THE EPISTLE OF 1 JOHN
-- A Brief Commentary

The majority of the following notes were presented to the Myrtle Tree Baptist Church in St. Paris Ohio, where I [Thomas Holland] pastor. These consist of lessons for our Wednesday evening Bible study. However, some additional notes concerning textual evidence have been added to these lessons for the students interest. All material is under the authors copyright and may be reproduced with permission.


THE EPISTLE OF 1 JOHN

A Brief Commentary by

Thomas Holland, Th. D.

Introduction:

Outline of the Book:

I. Fellowship as it Relates to the Word (Chapters 1-3)

II. Fellowship as it Relates to the World (Chapters 4-5)

Authorship:

There is no doubt that the author of 1 John also wrote the Gospel of John, this is almost universally agreed upon. John Wesley wrote:

"The great similitude, or rather sameness, both of spirit and expression, which runs through St. John's Gospel and all his epistles, is a clear evidence of their being written by the same person."

The Bible is clear that the Gospel of John was written by "the disciple whom Jesus loved" (John 21:20,24). The three disciples who were in the "inner circle" were James, John, and Peter. James was killed by Herod very early in the history of the Church (Acts 12:1-5), and Peter is mentioned in contrast to this beloved disciple (John 21:20-24). Therefore, the only one left is John, the son of Zebedee, the disciple of Jesus Christ.

Date:

Gnosticism infiltrated the Church around 85 to 90 AD, so this epistle would date shortly after this time. Early Church historians, such as Eusebius, claim John lived his later years as pastor of the church in Ephesus where Christian Gnosticism was growing under the heretic Cerinthus.

Gnosticism:

Cerinthus took the teaching of pagan Gnosticism and mixed them with Christianity. He taught that Jesus was born of Joseph and Mary and became the "Christ" at the time of his baptism. At the crucifixion, the Christ departed leaving only the human Jesus to die. There was no resurrection of the physical dead. Christ was a Aeon (a created god) who made the earth. Much of his false doctrine can still be seen in the teachings of the Jehovah's Witnesses.

Biblical Contrasts:

1. Light vs. Darkness (1:5-2:11).

2. The Father vs. The World (2:12-17).

3. Jesus Christ vs. Antichrist (2:18-28).

4. Good Works vs. Evil Deeds (2:29-3:24)

5. The Spirit of Truth vs. The Spirit of Error (4:1-6).

6. Godly Love vs. False Love (4:7-21).

7. True Believers vs. False Believers (5:1-21).


Chapter 1

Outline:

I. The Declaration of Life (vs. 1-4).

II. The Declaration of Light (vs. 5-10).


I. The Declaration of Life (vs. 1-4).

Verse 1:

That which was from the beginning. This is Christ Himself, as given in John 1:1 and Gen. 1:1. All things came into being by Christ. He is the very source of Life (Col. 1: 15-17).

Which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled. The "we" refers to the Apostles. In John 20:27-28 Christ offers Himself to Thomas (and the other apostles) to be touched. The phrase "looked upon" carries the idea of intense gazing. We would use the phrase "I couldn't take my eyes off of Him."

Of the Word of life. We are born again by the Word of God (1 Pet. 1:23). We are to hold the "word of life" (Phil. 2:16). Both Christ and Scripture reveal the word of God.

Verse 2:

For the life was manifested, . . . and was manifested unto us. "Life was manifested. . ." and "God was manifest in the flesh. . . " (1 Tim. 3:16). God is life and Christ is God. This is a direct attack on the Gnostic rejection of the deity of Jesus Christ.

And bear witness. The Greek word for witness is marturoumen, where we derive the English word "martyr". These were more than personal accounts simply to be told. They were willing to suffer and die for the truth of what they had experienced in Jesus Christ.

Verse 3 & 4:

That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you. The Gospel is not hearsay, but was declared by those who saw. Our Bible gives the first hand account, by living witnesses at the time, of the life of Jesus Christ.

That ye also may have fellowship with us. We have an open invitation to have fellowship with the Apostles. This is why their words are so real to us, because we are having fellowship with them through the Gospel. The word "fellowship" means a communion or intimate familiarity with someone. Not a casual acquaintance with someone, but a personal bonding. This is why when you meet another born-again Christian whom you have never met before, you can feel a deep kinship with them. But of course, our fellowship goes beyond human communion because of the next phrase.

And truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ. It goes beyond Human union to Divine union.

And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full. Our joy is only complete when we have fellowship with God.

Verse 1:4:

"And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full." There is an interesting textual note by the Committee which produced the United Bible Societies Greek Text (3rd edition) regarding this passage. It concerns the use of the Greek word hmeiV over umin. Although no doctrine is changed, there is a slight variance in the English translation. Thus, the phrase "unto you" is omitted as reflected in the New International Version which reads: "We write this to make our joy complete." What is of concern is the Committee's rejection of the reading found in the vast majority of Greek manuscripts and early versions in favor of the reading found in the Alexandrian line of Greek manuscripts. They note the following:

"Although the reading umin is widely supported (Ac C K L almost all minuscules vg syr [p,h,pa1] cop [sa,bo] arm eth), a majority of the Committee preferred hmeiV because of the quality of its support (it is read by the Alexandrian text and one Old Latin manuscript . . . and because copyists were more likely to alter yraqomen hmeiV to the expected yraqomen umin . . . than vice versa." (Bruce Metzger, A Textual Commentary On The Greek New Testament, p. 709)

Thus, we see that the Committee rejects the overwhelming textual support in favor of the Alexandrian textual line. This is, of course, to be expected in that the manuscripts of Sinaiticus and Vaticanus are often sanctioned as supreme over the readings supporting the Traditional line, regardless of the age of the textual support for the Traditional line and the English Authorized Version. Another such example may be produced from the very same passage in 1 John. The variance between hmwn (our) and umwn (your) is noted as follows:

"Instead of hmwn (read by [Sinaiticus] B L [Pie] 049 88 326 it65 vg cop [sa] al), the Textus Receptus, following A C2vid K P 33 81 614 1739 most minuscules vg [mss] syr [h] arm al, reads umwn. As regarding transcriptional probability, copyists who recollected John 16:24 . . . would have been likely to alter hmwn to umwn." (Ibid.)

This seems a little far fetched, forcing the difference to be based on the recollection of copyist who remembered the construction found in John's Gospel. The same is true in the notation found in 1 John 2:20 where the Committee again resorts to guess work in order to support the Alexandrian textual line.

"A majority of the Committee, understanding the passage to be directed against the claims of a few to possess esoteric knowledge, adopted the reading panteV, read by (Sinaiticus) B P 398 1838 1852 cop [sa] Jerome Hesychius. The reading panta, which is widely supported by A C K 33 614 1739 Byz Let it [h, 65] vg syr [h] cop [bo] arm eth al, was regarded as a correction introduced by copyists who felt the need of an object after oidamen." (Ibid, p. 710)

II. The Declaration of Light (vs. 5-10).

Verse 5:

This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. God is Light. Christ is called the "Sun of Righteousness" (Mal. 4:2). The Church is like the moon, reflecting the light of the sun (or in our case, the Son). We do not produce light, we reflect it. The moon does not reflect all of the light of the sun when the world is in the way; so it is also with the believer. Our Light becomes dim only as the world passes between us and the Son.

Light Darkness
   sight    blindness
   warmth    cold
   wisdom    ignorance
   joy    gloom
   life    death
   reveals    obscures

Verse 6:

If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth. You cannot walk with Christ and remain with the characteristics of darkness.

Verse 7:

But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another. It is impossible for two Christians to be in fellowship with Jesus Christ and be out of fellowship with each other. If we are in fellowship with Christ, we must be in fellowship with one another. If not, someone isn't walking right.

And the blood of Jesus Christ his Son. We should note the importance of the phrase "the blood of Jesus Christ" as it opposed the Gnostic teaching which denied the deity of Christ on the cross. The Traditional Greek texts (as well as the Latin texts) reads, "Jesus Christ." The Gnostics taught that Jesus died on the cross, but not the Christ. Therefore, for John to have written, "the blood of Jesus Christ" was an attack on the false teaching of Gnosticism.

The name "Jesus" appears 12 times in this epistle. In all but two cases it is always associated with "Christ." The two times that it is not (4:15 and 5:5), it shows that Jesus is "the Son of God", which would likewise deny the Gnostic heresy of Jesus being the son of Joseph and Christ being the Son of God. Since the Gnostics denied that Jesus was the Son of God, because they believed in the dual nature of everything, they were in fact denying the Father. One cannot be saved and deny who Jesus Christ is.

Neither the United Bible Societies Greek Text, nor it's Textual Commentary produced by Dr. Bruce Metzger bother to note the textual support for or against the reading found in the KJV. Nonetheless, the phrase "Jesus Christ" is found in the majority of Greek texts and the Old Latin. For the student who wishes evidence for or against a reading, it should be noted that the Greek word cristou (Christ) is omitted from Vaticanus, Sinaiticus, C, P, and some ancient versions. However, it is found in A, K, L, the Vulgate, the Old Latin, the Old Syrian, the Coptic, and other ancient versions as well as the quotations of Theophilus (180 AD), Tertullian (220 AD), Augustine (430 AD), and Bede (735 AD), thus offering more than enough textual support for some sort of notation by those who reject the reading. (Textual support for and against this reading may be found in Alford's Greek Testament, Vol. IV, p. 427. Also, the student may wish to consult The Greek New Testament According To The Majority Text by Hodges and Farstad, p. 705).

