1 John

Quotes from:

Burdick – Donald W. Burdick – 1, 2, 3 John
Culbertson – William Culbertson, God’s Provision for Holy Living
Expositors – The Expositors Greek New Testament Vol. XII
MacArthur – John MacArthur, John MacArthur Study Bible
Mitchell – John G. Mitchell, Fellowship
Stott – John Stott, The Epistles of John
Thayer – Joseph Henry Thayer, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament
Van Gorder – Paul R. Van Gorder, Commentary on 1 John
Vine – W.E. Vine, An Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words
Wiersbe – Warren W. Wiersbe, Be Real



Introduction (1:1-4). Author: Apostle John Recipients: Not specified. Date: Possibly A.D. 90-95 Purpose: Informs of faith.

Theme: “A recall to the fundamentals of the faith.” MacArthur

1:1 “’Beginning’ this is referring to the beginning of the Lord’s minister on earth as the God-Man.” Mitchell and Stott


Cp. John 1:1.

“One or the reasons for the writing of this epistle was that John might warn against a heresy which had sprung up in the early church. It was called the Gnostic heresy. The Gnostics denied the incarnations. They did not believe that God could be manifest in human flesh. They said that matter is evil and it was unthinkable to them that a Holy God could take the form of man.” Mitchell


The word became flesh and thus presented Himself to the 3 higher senses of men:


  1. Hearing: but this was not enough: In perfect tense shows abiding results.

  2. Sight: ἑωράκαμεν.

    1. “Have seen” perfect tense shows abiding results. ἑωράκαμεν is perfect of όραω meaning “to see.”

    2. “’Beheld’ aorist seems to refer to a particular time, perhaps after the Resurrection.” Stott

      ἐθεασάμεθα (aorist of θεάομαι) meaning “to gaze upon, discern with the eyes.” So the thought here is that John and the other disciples had the opportunity to behold intelligently, so as to grasp the meaning and significance of that which comes within our vision.

  3. Touch also in the aorist). “’The word of life’ – Christ reveals to us the mind and heart of God. He is the Living means of communication between God and men. To know Jesus Christ is to know God.” Wiersbe

1:2 “’Manifested’ ἐφανερώθη (1st aorist, 3rd person, pass. of φανερόω to make manifest or visible or known what has been hidden or unknown.” Thayer

John testifies that this life that was made known and seen by Him and others has been borne witness of and proclaimed.

“’Bear witness’ μαρτυροῦμεν – indicates the authority of experience. ‘To proclaim’ ἀπαγγέλλομεν indicated the authority of commission. Stott


1:2b-3a This eternal life which was embodied in Jesus Christ was with the Father. When this life was made known to the disciples in turn proclaimed it to others.

1:3b-4 This proclamation was made for 2 reasons:


  1. So that we could fellowship both with God and with the disciples and;


  2. So that the disciples’ joy would be complete. The Good News can never be fully enjoyed until it is shared. See John 15:10, 11.

“’Fellowship’ κοινωνίαν – sharing in common.” Vine

  1. Obedience in Relation to Fellowship (1:5-2:6).

    1. Fellowship depends on our walk 1:5-7).

      1:5 The message that John wants to give us is built on the foundation of this statement: “God is light, and in Him there is no darkness at all” (cp. Ephesians 5:8-14).

      “Intellectually, light is truth and darkness ignorance or error. Morally, light is purity and darkness evil.” Stott


      There are 3 statements concerning God in this epistle:

      1. God is light: God is absolute in holiness (1:5).

      2. God is righteous: (2:2, 3:7). He is right in everything He does and every act of His is right.

      3. God is love (4:8): Love characterizes the energy of His nature toward men.” Mitchell

        1:6 “The effect of the light is not just to make men see, but to enable them to walk. Right conduct, not just clear vision, is the benefit which light bestows.” Stott


        Based upon the fact that God is light John brings up 3 spurious claims of the false teachers are exposed and contradicted. Each is introduced by the formula “if we say” (1:6, 8, 10)… Each time he describes the cleansing and forgiveness which God has made possible through the death of Jesus Christ His Son (1:7, 9; 2:1, 2).


        The first deception is (v. 6) that we claim to have fellowship things in common) with God and yet we walk in darkness.

        “’Walk’ is περιπατῶμεν (pres. subj) means to walk, or walk about. It signifies “the whole round of the activities of the individual life.”

        Vine

        Therefore, it is referring to what characterizes our life. If our life is characterized by darkness, then we are trying to say we have fellowship with God. “Walk” is in the subjunctive mood which expresses action which is not really taking place but which is objectively possible.

        1:7 “God is in the light because He is always true to Himself and His activity is consistent with His nature.” Stott

        “Notice, that this verse does not say, ‘if we walk according to the Light.’ It lays down no conditions. If it did, no Christian would be in fellowship with God – for none of us can live a perfect, sinless life. The question is not how we walk but where we walk. And where is that? In the Light.” Van Gorder


        John tells us 2 results that come from walking in the light:


        1. We have fellowship with one another. When we are in fellowship with God we will automatically be in fellowship with all others who are walking in the light.


        2. The blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sins. “Cleanses” καθαρίζει – is in the present tense showing that this cleansing is a continuous process. This passage does not teach us that if we are walking the Light we will no longer sin. Instead it is telling us that the one walking in the light we be constantly confessing his sin in order to be cleansed.


    2. The Christian and sin (1:8-2:2).


      1:8 The second deception is:

      “If we say that we have no sin.”

      “We have no” ἔχομεν οὐκ – present tense, to have sin now, even after salvation. Apparently there were some who thought they had reached a point of sinless perection.

      John said that 2 results come from this belief:


      1. We deceived ourselves.

      2. The truth is not in us. “Not only do we fail to do the truth (v. 6); we are void of it. For if it did indwell us we should inevitably be aware our sinfulness.” Stott

        1:9 “We cannot defeat sin by ignoring it or deceiving ourselves. The remedy to sin is to confess it to God. To confess our sin means to say the same thing about our sins as God does.” Wiersbe

        When we do this then God who is both faithful and righteous will not only forgive our sins but will cleanse us from all unrighteousness.


        1:10 Now we come to the 3rd deception: It is the person who claims that he has never sinned: The results of this is:

        1. We make God a liar because God says that every man has sinned.

        2. His word is not in us. Such a person could not be saved because a person must believe that they are a sinner before they can have their sins forgiven.

        2:1 One of the reasons that John is writing this book is to help us overcome sin in our lives. However, when we do sin we have an Advocate: Jesus Christ.

        “An advocate is ‘one called alongside, a lawyer’.” Wiersbe


        cp. John 14:15, 26; 15:21-26; where “advocate is the word used to describe the ministry of the Holy Spirit in the life of the Christian.

