View 1st John 5 in the note window.
1: The scope and sum of this whole paragraph appears
from the conclusion of it, (1Jo 5:13)"These things have I
written to you who believe, that ye may know that ye who
believe have eternal life." So faith is the first and last
point with St. John also. Every one who loveth - God that
begat loveth him also that is begotten of him - Hath a natural
affection to all his brethren.
2: Hereby we know - This is a plain proof. That we love
the children of God - As his children.
3: For this is the love of God - The only sure proof of it.
That we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not
grievous - To any that are born of God.
4: For whatsoever - This expression implies the most
unlimited universality. Is born of God overcometh the world
- Conquers whatever it can lay in the way, either to allure or
fright the children of God from keeping his commandments. And
this is the victory - The grand means of overcoming. Even our
faith - Seeing all things are possible to him that believeth.
5: Who is he that overcometh the world - That is superior
to all worldly care, desire, fear? Every believer, and none
else. The seventh verse (1Jo 5:7)(usually so reckoned) is a
brief recapitulation of all which has been before advanced
concerning the Father, the Son, and the Spirit. It is cited, in
conjunction with the sixth and eighth, (1Jo 5:6),8 by
Tertullian, Cyprian, and an uninterrupted train of Fathers.
And, indeed, what the sun is in the world, what the heart is in
a man, what the needle is in the mariner's compass, this verse
is in the epistle. By this the sixth, eighth, and ninth verses(1Jo 5:6,8-9) are indissolubly connected; as will be evident,
beyond all contradiction, when they are accurately considered.
6: This is he - St. John here shows the immovable foundation
of that faith that Jesus is the Son of God; not only the
testimony of man, but the firm, indubitable testimony of God.
Who came - Jesus is he of whom it was promised that he should
come; and who accordingly, is come. And this the Spirit, and
the water, and the blood testify. Even Jesus - Who, coming by
water and blood, is by this very thing demonstrated to be the
Christ. Not by the water only - Wherein he was baptized. But
by the water and the blood - Which he shed when he had finished
the work his Father had given him to do. He not only undertook
at his baptism "to fulfil all righteousness," but on the cross
accomplished what he had undertaken; in token whereof, when all
was finished, blood and water came out of his side. And it is
the Spirit who likewise testifieth - Of Jesus Christ, namely, by
Moses and all the prophets, by John the Baptist, by all the
apostles, and in all the writings of the New Testament. And
against his testimony there can be no exception, because the
Spirit is truth - The very God of truth.
7: What Bengelius has advanced, both concerning the transposition
of these two verses, and the authority of the controverted verse,
partly in his "Gnomon," and partly in his "Apparatus Criticus,"
will abundantly satisfy any impartial person. For there are three
that testify - Literally, testifying, or bearing witness.
The participle is put for the noun witnesses, to intimate that
the act of testifying, and the effect of it, are continually
present. Properly, persons only can testify; and that three are
described testifying on earth, as if they were persons, is
elegantly subservient to the three persons testifying in heaven.
The Spirit - In the word, confirmed by miracles. The water - Of
baptism, wherein we are dedicated to the Son, (with the Father
and Spirit,) typifying his spotless purity, and the inward
purifying of our nature. And the blood - Represented in the Lord's
supper, and applied to the consciences of believer. And these
three harmoniously agree in one - In bearing the same
testimony, - that Jesus Christ is the divine, the complete, the
only Saviour of the world.
8: And there are three that testify in heaven - The
testimony of the Spirit, the water, and the blood, is by an
eminent gradation corroborated by three, who give a still
greater testimony. The Father - Who clearly testified of the
Son, both at his baptism and at his transfiguration. The Word
- Who testified of himself on many occasions, while he was on
earth; and again, with still greater solemnity, after his
ascension into heaven, (Re 1:5,19:13).
And the Spirit - Whose testimony was added chiefly after his
glorification, (1Jo 2:27,Joh 15:26,Ac 5:32,Ro 8:16).
And these three are one - Even as those two, the Father and the
Son, are one, (Joh 10:30). Nothing can separate the Spirit from
the Father and the Son. If he were not one with the Father
and the Son, the apostle ought to have said, The Father and
the Word, who are one, and the Spirit, are two. But this is
contrary to the whole tenor of revelation. It remains that
these three are one. They are one in essence, in knowledge,
in will, and in their testimony.
