimony, John 15:27 ; 1Jn 1:2 ; 1 John 4:14 ; Acts 1:8 ; Acts 2:32 ; and especially the writer of this Epistle, John 19:35 . Now when the apostle collects the testimonies concerning Jesus Christ, as concerning Him who is come, be by no means overlooked the Gospel. He indeed never calls it the Gospel ; he generally calls it the testimony . But in this passage it would be inconvenient to say, there are three that bear witness, the testimony, and the water, and the blood; therefore, instead of testimony, he says the truth ; the truth, namely, not only with respect to knowledge, but also with respect to its publication: and he distinguishes the truth by the name of the Spirit ; with which subject the predicate, to bear witness , elegantly agrees. Let the name of Spirit be thoroughly weighed: ch. 1 John 4:1-2 ; 1 Corinthians 14:12 ; Revelation 19:10 ; John 6:63 . In this Spirit the prophetic testimony also of the Old Testament is contained, together with its fulfilment and demonstration. The apostle says, Jesus Christ came both by water and by blood: he does not here say, and the water and blood are they which bear witness . Again he says, with remarkable emphasis, ΚΑΙ τὸ Πνεῦμά ἐστι ΤΟ μαρτυροῦν , it is the Spirit which bears witness : he does not say, Jesus Christ came by the Spirit , or in the Spirit ; for the Spirit was bearing witness, even before the coming of Christ, through many ages: but the water and the blood were most intimately connected with His very coming. And the testimony is more properly ascribed to the Spirit, than to the water and the blood: inasmuch as the Spirit of itself has the power of bearing witness, and the water and blood obtain and exercise the same power, when the Spirit is added to them.

Verse 7

1 John 5:7 . Ὅτι τρεῖς εἰσιν οἱ μαρτυροῦντες , because there are three bearing witness ) The participle, bearing witness , used instead of the noun, witnesses , implies that the act of bearing witness, and the effect of the testimony, are always present. Before also he had spoken of the spirit, in the neuter gender, τὸ πνεῦμά ἐστι ΤΟ ΜΑΡΤΥΡΟΥΝ : now he speaks in the masculine gender, there are three who bear witness , of the spirit also; at the same saying, that the water and the blood bear witness, also in the masculine gender. Those feminines, faith, hope, charity , are said to be three ( tria ), in the neuter gender, 1 Corinthians 13:13 ; but here πνεῦμα , ὕδωρ , αἷμα , all of the neuter gender in Greek, that is, the spirit, the water , and the blood , are τρεῖς μαρτυροῦντες , in the masculine gender. To be bearing witness is properly applied to persons only: and the fact that three are described, by personification, as bearing witness on earth, just as though they were persons, is admirably adapted (subservient) to the personality of the three who bear witness in heaven; but yet neither the spirit (that is the truth of the Gospel), nor the water, nor the blood, are persons. Therefore the apostle, advancing from the preceding verse to the one now present, employs a trope, adapted to the brevity of the discourse, so as to say this: There are three classes of men (1 John 5:9 , compared with Joh 5:34 ), who discharge the office of bearing witness on earth; (1st) that class of witnesses in general which is employed in preaching the Gospel; and, in particular, (2d) that class of witnesses, which administers baptism, as John the Baptist and the others; and also (3d) that class of witnesses, which beheld and puts on record the passion and death of the Lord. There is therefore a METALEPSIS, [20] and that of a most weighty kind: viz. one wherein ( a ) by a Synecdoche of number, instead of the whole class of witnesses, there is put one who witnesses; as though it were said, a prophet, baptist, apostle: for although these three functions might often meet in one man, yet of themselves they were divided: comp. Ephesians 4:11 : and on that account the Metonymy is the more suitable, on which presently. The degrees of these three functions are found, Matthew 11:9 ; Matthew 11:11 , where however the word prophet is used in a more restricted sense. ( b ) By Metonymy of the abstract term, instead of those who bear witness, as αὐτόπται καὶ ὑπηρέται ( eye-witnesses and ministers ), the spirit itself, the water, and the blood , are mentioned. ἐν τῇ γῇ , on earth ) See below. τὸ πνεῦμα , καὶ τὸ ὕδωρ , καὶ τὸ αἷμα , the spirit, and the water, and the blood ) The apostle changes the order: for whereas before he had put the spirit in the third place, he now puts it in the first place, according to the natural order. The spirit, as was before said, bore witness before the water and the blood; and the spirit bears witness even without the testimony of the water and the blood, but the water and the blood never bear witness without the spirit. καὶ οἱ τρεῖς εἰς τὸ ἓν εἰσιν , and these three agree in one [concur towards one end]) The Prophet, the Baptist, and the Apostle are equally of the same earthly nature of themselves (comp. are one , 1Co 3:8 ), and are ordained altogether to one end , to testify of Jesus Christ, as of Him who is come into the world. Comp. εἶναι εἰς τὶ , Luke 5:17 . Τὸ ἓν , with the article, denotes not so much one , as the same thing.