        “And if anyone sins” ἁμάρτητε – (2 aor. subj.) the thought would be that a Christian will commit individual acts of sin but is not expected to live in sin.


        Cp. Zechariah 3:1-7 concerning how Christ acts as our advocate.

        2:2 “Propitiation” ἱλασμός.


        “The Greek word for ‘propitiation’ is the same word used for ‘mercy-seat’. It signifies that which Christ has become for the sinner. On the cross He met the demands of God’s holiness and righteousness. He is what the mercy-seat was in the Old Testament, namely, the place of meeting between God and men.”

        Mitchell

        “and not…. Word”


        “This cannot be pressed into meaning that all sins are automatically pardoned through the propitiation of Christ, but that a universal pardon is offered for the sin of) the whole world and is enjoyed by those who embrace it.” Stott


    3. Obeying God’s commandments is a test of salvation (2:3-6).

      2:3 Here we come to the first test of salvation in this epistle: We know we are saved because we keep His commandments. Compare 3:23 where we are told what God’s commandments are: That we believe on Christ and love one another.

      “Have come to know” ἐγνώκαμεν perfect of γινώσκομεν – so he is talking about a relational knowledge.

      Within we have a true relationship with Christ, it should change us morally.

      2:4 Now an example is given of a person who claims to know Christ but whose life has not been changed morally. John calls such a person a liar. See 2 Peter 1:10.


      2:5 I would take it that the love of God is perfected in our life when we truly have come to know Him.

      “True love for God is expressed not in sentimental language of mystical experience but in moral obedience.” Stott


      Two blessings come to those who live in obedience to the Word:

      1. God’s love is perfected in us. “The idea is that the redeeming love of God has attained its end in the man who observes His Word.”

        Expositors


      2. Assurance of salvation.

        2:6 “John does not say that we will do the same things that Christ did.

        He says that we will walk in the same manner as Christ walked. How did Christ walk? In absolute submission to the will of His Father. (John 4:34; 6:38; 8:2; Matthew 26:3).” Mitchell


  2. Love in relation to fellowship (2:7-17).


    1. A new commandment (2:7-8).

      2:7 “New” καινὴν – not new in time but new as to form or quality, of different nature from what is contrasted as old vine.


      Christ had given the new commandment to love one another as He loves us in John 13:34, 35. And so from the beginning of Christ’s ministry this commandment had been given so that now it was an old commandment.


      2:8 But on the other hand there are two spheres where this old commandment is new:

      1. This newness is true in Christ. His self-giving death gave new mean to the old ‘law’ of love.


      2. “The second sphere in which the old command is new ‘in you’. It is new in the believer’s experience” Burdick

        “’Because… shining’ – it is not that the darkness is completely gone, which would be contrary to our experience, but the darkness is declared to be in the process of now passing away. In its place as it is receding, the true light is already shining. This is true in the lives of individual believers as they grow in grace. Thus, the newness of the command to love one another is a newness of daily experience as the believer grows in love and increasingly overcomes sin and hatred.” Burdick


    2. Love is a test of salvation (2:9-11).

      2:9 We now come to John’s second test for salvation: love for fellow Christians. A person cannot truly be in the light and yet hate his

      brother. The person who claims to be saved but hates his fellow Christians is only deceiving himself – He is not a Christian.

      2:10 To love fellow Christians is evidence of abiding in the light.


      “’There is… Him’ – the light shines on our path, so that we can see clearly and so walk properly. If we love people, we see how to avoid sinning against them.” Stott

      2:11 On the other hand if we have hatred for Christians it is evidence that we have never come out of the darkness. The person who walks in darkness is blind.


      “Hatred distorts our perspective. We don’t first misjudge people and then hate them as a result; our view of them is already jaundiced by our hatred. It is love which sees straight, thinks clearly and makes us balanced in our outlook, judgments and conduct.” Stott


      “3 things are said about the believer and light:

      1. He walks in the light (1:7).

      2. He is in the light (2:9).

      3. He abides in the light (2:10).


        3 things are stated about the unbeliever and darkness (2:11):

        1. He is in darkness.

        2. He walks in darkness.

        3. He is blinded by darkness.” Mitchell

    3. Reasons to love (2:12-14).

      2:12 “’Little children’ τεκνία – ‘born one’.” Mitchell

      He is speaking here then to the whole family of God. Everyone who has been born into the family of God has had his sins forgiven.

      What better reason could there be for loving both God and fellow believers?

      2:13-14 “John goes on to speak of 3 kinds of people in the family of God. There are the fathers, the young men, and the babies. They have all been born into the family, but they are not all at the same stage of maturity.” Mitchell


      1. First he writes the fathers – those with deep spiritual maturity. Twice he tells this group that they have known (and continue) to know God.

      2. Then he writes to the young men. It would seem that it is the young men who are in the midst of the battle for Christ. These are growing maturing young Christians. There are 3 things that John commends these Christians for:


        1. Because they have overcome the evil one. They are not under the mastery of the devil.


        2. They are strong.


        3. The Word of God abides in them. It is probably because of the fact that the word abides in them that they are able to overcome the evil one and to be strong.

      3. Lastly, he writes to the babes in Christ. “’Children’ παιδία ‘is used metaphorically of believers who are deficient in spiritual understanding 1 Corinthians 14:20.” Vine

        Notice here that just like the experienced fathers the children also know God. The difference is there degree of maturity. These people were babes in Christ either because they were not Christians or simply because they had not grown in Christ.


    4. The love that God hates (2:15-17).


      2:15 “John turns now from a description of the church to a description of the world and instruction about the church attitude to it. In so doing he changes from affirmations about the Christians standing to warnings about their behavior.” Stott

      The command not to love the world is grounded on 2 arguments:


      The incompatibility of love for the world and love for the Father. How can God love the world (John 3:16) and yet tell the Christians not to love the world? The difference is that God has a love for the people of the world. He cares for us so much that He was willing to die for us. On the other hand, the love mentioned here is the selfish desire or longing to participate in the things of the world.

      Compare James 4:4.

      “If a man is engrossed in the outlook and pursuits of the world which rejects Christ, it is evident that he has no love for the Father.” Stott


      Anyone who has this love for the world certainly could not have God’s love dwelling in him.


      2:16 John points out that there are 3 devices in the world that are used to trap Christians:

      1. “The lust of the flesh includes anything that appeals to man’s fallen nature. ‘The flesh’ does not mean ‘the body’. Rather, it refers to the basic nature of unregenerate man that makes him blind to spiritual truth (1 Corinthians 2:14)… Now you can see how the world operates. It appeals to the normal appetites and tempts us to satisfy them in forbidden ways. Wiersbe


      2. The lust of the eyes. “It is the tendency to be captivated by the outward show of things, without enquiring into their real values.”

        Stott

      3. “The pride of life is therefore an arrogance or vainglory relating to one’s external circumstances… The desire… to outshine others.”

