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Bible Commentaries

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible
1 John 5

 

 

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Verse 1

1 John 5:1. Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ The apostle had been shewingthe inseparable union between the love of their Christian brother and the love of God: here he shews who was their Christian brother;—every one who believed that Jesus is the Christ, that is, with the heart unto righteousness. This the unbelieving Jews and Heathens openly denied; this the false prophets also, and their disciples, did, in effect deny, and did not therefore love the Christian brethren. St. John has in this epistle given three marks of their being born again: First, Their believing this fundamental article of Christianity, that Jesus is the Messiah, or their acknowledging or receiving him as such: Secondly, Their experiencing and practising holiness or righteousness, and being saved from the dominion of sin. Thirdly, That one particular virtue of loving the Christian brethren, is mentioned, ch. 1 John 4:7 and in the latter part of this verse, as another mark of a man's being born of God: from all which it appears, that if a man acknowledges Jesus to be the Christ, enjoys his pardoning love, and makes conscience of living accordingly, he is, in scripture language, born of God, or a child of God. It is true, that he who loveth God, will love his eternal Son Jesus Christ; but by him that is begotten of him, is not here meant Jesus Christ, but everytrue Christian; for, though it is in the singular number, the connection shews that it was intended to signify Christians, as they are the children of God by faith, and imitators of the divine holiness, see 1 John 5:2.Whoever professes to love God, the Father of Christians, is obliged to love Christians, who are his children, and who resemble their heavenly Father. He who loves holiness, loves God; and he who loves God, loves the image of God wherever it appears.


Verse 2

1 John 5:2. By this we know, &c.— St. John has often intimated, that the love of the Christian brethren, who are the children of God, is a sign or evidence of our love to God; and it appears highly reasonable, that what is visible, should be a sign or evidence of what is invisible. But here he seems to argue the contrary way; namely, that our love to God is a sign or evidence of our love to the children of God, or the Christian brethren. Now it may be objected, "How can what is invisible be looked upon as a sign or evidence of what is visible." In answer towhich, let it be considered, that the friendships of the world are too often confederacies in vice, or leagues in pleasure;andthatChristiansmayloveoneanotherfromnaturalaffection,relationship, temporal interest, or some other worldly motive; but loving them from such considerations, is not that peculiar love of the brethren which the gospel requires. It may be said, "How then shall we know that we love them spiritually and as Christians?" The apostle has here answered that very question: for, having declared, 1 John 5:1 that he who loveth God, the Father of Christians, is obliged to love Christians, who are his children, he here adds, "By this we may know that our love to Christians is of the right sort, when it proceeds from a love to God, and a sincere desire to keep his commandments; among which this of loving the Christian brethren is none of the least." A love to Christians, which has an extensive piety and virtue for its basis, must be highly valuable; Matthew 12:50. A man who lives in any vice, or who does not so love God, as to make conscience of keeping all his commandments, may be assured that his love to Christians is not of the right sort: but wherever there is extensive virtue and piety, there is the best proof of the genuineness of any one single grace or virtue, and particularly of our love to Christians, who are the children of God.


Verse 3

1 John 5:3. For this is the love of God, The love of God is a principle in the heart of a regenerated man, which leads him to keep the commandments of God; and which cannot be visibly manifested any other way; for, whatever some men may pretend, there is no true love of God without keeping his commandments. The Christians to whom St. John wrote, might perhaps be ready to object, "You exhort us to keep the commandments of God; but that is either impossible, or at least cannot be done without very great difficulty:" Now St. John knew well that the notion of God's commands being impossible, or grievous and burdensome, tended todiscourage men from attempting to keep them, and therefore would be of very bad consequence: for that reason he added, And his commands are not grievous, that is, under the power of Divine grace which all true believers possess. But the commandment which St. John had more particularly in his eye, was that of love to the Christian brethren. Real Christians behave through grace as their religion directs, and therefore are the most amiable persons in the world; and the love of such lovely objects is certainly delightful; but the commandments of Christ in general are not grievous; they are the kind counsels of the wisest Father, and the best Friend; who had nothing else in view in giving us such commandments, but the advancing our true dignity, perfection, and happiness. Instead of being burdensome, religion is to the regenerated man the joy and delight of his soul; his meat and drink, his daily business, and unspeakable pleasure, see Proverbs 3:13-18. By the connection between 1 John 5:3-4 it appears, that this last clause is a meiosis; that is, much less is expressed than was intended; for so far are the commandments of God from being grievous, that they are most delightful and excellent.