Cleanseth us from all sin. This is a total cleansing or purging from sin. All sin can be forgiven - there is NO limitation. The Greek word used is kaqaprzei where we get our English word catharsis, which is a complete purification of negative emotions. We therefore have no need of guilt from past sins.

It is also related to the Greek word where we derive the English cauterize. Thus to be cleansed is a burning away of sin without the fear of infection. We are separated and sealed at the same time.

Verse 8:

If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. The Gnostics taught a form of sinless perfection through knowledge. Those who think they have no sin have only deceived themselves, but not God.

Verse 9:

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. This passage is sometimes called the Christian's bar of soap. If you walk in the world, you are going to get dirty. Our only hope for cleansing is confession.

When we do confess, Christ is "faithful" to forgive. We are not so faithful in our forgiveness towards others, but Christ is. He is not only faithful to forgive us: He is just in doing so because He is God.

Verse 10:

If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

Saint Augustine, when commenting on this verse, wrote:

"If you say, 'I have not sinned,' you make him a liar when you want to make yourself truthful. In what way can it be possible that God is a liar and man truthful since Scripture says the contrary: 'Let God be true, but every man a liar' (Rom. 3:4)? Therefore God is truthful in himself, you are truthful in God, for you are a liar in yourself."

This verse can be applied to some Christians who think once they get saved they will never sin again. I have never met a perfect Christian, but I have met some liars who said they were sinless.

The real truth is, we all still sin (which is why we need verse 9). We sin, because we are sinners. Dr. Oliver B. Green once said of this passage that a rooster is not a rooster because he crows. He crows because he is a rooster. We sin because we are sinners, but we do not have to "crow" about it.


Chapter 2

Outline:

I. The Little Children And The True Course (2:1-17).

II. The Little Children And The True Christ (2:18-29).


I. The Little Children And The True Course (2:1-17).

Verse 1:

My little children. John is not saying that he is writing to youths, but he is showing his affection towards those in the faith. They had a parent/child relation. This is a good relationship between the shepherd and his sheep. It involves a caring and protecting relationship. Christ is our Good Shepherd (John 10: 11-16; Psalm 23).

The Greek word for "children" here is teknia. It carries the meaning of one beloved. Dr. John Bois, who served as one of the KJV translators, notes that this word may also mean "my dear children." (John Bois, Translating For King James, Vanderbilt University Press, 1969, p. 97)

These things write I unto you, that ye sin not. The word "write" appears 6 times in this epistle. He writes for the following reasons:

1. That we live a life full of joy (1:4).

2. That we live a life without sinning (2:1).

3. That we obey the old commandment (2:7).

4. That we obey a new commandment (2:8).

5. That we know our sins are forgiven (2:12).

6. That we know how to serve within the family of God (2:13).

The overall gist of this passage, as well as the whole of Scripture, is that we do not live a life of sin. We may not see the outcome of our sins, but the Lord knows what sin will do.

And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: It is possible for the Christian to sin, if we do we have an Advocate. Augustine justly pointed out that the passage does not say "you have an advocate" or that "I am your advocate." Instead, it is all inclusive, "we have an advocate." Our only advocate is Jesus Christ (1 Tim. 2:5).

Dr. McGee points out that while we have an accuser (Satan), we also have an eternal intercessor (Jesus Christ). Once we are in Christ, the Judge, the Advocate, and the accused are all related. Our only defense is the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. In Europe, an advocate not only intercedes, but may act as a judge or one who administers justice. This would likewise apply to Christ since all judgment has been given to Him (John 5:22).

Verse 2:

And he is the propitiation for our sins. The word "propitiation" means more than a covering of our sins. Webster defines it as, "The act of appeasing wrath and conciliating the favor of an offended person." Therefore, propitiation not only forgives, but places us in the good graces of the Eternal God. Interestingly, the word is also related to the English word "pitch" which was the substance Noah used to cover the ark (Gen. 6:14).

The Gnostics taught that it was not Christ who suffered and shed His blood, but another (the Jesus). In the Gnostics' Gospels, they wrote that another took the place of Christ while the real Christ was above laughing at the crucifixion. One of their writings has Christ stating the following:

". . . it was another. . . who drank the gall and the vinegar; it was not I. They struck me with the reed; it was another, Simon, who bore the cross on his shoulder. It was another upon whom they placed the crown of thorns. But I was rejoicing in the height over . . . their error. . . And I was laughing at their ignorance." (The Second Treatise of the Great Seth 56:6-19).

John, as an eyewitness to the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ, confronts this heresy. John points out that it was not the Gnostics' "Jesus" who paid for our sins, but it was "Jesus Christ the righteous" who is our propitiation.

And not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world. The blood of Jesus Christ atones for the sins of all mankind. However, it is applied only to those who by faith receive Him as their Savior (Rom. 5:6-11; Col. 1:14). There are those who teach the doctrine of "Limited Atonement", which states that Christ only died for the Elect (i.e. the Church). The Bible, however, teaches otherwise (John 1:29; 1 Tim. 4:10).

Verses 3-5:

And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. Some keep commandments as a sign to others that they are Christian. In so doing, they often become legalistic. However, this is not what the passage is teaching. The true believer keeps the commandments of the Lord as proof to himself that he is a Christian. God changes our desires. Some things we desired to do before salvation, we no longer desire. Some things we did not desire before our conversion, we now desire. The old sinful desires which we still maintain we now know are sinful, whereas before we thought nothing of them or tried to justified them.

Augustine once strolled down the street where he was raised before coming to Christ. A woman from his past started to call to him and he ran. He writes that she called his name, "Augustine, Augustine." He cried back "Augustine is no longer." So it is with all who are in Christ Jesus. The old is passed, all things have become new (2 Cor. 5:17; Phil. 3:13).

This passage is not given for self condemnation, but for assurance. The theme of this book is found in 1:4, "that your joy may be full." The Lord desires for us to know him and have assurance of our relationship with Him (1 John 5:13). We do not have a "think-so" salvation, but a "know-so" salvation.

But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected. The keeping here is not of the commandments, but of His word (the Bible as a whole). True Believers are not limited to 10 Commandments, but are bound to the whole of Scripture.

Verse 6:

He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked. Our example is Jesus Christ. Some of the Gnostics gave themselves over to acts of the flesh because they thought all that was physical was not real. Likewise, some Christians have thought that because they are saved they have license to sin. The truth is, because we are saved by grace alone, we are created in Christ unto good works (Eph. 2:8-10; Phil. 2:12-13). We are elsewhere instructed to "Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children" (Eph. 5:1). In order "to walk, even as he walked," God had provided us with the following:

1. The Divine nature of God (2 Pet. 1:4).

2. The indwelling presence of the Holy Ghost (Rom. 8:9).

3. The indwelling presence of Jesus Christ (Col. 1:27).

4. The leading of the Holy Ghost (Rom. 8:14).

5. The promise to be hid with Christ in God (Col. 3:3).

6. The union between Christ Jesus and ourselves (1 Cor. 12:12-14; Eph. 5:30).

With these things instilled in us, we can truly walk as Jesus walked. Much like the characters in Charles Sheldon's book, In His Steps, we can ask ourselves "what would Jesus do" and then do it.

It is interesting to note that Dr. John Bois, who served as one of the original translators for the Authorized Version, makes a few translational notes concerning the Epistle of First John. The very first place he notes concerning this epistle is found here in 2:6. He notes that the Greek word for "ought", which is ofeilei, can also be translated as "bound," or "must." (Bois, p. 97).

Verses 7-11:

Brethren, I write no new commandment unto you, but an old commandment which ye had from the beginning . . . Again, a new commandment I write unto you. John is providing for us a Biblical paradox. This is to say, the command given by Christ is not new because it has always been with us. However, it is revealed to us anew through the person of Jesus Christ (John 1:17). The new commandment is that of love (Matt. 5:43-48; John 13:35; 1 John 2:9-11). Biblical Christianity does not provide the individual with the right to hate, but instead converts the heart to love. Hatred blinds the mind and soul. Christ enlightens our hearts and melts the coldness of indifference we once had. There have been countless stories of those who once expressed hatred who now rejoice in the love of God.

Verse 10:

And there is none occasion of stumbling in him. Dr. Bois, the KJV translators, writes the following concerning this passage:

"Ibid. v. 10. i.e. perhaps, ou ptaie [he does not stumble], ou proskoptei [he does not stumble, he does not take offense]. Some understand this thus, as if John were saying that his life is not a means of offense to others: but from a comparison of this verse with the following it is possible to infer that these words ought to be taken as concerning the placid course of him who remains in the light." (Bois, p.97).

Verse 12:

I write unto you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for his name's sake. Our sins are forgiven, not for our sakes but for Christ's sake (Eph. 4:32). All believers start their spiritual walk with Christ as "little children."

Verses 13 & 14:

I write unto you, fathers, because ye have known him that is from the beginning. Here we have the spiritually mature, the parents as it were. They have grown from little children, through the period of young manhood, to become fathers. The focus of the spiritually mature is not on the battle (as it is with the young men), nor on the forgiveness of sins (as it is with the little children). It is on the person of Jesus Christ.

The Reformer, Martin Luther, use to say he was willing to do battle with the Devil every time he came knocking at his door. Later, as he grew older, he would say that when Satan came knocking at his door he would simply ask the Lord Jesus Christ to answer it.

I write unto you, young men, because ye have overcome the wicked one. The young men are those who are engaged in the spiritual battles and have won the victory having put on the whole armor of God (Eph. 6:12-17). There is a time to do battle, to fight the good fight of faith. But we do not need to go looking for the fight. We are commanded to stand and the fight will come to us. Our victory comes from our only weapon, the word of God (vs. 14). Our strength comes from the abiding word of God in us.