        Stott

        “’Pride’ ἀλαζονεία – is a word used to describe a braggart who was trying to impress people with his importance.” Wiersbe

        Satan always tempts along the same lines:

        1. Eve (Genesis 3:1-7).


          1. Lust of the flesh (v. 6) “good for food.”

          2. Lust of the eye (v. 6) “delight to the eyes.”

          3. Pride of life (v. 6) “was desirable to make one wise.”


        2. The Lord (Matthew 4:1-11).


          1. Lust of the flesh (v. 3). Jesus’ answer (v. 4).

          2. Lust of the eye (v. 6). Jesus’ answer (v. 7).

          3. Pride of life (vv. 8, 9). Jesus’ answer (v. 10).


            The transience of the world as contrasted with the eternity of Him who does God’s will (2:17).

            We can sum up these three devices by saying that the world appeals to us in three ways: To our appetite, to our greed, and to our ambition: Pleasures, possessions and position.” Culbertson


  3. Truth in relation to fellowship (2:18-29).

    1. Be on the alert because of deceivers (2:18, 19).

      2:18 “’Children’ Παιδία –infant (see 2:13, 14). John is talking here to the baby Christians.

      “The enemy of the young men is the world and the enemy of the baby Christian is false teachers.” Mitchell


      “’It is the last hour’ – describe a kind of time not a duration of time… In other words, Christians have always been living in ‘the last time’ in crisis days.” Wiersbe

      “Antichrist” – “anti” in the Greek can mean both “against” or “instead of” Christ. Satan is not only fighting Christ but he is substituting his counterfeits for the realities found only in Christ.

      John is not saying that the Antichrist is now here but that many substitutes for Christ are on the scene.

      2:19 Now John describes these antichrists as those who break fellowship with other believers. They are also described as those who deny the deity of Christ (2:22, 23) and as the ones who are trying to deceive the believers (2:26).


      At one time these false teachers were thought of as Christians. But John said that if that had really been believers they would not have broken fellowship with other true Christians.

      “John not only relates the fact of their departure from the fellowship, but discerns a purpose in it. The heretics went out of their own volition, but behind the secession was the divine purpose that the spurious should be made manifest lest the elect should be led astray (Matthew 24:24). Their departure was their unmasking.”

      Stott


    2. How to tell a liar (2:20-23).


      2:20 Now John contrasts the false teachers to the Christians that he is writing to. They had received an anointing from the Holy One whereas the false teachers had not. (cp. v. 27 and Romans 8:9).


      “False Christians in John’s day used two special words to describe their experience. ‘Knowledge’ and ‘unction’ (anointing-NASB). They claimed to have a special unction (anointing) from God which gave then a unique knowledge. They were ‘illuminated’ and therefore living on a much higher level that anybody else. But John points out that all true Christians know God and have received the Spirit of God!” Wiersbe


      This “anointing” will be explained in 2:27.

      2:21 “John’s purpose in writing, is not to inform them of new truth, but to confirm them in the truth they already know.” Stott


      2:22 John now explains that the liar, the AntiChrist, is one who denies that Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah. In other words, the Son of God. Compare 4:2, 3. The false teachers were saying two things:

      1. Jesus was not the Son of God.

      2. The Son of God did not come in the flesh.

        2:23 Anyone who denies that Jesus Christ is the Son of God does not have the Father. We cannot possess part of God-head while denying part. Such a person is not a Christian. However, if we confess Christ we have the Father also.


        “To confess that Jesus Christ is God come in the flesh involves much more than simply to identify Christ. The demons did this (Mark 1:24) but it did not save them. True confession involves personal faith in Christ – in who He is and what He has done.”

        Wiersbe

    3. Don’t be moved from the gospel (2:24-26).


      2:24 “That ‘which ye have heard from the beginning’ is the Gospel, the apostolic teaching, the original message which had been preached. It had not changed and would not change.” Stott

      If this Gospel message abides in them, that is, if they have accepted Christ as that message taught then they will also the abiding in Christ and also in the Father.


      Abide is use three times:

      1st μενέτω = present imperative. 2nd μείνῃ = 1st sor. Subj.

      3rd μενεῖτε = future ind.

      2:25 To those who abide in Christ and the Father the promise is given of eternal life.

      2:26 The reason John writes 2:18-29 is to keep the baby Christians from being deceived.


    4. Abide in Christ (2:27-29).

      2:27 1. Because the Holy Spirit teaches us.

      1. The anointing that we have received must be the Holy Spirit (cp. John 14:17, 26; 15:26).

      2. “This does not deny the office of human teachers in the church (Ephesians 4:11, 12). But it means that under the guidance of the Spirit you must test the teaching of men as you search the Bible for yourself (Acts 17:11).” Wiersbe


      3. John ends this verse with a command: “you abide in Him.” He repeats this command in v. 28. In3:24 we find that to abide in Him is to obey Him. When we obey Him we have fellowship with Him. And so whenever we are not in obedience with Christ we are not abiding in Him and thus have lost our fellowship with Him. We do not lose our salvation because He still abides in us. But we can cease to abide in Him and also lose our fellowship with Christ…


      2:28 2. Because we want to be unashamed at His coming.

      1. “Little children” τεκνία – or born one. John is no longer talking to the baby Christians now but to the all those born into the family of Christ (cp. 2:12).


      2. We are told to abide in Christ so that we would have confidence at His coming.

      3. “’Confidence’ παρρησίαν – the idea of free, open speech lies at the bottom of the word… Here it is opposed to being ashamed John tells us in this epistle that we should have confidence to draw near to God in prayer (3:21; 5:14).”

      Vincent

      1. Because it reveals new birth (2:29).


        1. “The child exhibits the parent’s character because he shares the parent’s nature. A person’s righteousness is thus the evidence of His new birth, not the cause or condition of it.”

          Stott

        2. ποιῶν = pres. act. part of ποιεῶ = “to make, to do”, in other words to adopt a way of expressing by act the thoughts and feelings.” Vine

  4. Obedience in relation to Sonship (3:1-24).


    1. Reasons for obedience (3:1-10).


      1. We are God’s children (3:1)

        3:1 “’How great a love’ ποταπὴν ἀγάπην – originally it means from what country or race; of what sort of quality.” Vincent

        “It is as if the Father’s love is so unearthly, so foreign to this world, that he wonders from what country it may come. The word always implies astonishment.” Stott


        John is amazed and excited that we could have the privilege to be called children (τέκνα = born ones) of God. Cp. 2 Peter 1:4.

        “For this reason… know Him” – the verbs used for “know” in this phrase are forms of γινώσκει. γινώσκει implies not simply knowledge but also is concerned with relationships between personalities. In this verse it is obvious that the world knew a man named Jesus just as it knows we exist. However, the world does not understand us and therefore has no place for us. If we find ourselves fitting right in with the world there is something wrong with our testimony and life style for the Lord.

