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Bible Commentaries

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

1 John



He that loveth God, loveth his children, and keepeth his commandments, which to the faithful are light, and not grievous. Jesus is the Son of God, able to save us, and to hear our prayers, which we make for ourselves, and for others.

Anno Domini 90.

THE apostle, in the preceding chapter, having, from various considerations, inculcated the love of the Christian brethren, and of mankind in general, and even of enemies, goes on in this, to speak more particularly of the obligation that we are under to love all who are the sincere disciples of Christ. And first, to shew that such are worthyof being loved, he declares, that every onewho cordially believeth Jesus is the Christ, is begotten of God. He possesses the nature of God, and thereby is more truly a son of God, than any Jew who claims that high relation, merely on account of his descent from Abraham, John 8:39. Next, to shew the obligation that all who love God are under to love the disciples of Christ, he observes that every one who loveth God the Begetter, will love also the begotten of him; he will love good men because they resemble God in his moral qualities, 1 John 5:1.—Then, that they might judge with certainty of their own character, he told them, that one of the best methods of knowing whether from love to God they really loved the children of God, was to consider, whether from love to God they performed to his children what he commands them to perform, 1 John 5:2.—For, said he, this is the true expression of our love to God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome to the children of God, because they are agreeable to their inclinations, 1 John 5:3.—and because by the power of their faith, they are able to overcome all the temptations which the world lays in their way, to induce them to break the commandments of God, 1 John 5:4.

But that we may know, who the children of God are who overcome the world, and what their faith is by which they obtain that victory, the person who overcometh the world by the power of faith, is he who cordially believeth that Jesus is the Son of God, sent into the world to bestow eternal life on all who perseveringly believe, 1 John 5:5.—And such a person's faith in Jesus as the Son of God, is well founded: for he was demonstrated to be the Son of God, by the water and the blood, even Jesus the Christ was proved to be the Son of God, not by the water alone, but by the water and the blood. For at his baptism with water, Jesus was declared to be the Son of God by a voice from heaven. The same was declared by the shedding of his blood, that is, by his death; for by his resurrection from the dead, God demonstrated him to be his Son. Now it is the Spirit who, by the water and the blood, beareth witness to Jesus as the Son of God. For by descending on him in a visible shape at his baptism, he pointed him out to the Baptist, (John 1:32-33.) and to the surrounding multitude, as the person concerning whom the voice from heaven spake. In like manner, the Spirit bare witness to Jesus as the Son of God, by the blood; for it was the Spirit who raised his human body from the dead, 1 John 5:6.

The apostle, having thus declared how Jesus came into the world, attested as the Son of God by the water and the blood, proceeds to inform us, that there are three in heaven, and three on earth, who are continually witnessing something concerning Jesus, which he does not explain, till 1 John 5:11 where he tells us, that the facts which they attest are, that God hath given eternal life to all the faithful; and that this life is in his Son. Now the three in heaven, who bear witness to these important facts, are the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit; and these Three are One, one in Essence, but three in Personality, 1 John 5:7.—And the three on earth, who bear witness to the same facts, are the Spirit, and the water, and the blood. All these witnesses, the apostle tells us, agree in one and the same testimony, 1 John 5:8.—And because they attest these facts by the appointment of God, he calls the joint testimony of the three in heaven and of the three on earth, the witness of God; and observes, that if we receive the testimony of men, and without hesitation rely on it, even in the most important matters, the witness of God is of much greater force to establish what he attesteth concerning his Son, 1 John 5:9.—especially as he who believeth on the Son of God, hath the thing witnessed by God begun in himself; whereas he who does not believe God's witness concerning his Son, endeavours to make God a liar, 1 John 5:10.—To this account of the witnesses in heaven and on earth, and of the certainty of their testimony, the apostle, at length, subjoins a declaration of the important facts to which they bear witness; namely, that God will bestow eternal life on persevering believers, and that this life is to be bestowed on them through his Son, 1 John 5:11.—Then he repeats what he had hinted, 1 John 5:10. That he who cordially and faithfully acknowledgeth Jesus to be the Son of God, hath the eternal life which God hath promised to bestow through his Son, assured to him on his perseverance, by the graces and virtues which his faith produces in him, and the direct witness of the Spirit of God. Whereas he who does not acknowledge Jesus as the Son of God, has no spiritual life in him, and of course no title to eternal life. Lastly, the apostle told those who believed on the name of the Son of God, that he had written these things to them, concerning the coming of Jesus into the world attested to be the Son of God by the water and the blood, and concerning the three in heaven and the three on earth who are continually bearing witness to Jesus, and concerning the facts which they utter, namely, that God hath promised to give persevering believers eternal life through his Son,—these things he had written, that they might continue to believe on his name, 1 John 5:12.