Verse 4-5

1 John 5:4-5. For whatsoever is born of God, &c.— That is, every child of God. The connection of this with the preceding verse stands thus: "His commandments are not grievous; because in observing them we gain a victory through grace over this world, our grand enemy; and nothing can be accounted grievous which produces so much good." The principle by which they overcame, was faith in the infinite merit and intercession of Christ. It may be proper just to take a view of the advantages which true Christians have for gaining the victory over this world, by means of that faith which is of the operation of the Spirit of God: Whoever believes that Jesus is the Son of God, or the Messiah, that great Personage, who was with God, and was God, eternally lay in the bosom of the Father, and came from him; and who promised a glorious and happy immortality unto all persevering believers; who lived the most exemplarylife; worked great numbers of unquestionable, glorious, and beneficent miracles; had a real body, and really suffered and died as a propitiation for the sins of the whole world, sealing his doctrine with his own blood, and offering his life as a sacrifice of a sweet-smelling favour unto God; rose again from the dead, and after that, was exalted in his mediatorial kingdom to the right hand of God, a Prince and a Saviour; and who has all power committed unto him both in heaven and upon earth; particularly power to raise the dead, to judge the whole world, to punish the impenitent with everlasting misery, and to render eternal rewards unto his faithful servants;—Whoever firmly believes these things through theSpirit of God, what may he not be expected to do or suffer, to avoid the future punishment, and obtain the transcendent rewards which God hath graciously promised to them that love him?—What can this world offer him of equal value? What evil can it threaten him with, to deter him fromsuch a pursuit? When it opposes him, how complete a victory may he gain in the power of Divine grace!


Verse 6

1 John 5:6. This is he that came by water and blood St. John, 1 John 5:5 as well as often elsewhere, intimated that Jesus was the Christ, and that the belief of that article was of the highest moment. Here he is proceeding to the grand evidences of that important truth. The Spirit alone is here said to bear witness, because he was the principal witness; but, 1 John 5:8 the water and the blood are represented as witnesses, together with the Spirit. In John 19:34 the water and blood which came out of Christ's side when he was pierced with the spear, were a clear proof of the reality of his death, and might have taught the Docetae that he had a real body, and really suffered and died; and consequently that his resurrection was a real resurrection.


Verse 7

1 John 5:7. For there are three, &c.— "For there are three divine Persons, the habitation of whose glory is in heaven, who from thence bear their united testimony to the incarnate Saviour. The first is God the Father, who said of Christ at his baptism and transfiguration (Matthew 3:17; Matthew 17:5.), This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; and (Romans 1:4.) declared him to be the Son of God with power, by the resurrection from the dead: the second is the eternal uncreated Word himself, who was ever God with the Father (John 1:1.); and said, I and my Father are one (John 10:30.); and often asserted his office as well as divine character in the plainest terms, and appealed for the truth of it to the miracles which he wrought by his own power: the third of these heavenly witnesses is the Holy Spirit, who gave abundant attestations to our blessed Lord, as the only Saviour, by his visible descent upon him at his baptism (Luke 3:22.), and by his coming from the exalted Messiah in heaven to bear witness to him, and to spread his name, kingdom, and glory in the world. And thesethree heavenly witnesses, though personally distinct in a manner that infinitely transcends all our ideas, are essentially one divine Being, one thing ( εν εισι ), or one God, in distinction from, and in oppositionto, all nominal or pretended deities, which by nature are no gods (Galatians 4:8.)." I have entered very fully into a critical view of this text in my Preface to this Epistle, and shall therefore only add the following remarks: If we drop this verse, and join the 8th to the 6th, there is a considerable tautology, and the beauty and propriety of the connection are lost, as may appear to any who attentively read the 6th and 8th verses together, leaving out the 7th, and they do not give us near so noble an introduction of the witnesses, as our reading (which, I have no doubt, is the true canonical one) does: nor do they make that visible opposition to some witness or witnesses elsewhere, which is manifestly suggested in the words and there are three that bear witness in earth, 1 John 5:8. But all stands in a natural and elegant order, if we take in the 7th verse, which is very agreeable and almost peculiar to the style of our apostle, who, of all others, delights in these titles, the Father and the Word, and who is the only sacred writer that records our Lord's words, in which he speaks of the Spirit's testifying of him, and glorifying him, by receiving of his things and shewing them to his disciples, and says, I and my Father are one (John 10:30; John 15:26; John 16:14.). The Trinitarians therefore had less occasion to interpolate this verse, than the Anti-trinitarians had to take it out of the sacred canon, if any, on either side, can be supposed to have been so very wicked as to make such an attempt: and it is much more likely that some transcriber might, through the similarity of the beginning of the 7th and 8th verses, or through some obscurity in the writing of that part of his copy, carelessly slip over the 7th, than that any should be so daring as designedly to add it to the text: and it can scarcely be thought that the apostle, in representing the foundation of the Christian'sfaith, and the various testimonies which were given to Christ, should omit the supreme testimony; and yet with a reference to the before-recited witnesses should add, 1 John 5:9. If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater, though, according to the Arian sense of the 8th verse, no immediate witness of God had been mentioned before, if we leave out the 7th verse. But, as I have observed in my Preface, we have alsoa thousand other texts which, directly or indirectly, establish the Personality of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, in the supreme Godhead.