[20] A twofold or manifold trope. See Append. on the figure. E.

Does this interpretation of the 7th verse seem somewhat weak? This complaint will presently be of service to our argument.

Verses 7-8

1 John 5:7-8 . Ἐν τῇ γῇ · ἐν τῷ οὐρανῷ , on earth: in heaven ) The testimony is not given in heaven, but on earth: but they who bear witness, are some on earth and some in heaven; that is, the former are of an earthly and human nature, the latter of a divine and glorious nature. Moreover, because they who are witnessing on earth, and they who are witnessing in heaven, bear witness concerning Jesus Christ, and a true witness is present and not absent, not so much with reference to those to whom He witnesses, as with reference to the things which He witnesses: therefore they who are witnessing on earth, are said to witness concerning Jesus Christ in such a manner that their testimony chiefly has to do with the dwelling of Jesus on the earth, so that it may be testified that He is the Christ: whence He Himself is said to have come by water and blood, that is, to have come into the world; though the state of His exaltation is not excluded from this testimony, especially during the life of the apostles. But they who are bearing witness in heaven, bear witness of the same Jesus Christ, so that their testimony is chiefly concerned with the heavenly glory of Jesus, the Son of God, exalted to the right hand of the Father, without excluding His state of humiliation. Undoubtedly the testimony of water (for instance), or of baptism, was chiefly administered by John before the death, or rather before the manifestation, of Jesus Christ, as He walked on the earth; whereas the testimony of the Paraclete was reserved until the glorification of Jesus Christ. Whence the Lord had said respecting the apostles, μαρτυρεῖτε , ye bear witness , in the present; but respecting the Paraclete, μαρτυρήσει , He shall bear witness : John 15:27 [reading with the best authorities μαρτυρεῖτε , not as Engl. Vers., Ye shall bear witness ], 26.

The seventh verse therefore, together with the sixth, contains a recapitulation of the whole economy of Jesus Christ, from His baptism until the day of Pentecost, Acts 2:0 . The eighth verse contains a summary of the Divine economy from His exaltation and thenceforth: see John 8:28 ; John 14:20 ; Matthew 26:64 . Wherefore Christ, on His ascension, commanded to baptize in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Matthew 28:19 ; and the Apocalypse commences with announcing grace and peace from the Sacred Trinity.

Since these things are so, a new argument arises, that the arrangement of the verses, which first makes mention of the witnesses on earth and then of the witnesses in heaven [not vice versâ , as Engl. Vers.], is to be preferred, as containing a gradation most suitable to the subjects themselves.