      2. The hope of Christ’s return (3:2, 3).

        3:2 “Verse 1 tells us what we are and verse 2 tells us what we shall be.” Wiersbe


        “God’s love for us does not stop with the new birth. It continues throughout our lives and takes us right up to the return of Jesus Christ. When our Lord appears, all true believers will see Him and will become like Him (Philippians 3:20, 21).” Wiersbe

        3:3 “But the apostle does not stop here! He has told us what we are

        and what we shall be. Now in 3:3 he tells us what we should be.”

        Wiersbe

        Whenever scripture talks about the rapture or the second coming of Christ it is never simply for theological reasons but ethical. The hope of Christ’s return should change our lives.


        “An unbeliever who sins is a creature sinning against his Creator. A Christian who sins is a child sinning against his Father. The unbeliever sins against law; the believer sins against love.” Wiersbe


      3. It is the reason Christ came (3:4).

        3:4 John now urges us to live holy lives on the basis of the purpose of Christ’s first coming-which was to remove sins, and destroy the words of the devil. The argument is repeated, each time with a different emphasis.

        vv. 4-7 vv. 8-10 (chart from Stott)

        The introductory phrase:

        Everyone who practices in v. 4)

        The one who practices sin (v. 8)


        The Theme:

        The nature of sin is lawless (v. 4)

        The origin of sin is the devil (v. 8)

        The purpose of Christ’s appearing:

        To take away our sins (v. 5)

        To destroy the works of the devil (v. 8)

        The logical conclusion:

        No one wo abides in Him sins (v. 6)

        No one born of God practices sin (v. 9)



      4. The nature of sin: lawlessness (3:4-7).

        1. The theme: The nature of sin is lawlessness.

          3:4 Here John gives us a definition of sin. Sin is not only missing the mark it is also lawlessness which is: “essentially an active rebellion of His holy law. It is important to acknowledge this, because the first step toward holy living is to recognize the true nature and wickedness of sin.” Stott


          “What the law can and cannot do:


          1. It makes sin exceeding sinful (Romans 7:7, 13; 5:20).

          2. It works wrath (Romans 4:15).

          3. It is a ministration of death (2 Corinthians 3:7-9).

          4. It is the strength of sin (1 Corinthians 15:56).

          5. It brings a curse (Galatians 3:10).

          6. It was added because of transgressions (Galatians 3:19).

          7. By the law is the knowledge of sin (Romans 3:30).

          8. It is a schoolmaster to bring us to Christ (Galatians 3:24).

          9. The law is not of faith (Galatians 3:12).

          10. The law cannot justify (Romans 3:20).

          11. The law cannot give life (Galatians 3:21).” Mitchell

        2. The purpose of Christ’s appearing: To take away our sins (v. 5).


          3:5 The word of Christ-He took away the power of sin.


          The person of Christ-He was sinless while on earth. If this were not true He would have no power over sin.

        3. The logical conclusion: No one who abides in Him sins (vv. 6- 7).

          3:6 Sin (v. 5) = ἁμαρτία = dat. singular.

          Sins (v. 6) = ἁμαρτάνει = pres. act. ind. Sinning (v. 6) = ἁμαρτάνων = pres. part.

          Practices sin (v. 8) = ποιῶν τὴν ἁμαρτίαν = dat. singular. Has sinned (v. 8) = ἁμαρτάνει = present act. ind.

          No one… practices sin (v. 9) = ἁμαρτίαν οὐ ποιεῖ = dat. singular. He cannot sin (v. 9) = οὐ δύναται ἁμαρτάνειν = pres. inf.

          In v. 6 the words used for “sins’ are both present; one present act. the other present part. The tenses here point to continuous action and could be translated “practice sin” or “continue in sin.”

          “Has not seen Him or knew Him” – if our life is characterized by sin it is evidence that we are not Christians.


          3:7 John makes it even clearer what He means: A Christian’s life will be characterized by righteousness.

          “Practice” ποιῶν (see note 2:29).

      5. The origin of sin: The Devil (3:8-10).

        1. The theme: The origin of sin is the Devil (3:8a).


          3:8a “’The one who… Devil’ – since sin is his (the devil) characteristic activity, everyone who sins exhibits a character which must have been derived, at least ultimately, from Him.” Stott


        2. The purpose of Christ’s appearing: to destroy the works of Satan (3:8b).

          3:8b “Destroy” λύσῃ (3 per sing, 1st aor., subj., act of λύω)

          To lose or destroy – Christ has set us free from the power of Satan.

        3. The logical conclusion: No one born of God practices sin (3:9, 10).


          3:9 Here John is discussing who our Father is. If our life is characterized by sin, then we are apparently children of the Devil.

          “Practices sin” ποιεῖ ἁμαρτίαν = see note 2:29. “Cannot sin” present infinitive (see note 3:6).

          “If the infinitive had been an aorist it would have meant ‘He is not able to commit a sin’; the present infinitive, however, signifies ‘He is not able to sin habitually’.” Stott

          3:10 “It does not yet appear that we shall be in our final state (3:2)… but it already appears that we are, whether we are children of God or of the Devil.” Stott


    2. The greatest commandment (3:11-24).

      1. Love relationships (3:11-18).


        1. Love in the midst of hate (3:11-13).

          3:11 John repeats the message that the people have had since their conversion: that we should love one another. But now he shows his readers two things:


          1. That there are false brethren who can be revealed for what they are because they do not love (v. 12).

          2. That the world will reject our love (v. 13).


            3:12 “Cain is not presented as an atheist; he is presented as a worshiper. And this is the point: children of the devil can masquerade as true believers. They attend religious gatherings, as Cain did. They may even bring offerings. But these actions in themselves are not valid proof that a man is born of God. The real test is love for the brethren – and here Cain failed.” Wiersbe


            We read the story of Cain and able in Genesis 4:1-16. We find here that first Cain rejected God then he slew Abel. Cain resented the fact that Abel was righteous while he was unwilling to become righteous.


            3:13 “Cain was the prototype of the world, which manifests today the ugly qualities he first displayed. The world is Cain’s posterity; so we are not to marvel if the world hates us.” Stott

        2. Love in the family of God (3:14, 15).


          3:14 John starts this verse out with “we”. He is contrasting the wworld with the Christian.

          “We know… brethren” – love is the surest test of having life as well as being the light (2:10).


          “He who… death” – the contrary is also true if we do not love we do not have life instead we are dead spiritually just as we are in darkness (2:11).


          3:15 “The issue here is not whether a murderer can become a Christian, but whether a man can continue being a murderer and still be a Christian. The answer is, no.” Wiersbe

          Hate is the normal experience of an unsaved person (Titus 3:3). It is characteristic of the world so how can it be in the life of a born again believer.