I write unto you, little children, because ye have known the Father. A child does not know battle; he knows only that his parents will provide for him. A babe in Christ does not need to fight spiritual battles; he only needs to know the Father.

Verse 15:

Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. The Gospel is positive, but there is also a negative aspect to it as well. We cannot love God and the world at the same time. If we are going to be disciples of Jesus Christ, we cannot be in love with the things of this world. Our first love must be the Lord (Luke 14:25-27, 33).

Verses 16 & 17:

For all that is in the world. That is all the sin that is in the world. All sin is grouped into one of three categories. In each case we are shown how Christ won the victory in His temptations (Matt. 4:1-11).

The lust of the flesh. Physical gratifications. Jesus was tempted in the physical realm in that he had not eaten anything during the past 40 days and nights (Matt. 4:2-4). The victory was won over the physical temptations with the word of God.

The lust of the eyes. Mental gratifications. Jesus was tempted in the mental realm when Satan showed Him all the kingdoms of this world (Matt. 4:8-10). Again, the victory was won with the word of God.

And the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. Self gratifications. Jesus was also tempted here in that the Devil taunted Him to prove Himself by throwing Himself off the temple (Matt. 4:5,6). Satan, in his pride, misquotes the Scriptures (Ps. 91:11-13). However, Christ offers the correct citation from God's word. Our victory over sin is found in the Word of God.

And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever. The will of God is to believe on Christ Jesus (John 6: 28-29). We do not work for salvation. We work because of our salvation.

II. The Little Children And The True Christ (2:18-29).

Verse 18:

Little children, it is the last time. This section is introduced with the phrase "Little children". This is not the teknia of 1 John 2:1, but the paidia of 1 John 2:13. That is to say, this is not a general statement to all Christians who are looked upon by John as his beloved children. Rather, this is a specific statement given to those who are spiritual babes in Christ so that they may learn to recognize the true Christ from the false "Christs." Most early English versions translated this as we have it in the King James Bible. However, the 1562 edition of the Geneva Bible translate this as "babes," indicating their spiritual status.

John uses the phrase "last time." Some have taken this to be the same as the phrase "last days", thus teaching we are currently in the last days. However, there seems to be a difference between the two. The phrase "last time" appears four times in Scripture (1 Peter 1:5, 20, 1 John 2:18, and Jude 1:18). These verses refer to a current period of time. Even though 1 Peter 1:5 may seem to indicate a future event, "to be revealed in the last time," verse 20 places it in our current context, "but was manifest in these last times for you." However, the phrase "last days," which appears eight times in Scripture (Gen. 49:1; Isa. 2:2; Mic. 4:1; Acts 2:17; 2 Tim. 3:1; Heb. 1:2; Jam. 5:3; 2 Pet. 3:3), usually refers to a future event and not a current period of time, specifically the time of tribulation and millennial rule.

John Wesley has correctly stated of this text that, "the last dispensation of grace, that which is to continue to the end of time, is begun." Even though this "last time" has lasted for almost 2,000 years, the Believer can be encouraged to note that this is the "last" and not the first or middle times. Christ is the full and final revelation of the Father. We have no need for additional revelation or new found "truths." Because Jesus Christ is the Alpha and Omega, the first and the last (Rev. 1:11), there is nothing else which can be added (Hebrews 1:1-2).

And as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time. The Scripture clearly teaches that there will arise one central person who will stand against the true Person of Christ, falsely proclaiming himself as the Christ. However, he is Anti-Christ, or against the Jesus Christ of the Bible. The Lord warned against such and stated that false Christs would come (Matt. 24:23-24). According to this verse, many "antichrists" have been with us since New Testament times. Nevertheless, the person of Antichrist is yet to be revealed.

Although there have been many in the Church who have pointed to several historical figures as the Antichrist, the Bible provides for us the following information concerning his activities:

1. He will control the western power block (Rev. 17:12).

2. He will make a seven year covenant with Israel, only to break it halfway through (Dan. 9:27; Matt. 24:15).

3. He will attempt to destroy Israel (Rev. 12).

4. He will establish himself as God (Dan. 11:36-37; 2 Thess. 2:4-11; Rev. 13:5).

5. He will briefly rule the world (Dan. 11:36; Rev. 13:16).

6. He will be crushed by Jesus Christ at His return (Rev. 19).

7. He will be thrown into the Lake of Fire (Rev. 19:20).

This is not an individual of the past, but of the future. Also, the Scriptures provide a strong contrast between Jesus Christ and Antichrist, as well as how Antichrist tries to mimic Jesus Christ:

Jesus Christ Antichrist
1. The image of the Father.
(Col. 1:15).
1. The image of Satan.
(Rev. 13:4; 2 Thess. 2:9).
2. Part of the Heavenly Trinity.
(Matt. 28:19).
2. Part of a Hellish Trinity.
(Rev. 16:13).
3. A sacrificial Lamb.
(Rev. 5:6-9).
3. A savage beast.
(Rev. 13:2).
4. Receives power from the Father.
(Matt. 28:18).
4. Receives power from Satan.
(Rev. 13:2).
5. Is worshipped by all believers.
(Matt. 2:11; Luke 24:52).
5. Is worshipped by unbelievers.
(Rev. 13:4,8).
6.Ministered for 3 1/2 years.
(John 2:13; 6:4; 11:55).
6. Will minister for 3 1/2 years.
(Rev. 13:5; 12:6, 14).

7. Delivered mighty speeches.
(John 7:46).
7. Will deliver mighty speeches.
(Dan. 7:8; Rev. 13:5).

Verse 19:

They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us. These antichrists (false teachers) have their roots in the Church, but are not truly rooted in Christ. The very fact that they left is offered as proof that they were not really part of the body of Christ. Not all who profess to know Jesus Christ really possess Jesus Christ (Matt. 7:21-23; John 6:60-69; 2 Peter 2:19-22).

But they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us. Not all false teachers have their origins in the Church. John writes, "they were not all of us." The word "all" indicates that same of the false teachers were never active in the local churches of the day. The standard for recognizing those who teach error is established in the following two verses.

Verses 20 & 21:

But ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things. I have not written unto you because ye know not the truth, but because ye know it, and that no lie is of the truth. The believer can recognize error because we have an "unction" from God. The word means the act of anointing. We have been anointed with the Holy Ghost of God in order to understand the difference between the spirit of truth and the spirit of error (Psalm 14:7; John 16:13; 1 John 4:6). Additionally, we have been given God's holy word in order to know truth. John states that he did not write this book because of the lack of knowing truth, but because the believer does know it. The Word and the Spirit always agree.

Verse 22:

Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son. The Gnostics believed Jesus was the Christ, but not that He still is the Christ. They taught that the Christ left Jesus at the cross. John calls this doctrine the doctrine of antichrist. If one denies the essential truths concerning the person of Jesus Christ, he is antichrist (2 John 1:7). The real question facing today's cults is the one asked by Christ, "Whom do men say that I am?" To know the truth of all Biblical doctrine and not to know who Jesus Christ is, is to miss eternal life.

Verse 23:

Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father: (but) he that acknowledgeth the Son hath the Father also. To deny one Person of the Trinity is to deny all three. If we deny the Son, we have denied the Father. If we know the Son, we will know the Father.

The last half of the verse in the King James Bible stands in italics. The Authorized Version did this to show that the phrase was not found in the Greek text from which it was translated. However, the translators understood that there was Greek support for the reading as well as support in early versions (such as the Old Latin, the Old Syriac, and the Old Coptic versions) and other English translations. Therefore, they placed the verse in the text, but used italics. Most of the early English version did not contain the last half of the verse and simply read, "Whosoever denyeth the sonne the same hath not the father." This rendering is used in the following versions: Tyndale's (1525), Coverdale's (1535), Matthew's (1549), and the Geneva Bible (1560). However, the Great Bible of 1539 and the Bishops' Bible of 1568 contain the phrase in italics as the King James Version (1611) does. In fact, the phrase is found in Wycliffe's (1380) English New Testament. This was the first complete New Testament in English and was translated from the Latin. Since 1611, there have been additional Greek manuscripts found which also contain the phrase. The KJV is one of the few versions today which makes such free use of the italics so that the reader will understand that some of the words or phrases may lack Greek support.

Verse 24-26:

Let that therefore abide in you, which ye have heard from the beginning. This abiding is not of a person, but of the word. It is not a "him" but a "that." Specifically, that which can be "heard." Therefore, we have a command to let the pure word of God abide in us (Josh. 1:8; Psalm 119:11). The truth of Scripture not only keeps us from sin, but from doctrinal error. In the words of God we have "the promise that he hath promised us, even eternal life" (vs. 25). It is by the Scriptures we are born-again (1 Peter 1:23). And, it is by the Scriptures we are able to recognize those who would entice us from the truth, "These things have I written unto you concerning them that seduce you" (vs. 26).

Verse 27:

But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you. This chapter closes with a discussion of abiding in Christ. It is clear from Scripture that the Spirit of Christ dwells within all believers (Rom. 8:9). Therefore, He abides in us. However, we do not always abide in Him. If we will abide in Him as He abides in us, we will not be lead into a doctrinal lie, "but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him."