Verse 8

1 John 5:8 . Καὶ τρεῖς εἰσιν οἱ μαρτυροῦντες , and there are three that bear witness ) The testimony of the spirit, and the water, and the blood, by a remarkable gradation and addition of strength (Epitasis), is corroborated by the additional testimony of three who give greater testimony. Comp. altogether John 3:8 ; John 3:11 . ἐν τῷ οὐρανῷ , in heaven ) See below. ὁ Πατὴρ , the Father ) Under this name the name of God is also understood; as under the name of the Word (respecting which, however, see what shortly follows), the Son is understood; according to the nature of the relatives. Comp. 1 Corinthians 15:28 . ὁ Λόγος , the Word ) The name, Word , is remarkably adapted to the testimony. The Word testifies respecting Himself, as respecting the Son of God. Revelation 1:5 ; Revelation 19:13 . Some of the Fathers in this place write Filius ( the Son ), according to the more frequent usage of Scripture. And even the Florentine and Reutlingensian Latin Manuscripts have this reading (Filius). τὸ Πνεῦμα , the Spirit ) In this passage, and everywhere throughout the Epistle, John, when speaking of the Holy Spirit, understands the epithet Holy . Jesus Christ, before His passion, spake openly of His own testimony and that of the Father: there is added, especially after His glorification, the testimony of the Holy Spirit: ch. 1 John 2:27 ; John 15:26 ; Acts 5:32 ; Romans 8:16 . Wherefore, as before a pair of witnesses was urged, John 8:17-18 , so now there is a Trinity. καὶ οὗτοι οἱ τρεῖς ἓν εἰσι , and these three are one ) The preceding verse has, and these three agree in one : now it is said, these three are one . There is a carefully weighed difference of expression, although in other places εἰς is either inserted or omitted indifferently. These three are one: just as the two, the Father and the Son, are one. The Spirit is inseparable from the Father and the Son: for unless the Spirit together with the Father and the Son were one, it would be right for us to say, that the Father and the Son, who are one, together with the Spirit, are two: but this would be opposed to the entire sum of the Divine revelation. They are one in essence, in knowledge, in will, and moreover in the agreement of their testimony: John 10:30 ; John 10:38 ; John 14:9-11 . The three are not opposed conjointly to the other three, but separately, each to each, as though it were said, Not only does the Spirit testify, but the Father also, John 5:37 : not only the water, but the Word also, John 3:11 ; John 10:41 : not only the blood, but the Spirit also, John 15:26-27 . Now it becomes evident how necessary is the reading of the 8th verse. It was impossible for John to think respecting the testimony of the spirit, and the water, and the blood, and add the testimony of God as greater, without thinking also of the testimony of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and making mention of it in an enumeration so solemn; nor can any reason be imagined why, without the three who bear witness in heaven, he should mention those that bear witness on earth, and those as three. Enumerations of this kind are usually not single, but manifold, as Proverbs 30:0 ; how much more so in this place? The 7th verse, of whatever importance it is, has a respective force, and tends to this object, that there should be a progressive advance from the 6th verse to the 8th; and here lies the advantage of the complaint above noticed. Whether the 7th verse, respecting the three that bear witness on earth, be compared with the preceding or with the following verse, the 8th is necessary. For the 6th verse and the 7th have some things the same, and some different. Those which are the same, are only repeated on this account, that they may be adapted to the 8th verse: those which are different, and either vary the expression, or add something more to the sentiment, have a still plainer reference to the 8th verse. For instance, in the absolute expression, the Spirit only is said to be bearing witness: in the respective (relative) expression, the water also and the blood are spoken of. In like manner the 7th and 8th verses have some words in common; in others, when the expression is changed, the sentiment itself introduces something different, as in one , and one . The Trinity of heaven, archetypal, fundamental, unchangeable, plainly supports the triad of witnesses on earth, in an accommodated sense. The apostle might either have fixed the number of those who bear witness on earth as greater; comp. 1 John 5:9 ; or he might have referred [reduced] them all to [under] one spirit; comp. 1 John 5:6 ; but he reduces them to a triad, solely with reference to the three who bear witness in heaven. From the circumstance, that the Father, and the Word, and the Spirit, are properly three, and are bearing witness, and are one, the same things also are, by a trope, predicated of the spirit, and the water, and the blood; although, it is evident of itself, that the things thus predicated are of themselves less applicable to the subjects spoken of: and this has been perceived by those who, in the verse respecting the spirit, and the water, and the blood, have changed the masculine ( tres ) into the neuter ( tria ). [21] See Apparatus, pp. 750, 755. If there is any relation between those who bear witness on earth and those who bear witness in heaven, the arrangement of the words, the spirit, and the water, and the blood , requires, that the spirit be referred to the Father, the water to the Word , and the blood to the Spirit : but this is confirmed only by the express reading of the Father, and the Word, and the Spirit : in the absence of which reading a variously fluctuating allegory has changed the order of the words. See Appar., pp. 757, 764. The apostle, in asserting that the commandments of God are not grievous, deduces their observance not only from the sacraments, but chiefly also from faith in the Sacred Trinity, as the Lord Himself does, Matthew 28:19-20 . This whole paragraph shows, on the part of John, a perception derived from God, and a style worthy of this perception. They who do not admit the 8th verse, can give no suitable explanation of the 7th. They reduce the Metalepsis , which we noticed above, into an open Catachresis: [22] but the 8th verse being admitted, the Metalepsis is altogether softened down, and the order in which the spirit is placed, before the water and the blood, is explained, and an account is given of all the words. In short, there is an intimate connection between both verses, a complete rhythm, an inseparable parody (correspondence between the verses); and the one without the other is as a compound period, or a poetical strophe, where the half is wanting.