Verse 8

1 John 5:8. And there are three that bear witness in earth, &c.— "And in concurring testimony with these three divine Persons in heaven, who subsist in the unity of the Godhead, and have given their distinct attestations to the saving office ofChrist, there are three practical witnesses to the same upon earth. One of these lies in the miraculous gifts and saving graces of the Holy Spirit: another is the spotless purity of Christ's human nature and life (Hebrews 7:26.), and his holy doctrine, by means of which the souls of believers are sanctified, and cleansed, as it were, with clean water (John 17:17. 1 Peter 1:22. Ezekiel 36:25.), as was signified, not only by John's baptism, which pointed to Christ for this benefit (Matthew 3:11.); but also by our Lord's own institution of the standing ordinance of Christian baptism in the name of the sacred Three, which is a solemn and holy dedication of the baptized to the Son, together with the Father and the Holy Ghost: and the third of these witnesses is the Blood of the New Testament; which was shed for many for the remission of sins, as represented in the Lord's supper (Matthew 26:28.), and is applied to purge the consciences of true believers from dead works to serve the living God (Hebrews 9:14.); and these three, though they be not one in nature or essence, nor are to be considered personally, as the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost are; yet they harmoniously agree ( u949?ις το εν ) unto the bearing of one and the same practical testimony among themselves on earth, and with the adorable Three in heaven, as to Christ's being the divine and only Saviour of sinners." The whole context shews, that the witness here given to Christ, relates most immediately to his character as the great Messiah, or incarnate Son of God; and therefore he, as the Word, denoting his divine nature, under which he is mentioned as a witness to this character, 1 John 5:7 is a proper witness of it as either the Father or the Spirit: and I take the Spirit in this verse to relate, not to his personal attestation to this character of Christ, which he gave as one of the witnesses in heaven, 1 John 5:7 but to his gifts and graces, since that which is born of the Spirit is called spirit (John 3:6.), and these witness to Christ on earth, as they appear, and evidently operate in and by the subjects of them on earth, in confirmation of the doctrine of the gospel concerning him.


Verse 9

1 John 5:9. If we receive the witness of men, &c.— "Now if, according to what is written in the law of God, we readily admit of, and depend upon, the testimony of two or three credible witnesses among men (Deuteronomy 17:6; Deuteronomy 19:15 comp. Matthew 18:16. 2 Corinthians 13:1. Hebrews 10:28.), and they are judged sufficient to determine all controversies about human affairs in any court of judicature; we may be much more sure that the infallible testimony of God the Father, Son, and Spirit in heaven, as well as of those three other witnesses, by divine appointment, on earth, ought to be unquestionably and absolutely depended upon: for this is the testimony of that God who cannot lie, and who in these various ways has given it concerning his only-begotten and eternal Son, with regard to his being the true Messiah."


Verse 10

1 John 5:10. Hath the witness in himself: "He who upon this testimony cordially believeth in the Son of God,has not only an external evidence to produce, which may suffice, under the Spirit of God, for the conviction or condemnation of the unawakened world, but he also hath the witness within himself: the happy change that it makes in the whole state of his soul, manifests the excellence and reality of its object." The reader may find this sense of the passage finely illustrated, to his great improvement and satisfaction, in Dr. Watts's Sermons on the text, vol. 1: serm. 1, &c.