Verse 28:

And now, little children, abide in him; that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming. Here is an example of the spirit of truth and the spirit of error. In the days of John, the Gnostics taught that there was no physical resurrection of Jesus Christ. In fact, they taught that Christ was not to be seen again. This is in direct opposition to the teaching of Scripture. Here the verse says, "he shall appear." Later, in the Revelation, John writes; "Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen." (Rev. 1:7). The Bible plainly teaches that Jesus Christ will come again in a physical body which can be seen. To deny this is the doctrine of antichrist (1 John 4:2; 2 John 1:7). Yet, the Gnostics denied this central doctrine concerning Christ. Today this same false doctrine is still with us. Consider the following citation from the teachings of the Jehovah's Witnesses concerning the appearing of Jesus Christ. "So the King Christ Jesus was put to death in the flesh and was resurrected an invisible spirit creature. Therefore, the world will see him no more." (Let God Be True, p. 41). It would seem the doctrine of the Gnostics, which John is opposing in this epistle, is still with us today.

Verse 29:

If ye know that he is righteous, ye know that every one that doeth righteousness is born of him. Righteous acts do not save us. But those who are counted among the saved will clothe themselves in righteousness (Rev. 19:7-8). A footnote in the Geneva Bible of 1587 correctly states, "God is the fountain of all righteousness, and therefore they that give themselves to righteousness, are known to be born of him, because they resemble God the Father."


Chapter 3

Outline:

I. The Children Of God And The Children Of The Devil (3:1-12).

II. The Children Of Love And The Children Of Hatred (3:13-24).


I. The Children Of God And The Children Of The Devil (3:1-12).

Verse 1:

Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us. This chapter is introduced with John's astonishment concerning the wonderful love of God. It is humanly impossible for one to explain the depth of God's phenomenal love. In fact, John does not attempt to describe it. How could he? Instead, he simply stands amazed by it. In his hymn, Frederick Lehman summarizes the inexhaustible subject of God's divine benevolence with these words:

"Could we with ink the ocean fill,

And were the skies of parchment made,

Were every stalk on earth a quill

And every man a scribe by trade;

To write the love of God above

Would drain the ocean dry:

Nor could the scroll contain the whole,

Tho' stretched from sky to sky."

(--The Love of God. 1917, Nazarene Publishing House)

The word, "behold," is used several times in Scripture for the purpose of declaring an important event or statement of fact (Matt. 1:23; 1 Cor. 15:51; Rev. 1:7). The Greek word is idete, which stands in the aorist tense and imperative mood. The aorist imperative is a command without regard to duration. The English word means more than to look or see. Webster states, "The sense is, to hold, or rather to reach with the eye, . . . In Saxon, the verb signifies not only to look or see, but to guard;" (Noah Webster, 1828 Dictionary). The German retains the original sense of the word with "behalten," meaning to hold, keep, or guard.

John is not simply instructing us to look at his statement concerning the love of God. He is commanding us to guard, or we might even say to treasure this wonderful truth concerning God's infinite love. Further, this command to hold precious this extraordinary fact is ongoing and continual. Therefore, we should constantly and continually remind ourselves of God's indescribable love. To lose sight of this truth is to lose sight of the nature of God and the Gospel of redemption.

That we should be called the sons of God. We obtain the right to this title through our new birth and adoption into the family of God (John 1:12). This is not a statement for all mankind, but for the redeemed (Phil. 2:15). Christ made it clear that we are either the sons of God, or sons of the Devil (John 8:44). As sons of God, we should live our lives in such a manner which reflects our Heavenly Father. Concerning the phrase "should be called," Augustine justly noted:

"How many are called physicians, who know not how to heal! how many are called watchers, who sleep all night long! So, many are called Christians, and yet in deeds are not found such; because they are not this which they are called, that is, in life, in manners, in faith, in hope, in charity."--1 John Homily IV

Therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. The world will never understand us, even as they have not understood the Christ of the Bible. We, like Him, become an oddity in this world. Thus, we truly are a "peculiar people" (1 Peter 2:9). Additionally, as the world knows not Christ, He knows not those of the world (Matt. 7:23). Likewise, the Christian is instructed to know not the things of the world (Col. 2:8,20).

Verse 2:

Beloved, now are we the sons of God. Our salvation is not based solely in a future event, but also in the present. Our right to redemption is now.

And it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. We not only have a present promise, "now are we the sons of God," but we have a future promise, "we shall be like him." Dr. Warren Wiersbe writes, "What we are now is wonderful; but what we shall be is even more wonderful!" (Expository Outlines: 1 John). Our resurrected bodies will be like the resurrected body of our Lord Jesus Christ (Phil. 3:21; Rom. 8:29-30). God has predestined for us to be like Jesus. We cannot fully comprehend what this will be like, but one day we shall fully know (1 Cor. 13:12). The Geneva Bible has correctly pointed out in their footnote that we shall be like him, "but not equal" to him.

When he shall appear. This is a statement of confidence concerning the return of Jesus Christ; and is not only the reading of the KJV, but also of other early English versions such as Wycliffe, Coverdale, Geneva, and Bishops'. Some versions rendered the phrase as "when it shall appear" (Tyndale, Matthew, the Great Bible, and NEV). Further, the RV (1881) and ASV (1901) have made it sound as if it were a conditional phrase, "if he shall be manifested." The Greek can be rendered in any one of these three ways. Nevertheless, to avoid confusion modern versions such as the RSV, NASV, NIV, and NKJV have retained the reading found in the KJV.

Verse 3:

And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure. This hope is our blessed hope (Titus 2:13). Our hope is found in the person of Jesus Christ, His divinity, and His return. The word "hope" does not mean maybe, as in "I hope to see you again." But it means a certainty, "confidence in a future event" to the "highest degree of well founded expectation" (Webster). For the believer, our hope is placed in the Person of our God (Joel 3:16).

Verse 4 & 5:

Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law. And ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin. Dr. Adam Clarke writes, "He came into the world to destroy the power, pardon the guilt, and cleanse from the pollution of sin." (Commentary on 1 John). Sin is a poison, a disease which kills. Our only remedy is Jesus Christ.

Not only does Christ take away sin, but He changes our nature. The translators of the Geneva Bible write in a footnote:

"Christ in himself is most pure, and he came to take away our sins, by sanctifying us with the Holy Ghost. Therefore whosoever is truly partaker of Christ, doeth not give himself to sin, and contrariwise he that giveth himself to sin, knoweth not Christ."

Verse 6:

Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him. Here the emphasis is on our walk, "whoso ever abideth in him." We cannot walk with Christ and the world at the same time. As we abide with Christ, we will not sin. Walking with Christ will expose our sins to us so He can cleanse them from us (1 John 1:7-9).

Verse 7:

Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous. Our righteousness in found in our abiding in Christ, not in our own good deeds which are worthless in the eyes of God (Isa. 64:6). Godly living will not produce righteousness; we must first have the righteousness of Christ imputed to us (Rom. 3:22-26; Jam. 2:23). Good advice and good living are not enough. In his play, Hamlet Prince of Denmark, Shakespeare revealed this with the memorable and good advice of Polonius: "This above all- to thine own self be true. And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to any man." However, neither Polonius who gave the advice nor Laertes (his son) who received the advice were able to follow this simple instruction. Thus, both die a fools death. The Christians' advice is this: "To our divine Savior be true" or as John words it, "abide in him." (see also John 15:7).

Verse 8:

He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil. John provides for us three definite statements. 1.) Whoever sins is of the Devil. 2.) The Devil has been a sinner from the beginning. 3.) Christ came to destroy the works of the Devil. All three statements are clear and self-explanatory.

Verse 9:

Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. This verse has caused some confusion. Can a Christian sin? According to 1 John 1:8 and 2:1 we can. This has caused others to see a contradiction in Scripture. However, a careful reading will show both statements are true. The phrase "is born of God" in Greek is gegennhmenoV ek tou Qeou and stands in the perfect tense. English does not have a perfect tense. It carries the meaning of a continued action based on a past event. Therefore, we were born of God and are being born of God. The Authorized Version has correctly translated this as "Whosoever is born of God." Not, "whoever was born of God" (past tense) nor "whoever will be born of God" (future tense) nor even "whoever is being born of God" (present tense). The phrase "is born" carries the meaning of both past and present actions. Therefore, we have been born of God and are being born of God; it is a continuing action. Not that we have reached perfection, but we are being perfected. And yet, from God's perspective, we have already been perfected because of Jesus Christ (Phil 3:12,15).

There is, however, more. We have been born of God, we are being born of God, and one day we will be born of God. Right now we are born of God in a spiritual sense (John 3:5-7). Our spirit is born of God, but our flesh has yet to be born of God. Therefore, in Christ we sin not, but in the flesh we still sin. This is why we have a raging battle within us (Rom. 7:18-25).

Verse 10 & 11:

In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother. For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. Our abiding and our righteousness will be expressed in our actions of love. In the Epistle of Diognetus (150 AD), the author writes of the early Christians and states:

"They exist in the flesh, but they live not after the flesh. They spend their existence upon earth, but their citizenship is in heaven. They obey the established laws, and in their own lives they surpass the laws. They love all men, and are persecuted by all."

Dr. John Bois, the King's translator, notes that Greek word for "message" has as it's root, the word for "command." Bois makes the following notation, "aggeliV [message, tidings] i.e. paraggelia [command, order, charge], entolh [injunction, order, command, behest]." (Bois, p. 97).

Verse12:

Not as Cain, who was of that wicked one, and slew his brother. And wherefore slew he him? Because his own works were evil, and his brother's righteous. Brothers are to love one another. Nevertheless, Cain hated his brother Abel and killed him. The passage asks and answers the question as to why; "because his own works were evil, and his brother's righteous." We can, therefore, expect the world to hate us for our righteous living. This is why great persecutions have blossomed throughout the history of mankind against the Church and God's holy people. Still, it is the blood of the martyrs which causes the Church to grow, as seen in both the Scriptures and the history of the Church (see Foxe's Book of Martyrs).