It is observable, the three in the one verse are opposed, not
conjointly, but severally, to the three in the other: as if he
had said, Not only the Spirit testifies, but also the Father,(Joh 5:37); not only the water, but also the Word,(Joh 3:11,10:41); not only the blood, but also the
Holy Ghost, (Joh 15:26), &c. It must now appear, to every
reasonable man, how absolutely necessary the eighth verse is(1Jo 5:8). St. John could not think of the testimony of
the Spirit, and water, and blood, and subjoin, "The testimony
of God is greater," without thinking also of the testimony of
the Son and Holy Ghost; yea, and mentioning it in so solemn
an enumeration. Nor can any possible reason be devised, why,
without three testifying in heaven, he should enumerate three,
and no more, who testify on earth. The testimony of all is
given on earth, not in heaven; but they who testify are part on
earth, part in heaven. The witnesses who are on earth testify
chiefly concerning his abode on earth, though not excluding his
state of exaltation: the witnesses who are in heaven testify
chiefly concerning his glory at God's right hand, though not
excluding his state of humiliation.
The seventh verse, therefore, with the sixth, (1Jo 5:6-7)
contains a recapitulation of the whole economy of Christ, from
his baptism to pentecost; the eighth, (1Jo 5:8) the sum of the
divine economy, from the time of his exaltation.
Hence it farther appears, that this position of the seventh(1Jo 5:7-8) and eighth verses, which places those who testify
on earth before those who testify in heaven, is abundantly
preferable to the other, and affords a gradation admirably
suited to the subject.
9: If we receive the testimony of men - As we do continually,
and must do in a thousand instances. The testimony of God is
greater - Of higher authority, and much more worthy to be received;
namely, this very testimony which God the Father, together with
the Word and the Spirit, hath testified of the Son, as the
Saviour of the world.
10: He that believeth on the Son of God hath the testimony
- The dear evidence of this, in himself: he that believeth not
God, in this, hath made him a liar; because he supposes that to
be false which God has expressly testified.
11: And this is the sum of that testimony, that God hath
given us a title to, and the real beginning of, eternal life;
and that this is purchased by, and treasured up in, his Son,
who has all the springs and the fulness of it in himself, to
communicate to his body, the church, first in grace and then
12: It plainly follows, he that hath the Son - Living and
reigning in him by faith. Hath this life; he that hath not the
Son of God hath not this life - Hath no part or lot therein. In
the former clause, the apostle says simply, the Son; because
believers know him: in the latter, the Son of God; that
unbelievers may know how great a blessing they fall short of.
13: These things have I written - In the introduction,(1Jo 1:4), he said,
I write: now, in the close, I have written. That ye may know
- With a fuller and stronger assurance, that ye have eternal life.
14: And we - Who believe. Have this farther confidence
in him, that he heareth - That is, favourably regards, whatever
prayer we offer in faith, according to his revealed will.
15: We have - Faith anticipates the blessings. The
petitions which we asked of him - Even before the event. And
when the event comes, we know it comes in answer to our prayer.
16: This extends to things of the greatest importance. If
any one see his brother - That is. any man. Sin a sin which is
not unto death - That is, any sin but total apostasy from both
the power and form of godliness. Let him ask, and God will
give him life - Pardon and spiritual life, for that sinner.
There is a sin unto death: I do not say that he shall pray for
that - That is, let him not pray for it. A sin unto death may
likewise mean, one which God has determined to punish with death.
17: All deviation from perfect holiness is sin; but all
sin is not unpardonable.
18: Yet this gives us no encouragement to sin: on the
contrary, it is an indisputable truth, he that is born of God
- That sees and loves God. Sinneth not - So long as that loving
faith abides in him, he neither speaks nor does anything which
God hath forbidden. He keepeth himself - Watching unto prayer.
And, while he does this, the wicked one toucheth him not - So as
to hurt him.
19: We know that we are children of God - By
the witness and the fruit of his Spirit, (1Jo 3:24).
But the whole world - All who have not his Spirit, not
only is "touched" by him, but by idolatry, fraud, violence
lasciviousness, impiety, all manner of wickedness. Lieth in
the wicked one - Void of life, void of sense. In this short
expression the horrible state of the world is painted in the
most lively colours; a comment on which we have in the actions,
conversations, contracts, quarrels, and friendships of worldly
20: And we know - By all these infallible proofs. That
the Son of God is come - Into the world. And he hath given us a
spiritual understanding, that we may know him, the true one
- "The faithful and true witness." And we are in the true one
- As branches in the vine, even in Jesus Christ, the eternal Son
of God. This Jesus is the only living and true God, together
with the father and the Spirit, and the original fountain of
eternal life. So the beginning and the end of the epistle agree.
21: Keep yourselves from idols - From all worship of false
gods, from all worship of images or of any creature, and from
every inward idol; from loving, desiring, fearing anything more
than God. Seek all help and defence from evil, all happiness
in the true God alone.