[21] Origen 4, 143 c says, “The disciple John has described the spirit, the water, and the blood, τὰ τρία (neuter) εἰς ἓν γινόμενα , the three things, as concurring in one.” E.

[22] See Append.

Verse 9

1 John 5:9 . Εἰ , if ) From that which is undeniable, and yet of smaller consequence, he draws an inference to that which is greater. τῶν ἀνθρώπων , of men ) in the case of any business whatever, John 8:17 ; and in administering the very testimony of the spirit, and the water, and the blood. For although they do that by the Divine institution and command, yet they themselves continue men John 5:34 ; John 3:31 . ἡ μαρτυρία τοῦ Θεοῦ , the witness of God ) the Father: whose Son is Jesus. See the end of this ver. But, together with the testimony of the Father, that of the Son and of the Spirit is pointed out as divine and heavenly, because it is opposed to the testimony of men , in the plural. The testimony of the Father is, as it were, the basis of the testimony of the Word and the Holy Spirit, just as the testimony of the Spirit is, as it were, the basis of the testimony of the water and the blood. μείζων ἐστὶν , is greater ) [ and therefore much more worthy of acceptation . V. g.] John 5:36 .

The sum of the things which we have spoken is this: The Greek copies which contain the Epistles, including those of St John, are neither of such number, nor of such antiquity, that they ought to prevent the reception of the verse respecting the Three which bear witness in heaven, since it stands altogether upon a peculiar footing. This verse rests upon the authority of the Latin translator, and that almost alone; but he is an authority of the greatest antiquity and genuineness: and he is followed from the first by many fathers, through a continued series of ages, in Africa, Spain, Gaul, and Italy, accompanied with an appeal to the reading of the Arians, which concurs with it. In fine, the context itself confirms this verse as the centre and sum of the whole Epistle. αὓτη ἐστὶν , this is ) Is altogether engaged in [altogether turns upon] this.

Verse 10

1 John 5:10 . Ἐν ἑαυτῷ , [23] in himself ) in the inner man.

[23] The reading ἐν αὐτῷ is preferred by the decision of Exodus 1:0 and 2. The sense remains the same. E. B.

B (judging from silence of collators) and Rec. Text support ἐν ἑαυτῷ : so Lachm. A and (according to Lachm.) C support αὐτῷ : so Tisch. E.