        3. Love in action (3:16-18).


          3:16 “The next logical question would be: How are we to manifest our love for the brethren? John answers this by an illustration.” Mitchell


          Christ is our example; we should love as He loved. He loved to the ultimate point of dying for us. We should be willing to die for those we love. How shallow our love truly is. Often we measure our love by the love we see around us and so we come up looking pretty good. But if we measure our love by Christ love we will not think that we have arrived.

          3:17 Many of us are guilty of loving mankind as a whole but neglecting to love individuals. John tells us that that is not love at all, and then gives us an example of practical love. There are two factors in this example:


          1. This person has more of the world’s goods than the person in need.

          2. He sees his brother’s need “behold” θεωρῇ (3 per., sing., pres., subj., of θεωρέω) meaning to contemplate, the view with interest and attention.


            Compare with “see” in notes (1 John 1:1).


            So the idea here is that this is someone who has taken enough time to understand and discern the need of a brother not simply to see the need.

            3:18 John has given us a specific example and now he teaches us a general principle. Love is essentially neither sentiment nor talk, but deeds.


            Summary of 3:11-18:


            1. Hatred characterizes the world; whose prototype is Cain. It originates in the devil, issues in murder and is evidence of spiritual death.

            2. Love characterizes the church; whose prototype is Christ. It originates in God, issues the self-sacrifice, and is evidence of eternal life.


      2. Blessings that comes to those who practice love (3:19-24).

        1. Assurance (3:19, 20).


          3:19 “However firmly grounded the Christian’s assurance is, his heart may sometimes need reassurance… It is implied that we shall be able to do this only if we know that we are of the truth. It is the mind’s knowledge by which the heart’s doubts may be silenced.”

          Stott


          But how do we know this, how do we gain this objective knowledge? “Love is the final objective test of our Christian profession, for true love, in the sense of self-sacrifice, is not natural to man in his fallen state. Its existence in any man is evidence of

          new birth and of the dwelling Spirit and it shows itself ‘indeed’.”

          Stott

          3:20 There are three actors in this spiritual drama… It is a kind of trial, with our heart as the accuser, ourselves as the defendant and God as the Judge.” Stott


          So we have our hearts accusing us that we are not saved for some reason. We can assure our hearts by two means that we are saved:

          1. By the love of God in our life,

          2. By appealing to God who knows all things.

            Compare 3:23.


            If we have accepted Christ as our Savior, God knows it. This brings assurance to our hearts.


        2. Answered prayer (3:21, 22).

          3:21 “Love for the brethren produces confidence toward God, and confidence toward God gives you boldness in asking for what you need.” Wiersbe


          John says that we have confidence before God only if our heart does not condemn us. In other words, if our heart has not received assurance after we have appealed both to God and to love then our heart is condemning us justly. Before we can have confidence with God we must bring assurance to our heart.

          3:22 “This does not mean that you earn answers to prayer by loving the brethren. Rather, it means that your love for the brethren proves that you are living in the will of God where God can answer your prayer.” Wiersbe


          “But John does not mean to imply that God hears and answers our prayers merely for the subjection reason that we have a clear conscience and uncondemning heart. There is an objective, heart.

          There is an objective, moral reason, namely ‘because we keep His commandments,’ and, more generally, ‘do those things that are pleasing in His sight’.” Stott

          Other conditions for answered prayer are:


          1. Must be according to God’s will (1 John 5:14; John 15:7).


          2. Pray in Christ’s name (John 16:23, 24).

          3. For God’s glory (James 4:2, 3).


          4. Must be cleansed from sin (Psalm 66:18; James 5:16).

          5. Believing God’s promises (Matthew 21:22; Mark 11:24;

            James 1:5-7).


          6. Forgiven and forgiving others (Mark 11:25).


          7. Obeying God’s commandments (1 John 3:22).

        3. Abiding (3:23, 24).


          3:23 “Faith toward God and love toward man sum up a Christian’s obligations. Christianity is ‘faith which worketh by love’ (Galatians 5:6).” Wiersbe

          Notice here that “commandment” is singular – there is only one commandment with two sides.

          “Believe” πιστεύσωμεν (1st aor. subj.) Therefore, this is talking about a decisive act that has taken place in the past.

          “Love” ἀγαπῶμεν (pres. indict) However love for the brethren must be a continuous attitude.


          3:24 “And the one… and He in Him” – if we are obedient to God we know that God abides in us and we in Him.

          “And we know… He has given us” – we know that the Holy Spirit abides in us because we keep His commandments.

          The Spirit whose presence is the test of Christ’s abiding in us, manifests Himself objectively in our life and conduct. It is He who inspires us to confess Jesus as the Christ come in the flesh, as John immediately proceeds to show (4:1ff; also 2:20, 27). It is also He who empowers us to live righteously and to love the brethren (cf. v. 13; Galatians 5:16, 22). So if we would assure our hearts, when they accuse and condemn us, we must look for evidence of the Spirit’s working, and particularly whether He is enabling us to believe in Christ, to obey God’s commandments and love the brethren; for the condition of abiding is this comprehensive obedience (v. 24a), and the evidence of abiding is the gift of the spirit (v. 24b).


  5. Truth in relation to Sonship (4:1-6).


    1. Content contrasted (4:1-3).

      4:1 We are commanded here to test every spirit. Apparently John’s readers like many of us tend to accept uncritically any teaching which is given by anyone who claims that he is the Lord. John says that this is not healthy because not every spirit is of God.


      In 3:24 we find that all Christians have been given the Spirit of God. But now in 4:1 John wants us to know that there are other spirits who are active in the world. These false or satanic spirits’ ministry is directing the teachings of false teachers. Therefore, we must be on guard so that we are not being led by the wrong spirit.

      John urges his readers to apply a test to every human teacher who claims to be led by the Spirit of God. The purpose of this test is to determine whether this man is led by the Holy Spirit or by false spirits. It is their origin that matters.


      4:2-3 We are to test a person on the basis of what he confesses about the person of Jesus Christ.

      1. The Spirit of Truth (4:2; cp. 2:22, 23). If a man confesses that Jesus Christ is God come in the flesh, then that man possesses the Spirit of God.

        “By this confession is meant not merely a recognition of his identity, but a profession of faith in him ‘openly and boldly’ as the incarnate Lord. Even evil or unclean spirits recognized the deity of Jesus during His ministry (e.g. Mark 1:24; 3:11). But though they knew Him, they did not acknowledge or ‘confess’ Him.” Stott


      2. The spirit of error (4:3; cp. 2:18). The contrast of v. 2 is also true: If anyone denies the Deity of the incarnate Christ then they are filled with the spirit of error not the Holy Spirit. This is the spirit of the antichrist which has been in the world since Christ came.