Verse 11

1 John 5:11. And this is the record, &c.— The phrase ' Η μαρτυρια seems here to signify, not the evidence of testimony, but the thing proved or testified of. So ch. 1 John 2:25. This is the promise, that is, the thing promised. The verse may be thus paraphrased: "And this is the substance andabridgment of this testimony, that the blessed God has, in his infinite condescension and bounty, given unto us the promises of eternal life; and this life is in his Son; purchased by him, and laid up in him, to be bestowed on all his faithful saints; and therefore only to be obtained through him."


Verse 12

1 John 5:12. He that hath the Son, &c.— "He, who is vitally united to the Son of God, as his Head andRedeemer, through faith in him, is already spiritually alive: and he who has not an interest in theSon of God has not this spiritual life, whatever proud conceit he may entertain of his own merits and excellencies; but, on the contrary, remains exposed to the righteous displeasure of God, and under a sentence of eternal death."


Verse 13

1 John 5:13. These things have I written unto you, &c.— This verse is by some looked upon as a summing up of the principal part of this epistle, in which St. John professes that he wrote, not to the false prophets and their disciples, (for very probably he despaired of doing any good to them,) but to the true Christians, to put them in mind that everlasting life was depending; to let them know that they had a title to it, as long as they continued to believe with the heart unto righteousness; and to incite them to persevere in the true faith, and in a holy Christian practice, notwithstanding the attempts of the seducers, who were many and zealous. The latter part of the sentence means, That you may continue to believe, or believe more firmly on the name, in the merits, intercession, love, and power, of the Son of God. See John 2:11; John 11:15; John 20:31.


Verse 14-15

1 John 5:14-15. And this is the confidence, &c.— "And we who really believe in him, have this satisfaction and holy boldness, that whatever we present our petitions to God for, with faith in Christ's name, after such a manner as is agreeable to his holy will, according to the notices that he has given of it in the declarations, precepts, and promises of his word, he mercifully attends to, and favourably regards the voice of our supplications. John 16:23-24. James 1:5-6. And if we are well satisfied that he graciouslycondescends, for Christ's sake, to hearken to our humble, fervent prayers, we may certainly thence conclude, that whatever we thus beg of him, he will grant as may be most for his glory and our good: for it is always his will, that his faithful people should be truly happy, and be supplied with every necessary good."


Verse 16-17

1 John 5:16-17.— In the apostolic age, the power of working miracles was very common; and in this conclusion of his epistle St. John gives directions to the Christians, to whom that power was granted. They could not indeed work a miracle till they had an impulse of the Spirit to suggest to them that God would hear their prayer, and at their request miraculously cure the diseased. And St. John seems here to order them to wait for the impulse of the Spirit, before they attempted to work a miracle. Such Christian professors as experienced and lived the Christian life, were in no danger of falling under any remarkable divine judgment; but from 1 Corinthians 11:30. James 5:14; James 5:20 and this place, it appears, that some professed Christians behaved irregularly, and thereby drew down upon themselves some diseases, as judgments from God. Some were punished with diseases that ended in temporal death; others, whose offences were not so aggravated, and who truly repented, were to be miraculously cured, and their diseases not to end in death. In such cases, the Christians who had the power of working miracles, had a divine impulse to direct them to pray for their offending Christian brother; and when they so prayed, according to the will of God suggested to them in that manner, God, at their request, granted life unto their Christian brother, who had sinned a sin not unto death. After this, St. John takes notice of the advantages which Christians had above the rest of the world; and concludeswith cautioning them against falling into any act of idolatry, to which their heathen neighbours, who were then very numerous, would be likely enough to tempt them; and perhaps that is mentioned in this place, as having been one of the sins which had drawn down remarkable diseases upon some of the offending Christians. See ch. 1 John 3:22 and on James 5:15; James 5:20.

If any man see his brother sin, &c.— "If a Christian, by an impulse of the Spirit, perceives that any Christian brother has sinned such a sin as to draw down upon himself a disease which is not to end in death, but to be miraculously cured by him; then let him pray to God through Jesus Christ, and God, in answer to his prayer, will grant life and perfect health unto such Christian as hath sinned a sin which is not unto death. There is a sin which draws down a disease upon Christians, that is to end in death; I do not say or mean that any Christian shall pray for that; because in such a case God would not hear his prayer, nor miraculously cure his Christian brother at his request." Some by a sin unto death understand apostacy from the Christian religion.


