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Bible Commentaries

E.M. Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament

1 John 5

Verse 1

1Jn 5:1. In the New Testament there is only one original word for either born or begotten which is gennao, hence the connection has to be depended upon in each case to determine which is the proper translation. Since the act of begetting is that of the father, it should be the proper translation in passages where the connection shows that lie is the parent being spoken of. On that ground the word born in this verse should have been translated "begotten" just as it is in the others. The seed of reproduction is the word of God and it tells us that Jesus is the Christ. Whenever a man believes that truth, he is begotten of the Father. Therefore it says that everyone who loves him who begat (who is the Father) loveth him also who is begotten (and that is the child). All this is logical, for if we love a man we should love his children.

Verse 2

1Jn 5:2. In 1Jn 3:14 it is stated that we know we have passed from death unto life because we love the brethren. But that passage does not deal with the question of how to know that we actually do love the brethren, while the present. verse does tell us how, namely, that we love God and keep his commandments. And so a man's mere assertion that lie loves the brethren is not to be accepted. He cannot truthfully make the claim unless he has obeyed the commandments, including repentance, baptism and the others which God has given in the New Testament.

Verse 3

1Jn 5:3. Our love for God is proved only by keeping His commandments. Grievous means heavy or burdensome and it certainly should not seem burdensome to obey the commands of the One whom we love.

Verse 4

Verse 4. The world means the evil practices of mankind. (See the comments on chapter 2:15.) If a man truly loves God of whom he was begotten, the love he has for his Father will induce him to overcome the evil practices of the world. That is because his love is directed by his faith that was produced by the word of God.

Verse 5

1Jn 5:5. This is the same as the preceding verse except it states how and when one is born (begotten) of God. That is when he believes in Jesus as the Son of God as was stated in verse 1.

Verse 6

1Jn 5:6. The pronouns this and he refer to Jesus as the Son of God. The verse deals with three items that testified to that claim. He came means his introduction to the world especially into the public ministry. The water refers to his baptism because it was then John the Baptist said he learned that Jesus was the one who was to come after him. The Spirit also is mentioned because lie appeared in the form of a dove in connection with the voice of God that acknowledged the Son. The blood was in evidence when Jesus shed it on the cross, thus concluding the long blood line that began with Adam and ran down through the ages. (Read Luke chapter 3.)

Verse 7

1Jn 5:7. Most translations omit this verse on the ground that it is not in the oldest Greek manuscripts. I will make remarks similar to what were said at chapter 2:23. The passage does not add anything that is different from the other passages on the same subject, nor will anything be lost if it is left out. With these comments I shall proceed with the next verse.

Verse 8

1Jn 5:8. This verse differs from verse 6 as to date only; each has to do with the threefold testimony for the divinity of Christ. However. verse 6 pertains to the time of His stay on the earth, while this one is continuous and applies to what has been going on since Christ left the earth. The testimony of the Spirit is that which is recorded in the New Testament and written by the inspired men. The water is in evidence every time a person is baptized, because there is no way to account for the continuation of this plain ordinance other than the fact that it originated in the time of Christ. The blood testifies every time the Lord's supper is observed in which is the fruit of the vine, for Paul says (1Co 11:26), "As often as ye eat this bread and drink this cup. ye do show the Lord's death till he come." Three agree in one means they all bear testimony to one fact, namely, Jesus is the divine Son of God.

Verse 9

1Jn 5:9. If we receive the witness of men means that we do receive such witness. It is as if he said "since we receive such witness," etc. It is true treat human testimony when confirmed is an established rule of mankind in dealing with each other. The apostle is making the point that we should receive the testimony of God, for it is much greater than mere human testimony. That which God gives establishes the fact that Jesus is His Son.