        “Comparing the two passages, 2:18-23 and 4:1-3, it is instructive to observe the difference of emphasis. In chapter 2 John teaches that on our confession or denial of the Son depends whether we possess the Father or not, while in Chapter 4 he says that on our confession or denial of the Son depends whether we are inspired by the Spirit or not. The person of Christ is central.” Stott


    2. Character contrasted (4:4-6).

      4:4 John contrasts his “little children” (τεκνία) to the false teachers in two ways:


      1. They are from God: They possess the Spirit of God.


      2. They have overcome the false teachers who are led by the spirit of the antichrist: not only have that not been deceived by the false teachers they have conquered them.


        Now John gives the reason they have overcome the teachings of the false prophets: Because greater is the Holy Spirit that indwells them than the spirit of the antichrist which is presently dominating the world. It is through the illumination and teaching

        of the Holy Spirit as we abide in Him that we are kept form doctrinal error (2:27).

        4:5-6 Now John contrasts the audiences:


        1. The false teachers who are taught and empowers by the spirit of the antichrist are from the world (4:5; cp. 2:15-17). Therefore, it is only natural that they would speak with a worldly point of view. And of course the world will listen to them.


        2. “We are from God” (4:6) John has already told his “little children” that they are of God (v. 4). But here the “we” is not a reference to John’s readers but to the apostles. “The ‘we’ of this verse is in direct antithesis to the ‘they’ of the previous verse, and if the ‘they’ means the false teachers, the ‘we’ must be the true teachers, namely the apostles.” Stott


        God’s message taught by those who are empowered by the Holy Spirit will be accepted by those who truly know (have a relationship with) God. However, those who are not saved (who are of the world) will not listen to God’s message. God’s truth will never be popular with the world don’t try to make it so. John 8:42-47


        “By this… error” – we know the origin of the message by examining the audience that accepts the message. If the world is accepting and overjoyed with our message, then it cannot be of God.

        Therefore, there is no sense wasting our time trying to get the world to accept God’s truth. It is only after a person accepts God message.


        “John’s rule is actually two-fold. First, there must be the confession that Jesus Christ came in the flesh, second, there must be a willingness to accept the doctrine of the apostles, which was inspired by God (1 John 4:6).” Van Gorder


  6. Love is relation to Sonship (4:7-21). Three ways that a true Christian differs from the world.

    1. Christians love one another (4:7-11).

      1. The reason: God is love (4:7, 8).


        “This is the third time that John has come back to the subject of love. In 2:7-11 John tells us that love for the brethren has been shown as proof of fellowship with God. In 3:10-14 love for the brethren has been presented as proof of Sonship. Now in 4:7-16 John tells us why love is such an important part of life that is real. Love is a valid test of our fellowship and our Sonship because God is love. If we are united to God through faith in Christ, we share His nature.” Wiersbe

        4:7 Two things are true of the person who have God-like love in their life:


        1. They are born of God.

        2. They know God: have a personal relationship with Him.


          4:8 On the other hand, anyone who does not have God’s love in their life cannot have a relationship with God for God is love.

          ἀγαπῶν is of course the word used for God’s love not man’s. unsaved people can have a human level of love but they do not possess God-like love.


          Compare John 13:34, 35.

      2. The demonstration: Jesus Christ (4:9-10).

        True love is never in word only but also in deed (cp. 3:16-18). 4:9 “Manifested” ἐφανερώθη means to come out in the open, to be

        made public. So how is God’s love made known? In two ways:


        1. In sending Christ to die for us.

        2. Giving us life through Christ


          The one thing that the unsaved need is life for they are spiritually dead. When the world sees that our relationship with God has given us new life the world receives a living demonstration of love.

          “Only begotten” μονογενῆ means: unique, only one of its kind.

          4:10 The true extent of God’s love is now explained. First of all, it must be realized that we did not first love God (Romans 5:8).

          On our own we would never have reached up for God. So God reached down to man by sending His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. (see note 2:2 on propitiation.) It must be remembered that propitiation is not something we do but something Christ has done in order to make it possible for us to be saved.


      3. The conclusion: We should love one another (4:11).


        4:11 “We are not saved by loving Christ; we are saved by believing on Christ (John 3:16). But after we realize what He did for us on the cross, our normal response ought to be to love Him and to love one another.” Wiersbe

        “’Ought’ that term expresses a special personal obligation. We have been put into debt. God’s love for us, unlovely as we are, has put us under obligation to love one another.” Van Gorder


    2. Christians abide in love (4:12-16).


      1. Love, the evidence of divine indwelling (4:12, 13).

        4:12 “Men cannot see God, but they can see us. If we abide in Christ, we will love one another, and our love for one another will reveal God’s love to a needy world.” Wiersbe


        John is not saying that God abides in us when we love but the fact that we love is evidence that God abides in us.

        “’His love is perfected in us.’ When we love one another, His love is perfect in us. Note that it is His love, not ours, which is perfected in us when we love each other. Thus, our love is in reality His love.

        When we love, it is God loving through us. Even the love which we seem to exercise finds its source in God.” Burdick

        So it is not our job to try to love others, it is our job to abide in Christ (for the meaning of “perfect” see v. 17).

        4:13 In verse 12, love for one another is evidence of God’s indwelling; in verse 13 the presence of the Spirit is evidence of same fact.


      2. Divine indwelling, the result of faith (4:14-16).


        4:14 “It is by the Spirit that we come to confess the deity of Jesus (4:1- 3; 1 Corinthians 12:3), and by the same Spirit that we are enabled to love (4:12, 13; 3:23, 24; Galatians 5:22).” Stott


        “We know that we abide in God and God in us ‘because He hath given us of His Spirit’ (v. 13), and we know He has given us of His Spirit because we have come to ‘confess that Jesus is Son of God’ (v. 15), and to dwell ‘in love’ (v. 16).” Stott

        4:15 Confess ὁμολογήσῃ – 1st aor. subj. act – so this confession is referring to a single, definite confession not to a future or continuing confession.

    3. Christians have a love relationship (4:17-21).


      1. Perfect love (4:17-19).


        “Up to this point, the emphasis has been on Christians loving one another but now we turn to a deeper and more important topic: A believer’s love for the Father. We cannot love our neighbor or our brother unless we love our heavenly Father.” Wiersbe

        4:17 “Is perfected” – 3 pers. sing., perf., ind., pas. of τελειόω meaning “to be brought to completion, full grown”.


        Love is made perfect or complete means:


        Abiding in Christ (v. 16).

        Result: Confidence in the day of judgment.

        Reason: Just as Christ is God’s Son so also are we the children of God. Ryrie says that we are like Him in love.

        “A believer who experiences perfecting love grows in His confidence toward God.” Wiersbe

        4:18 The Christian life is not to be lived because of fear. For Christ has already taken our punishment and we can no longer be condemned. (Romans 8:1)


        “Torment” (KJV) should be translated “punishment”.