Verse 12

1 John 5:12 . Ὁ ἔχων ) he who has , in faith. τὸν Υἱὸν , the Son ) The verse has two clauses: in the former, the Son only is mentioned, without the addition, of God ; for the faithful know the Son: in the other this addition is made, that unbelievers may know at length what a serious thing it is not to have Him. ἔχει , has ) In the former part of the sentence, the word has is to be pronounced with emphasis; in the second, the emphatic word is life .

Verse 13

1 John 5:13 . Ταῦτα , these things ) which are contained in this Epistle. The verb, I write , used in the exordium, ch. 1 John 1:4 , now in the conclusion becomes the preterite, I have written . τοῖς [24] τιστεύουσιν εἰς τὸ ὄνομα τοῦ Υἱοῦ τοῦ Θεοῦ , unto you who believe in the name of the Son of God ) The sum of verses 5 10. ἵνα εἰδῆτε ὅτι ζωὴν ἔχετε αἰώνιον , that ye may know that ye may have eternal eternal life ) This is derived from 1 John 5:11 . καὶ ἵνα πιστεύητε , and that ye may believe ) namely, under the nearer hope of life. This is derived from 1 John 5:12 . We ought altogether to be in the faith.

[24] This order of the words rests on the decision of the larger Ed.: the different order which occurs in the Germ. Vers. follows the decision of Exodus 2:0 . E. B.

The words after ὑμῖν , viz. τοῖς πιστεύουσιν down to τοῦ Θεοῦ , are omitted by AB Vulg. Memph. Theb. and both Syr. Versions. Rec. Text adds them after ὑμῖν , without any of the oldest authorities. Lower down Rec. Text has καὶ ἵνα πιστεύητε , with more recent authorities. But A Vulg. and almost all other Versions have οἱ πιστεύοντες . B has τοῖς πιστεύουσι . E.

Verse 14

1 John 5:14 . Κατὰ τὸ θέλημα αὐτοῦ , according to His will ) A most just condition, of very extensive application. [The pronoun αὐτοῦ has reference to God. V. g.]

Verse 15

1 John 5:15 . Ἐὰν οἴδαμεν ) if we know . Ἐὰν sometimes takes an indicative, of past time; and it does so here to give strength. ἔχομεν , we have ) even before the event itself (comp. 1Sa 1:17-18 ); and we know that the event itself is not from chance, but obtained by prayers.

