1 John 5 assures its readers that because they believe in Jesus Christ, they have eternal life. It also reminds them of the three divine witnesses to Jesus: water (baptism), blood (cross), Spirit (interior realization). These trump all human testimony. In our own day, 1 John 5 challenges a worldview based only on scientific empiricism and other attempts to rationalize the Faith.
John is talking about overcoming the evil world by faith in Jesus Christ (c.f. 1 John 5:4-5). He is saying that the eternal life that is in Jesus (1 John 5:11) stands opposite and opposed to the death-wielding power of the evil one (1 John 5:19).
Faced with living death as a punishment for sin while alive, and eternal death in the hereafter, Christians can escape the desperate fate of the world by putting their faith in Jesus Christ. In return, we believers are to love God, love fellow believers, and avoid idolatry.
- 1 John 5:1-5
- 1. Belief in Jesus Christ constitutes being born of God and loving all others also born of God
- 2-3a. We love God’s children by obeying God’s commandments
- 3b. These commandments are not burdensome
- 4. The children of God overcome the world by faith
- 5. Only those who believe in Jesus Christ overcome the world
- 1 John 5:6-12
- 6. Jesus came by water and blood, not just water. The Spirit bears witness to this
- 7. There are three witnesses to Jesus
- 8. Water (John); blood (Cross); Spirit — and they all confirm Jesus’ identity as the Son of God
- 9. Don’t just believe John (a man, even though he KNEW Jesus PERSONALLY), believe these three divine witnesses
- 10a. Believers rely on an internal witness (the Spirit) to tell them who Jesus is
- 10b. Unbelievers reject this internal witness, plus the witness of the water and the blood
- 11. The witness agree on this: a) God gave us eternal life, b) that eternal life is in his Son
- 12. Having the Son is the same as having eternal life and vice versa
- 1 John 5:13-21
- 13. John writes to those who believe on the name of God’s Son so that they may know what this faith means: it means eternal life
- 14. The Father cannot refuse the Son, so anything we ask in accord with the Son’s will is heard by the Father
- 15. If we know the Father hears us, we know that our prayers will be answered
- 16a. We may pray that God will spare those brothers (and sisters) in Christ who commit minor sins
- 16b. But it is pointless to pray for those who commit major sins — sins that lead to death
- 17. Sin is sin and wrong, but some sins are worse than others
- 18. Those who are born of God will eventually stop sinning; until then, God protects them from the devil
- 19. We are from God, but the rest of the world is controlled by evil
- 20. Jesus came to teach us who God is. God is truth. And through Jesus we live eternally in the truth
- 21. Do not worship or commit yourself to anything else (i.e. idols)
“Toxic untruths” exposed by text
(1) God’s commandments do not contribute to human flourishing (c.f. 5:3b) (2) This life is all we have (c.f. 5:12) (3) God is unknown and unknowable (c.f. 5:20).
Human needs identified in text
(1) The need for victory in the face of evil (c.f. 5:5) (2) The need for assurance that what we believe is true (c.f. 5:11) (3) The need for a quiet conscience (c.f. 16a).
By putting our faith in Jesus Christ we trade a sentence of death for eternal life.