Verse 10

1Jn 5:10. Hath the witness in himself. Not that he produced it by his own mind, but it is testimony that can be received by the mind and hence can be retained there. (See Hebrews S:10.) Made him a liar. When a man rejects a statement made by another he thereby makes that man out a liar. Otherwise if the other person is not regarded as a liar, there would be no pretext for the first one to disbelieve him. All of this pertains to the declaration of God that Christ is his Son.

Verse 11

1Jn 5:11. Record is from the same word as "evidence." John means that in giving to us the evidence of the Son-ship of Christ, we are thereby given assurance that we may have eternal life through Him.

Verse 12

1Jn 5:12. The foregoing important truths are summed up in the conclusion that to have life one must have the Son by sincere belief in Him as the source of that life.

Verse 13

1Jn 5:13. Written unto you that believe again sets forth the idea that not all of the apostolic writings are given as new information. The purpose for repeating it is stated that yo. may know or that they may have their faith for eternal life confirmed.

Verse 14

1Jn 5:14. The proviso according to his will is important and shows that we are not at liberty to make just any kind of wild request and expect God to grant it.

Verse 15

1Jn 5:15. This verse explains what it means to be heard for our prayers. When we have the petitions (granted) then we know that they were scriptural or God would not have granted them.

Verse 16

1Jn 5:16. Sin unto death. Not that the man has reached the state of eternal death but is healed unto it; his conduct is in that direction. The condition described in Heb 6:4-6 is a clear case of this kind of sin; let the reader see the comments at that place. Paul says it is impossible for another person to renew that kind of sinner to repentance. It would therefore be inconsistent to engage in a prayer service with a brother who has gone so far in deliberate sin that he could not be induced to repent by anyone else. John says he would not ask anyone to pray for such a brother. The kind of sin that is not unto death would be like that mentioned in Gal 6:1 where the brethren are told to work for the restoration of the one overtaken. He shall ask sounds as if John means for the brother discovering sin in another to do the praying for him, when Peter told Simon to pray for himself. That it true but it is also true that brethren can pray together on behalf of the erring one. Then if he repents the Lord will grant him life (forgiveness) for his sins. (See Jas 5:15-16.) The pronouns may be a little confusing the way they are used. The first he means the man who sees his brother sin, and the second he means the Lord from whom all forgiveness must come. (See Eph 4:32 as to the source of forgiveness.)

Verse 17

1Jn 5:17. All unrighteousness is sin. (See the comments at chapter 3:4.) John makes this statement that it might not seem he is underestimating the seriousness of any sin. He wishes only to show that not all sins are as fatal as others; that there is such a sin not unto death.

Verse 18

1Jn 5:18. See the comments at verse 1 for the meaning of born and begotten. For the verse in general see the comments on chapter 3:9.

Verse 19

1Jn 5:19. We means those who have been begotten of God. Whole world lieth in wickedness. World means the inhabitants of the earth as it does in chapter 2:15. The italicized words mean the same as "all that is in the world" in chapter 2:16, which explains why the world is said to lie in wickedness.

Verse 20

1Jn 5:20. The word know is frequently used by inspired writers to mean a strong assurance, not that it is intended to take the place of faith. It is true that the apostle John could use the word in its technical sense concerning Christ. That is because he was with Him in person during all of his personal ministry. He also knew that Christ had given him the (inspired) understanding which he promised, for just before leaving this world Jesus told his apostles he would send the Spirit upon them which would guide them into all truth (Joh 16:13). The true God is said in contrast with the false ones that were worshiped by many people. He also is the source of eternal life in that He gave his only begotten Son into the world for that purpose.

Verse 21

1Jn 5:21. Little children is explained at chapter 2:1. Even the best of disciples need to be cautioned against evils that we would not ordinarily expect them to commit. John tells his readers to keep themselves from idols which is one of such warnings. Paul told the brethren in Corinth to "flee from idolatry" (1Co 10:14).
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Bibliographical Information
Zerr, E.M. "Commentary on 1 John 5". E.M. Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/znt/1-john-5.html. 1952.