        “We can love and reverence God simultaneously, but we cannot approach Him in love and hide from Him in fear at the same time… Once assured that we are ‘as He is’ (v. 17), God’s beloved children, we cease to be afraid of Him.” Stott


        4:19 “Fear dwells within us by nature and need to be cast out (v. 18).


        ‘Agape’, Godlike love, on the other hand, does not reside in our fallen nature; our very capacity to love, whether the object of our love be God or our neighbor is due entirely to His prior love for us and in us.” Stott

      2. Fruit of love (4:20, 21).


        4:20 This is the third time that John has called someone a liar:


        1. Moral liar: to claim to have fellowship with God and yet to walk in darkness of disobedience (1:6, 2:4).

        2. Doctrinal liar: to claim to possess the Father while denying the deity of the Son (2:22, 23).

        3. Social liar: to claim to love God while hating the brethren (4:20, 21).


          “Love for God does not only express itself in a confident attitude towards Him, devoid of fear, but in a loving concern for our fellow Christians. The perfect love that casts our fear, casts out hatred also.” Stott

          “For the one… has not seen” – John is saying that it is easier to love someone you have seen that someone you have never seen. So a person who claims to love God but hates his brother is only deluding himself.


          4:21 John’s point in this verse is that the command to love God and the command to love God and the command to love one another is not two commandments but one. They cannot be separated. The person who loves God will love his brother as well.


  7. The 3 tests reviewed (5:1-5).


    1. “In chapter 2 John describes all three tests in order, obedience (2:3-6), love (2:7-11) and belief (2:18-27). In chapter 3 he treats only obedience (2:28-3:10) and love (3:18), while in chapter 5 only belief (5:1-6) and love (5:7-12). In 4:13-21 he has combined the doctrinal and social tests. Now, however in the brief opening paragraph of chapter 5, we meet the three together again.” Stott


    2. What John is trying to teach is that faith, love and obedience are the natural growth which follows a birth from above. So John tells us that whoever is born of God will do the following 3 things:

      1. Love (5:1).


        5:1 We are first told that in order to be born of God we must believe (express faith v. 4) that Jesus is the Christ.

        As a result of the new birth the Christian will have love for:


        1. The father and,

        2. The children of the Father, in other words other Christians.


      2. Obey (5:2, 3).


        5:2 Now, how do we know that we love the children of God?

        Because we love God and observe the Lord’s commandments.

        5:3 And how do we know we love God? By keeping His commandments.

        “Love for God is not an emotional experience so much as moral obedience.” Stott

        Notice the close unity that John gives to faith, love an obedience: Faith = birth

        Love God = love Christians

        Love Christians = love God + obey Love God = obey


        John adds another thought concerning obedience stating that God’s commands are not burdensome. “’Burdensome’ βαρεῖαι – refers to a load that is excessively heavy. In Galatians 6:2 the known form of the word (βάρη) is sued to describe a load which is too heavy for one person to bear. Burdick


        But God’s commandments are not too heavy for one person to bear, for 2 reasons:

        1. God has given us the power through the indwelling Holy Spirit to be obedient to the Father (v. 4).


        2. Obedience to the Father is not burdensome because of our love relationship with Him. What was once heavy ceases to be heavy because of love (v. 2) Cp. Matthew 11:28-30.


          John MacArthur says that John talks about obedience He is not referring so much about the outward act as the inward desire. While no Christian is perfect every Christian should possess a burning desire to be obedient to the Father. This is the mark of a Christian.


      3. Overcomes by faith (5:4, 5).

        5:4a Here John tells us one of the reasons that God’s commandments are not burdensome: because the one born of God overcomes the

        world. “The new birth is a supernatural event which takes us out of the sphere of the world where Satan rules, into the family of God.”

        Stott

        Notice 4:4 where John gives us the source of our power to overcome. John is not talking about the spiritual elite here but about all those in the family of God.


        “The world appeals to the old nature (2:15-17) and tries to make God’s commandments seem burdensome. If the old nature is in control of us, we disobey God; but if the new nature is in control, we obey God.” Wiersbe


        5:4b And how do we overcome the world – by faith. Notice in John 16:33 and Romans 8:37 we are told that the world in various forms will try to defeat us. But we are to take heart for the victory is ours.

        “Our overcoming power is not in faith, but in the object of that faith, Jesus, the Son of God.” Van Gorder

        “The victory that has overcome the world” ἡ νικήσασα – an aorist participle indicating a definite act or fact. The other two references to overcoming are in the present.


        5:5 We overcome the world by faith, but not faith in just anything.

        Notice that it is faith in the deity of Christ.


        So we have come full circle. We started with new birth by faith in

        v. 1 and in v. 5 we overcome the world by faith. Therefore, John’s reasoning runs like this:

        Faith = birth

        Love of God = love Christians Love Christians – love God + obey Love God = obey

        Obedience comes as a result of birth.

  8. Things that we can be assured of (5:6-21).

    1. Jesus is God (5:6-10).


      5:6 John is talking here about things that witness to the deity of Jesus Christ. Therefore, water would apparently refer to His baptism where the Father spoke from Heaven declaring Jesus to be His Son. The Blood then would be reference to the death of Christ where He was once again declared to be the Son. Christ’s earthly ministry began at His baptism and was finished or completed at His death and resurrection.

      “We have then here, two kinds of corroborative testimony, objective and subjective, historical and experimental, water and blood on the one hand and the Spirit on the other.” Stott


      5:7 Here John apparently is making reference to the inward witness of the Holy Spirit in the life of a Christian. (cp. 2:27; 4:13, 14; and John 14:17, 26; 15:26, also see Romans 8:15, 16).


      5:8 “The importance of the 3 witnesses is that according to the law no charge could be preferred against a man in court unless it could be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses (Deuteronomy 19:15; John 8:17, 18).” Stott


      5:9 Since we believe men when two or three say something is true then we certainly ought to believe God for His witness can certainly be trusted more than man’s.

      “For the witness… His son” this statement points to the fact that while there are three that bear witness: “water, blood and Spirit”, it is God who is behind these witnesses.

      5:10 John talks about two groups of people here:


      1. Those who have put their faith in Christ. Of this group John says they have the witness in themselves. That is the Holy Spirit indwells them.

      2. The second group are those who are rejecting Christ. These people are not only passively rejecting Christ they are also

      calling God a liar because they rejected God’s testimony concerning His Son.

    2. Believers have eternal life (5:11-13).


      5:11-12 John now tells us that eternal life is found only in Christ. If we have Christ we have life, if we do not have Christ we do not have life.

      It’s as simple as that.