We expect this from the world, but not from the brethren. Yet, God's word reveals that many Christians are at war with one another (James 4:1-3). The passage in James not only reveals our true nature, but also reveals why prayers are not answered. We do not have to agree with the brethren at all times, but we must love them at all times. Sad to say, we see so many Christians fighting with each other. The teaching of Jesus Christ is to love one another, even our enemies (Matt. 5:44). Likewise, He taught us that to hate is the same in God's eyes as to kill (Matt. 5:21-22). Adam Clarke cites Christ and writes: "Love one another. Love your enemies. Surely this does not mean, Blow out their brains, or, Cut their throats."

II. The Children Of Love And The Children Of Hatred (3:13-24).

Verse 13:

Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you. It should come as no surprise to the Believer that the world hates us because it hates our Savior (John 7:7). The Biblical Jesus was not a friend of the world, despite the fact that He was willing to die for the sins of mankind. Nor is the world a friend to those who love Christ and seek to follow Him. Adam Clarke has correctly stated, "Expect neither justice nor mercy from the men who are enemies of God." This is not a statement of bitterness, but of fact.

Historians such as Eusebius (Ecclesiastical History), John Foxe (Book of Martyrs), and Will Durant (The Story of Civilization) testify to the great sufferings and persecutions Believers have faced at the hands of the world. The early Church, for example, endured ten separate persecutions at the hand of Roman Emperors:

1. Nero (67 AD).
2. Domitian (81 AD).
3. Trajan (108 AD).
4. Marcus Aurelius Antoninus (162 AD).
5. Severus (192 AD).
6. Maximus (235 AD).
7. Decius (249 AD).
8. Valerian (257 AD).
9. Aurelian (274 AD).
10. Diocletian (303 AD).

In 107 AD, Ignatius, was sent to Rome and killed by beasts in the imperial games. Ignatius was bishop of Antioch, Syria, and knew several of the Apostles personally as well as being a leader in the early Church. On his way to Rome, he wrote seven letters citing not only his soundness in Biblical doctrine, but his love for Christ and willingness to suffer for Him. In his letter to the believers in Rome, he writes:

"Suffer me to be food to the wild beasts; by whom I shall attain unto God . . . For I am the wheat of God and I shall be ground by the teeth of the wild beasts, that I may be found the pure bread of Christ. Rather encourage the beasts that they may become my sepulcher; and may leave nothing of my body; that being dead I may not be troublesome to any. . . I would rather die for Jesus Christ, than rule the utmost ends of the earth." (Roma. 2:2-14).

Another early Church leader who suffered at the hand of Rome was Polycarp. In 155 AD he was burned at the stake and sang hymns while waiting to be consumed by the fire. However, the fire did not consume him so he was ordered to be stabbed until dead and his remains were burned.

The list could go on and on as a tribute to those who were willing to suffer for Christ Jesus because the world hated them. All of history records that the world has never been a friend to the followers of Jesus Christ, from persecutions by the Persians to the Inquisition of Rome. Sufferings in Italy, Germany, Spain, England and throughout the world testify to the fact that the world hates us.

Verse 14:

We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death. Man sees this from the reverse point of view; we go from life to death. But God sees this in truth; we have passed from death to life (Col. 1:13).

The Believer has proof of salvation for the following Biblical reasons:

1. By the Scriptures themselves (John 5:24; 1 John 5:10-13).
2. By the witness of the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:16).
3. By the testimony of our own hearts (1 John 3:20-21).
4. By the fact that we love the brethren (1 John 3:14). It is this last one John speaks of here. Our proof of salvation is found in our love for those who likewise are in Christ Jesus. Love does not save us, but because we are saved we love.

Our love for them is not based on our denomination, interpretation of certain Biblical passages, understanding of Eschatology (the doctrine of last things), or which translation we use. It is based on our redemption in Christ Jesus. We do not have to agree with the brethren, but we must love the brethren. It should also be remembered that love does not demand its own way, nor does it boast on itself (1 Cor. 13). Despite the fact that our brethren may not like it, love demands that we speak the truth (Eph. 4:15). We are not called to be argumentative, but we must declare the truths of Scripture in a fashion which is pleasing to the One who placed all of the redeemed into His One Body.

Verse 15:

Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him. In God's eyes, to hate is the same as to kill (Matt. 5:21-22). Like Christ, we can hate sin (Heb. 1:9), and we can even hate the workers of iniquity as God does (Rom. 9:13). But we cannot hate ourselves (Eph. 5:29), nor can we hate our brothers. If the love of God dwells in us, we will reflect this love.

William Barclay was a liberal theologian who questioned Biblical miracles, the virgin birth, and the deity of Jesus Christ. And yet, he made a very interesting and true comment concerning this passage of Scripture:

"There is no way of telling what a tree is other than by its fruits, and there is no way of telling what a man is other than by his conduct. . . Life without love is death. To love is to be in the light; to hate is to remain in the dark. We need no further proof of that than to look at the face of a man who is in love and the face of a man who is full of hate; it will show the glory or the blackness in his heart." (The Daily Study Bible Series: 1 John. pp. 82-83).

If Barclay, and others, who deny the foundations of historic Biblical Christianity understood these things, how much more so should those who believe all of God's word. The light of Christ cannot shine in a dark heart full of hate.

Verse 16:

Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us. As with the Gospel of John, this 3:16 conveys the depth of God's love for us.

Although the gist of this passage deals with love, it also indirectly teaches the Deity of Jesus Christ. The pronoun "he" goes back to the antecedent "God." The One who laid down His life for us is God, the Lord Jesus Christ. There are several passages which prove the deity of Christ directly (John 1:1; 20:28; 1 Tim. 3:16; Heb. 1:8; 1 John 5:7). Likewise, there are several passages which prove Christ's deity indirectly (Rom. 14:10-12; Titus 2:13; 2 Peter 1:1; Rev. 1:6).

And we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. We may lay down our lives by dying as Christ did for us (John 15:13; Eph. 5:2). Or, we could lay our lives down by being a living sacrifice (Rom. 12:1-2; Gal. 2:20). Either way, our lives belong to Christ and not to ourselves.

These were not vain words for John. He was witness to the sacrifice Christ made for us all. Likewise, he saw his fellow Apostles suffer and knew of their willingness to die for Christ. Finally, he himself suffered for the cause of Christ. According to Foxe's Book of Martyrs, each of the following Apostles and disciples faced the following death.

1. John: Boiled in oil, but survived. Later was imprisoned on the Island of Patmos.

2. Peter: Crucified upside-down outside of Rome.

3. James the Greater: John's brother, was beheaded by Herod in Jerusalem.

4. James the Less: Thrown from the temple's pinnacle and beaten to death with clubs.

5. Andrew: Bound to a cross, he preached to his adversaries until he died.

6. Thomas: In the East Indies was impelled with a lance.

7. Jude: Shot with arrows for preaching Christ.

8. Phillip: Scourged, thrown into prison, and then crucified with his daughters.

9. Bartholomew: Was flayed alive.

10. Simon the Zealot: Preached in Africa and Britain. While in the latter was crucified.

11. Matthew: While preaching the gospel in Ethiopia he was slain with a sword.

12. Paul: Beheaded in Rome.

13. Matthias: Stoned and then beheaded.

14. Mark: Dragged through the streets of Alexandria until dead.

15. Luke: Hung on an olive tree in Greece.

Verse 17 & 18:

But whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth. Love is more than words, it calls for action. If we have a loving heart, we will have a giving heart. Adam Clarke writes: "Here is a test of this love; if we do not divide our bread with the hungry, we certainly would not lay down our life for him." To profess that we have the love of God in us, and yet withhold what we have from a brother in need, is hypocrisy.

Dr. Oliver B. Greene adds to this in correctly showing us our example, the Lord Jesus Christ:

"Jesus never performed one miracle to supply any need of His own; He had no house in which to live, he had no bed in which to sleep. . .(Matt. 8:20; Luke 9:58). Yet He stepped over all the laws of nature when someone else was in need (Matt. 14:25; John 20:19)." (The Epistle of John, p. 139).

Verse 19-21:

And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him. For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things. Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God. The heart of an unsaved man is wicked, but the heart of the saved will witness to us. Sometimes we know what to do because our heart instructs us, especially in the matters of love and giving. Sometimes, we know to give. Sometimes, we know to withhold. Our confidence toward God in this matter is this: our heart. If we are in tune with God, our feelings will likewise be in turn with His will. By dying to ourselves and living to God, we are able to prove what God's perfect will is for our lives (Romans 12:1-2).

Verse 22:

And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight. Here we have a promise of answered prayer. Sadly, all too often Christians use this verse to pray for selfish wants. However, the context deals with giving to others (verses 17-21). The passage is instructing us in this manner: when we are lead to give to others, and are obedient to God, the Lord will provide for us in our need.

Verse 23:

And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment. The same thing is stated in John 6:28-29. Our first work, and greatest commandment, is to believe on the name of Jesus Christ for salvation (for how can we love God if we know not His Son?). Next, we are to love one another (Mark 12:28-34).

Verse 24:

And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us. Our final witness, as presented here, is that of the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:16). The Holy Spirit leads us into all truth (John 16:13). Therefore, we will not be lead into the false spirit of error as presented in the next chapter (1 John 4:1). If we cannot trust God with our hearts, we cannot trust Him with our understanding.


Chapter 4

Outline:

I. The Leading Of A Lying Spirit (4:1-6).

II. The Leading Of The Loving Spirit (4:7-21).


I. The Leading Of A Lying Spirit (4:1-6).

Verse 1:

Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. The Gnostics of John's day, and shortly after, reflect most of the false doctrines we still have with us today. We have already seen some of the doctrine promoted by the Gnostic Cerinthus (see introductory notes and 1 John 1:7). However, Gnosticism did not end with the writing of this epistle.