Verse 16

1 John 5:16 . Ἐάν τις , if any one ) The most important of all cases is added, that you are able to pray even for another, in a most serious matter: comp. ch. 1 John 2:1 . ἴδῃ , shall see ) This sin can therefore be known by the regenerate. ἁμαρτάνοντα ἁμαρτίαν , μὴ πρὸς θάνατον , sinning a sin, not unto death ) A sin of any kind, provided that it is not unto death. μὴ , not ) a form of excepting ( Mat 19:9 ), has greater force than οὐ , not , 1 John 5:17 . As long as it is not evident that it is a sin unto death, it is lawful to pray. θάνατον , death ) Respecting the disease of which Lazarus died, but shortly afterwards was raised from the dead, it is said, It is not unto death , John 11:4 , note: but Hezekiah was sick למות , unto death, Isaiah 38:1 , had he not recovered by a miracle. But John is here speaking of death and life, as ch. 1 John 3:14 . Moreover what is meant by a sin unto death, is declared from the opposite, in 1 John 5:17 , where the subject is, all unrighteousness; the predicate consists of two members, sin, and that coming short of death. Therefore any unrighteousness, which is committed in common life, is a sin not unto death. But sin unto death is not an ordinary or sudden sin, but a state of the soul, in which faith, and love, and hope, in short, the new life, is extinguished: when any one knowingly and willingly embraces death, not from the allurements of the flesh, but from the love of sin, as sin. It is a deliberate rejection of grace. A man puts from him life, while he commits this sin: how then can others procure for him life? Yet there is also set forth [there is such a thing as] a sin that is to the death of the body; for instance, in the case of the people, for whom the prophet thrice made entreaty, he is forbidden to make entreaty: Jeremiah 7:16 ; Jeremiah 11:14 ; Jeremiah 14:11 ; Jeremiah 15:1-2 . Yea, even Moses himself committed a sin unto death, of this nature; unto death, not to be made the subject of entreaty: Deuteronomy 3:26 ; comp. 1 Samuel 2:25 ; 1 Samuel 3:14 , respecting the house of Eli; and, on the other hand, respecting the averting of sins and diseases by means of prayer, James 5:14-18 . αἰτήσει , he shall ask) namely, ὁ παῤῥησιαστής , he who has confidence. δώσει .” He will give) namely, God, when entreated. αὐτῷ , to him) the brother. ζωὴν , life) Therefore he who sins unto death is in a state of death, and yet he sins further unto death. τοῖς ) ל , that is, as far as relates to those who sin not unto death. ἔστιν ἁμαρτία πρὸς θάνατον , there is a sin unto death) The chief commandment is faith and love. Therefore the chief sin is that by which faith and love are destroyed. In the former case is life; in the latter, death. The sin, however, which is here pointed out, is not such as we call mortal, as are all the sins of the unregenerate, ch. 1 John 3:14 , and some sins of the brethren who relapse: and these alone properly need that life should be given to them. οὐ λέγω , I do not say) for I say not. An expression full of character, and Attie. God does not wish that the righteous should pray in vain: Deuteronomy 3:26 . If, therefore, he who has committed sin unto death is brought back to life, that proceeds entirely from the mercy [the mere prerogative] of God. ἐκείνης , for it) The word here has the force of removing. ἐρωτήσῃ ) He just before used the word αἰτήσει . There is a difference between the two words: [25] John 11:22 , note. Here we are enjoined not only not αἰτεῖν , but not even ἐρωτᾷν . Ἐρωτήσῃ is as it were the generic word: αἰτεῖν is the species, as it were, of a more humble kind. Not only αἰτεῖν is removed, but also the genus. This species, αἰτεῖν , does not occur in the prayers of Christ. Αἰτεῖν is suitable to the case of one who is as it were conquered, and a criminal.

[25] Αἰτέω , like ‘peto,’ is more submissive and suppliant, and expresses the seeking of the inferior from the superior. But ἐρωτάω , like ‘rogo,’ implies a certain equality or familiarity in the asker, with him from whom the favour is sought: therefore nowhere in the New Testament does it express the prayer of mere man to God; but is appropriated to Christ, who, on the other hand, never uses αἰτοῦμαι . Here 1Jn 5:16 may seem an exception; but its change from αἰτήσει of the earlier clause to ἐρωτήσῃ is a strong confirmation of it: “If any man see his brother sin a sin not unto death, he shall ask or beg , αἰτήσει , and He (God) shall give him (the petitioner) life for them that sin not unto death. There is a sin unto death. I do not say that he shall request or intercede (authoritatively), ἐρωτήσῃ , for it.” The Christian is not to assume the authority which would be implied in making request for a sinner who has sinned the sin unto death; Mark 3:29 ; 1 Samuel 15:35 ; 1 Samuel 16:1 . See Trench, Syn. N. T. E.

Verse 17

1 John 5:17 . Πᾶσα ἀδικία ) all wickedness . Instances of sin not unto death are of constant occurrence in life. καὶ , and ) and that too. The enunciation is this: Every wickedness is sin , (but) not (necessarily sin) unto death: but lest any one should interpret that too lightly, he prefaces it with the words, is sin .