Verse 18

1 John 5:18. We know that whosoever is born of God, &c.— "We, who have received Christ, and enjoy his gracious presence, are well assured, both from the word of God and from the indwelling of the Holy Ghost in our hearts, that whoever is really regenerated by the Spirit of God, and continues in that grace, does not live in the practice of any known iniquity whatsoever, either internally or externally; but he who is spiritually begotten of God, and so born again, has an utter detestation of, and abiding contrariety of heart against, such ways of sinning, insomuch, that by watchfulness and prayer, and by strength derived from Christ, he takes care to keep himself from them: and Satan, that wicked spirit, has not power to influence him in such a manner, as to lead him into sin."


Verse 19

1 John 5:19. And we know that we are of God, &c.— "And we are well satisfied that we are so born of God, as to be partakers of a divine nature, which is a powerful and abiding principle of all holiness; and that we are the children of God, in a peculiar relation to him; and that we side with him: and we know that all the rest of mankind, who are strangers to the new birth, and make up the greater part of this world, continue voluntarily under the power of sin, and of the wicked one ( εν τω πονερω ), and must be ranked under him as their head and prince, who works in the children of disobedience (Ephesians 2:2.)." Doddridge is of opinion, that the word κειται, lieth, alludes to the circumstance of a body which lies slain, in which sense it is often used by Homer: and on this interpretation it gives us a most affecting idea of the great miseryand helpless state of mankind by nature,fallen by the stroke of this formidable enemy, the wicked one, and insulted over by him as his prey: but our comfort is, that the grace of God is offered to all, and is sufficient for the salvation of all who will embrace and improve it.


Verse 20

1 John 5:20. And we know that the son of God is come, &c.— "And from all the undoubted proofs before insisted on, we certainly know that Jesus, the Son of God, has assumed human nature, and actually came into this lower world to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself (Hebrews 9:26.); and we know by our own happy experience, that he has not only given us an external revelation in his word, but has enlightened the eyes of our minds by an internal operation of his Spirit, that we might have a saving knowledge of him who is Truth itself: and we are vitally united to him, who, in all that he has said, is the true and faithful witness (Revelation 1:5.), even Jesus Christ the eternal Son of God. This Jesus ( ουτος ), in his original nature, is the only living and true God, together with the Father and the Spirit; and he is the purchaser and giver of spiritual and eternal life to all his faithful saints."


Verse 21

1 John 5:21. Keep yourselves from idols "Upon the whole then, my dear children, whom I as affectionately love as a father does his tender babes, let all these considerations engage you to abstain from every appearance of fellowship with pagans in their idolatrous worship of false gods, from all use of images, as representations of the Deity, or as mediums of worship, and from every idol of your own hearts; and consider Christ as the true God (1 John 5:20.), that you may be secured against idolatry in the worship which you pay to him. So may it be, to his and his Father's glory, and to your own comfort and salvation! In testimony of my desire and hope of its being so, I heartily say, Amen!" It seems highly probable, from the connection, that falling into some acts of idolatry, such perhaps as feasting upon the heathen sacrifices, and even in the idols' temple, were some of the crimes for which the Christians had been punished with extraordinary diseases: some unto death, and some not unto death. How amazing is it, that the church of Rome should so directly break the commands of God, by falling into idolatry in such a variety of kinds, and to so high a degree, when it was one grand design of the Jewish and Christian revelation to condemn idolatry, and banish it from the face of the earth! That corrupt church is, indeed, the mother of abominations, or of idolatries, and has taken in a great part of the ancient heathen superstition and idolatry; palliating it with the thin disguise of worshipping Christian saints instead of the ancient heathen gods.

Inferences.—Let us regard the grand question, on which our life, our eternal life, is suspended! I mean, whether we have, or have not, the Son of God? Let us then examine into this important matter with the greater attention. Let us hearken to, and receive the testimony of God, as comprehended in this one word, that God hath given us, even to us, dying, perishing men, eternal life; and this life is in his Son. Let us receive this transcendent gift with all humility and thankfulness; and so much the rather, as it is given us in him. By firmly believing this, we shall conquer the world, and gain a victory of an infinitely different and more exalted nature, than they who are strangers to Christ, or who reject him, ever have done, or can possibly do.