Irenaeus (d.202 AD) wrote Against Heresies, an early Christian apology which confronted many of the false doctrines found in the early Church. One of these false teachers was Marcion, who lived in the middle of the second century. Marcion embraced some of the teachings of Gnosticism, especially the teaching of the dual nature of God (or gods). He believed that Jehovah of the Old Testament created the world, but that his creation was physical and evil. He also taught that a greater god over Jehovah created the soul of man, which is spiritual and good. Since the Jews worshipped Jehovah, Marcion taught that they worshipped an evil god who was full of hate. Thus, he established an early form of anti-Semitism under the false name of Christianity. Further, he believed that salvation was gained by renouncing Jehovah, the Jews, and all that was physical. He and his followers produced there own New Testament which was composed of their revisions of the Gospel of Luke and Paul's letters. Irenaeus stated that, "Marcion cut up that according to Luke" in his revision (Against Heresies, Vol. 1).

One example of Marcion's revision can be found in Luke 24:40. Marcion did not believe in the physical resurrection of Jesus Christ, because the physical was evil according to his teachings. This is, of course, the very point John is addressing in our text: Jesus Christ came in the flesh and was resurrected in the flesh. The verse in Luke reads, "And when he (i.e. Jesus) had thus spoken, he shewed them his hands and his feet." This verse was omitted by Marcion in his New Testament revision as reflected in the old manuscript of Codex D.

Try the spirits whether they are of God. Our method of trying them is to compare their teachings with the word of God. In so doing, we can see from the Scriptures themselves what doctrines are under attack by these spirits.

1. The Deity of Jesus Christ and the Trinity (1 Cor. 12:1-6).
2. The gospel of salvation (Gal. 1:6-9).
3. The necessity of legalism (1 Tim. 4:1-3).
4. The physical coming and resurrection of Jesus Christ (our text as well as 2 John 7).

Many false prophets are gone out into the world. There are two ways listed in the Old Testament for recognizing false prophets. First, if they give a prophecy which did not come to pass (Deut. 18:22). Second, if they lead believers astray to follow false gods (Deut. 18:20). These Biblical standards are still valid today.

Verse 2:

Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: We have already seen from the first verse how to recognize false teachers and false prophets. Most false doctrine centers itself around an erroneous understanding of Jesus Christ.

Verse 3:

And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world. There is also an interesting textual variation listed here. The phrase, "Christ is come in the flesh" in verse 3 has been omitted in many Greek manuscripts. It is one thing to confess that Jesus, or Jesus Christ, had come in the flesh. The Gnostics believed that Jesus was in the flesh, and that the Christ, who was spiritual, dwelt within Jesus. However, it is another thing to deny that Jesus Christ was not in the flesh. To deny that "Christ is come in the flesh" is to play into the hands of the Gnostic teaching.

The justification for omitting the phrase is based upon the oldest Greek manuscripts of this text. Codex Vaticanus (4th century) and Codex Alexandrinus (5th century), do not contain the phrase in question. Likewise, it is not found in some of the early versions (such as the Coptic and some of the Latin translations), as well as the citations from some of the early Church Fathers. This evidence, added with the misunderstanding of the way verse 2 uses the phrase, has led many to disregard the phrase. After all, it is argued, the physical nature of Jesus Christ is still supported in this passage.

However, the omission of this verse does create a problem. First, there is a great deal of textual support for its inclusion. The Traditional Greek Text and the vast majority of all existing Greek manuscripts overwhelming have this phrase in it. Even Codex Sinaiticus (4th century), which supports the Alexandrian line of manuscripts, contains most of the phrase (it replaces "Christ" with "Lord").

Additionally, we find the whole phrase in some of the very early translations, such as the Old Syriac (2nd century), and the Armenian (4th century). Augustine (d. 430) and others cite the phrase, thus showing the verse was used by the early Church Fathers. Therefore, we see that Christians throughout the centuries have used and believed this phrase. Polycarp (d. 156 AD) refers to this verse in writing:

"For whosoever does not confess that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh, he is Antichrist: and whoever does not confess his suffering upon the cross, is from the devil. And whosoever perverts the oracles of the Lord to his own lusts; and says that there shall neither be any resurrection, nor judgment, he is the first-born of Satan." (The Epistle of Polycarp to the Philippians, 3:1-2. Archbishop Wake's translation).

Second, to omit the phrase shows a misunderstanding of the teachings of Gnosticism, which John was opposing, as well as the style of John. As we have seen, the Apostle uses the phrase "Jesus Christ" exclusively in this epistle. The only time he uses the name "Jesus" without "Christ" is to say that Jesus is the Son of God, which again attacks the heresy of the Gnostics who claimed Jesus was the son of Joseph.

Verse 4:

Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world. This verse, as with 1 John 5:4-5, helps to explain the passage in Revelation 2:7.

"He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God."

Because of our faith in Christ Jesus, we have the Spirit of Christ within us (Rom. 8:16). We have the right to eat of the tree of life, because we are saved.

There is still more. We have overcome "them." That is, because we have the Spirit of Truth within us, we have overcome the lying spirits. Every child of God not only has the witness of God within them, but has the Holy Spirit who will help us in our witnessing (Matt. 10:19; 16:18; Eph. 6:12-20).

Verse 5:

They are of the world: therefore speak they of the world, and the world heareth them. Truth is not found in acceptance; it is found in God's word (Matt. 4:4; John 17:17). It is not found in numbers, but in God's faithful remnant (Rom. 9:27; 11:5; Rev. 11:13; 12:17). The world, on the other hand, will give credence to the false teachers because their teaching fits the concepts of the world.

Verse 6:

We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error. The world will accept false doctrine, even as it will accept the false claims of the Antichrist (2 Thess. 2: 1-12). False teachers come, not only with false doctrine, but with "signs and lying wonders." Just because someone performs what we consider to be a miracle does not mean they are of God. The real question is, "Does the teaching line up with God's recorded word?"

The Spirit of Truth vs. The Spirit of Error

Because we are of God, we have been given the Sprit of Truth which exposes the spirit of error (1 John 4:6). The following doctrines contrast the Spirit of Truth (as found in God's word) with the spirit of error.

The Doctrine of Holy Scriptures

Biblical View:

The Scriptures of both the Old and New Testaments are verbally inspired of God, and are the supreme and final authority for faith and practice. God is the Author and preserver of His words.-- 2 Timothy 3:16; 1 Peter 1:21; John 17:17; Psalm 12:6-7; Matt. 24:35.

Catholicism:

"It is evident, from experience, that the Holy Scriptures, when circulated in the vulgar tongue, have produced more harm than benefit . . . We have deliberated upon the measures proper to be adopted, by our pontifical authority, in order to remedy and abolish this pestilence. . . this defilement of the faith so imminently dangerous to souls." (Pope Pius VII, Encyclical Letter To The Premate of Poland, 1816).

Christian Science:

"The manifest mistakes in the ancient versions; the thirty thousand different readings in the Old Testament, and the 300 in the New Testament. . . show how a mortal and material sense stole into the divine record, darkening, to some extent the inspired pages with its own hue." (Mary Baker Eddy , Science and Health, 1910 edition, 33).

Jehovah's Witnesses:

"If anyone lays the Scripture Studies aside, even after he has used them, after he has read them for ten years--if he then lays them aside and ignores them and goes to the Bible alone, though he has understood his Bible for ten years, our experience shows that within two years he goes into darkness. On the other hand, if he had merely read the Scripture Studies with their references and had not read a page of the Bible as such, he would be in the light at the end of two years, because he would have the light of the Scriptures." (Charles T. Russel, Watch Tower, 1910, Sept. 15).

Liberalism:

"While some persons may continue to hold that 'historic Christian belief in Biblical infallibility and inerrancy is the only valid starting point and framework for a theology of revelation,' such contentions should be heard with a smile and incorporated in the bylaws of the Flat Earth Society." (Robert S. Alley, Revolt Against the Faithful [Philadelphia: Lippincott, 1970], 167. Professor Alley, who wrote this book while teaching at the University of Richmond in Virginia, was an ordained Southern Baptist minister).

Mormonism:

"Thou fool, that shall say: A Bible, we have got a Bible, and we need no more Bible. Have ye obtained a Bible save it were by the Jews? Know ye not that there are more nations than one? . . . Wherefore, because that ye have a Bible ye need not suppose that it contains all my words; neither need ye suppose that I have not caused more to be written." (The Book of Mormon: 2 Nephi 29:6,10).

The Doctrine of God

Biblical View:

The One true God exists as three distinct Persons. These three Persons are co-equal and eternal (God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit). God is omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent. He is Spirit, Eternal, and loving. He has revealed Himself through the Lord Jesus Christ. --Deut. 6:4; Matt. 28:19; 1 John 5:7; Col. 1:15; 1 Tim. 3:16; Rom. 11:33; Matt. 19:26; Psalm 139:7-10.

Christian Science:

"Life, Truth, and Love constitute the triune Person called God--that is, the triply divine Principle, Love. . . God the Father-Mother; Christ the spiritual idea of sonship; divine Science or the Holy Comforter." (Mary Baker Eddy, Science and Health, 331).

Jehovah's Witnesses:

"The Bible shows that there is only one God, the Most High, the Almighty . . . That the Father is greater and older than the Son is reasonable, easy to understand and is what the Bible teaches." (From Paradise Lost to Paradise Regained, 164).

Mormonism:

"The Father has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man's." (Doctrine and Covenants 130:22).