Verse 18

1 John 5:18 . Οἴδαμεν , we know ) An instance of the figure Anaphora: [26] see the next verses. ὅτι πᾶς , that every one ) Now he takes care that no one abuse, verses 16, 17, to the purpose of (carnal) security. γεγεννημένος ) Shortly afterwards γεννηθείς . The Perfect has a loftier sound than the Aorist. An old lexicon says, ὠψωνηκότες , μέγα · ὀψωνήσαντες δὲ , μικρόν . Not only does he who has made great advancement in regeneration, but any one who has been born again, keep himself. τηρεῖ ἑαυτὸν , keepeth himself ) he is not wanting to himself from within. οὐχ ἅπτεται , toucheth him not ) The regenerate is not ruined from without. The wicked one approaches, as a fly does to the candle; but he does not injure him, he does not even touch him. The antithesis is lieth , 1 John 5:19 .

[26] See Append. on this figure. E.

Verse 19

1 John 5:19 . Ἐκ , from ) An abbreviated form of expression: We are from God , and we abide in God; but the world is from the wicked one, and lies wholly in the wicked one . ἐν τῷ πονηρῷ κεῖται , lies in the wicked one ) [Therefore the world can no more touch the sons of God, than the wicked one, in whom it lieth. V. g.] The wicked one , comp. 1 John 5:18 , is opposed to Him that is true , 1 John 5:20 . The whole world [and this universally, comprehending the learned, the respectable, and all others, excepting those alone who have claimed themselves for God and for Christ. V. g.] is not only touched by the wicked one, but altogether lies (Germ. bleibt liegen, lies motionless ), by means of idolatry, blindness, deceit, violence, lasciviousness, impiety, and all wickedness, in the evil one, destitute both of life from God and of διανοίας , understanding : see 1 Corinthians 5:10 ; 1 Corinthians 11:32 . The dreadful condition of the world is most vividly portrayed in this brief summary. No other commentary is needed than the world itself, and the actions, discourses, contracts, strifes, brotherhoods, etc., of worldly men. [That men of the world do not perpetrate worse things than the worst, is rather to be wondered at, than that they act in the worst way. They esteem themselves happy in their own wretchedness, and the sons of God as destitute of what is for their welfare. V. g.] There is an antithesis in abides , as applied to God and the saints. Ye that are regenerate have what ye pray for: ch. 1 John 2:2 . [Ye have reason to desire to fly forth from the world to God. V. g.]

Verse 20

1 John 5:20 . Ἥκει ) is come . Thus, ἡκω , Mark 8:3 , note. δέδωκεν , has given ) that is, God: for in the preceding clause also the subject is by implication God , in this sense: God sent his own Son: and to this is referred αὐτοῦ , of Him , which presently follows. διάνοιαν , understanding ) not only knowledge, but the faculty of knowing. τὸν ἀληθινὸν , the True One ) Understand, His Son Jesus Christ: as presently afterwards. Whence it is perceived with what great majesty the Son thus entitles Himself: Revelation 3:7 . οὗτος ) This , the True One, the Son of God Jesus Christ: to whom the title of Life eternal is befitting. ζωὴ αἰώνιος , Life eternal ) The beginning and the end of the Epistle are in close agreement.

Verse 21

1 John 5:21 . Φυλάξατε ἑαυτοὺς , keep yourselves ) in my absence, that no one deceive you. The elegance of the active verb with the reciprocal pronoun is more expressive than φυλάξασθε , be on your guard . See on Chrysostom de Sacerd. p. 423. ἀπὸ τῶν εἰδώλων , from idols ) and not only from their worship, but also from all communion and appearance of communion with them: Revelation 2:14 ; Revelation 2:20 . [27]

[27] Bengel, J. A. (1866). Vol. 5 : Gnomon of the New Testament (M. E. Bengel & J. C. F. Steudel, Ed.) (W. Fletcher, Trans.) (111 154). Edinburgh: T&T Clark.

Bibliographical Information
Bengel, Johann Albrecht. "Commentary on 1 John 5". Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jab/1-john-5.html. 1897.
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