May our steadfast faith in him furnish us with a substantial attestation that we are born of God; and may we prove it to be sincere, by loving the children of God, and by keeping all his commandments. We must surely acknowledge, that his commandments are reasonable; and if we have a genuine love to God existing in our hearts, it will render the observance of them pleasant and delightful. And if we are not possessed of that evidence of love, which arises from a disposition to obedience, let us remember, he has fairly and frequently warned us, that no other expressions of love, how fervent and pathetic soever, will be accepted or allowed by him. That our faith may be confirmed, and our love awakened, let us often look to Christ, as coming by water and by blood. Let us meditate on that mysterious stream of blood and water, which came forth from his wounded side. Let us solemnly remind ourselves of the baptismal water, in which we were washed, and of the sacred cup, the communion of the blood of Christ, referring to this great important event. And while we are contemplating the memorial of his humility, let us also consider him as one with the Father and the Holy Spirit; and as each of the sacred Three join their testimony to the truth of the gospel, and join their kind offices for supplying to us the invaluable blessings of it, let us joyfully ascribe glory to each, world without end. Amen.

REFLECTIONS.—1st, The apostle shews, 1. The genuine marks of a child of God. Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ, the true Messiah, placing his whole dependance for pardon, life, and salvation, upon him, is born of God, adopted into his blessed family, and dignified with the title of a son and heir of the Almighty: and every one that loveth him that begat, the blessed God, the Author of all grace to his believing people, loveth him also that is begotten of him, and delights in his image wherever it appears.

2. By this we know that we love the children God, as his children, and purely for his sake, when we love God unfeignedly, and keep his commandments, from a principle of faith which worketh by love. For this is the love of God, the most undoubted evidence of it, that we keep his commandments; counting them all holy, just, and good, and having respect unto them without partiality or hypocrisy: and his commandments are not grievous; love makes the labour light, and the obedience cheerful and willing.

3. This is what will gain the conquest over an ensnaring world. For whatsoever is born of God, and partakes of a new and divine nature, overcometh the world, and triumphs over both its terrors and allurements: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith, which realizing unseen and eternal things, stamps vanity upon all present objects; and, deriving strength from the Redeemer's fulness, enables us to be more than conquerors over all our trials. Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God? who, dependant upon him for life and salvation, holds on his heavenly way, and is neither to be seduced nor terrified from his holy profession? Lord, give and increase this victorious faith!

2nd, Faith in the divine Messiah, being of such essential consequence to our souls, we have the foundation on which this faith is built.

1. This is he that came by water and blood, even Jesus Christ; not by water only, but by water and blood: he at his baptism entered upon his office, and on the cross finished the great atonement; and the blood and water which flowed from his wounded side, declared the purposes of his coming, both to pay a ransom for our sins, and to cleanse us from the defilement of them, by the renovation of our natures through the mighty energy of his Spirit; for which glorious purpose faith looks to Jesus Christ, as appointed of the Father to his mediatorial office, and able and willing in these respects to perfect the salvation of his faithful people.

2. Christ has the strongest attestation borne to his divine person and character. It is the Spirit that beareth witness to the consciences of believers, and in the miraculous powers bestowed at that time on the ministers of the gospel; because the Spirit is truth itself, and his testimony cannot deceive. For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost; the Father, at his baptism and transfiguration, bore witness to the Son; the Son repeatedly asserted his own divine glory and office, and appealed to the miracles that he wrought, for a proof of the truth of what he advanced: the Holy Ghost, by his descent on Jesus at his baptism, and by the miraculous powers with which he invested the apostles and others, added his full attestation to the great Redeemer: and these three, though personally distinct, are in essence one. And there are three that bear witness in earth; the Spirit, in his gifts and graces; and the water, wherewith every believer is baptized in the name of the Son of God, as a divine Person (see the Annotations); and the blood, which Jesus shed upon the cross, and of which he instituted in his last supper a constant memorial to be observed in his church: and these three agree in one, and bear testimony to the divine character of our adored Immanuel, and to the complete Redemption provided by him for all his faithful saints. If we receive the witness of men, attesting any fact; and every court of human judicature admits their oath and evidence as satisfactory; the witness of God is greater, which Father, Son, and Spirit, severally bear to the dignity and glory of the Lord Jesus, and with whom the appointed witnesses on earth agree; for this is the witness of God, which he hath testified of his Son, as the true and divine Messiah, whom we by faith and love must embrace, and in whom alone salvation can be attained.