Unification Church:

"We act like we do because God acts that way. That's the way God is! That's the way we are. We are like God, and God is like us." (Rev. Sun Myung Moon, The New Future of Christianity, 28).

Unity School of Christianity:

"God is loving, God does not love anybody . . . God is the love in everybody and everything . . . God is love . . . God exercises none of His attributes except through the inner consciousness of the universe and man." (Charles Fillmore, Jesus Christ Heals, 1944, 31-32).

The Doctrine of Jesus Christ

Biblical View:

Jesus Christ is fully God and fully man; He is the God/man. --John 1:1-14; 20:28; Matt. 1:23; Phil. 2: 5-8; Col. 2: 9; 1 Tim. 3:16; Heb. 1:8.

Armstrongism:

"Jesus, alone, of all humans, has so far been saved! By the resurrective power of God! When Jesus comes, at the time of the resurrection of those in Christ, He then brings His reward with Him!" (Herbert W. Armstrong, Why Were You Born? 11).

Jehovah's Witnesses:

"So the King Christ Jesus was put to death in the flesh and was resurrected an invisible spirit creature. Therefore the world will see him no more." (Let God Be True, 4).

Liberalism:

"In this passage (Luke 1:27) we are face to face with one of the great controversial doctrines of the Christian faith--the Virgin Birth. The church does not insist that we believe in this doctrine. Let us look at the reasons for and against believing in it, and then we may make our own decision." (William Barkley, The Daily Study Bible Series: The Gospel of Luke, 12-13).

Mormonism:

"Jesus Christ was a polygamist: Mary and Martha . . . were his plural wives, and Mary Magdalene was another." (Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses).

Way International:

"We note that Jesus Christ is directly referred to as the Son of God in more than 50 verses in the New Testament; he is called God in four. (Never is he called God the Son). By sheer weight of this evidence alone, 50 to 4, the truth should be evident." (Victor Paul Wierewille, Jesus Christ is Not God, 30).

The Doctrine of The Holy Spirit

Biblical View:

The Holy Spirit is God who indwells every believer. He enlightens, guides, and enables the believer to walk the Christian life. All Christians are sealed by the Holy Spirit until the day of redemption. --Acts 5: 3-4; 1 Cor. 12:4-6; 2 Cor. 2:12; John 15:26-27; 14:7-11; Eph. 1:13,14.

Charismatic Movement:

"And whether stated, or implied, it is a fair conclusion from the biblical evidence, that tongues are the external and indubitable proof of the baptism infilling with the Holy Spirit . . . a baptism in the Spirit without the charismatic evidence (of tongues) is not . . . Biblical." (Howard M. Ervin, These Are Not Drunken As Ye Suppose, 105).

Gnosticism:

"(The Holy Spirit is) the image of the invisible, virginal, perfect spirit . . . She became the Mother of everything, for she existed before them all, the mother-father . . ." (The Gnostic Gospels, The Apocryphon of John 4:34-5:7).

Jehovah's Witnesses:

"But the holy spirit has no personal name. The reason for this is that the holy spirit in not an intelligent person. It is the impersonal, invisible active force that finds its source and reservoir in Jehovah God and that he uses to accomplish his will." (Let Your Name Be Sanctified, 269).

Mormonism:

"The Holy Ghost is the third member of the Godhead. He is a Personage of Spirit, a Spirit Person, a Spirit Man, a Spirit Entity. He can be in only one place at one time, and he does not and cannot transform himself into any other form or image than that of the Man whom he is. . . " (Bruce McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 359).

Unification Church:

"There are many who receive revelations indicating that the Holy Spirit is a female Spirit; this is because she came as the True Mother, that is, the second Eve. Again, since the Holy Spirit is a female spirit, we cannot become the 'bride' of Jesus unless we receive the Holy Spirit." (Moon, Divine Principle, 215).

The Doctrine of Salvation

Biblical View:

Salvation is only by means of Jesus Christ and His sacrifice; salvation is entirely by grace, not by works. --John 1:29; 3:16-17; 6:28-29; 14:6; Acts 16:31; Rom. 11:6; Eph. 2: 8-9; 1 Tim. 2:5.

Catholicism:

"If anyone says that the sacraments of the New Law are not necessary for salvation but . . . that without them . . . men obtain from God through faith alone the grace of justification . . . let them be anathema." (Council of Trent).

Jehovah's Witnesses:

"This means everlasting life, their taking in knowledge of you, the only true God, and of the one whom you sent forth, Jesus Christ." (John 17:3 from the New Word Translation of the Jehovah's Witnesses. The King James Bible reads, "And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.")

Mormonism:

"For we labor diligently to write, to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God; for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do." (The Book of Mormon, 2 Nephi 25:23).

Seventh Day Adventist:

"The testimony of the word of God is against this ensnaring doctrine of faith without works. It is not faith that claims the favor of Heaven without complying with the conditions upon which mercy is to be granted, it is presumption; for genuine faith has its foundation in the promises and provisions of the Scriptures." (Ellen G. White, The Triumph of God's Love, 278).

Unitarian Universalists:

"We have within ourselves the power of our own salvation and that reliance upon salvation through someone else's martyrdom is superstitious and contrary to the principle of moral responsibility." (Unitarianism--Some Questions Answered, 4).

II. The Leading Of The Loving Spirit (4:7-21).

Verse 7:

Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. John informs us that Biblical love, which is of God, stands in contrast with the spirit of error. False doctrines and church divisions do not originate with Scriptural love for the brethren, but come from our own lusts (James 4:1-2). This is illustrated for us by the false prophet Balaam (2 Pet. 2:15; Rev. 1:14). His love for self, over the people of God, brought in false doctrine and division among the people of the Lord (Num. 31:15-16; 25:1-8). The true children of God will not seek to hinder others in Christ. They will not seek to cause division (Rom. 16:17-18). Instead, they will speak the truth of God's word in Christian love (Eph. 4:15). If we love God, it will be demonstrated in our care for His sheep (John 21:15-17).

Verse 8:

He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. The text says, "God is love," not that love is God. The love of God has been demonstrated for us in His willingness to become a man and die for our sins (John 3:16). It was not the power of Rome nor the rebellion of the Jews which lead Jesus Christ to the cross. It was the love of God.

John Wesley makes an excellent point in stating the following:

"'God is love'--This little sentence brought St. John more sweetness, even in the time he was writing it, than the whole world can bring. God is often styled holy, righteous, wise; but not holiness, righteousness, or wisdom in the abstract, as he is said to be love; intimating that this is his darling, his reigning attribute, the attribute that sheds an amiable glory on all his other perfections."

"God is love." When we were strangers, alienated from God and lost in our sins, God still loved us. When the world shows itself full of hatred, destruction, and self-debasement; God is still love. When we have been wronged by a friend or even a brother, God is still love. No matter what occurs around us or to us, the nature of God does not change and His supreme attribute still shines through even in our darkest hour.

Verse 9:

In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. The verse resembles John 3:16. Methodist preacher Peter Mackenzie once said; "When God loves, He loves a world. When God gives, He gives His Son." If we are to comprehend the love of God, we must look to Calvary. It was there that Christ embraces the world of lost sinners, with stretched out arms and bleeding palms. A picture once showed a nail being driven into the flesh of Christ with His hand clenched in anguish. The caption under it simply read, "God loves us so much . . . it hurts."

Only begotten Son. This is one of John's favorite phrases. Of the five times the phrase is found in the New Testament, John uses it four times (John 1:18; 3:16; 3:18; 1 John 4:9). The one other time it is used is found in Hebrews 11:17 and refers to Isaac as the only begotten Son of Abraham and Sarah. The Greek word monogenh is a compound noun. It comes from the Greek words monoV meaning "one," "alone," or "only," and genoV which means "to be born," or "to begat" (Harold Moulton, The Analytical Greek Lexicon, Zondervan, 1978 edition). Thus, while God has many sons through faith (John 1:12), He has only one begotten Son through the Holy Spirit who was born in the flesh through Mary (Luke 1:35).

Verse 10 & 11:

Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another. God's love does not originate from our emotions or efforts. God was the first to love, despite whatever our reaction would be. Therefore, Biblical love is not a reaction, but the initial action. If we are to love as God does, our love must be unconditional and supernatural (Rom. 5:1-8).

Verse 12:

No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us. This phrase, as with verse 9, appears in John 1:18. In the Gospel of John the unseen God is manifest in the person of His Son, Jesus Christ. In the Epistle of John the unseen God is manifest in the individual Christian.

There are many things in our world which we do not see, but we can see what they produce. We cannot see the wind, but we can see what is blown by it. We cannot see electricity, but we can see a glowing light which it generates. We cannot see the atom, but we have seen the effects when one is split. So we cannot see God (1 Tim. 1:17), but we can see His effect--love. It is this love of God seen in us which will speak more volumes to the lost world than any words we could articulate.

In Romans 12: 17-21 Paul writes:

"Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good."

In our western way of thinking we have interpreted the phrase, "heap coals of fire on his head," as meaning we are making it worse for those who have shown us evil by showing them kindness. However, in the eastern way of thinking this is not the case. In the eastern world many items are carried about on the head, even pots filled with blistering coals. Hot coals were used as a source of heating the home and cooking food. Therefore, they were essential for human survival and comfort. If the coals died out, a friendly neighbor would show extra kindness by providing heaps of hot coals to those who were without, thus assuring them warmth and a means for food preparation. To "heap coals of fire on his head," in the eastern thought, is to show extended kindness to one who was unworthy of it. We did not deserve God's love, yet it was shed abroad for us. Likewise, we should show the love of God to others, even if they do not deserve it, for Christ's sake.