      “Three important truths are taught in these verses about eternal life. First, it is not a prize which we have earned, but an undeserved gift. Secondly, it is found in Christ, so that in order to give us life, God both gave and gives us His Son. Thirdly, this gift of life in Christ is a present possession.” Stott


      5:13 Here is the capstone of the entire epistle. John has been writing mainly to believers in order for them to know with certainty that they have eternal life. Compare John 20:31.


      “Putting together the purposes of the Gospel and epistle, John’s purpose is in four stages, that His readers should hear, hearing should believe, believing should live, and living should know.” Stott

      How are these Christians to have assurance of salvation? Here are the tests:

      1. That they believe that Jesus is the Son of God (2:22-25; 4:1-3; 5: 1, 5; 5:10-13).


      2. That they are living in obedience to God (2:3-6; 3:4-10; 3:24;

        5:2-4).

      3. And that they love fellow believers (2:9-11; 3:14, 15; 4:7, 8, 11,

        12, 15, 16, 20, 21; 5:1-2).


        In other words, John is saying that if you have accepted Christ as your personal Savior and this commitment is evidenced by a changed life then you can know for certain that you have eternal life.

        “vv. 13-20 – several important qualities that every believer should possess:

        1. Knowledge of eternal life (v. 13).

        2. Knowledge of answered prayer (v. 15).

        3. Knowledge of the new nature (v. 18).

        4. Knowledge of our Father (v. 19).

        5. Knowledge of God revealed in Christ (v. 20).” Van Gorder

    3. God answers prayer (5:14-17).


      5:14 See p. 22 of commentary for other conditions for answer prayer. This is the fourth time in this epistle that John has told us that He wants us to have confidence. In 2:28, He wants us to have confidence at the return of the Lord. In 4:17, John wants us to have confidence on the Judgment Day. And then in 3:21 John refers to confidence in prayer. We can be a confident people because of our faith in the Lord. Cp. Hebrews 4:15, 16. Howe do we find out what is according to God’s will. First, of all in the scriptures, the scriptures will inform us of the will of God in many areas. Then by simply walking in fellowship with the Lord will reveal His will in many other areas. There will still be some circumstances in which we will not know the will of God. At these times we must pray that God’s will be done not ours.


      5:15 “John does not write, ‘we shall have the requests’ but, ‘we know that we have the requests’. The verb is present tense. We may not see the answer to a prayer immediately, but we have inner confidence that God has answered.” Wiersbe


      5:16 “Having written generally of answered prayer (vv. 14, 15), John now gives a specific illustration and a limitation (vv. 16, 17). It is not now a case of petition, but of intercession.” Stott


      See James 5:15-20 where the prayer of faith for a sick man heals Him. Three possible views of this verse:

      1. It is talking about a Christian being put to death physically because of sin (cp. 1 Corinthians 5:5, 11:30). Some problems with this:

        1. The New Testament never classifies sins into good, fair or bad sins. On the contrary Jesus equated the thought of adultery with the act.


        2. A second problem is that John says that this person if prayed for and if he has not committed a sin unto death will be given life. You can’t give life to someone already alive. And John surely isn’t teaching that a Christian can lose His salvation for he has been teaching throughout this epistle that a true Christian cannot persist in sin, let alone lose his salvation. This view supported by Mitchell, Wiersbe, Van Gorder and Ryrie.

      2. This verse is talking about two classes of sinner here. One is the believer who commits a sin that does not lead to death. That is this is a Christian who has sinned because he is weak not because he has rejected Christ. The second class of sinners are those who sin unto death. Notice it does not call these people brothers. These would be those who have rejected Christ. In the context of this epistle this would be those who once claimed to be brothers but are now false teachers (2:18, 19).


        The problem with this view is again what do we do with God giving life to those who already possess life. Especially when the life comes as a result of someone else’s prayer. This view is supported by Burdick.


      3. This is the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit (Matthew 12:28-32).

        “This sin, committed by the Pharisees, was a deliberate, open- eyed rejection of known truth.” Stott


        So this verse is describing two classes of unsaved people. One is living in sin but has not totally rejected Christ. The one has blasphemed the Holy Spirit by totally rejecting Christ. This view solves the problem of someone alive being given life. But it brings

        another problem. That is, why would John call unsaved people, “brothers”. “The only answer is that John must be using the word, in the broader sense of an ‘neighbor’ or a nominal Christian, a church member who professes to a ‘brother’.

        Certainly in 2:9, 11 the word ‘brother’ is not used strictly, for he who hates him is not a Christian at all but ‘in the darkness’.” Stott


        This view is support by Stott and seems to have the fewest problems.

        5:17 Probably John’s purpose in this verse is to encourage the Christians not to cease praying for everyone just because they are not Christians. There are many living in sin who have not totally rejected Christ.


    4. Christians do not practice sin (5:18, 19).


      5:18 John now concludes his epistle with three clear certainties, each introduce by “we know” Οἴδαμεν – the first thing that “we know” is Christians do not practice sin – “sins” ἁμαρτάνει – which is in the present tense implying practice, habit etc.

      This verse “expresses the truth, not that he cannot ever slip into acts of sin, but rather that he does not persist in habitually or live in sin. The new birth results in new behavior.” Stott

      John now proceeds to tell us why we know that the Christian does not practice sin. It is because Christ keeps us from Satan’s grasp.


      5:19 The second certainty is that while the whole world is under the power of Satan we as Christians are from God.

    5. The Christian life is the real life (5:20, 21).


      5:20 The third certainty is that the Christian has found true or real life.

      Three times in this verse John uses the word “true”.

      First John says that “we know” οἴδαμεν (for certain) that the Son of God has come to earth. Three blessings come from this certainty:

      1. Christ in His coming has given us understanding because Christ is real we can see the world with true discernment. But Christ did not come to simply give us knowledge or discernment He came that we might know Him “know” γιν ώσκωμεν a person relationship type knowledge.”


        “’Him who is true’ means ‘the original as opposed to a copy’ and ‘the authentic as opposed to an imitation’.” Wiersbe

      2. Not only do we have a personal relationship with Christ we also are in Him. “Unlike the world who are ‘in the evil one’ (v. 19), we are in God, sharing His very life… deriving our spiritual being from Him.


      3. The third blessing is that with the true God comes eternal life. Cp.

v. 12).


5:21 While this verse seems out of place a closer examination will show that John is actually contrasting idols (false gods) with the true God in v. 20.

Anything that creeps into the affections and usurps the decisions of the heart – that unique place – that belongs to him alone – an idol.” Van Gorder


“John realized that ‘we become like what we worship’ and ‘the thing we serve is the thing we worship’.” Wiersbe

Therefore, it is of great importance that we worship the true God and guard ourselves from idols of any sort.


Summary: “know” is found seven times in 5:13-21. Six times a form of the word “όίδα” is used. In v. 20 γινώσκωμεν is used indicating a personal relationship type knowledge.

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