3rdly, We have,

1. The happy state of the true believer. He that believeth on the Son of God, hath the witness in himself; he feels the suitableness of the Saviour to his state of guilt and misery, and knows, by happy experience, his excellence, fulness, and all-sufficiency: he walks in the light of the Son of God, and can say to him continually, My Lord, and, My God. He that believeth not God, and receiveth not his testimony concerning his only-begotten Son, hath made him a liar, and denied his truth, because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son, and submits not to the witness which he hath borne to the character of Jesus as the true Messiah.

2. The Fountain of his felicity. And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, the earnest and foretaste of it through the Redeemer's infinite merit; and this life is in his Son, purchased by him, treasured up in him, and communicated from him to his believing people. He that hath the Son, who is by faith united to him, and interested in the merit of his Blood, hath life; hath spiritual life here, and possesses a title to eternal life hereafter; and he that hath not the Son of God, who does not by faith embrace him, and derive grace from him, and feel an interest in his death, hath not life, is more or less dead in trespasses and sins, and the wrath of God abideth upon him.

3. The knowledge which he has of his invaluable privileges. These things have I written unto you, that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, this glorious foretaste of it, and may rejoice in this excellent gift of God; and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God; engaged more steadfastly to cleave to him, and, with unshaken perseverance, maintaining your holy profession. Note; (1.) Those who have life in Christ Jesus, know it: the Lord seal this knowledge to our consciences! (2.) They who have begun well, should be encouraged to persevere, assured that, in this case, their labour shall not be in vain in the Lord.

4thly, The apostle adds, to all the other blessings flowing from faith in Christ,

1. Access to God in prayer, and the sure answer to all our petitions. And this is the confidence that we have in him, and the boldness to approach a throne of grace; that if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us; accepts our prayers, and will grant our requests. And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him, in manner, time, and measure bestowed, as he sees most for his own glory and our good. Note; (1.) If we would obtain an answer to our prayers, God's revealed will must be the rule of them. (2.) When we pray in faith, we may confidently rest ourselves upon God's promise: he will hear and help us.

2. Our prayers for others, as well as for ourselves, shall meet with kind acceptance. If any man see his brother sin a sin which is not unto death; though it deserves death as its wages; he shall ask God to pardon his offending brother, and he shall, in answer to his prayer, give him life for them that sin not unto death. But see this subject fully considered in the Annotations.

5thly, The apostle concludes,

1. With a recapitulation of the believer's privileges and practice. We know that whosoever is born of God, sinneth not, he cannot, as a child of God, wilfully sin; but he that is begotten of God, and is thus a partaker of a new and divine nature, keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not; the power of sin and Satan is broken, and he enjoys constant dominion over sin, and at least ardently longs for the entire annihilation of it.

2. He mentions their happy separation from the world. And we know that we are of God; his children, renewed in the spirit of our minds, and living separate from the corrupt mass of mankind: and the whole world, besides those who are born of God, lieth in wickedness, ( εν τω πονηρω, ) in the wicked one, under his power, influence, and dominion, and must, if they die in this state, be condemned together with him. Note; It is most indubitably certain, that the far greater part of the world, even of the Christian world, lieth in wickedness; and as certain, that, if they die impenitent, they will perish everlastingly. It becomes us therefore seriously to inquire, whether we are of the world; for, if so, we must be condemned with the world.

3. They knew the Son of God, and enjoyed a blessed union with him. And we know that the Son of God is come, in the human nature, to take away our sins by the sacrifice of himself; and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, by his Spirit opening the eyes of our minds, and shining into our hearts, to give us the light of the knowledge of his glory: and we are in him that is true, vitally united to him who is the truth itself; even in his Son Jesus Christ, as living members of his mystical body. And this Jesus is the true God, the self-existent Jehovah, and eternal life; the purchaser, fountain, and bestower of it on all his faithful people; and they who perseveringly know him now by faith, will live eternally with him in glory. Note; Either Jesus Christ is the true God, or the Scriptures are a fiction.

*.* The Reader is referred to the different Authors mentioned often already.

 


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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on 1 John 5:4". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tcc/1-john-5.html. 1801-1803.

Lectionary Calendar
Wednesday, October 16th, 2019
the Week of Proper 23 / Ordinary 28
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