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

Peake's Commentary on the BiblePeake's Commentary

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Verses 1-5

1 John 5:1-5 . The marks of true children of God are a correct view of Christ’ s person, love to God and one another, obedience to God’ s commandment, and faith, this being the victorious principle by which “ the world” is overcome in its efforts to tempt us not to obey God.

1 John 5:1 a. See 1 John 4:2 *. The full belief in Jesus as a Divine-human being is meant, as also in 1 John 5:5.

1 John 5:2 . when we love God: the argument seems the opposite of 1 John 4:20, but the problem is being approached from a new point of view, and John is arguing that love of the parent involves also love of those who, like ourselves, have been begotten of Him.

1 John 5:3 a. Love and obedience are bound up with each other.

1 John 5:4 . the world: i.e. the anti-Christian environment ( 1 John 2:15 *, 1 John 4:3) whose evil influences tend to make obedience difficult, yet not impossible to those who, being “ begotten of God,” receive a plentiful supply of His grace.— hath overcome: the change of tense may arise from the victory, though in process of being won, being regarded as assured (EGT). If a victory already past be meant, the reference may be to the triumph over the false teachers ( 1 John 4:4), or to the victorious stand which the Church from its foundation had, in virtue of its faith, made against the world.

Verses 6-12

1 John 5:6-12 . Reference to the faith held by the Church concerning Christ leads John to specify in symbolic terms what that faith was and the witness by which it was sustained. The truth belongs to the sphere of revelation and so has its source in God, but it is confirmed by the spiritual experience which it creates in the believer.

1 John 5:6 . by water and blood: i.e. by the water of His baptism and the blood of His death. The reference is to two events in Christ’ s ministry, one at its opening and the other at its consummation. The claim of John (in opposition to the false teachers) is that Jesus Christ, i.e. the full Divine-human personality of our Lord, was as present and active in the suffering of the Cross as in the baptism at the Jordan.

1 John 5:7 . the Spirit that beareth witness: the reference must be to the influence foreshadowed in John 15:26, which the Holy Spirit had exerted in the Church in producing an adequate view of Jesus.

1 John 5:8 . three who bear witness: the idea is suggested by a requirement of the Jewish Law ( Deuteronomy 17:6).— the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: these terms must obviously recall the meaning in which they have just been used, so that the interpretation which makes water” and “ blood” refer to two Christian sacraments is far-fetched. John means that Christ’ s baptism as representing His anointing to the office of Messiah, and the Cross as the completion of the work of redemption, point to that high doctrine of Christ’ s person which is confirmed by the teaching of the Spirit in the Church. The words in heaven . . . in earth found in the AV are no part of the original text, but are an unauthorised though early interpolation.

1 John 5:9 b . Divine revelation in its broad content is concerned with Christ, and justifies the view that He is the Son of God.

1 John 5:10 . in him: i.e. in the experience which the evangelical faith creates. The Son is the fountain of “ eternal life” ( 1 John 5:12 *), so that to have Him is to possess also the spiritual experience of which He is the source.

Verses 13-21

1 John 5:13-21 . Conclusion.— A reminder of the writer’ s purpose, an assertion of the value and also the limitations of intercessory prayer, and a summary of the teaching of the epistle.

1 John 5:13 . that . . . life: John wishes his readers to have no misgiving as to the reality of their religious experience, though the appended clause (“ even . . . God” ) indicates that the security is bound up with a right view of Jesus.

1 John 5:14 f. When our prayers for ourselves or for others are in accord with God’ s will, He hears and will answer them.

1 John 5:16 . a sin not unto death . . . a sin unto death: this distinction has given rise to much discussion. “ Death” symbolises the hopeless ruin of the moral personality. “ Unto death” denotes, not that the gravest sin actually and at once produces “ death,” but that it looks in that direction, has that tendency. In the light of the teaching of this epistle the “ sin unto death” will mean such a view of Christ as saps the foundation of faith and obedience. It is such heresy as poisons conduct. John evidently thought his heretical opponents guilty of this mortal sin— hence his reassertion of the contention that sin attached to every act of unrighteousness. For the view that certain forms of apostasy are fatal to the soul, cf. Hebrews 6:4-6; Hebrews 10:26 f.

1 John 5:18-21 . In both experience and faith the Christian has distinct characteristics. In view of his new birth he cannot be guilty of habitual sin, but is preserved from it by the power of God. Moreover he sees in Christ a real Incarnation of God in man, and through that view attains to a right conception of God and the possession of “ eternal life.”

1 John 5:19 . in the evil one: i.e. in his embrace. Unlike the Church which, because of its inner life, is secure from being harmed by the evil one, the sinful world is wholly in his power.

1 John 5:20 . This is the true God: “ true” here means “ real,” “ genuine” ; the revelation of God in Christ, as the Church interpreted it, being thus distinguished from the false view of God taught by John’ s opponents With the true doctrine was bound up a valid experience ( cf. John 17:3).

1 John 5:21 . Avoidance of the pagan worship prevalent in Asia Minor may here be enjoined (Zahn). But a serious danger of that kind would surely have elicited more than this incidental warning. “ Idols,” therefore, more probably symbolises any form of unreality or falsehood which threatens to draw the soul away from Christ.

Bibliographical Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on 1 John 5". "Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/pfc/1-john-5.html. 1919.
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