St. John had told them, chap. 1 John 4:17 that if they perseveringly imitated God in his benevolence, it would give them boldness in the day of judgment: here he assured them, that, even in the present life, they who believe on Jesus have this boldness with the Father, that if they pray to him for any thing according to his will, he hearkeneth to them, 1 John 5:14.—and granteth them what they ask, because they are the disciples of his Son, 1 John 5:15.—The apostle also assured those who were endowed with miraculous gifts in particular, and perhaps it was applicable to them only, that if any of them found a brother labouring under a bodily disease, inflicted on him for some sin that he had committed, and if the spiritual man had reason to think his sin was not be to punished with bodily death, he might, on account of his faith in God's promise, ask his recovery, if moved to do so by an impulse of the Spirit. And God, in answer to his prayer, would grant a miraculous recovery to such sick person, the temporal punishment of whose sin was not a disease to end in death. At the same time, by observing that there was a sin unto death, for the removing of the punishment of which, he did not direct any spiritual man to pray, he insinuated that apostacy, or gross idolatry, or some other sin, entirely excluded the sinner from the privilege mentioned above, 1 John 5:16.—And to shew this more clearly, he added, though every unrighteous temper as well as action is sin,there is a great difference in sins. For there is a sin not unto death, from the punishment of which the sinner may be delivered, because he hath repented, 1 John 5:17.—However, to prevent them from falling into mistakes in judging what sins were unto death, and what not, he told them, that no one who is begotten of God sinneth wilfully, because such a person keepeth himself from the dominion of the devil, 1 John 5:18.—He added, that, by the witness of the Spirit of God, and keeping themselves through grace from the dominion of the devil, they would know that they were begotten of God; as by the wickedness which prevailed among infidels, idolaters, and hypocrites, they knew that the whole of them, yea, the whole unawakened world, were lying under the dominion of the devil, in subjection to him, and lying wounded and slain under him, 1 John 5:19. But they knew, that, when the whole human race was in this helpless and miserable condition, the Son of God was come, andhad given them an understanding that they might know him who is true; and they were in him who is true, even in the Father, and in his Son Jesus Christ; he is the true God and eternal life; he partakes with the Father in proper Deity, and their immortal life could be supported by union with him alone, 1 John 5:20. He, therefore, entreated them to keep themselves from idols of every kind, whom the jealous God will not suffer to share with him, either in the offices of religious worship, or in the supreme affection of the mind, 1 John 5:21.

Concerning the spiritual men's praying for the recovery of sick sinners, and the sinner's being restored to health miraculously in consequence of such prayers, of which the apostle speaks in this chapter, it is proper to observe, that the successful exercise of these spiritual gifts, like all the other miraculous powers, was intended to render the Christian societies venerable in the eyes of the Heathens, by shewing that God was actually among the Christians, 1 Corinthians 14:25 and to inspire the Heathens with the desire of becoming members of a community which was honoured with such extraordinary privileges.

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Bibliographical Information
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on 1 John". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. 1801-1803.