Verse 13 & 14:

Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world. These verses reveal for us the Trinity (Spirit, Father, Son). The Father, Son, and Holy Ghost all "testify" (as in 1 John 5:7) to Their existence and to our redemption. It should be further noted that Christ is the Saviour of the whole world, even for those who reject Him. Christ did not die only for the redeemed, but for the lost as well. Therefore, they will stand before God without excuse (Rom. 1:20).

Verse 15:

Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God. The text shows that the expression of love alone does not reveal redemption. There must also be a personal confession as to the Person of Jesus Christ (Rom. 10:9-10). This verse is also an assault on the Gnostic teaching that Jesus was merely the son of Joseph and Mary, while the Christ was the true Son of God. Here, for the first time, John uses the name "Jesus" without "Christ." The purpose is to expose the Gnostic heresy and establish the Biblical fact that Jesus is the son of God, not the son of Joseph (see Luke 3:22-23).

Verse 16:

And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him. Again John reminds us of this eternal truth as to the nature of God, He is love. The phrase, "he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him," must be taken in light of the preceding sentence; "we have known and believed." As in verse 15, the emotion of love does not endow us with divine right, nor does it seal our redemption. However, if we are truly redeemed, the love of God will be expressed in our lives.

Verse 17:

Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world. As with prayer, we have boldness before our God (Heb. 4:16). It is this same boldness which enables us to proclaim the Gospel of salvation (Acts 4:31; 2 Cor. 7:4). It is to this end, evangelism, that the boldness of God is given to us "in this world."

Verse 18:

There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love. We are told in Hebrews 10:31 that, "It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God." However, for the Christian, there is no need of fear, because we have known the love of God which produces peace and hope (Rom. 5:1, 5). The English word "fear" not only means "terror" or "to be afraid," but also means a holy or godly "reverence" or "respect" (Webster: 1828 Dictionary). In the latter sense, Christians are to fear the Lord (Jer 32:39-40; Psalm 34:8-11). Yet, in God's love for us, we do not need to dread Him, nor to be afraid of Him. This type of fear produces "torment" because of certain judgment which waits.

The Greek word for "torments" here is kolasin and is used only one other time in the Greek New Testament, in Matthew 25:46. There the word is translated as, "punishment" and deals with the final judgment of the lost. There is a certain amount of torment or punishment associated with fear, especially the fear of judgment. Dr. Harry Ironside makes a valid point in commenting on this verse and the judgment of the lost in hell. He writes:

"I think the most awful torment that can come to a lost soul in the pit of woe will be to think of days gone by, to remember mercies rejected, to meditate upon grace despised, and cry in anguish of soul, 'Jesus died for me, and I knew all about it; He shed His precious blood for sinners, and I heard about it over and over again; He died for me, and I rejected Him; I rejected His mercy, and here I am shut away from the light and joy of God for all eternity, and it is my own fault. I might have been saved; I might have been washed from my sins; but I refused to trust the Saviour that God provided, and now His wrath rests upon me forever!' I cannot imagine anything worse than that; and that, as I understand it, will be the very essence of the torment that lost men and women must endure for eternity." (Ironside: Addresses on the Epistle of St. John, pp. 175-176).

Verse 19 & 20:

We love him, because he first loved us. If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? The translators of the Geneva Bible (1587), have the following note concerning verse 20:

"As he showed that the love of our neighbor cannot be separated from the love wherewith God loved us . . . so he denies that the other kind of love wherewith we love God, can be separate from the love of our neighbor: whereof it follows, that they lie impudently (i.e. shamelessly) which say they worship God, and yet regard not their neighbors." (the orthography and calligraphy have been updated to modern standards).

These translators were not simply making a theological statement concerning this passage of Scripture. They dealt with false love first hand. The Geneva Bible was produced by a group of Protestant scholars who had taken refuge in Geneva, Switzerland. They had faced religious persecution, torture, and even death at the hands of the Roman Church and its followers such as Mary, Queen of England. They knew that true Godly love does not steal land from neighbors, nor does it cause others to suffer. To expound that we have the love of God in our hearts while doing injustices to those whom Christ loves and died for, is shameless hypocrisy. The individuals who do such things while proclaiming they love God are liars.

Verse 21:

And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also. The verse is simple and straightforward. Our commandment, our obedience to Christ, demands that we love our brothers and sisters in the Lord (and those without we might add). To fail to love the brethren is nothing short of rebellion and disobedience.

"A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another." --John 13:34

"This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you." --John 15:12


Chapter 5

Outline:

I. Believing The Witness Of God (5: 1-12).

II. Believing The Word Of God (5: 13-21).


I. Believing The Witness Of God (5: 1-12).

Verse 1:

Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him. John begins this chapter by continuing the thoughts found previously; that is, true Christianity will be demonstrated in both love and belief. In the first three verses of chapter five John again speaks of love. There the thought is that a true believer will demonstrate his belief through his Christian love. Now John adds to this by showing that a true believer will demonstrate his belief through faith, namely our belief in the word of God. Until now, John only uses the word "belief" three times (3:23; 4:1; 4:16). Now he uses the word seven times (verses 1, 5, 10, and 13).

Here is the center of the Christian doctrine, that "Jesus is the Christ." What we believe about Jesus Christ determines our eternal existence. We must believe that Jesus is the Christ, that is He "is the true Messiah" (Geneva Bible marginal note). The Christ (or Messiah) was the "anointed one" who came to suffer and die for our sins (Isa. 53:3-6; Rom. 5:6-8). He was crucified (Ps. 22:16-18; Matt. 27:35), buried (Isa. 53:9; Matt. 27:57-60), and rose again (Ps. 16:10; Mark 16:6-7). This is the Gospel (1 Cor. 15:1-6). This is not to be understood as a general belief about Christ (John 2:23-25; James 2:19), but a certain belief in Jesus Christ (Rom. 10: 9-10) which is always Biblically based (Rom. 10:17). To believe anything less is to believe in another Jesus (2 Cor. 11:4).

In his commentary concerning 1 John 5:1-3, Augustine makes an interesting assessment, much to the chagrin of the Roman Catholic Church. After citing Peter's confession that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God (Matt. 16:16), he examines the meaning of this confession in light of the controversial phrase, "upon this rock I will build my church." St. Augustine then writes:

"What meaneth, 'Upon this rock I will build my Church'? Upon this faith; upon this that has been said, 'Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God. Upon this rock," saith He, 'I will build my Church." Mighty praise! So then, Peter saith, 'Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God:' the devils also say, 'We know who thou art, the Son of God, the Holy One of God.' This Peter said, this also the devils: the words the same, the mind not the same. And how is it clear that Peter said this with love? Because a Christian's faith is with love, but a devil's without love." (Homily X: 1)

Verse 2 & 3:

By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous. Biblical faith is reflected in Biblical love and Biblical obedience. When we know Christ, we reflect the love of Christ and obey His commands. The matter is simple. If we do not love our brothers and sisters in Christ, we do not love God.

The "commandments" are not the Old Testament law, for they were "grievous" (Gal. 3:10-13; Col. 2:14-17). For the believer, Christ is the end of the law for righteousness (Rom. 10:4). Our commandments are to believe in Jesus Christ (1 John 3:23) and to love one another (John 15:12). Love, for Christ or our fellow Christian, is never truly grievous (Matt. 11:30; 1 Cor. 13: 4-7).

Verse 4:

For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. The phrase "whatsoever is born of God" (Gk: pan to gegennhmenon) stands in the neuter, thus "whatsoever" and not "whosoever." This has to do with our spirit (John 3:1-7). Our flesh has yet to be born of God, but our spirit has been born-again. Therefore, our victory is found in spiritual things, and not in our own power and might (Eph. 6:12).

Others have interpreted this in a broader sense. John Wesley notes, "This expression implies the most unlimited universality." (Wesley's Notes On The Bible). Dr. Oliver B. Greene likewise states, "The Greek language here reads, 'Everything which is begotten of God,' emphasizing the fact that there is no exception: in every instance the regenerated person has victory." (The Epistle of John, p. 183). Both thoughts are correct. It is our spirit which has been born of God in that our new birth is a spiritual birth and it is equally applied to all in the faith. Therefore, we all have the same right to victory because of our redemption.

Verse 5:

Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God? Some never overcome because they have never truly believed. For those who have exercised their faith in the redemption found only in Jesus Christ, there is power to overcome. Both the English, "overcometh," and the Greek, nikwn, are in the present tense. Therefore, not "overcame" as though our battles are all past, nor "will overcome" as though we have no victory now, but "overcometh" to show that our victory is continuous.

Verse 6:

This is he that came by water and blood, even Jesus Christ; not by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit is truth. These witnesses (water, blood, and Spirit) are again mentioned in verse 8. While it is recognized that the "Spirit" refers to the Holy Spirit, there are several interpretations concerning the nature of the "water" and the "blood."

The water and blood which came from the wounded side of Jesus Christ while on the cross (John 19:34).

The need for purification (water) with our redemption (blood).

The ordinances of water baptism and the Lord's supper.

The spiritual water of regeneration (Titus 3:5) and the redemption in the blood of Christ (Col. 1:14).

The word of God which washes (Eph. 5:25-26), and the blood of Christ (Eph. 1:7).

The Old Testament (water) and the New Testament (blood).

Believer's baptism and our redemption.

The baptism of Christ and His crucifixion.

The physical birth of Christ (John 3:5-6) and our redemption.

Verse 7:

For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one. Here we have a verse on the Biblical doctrine of the Trinity. Most early English versions contain this verse. Most contemporary versions do not contain the verse.

Regardless, the doctrine of the Trinity is clearly defined and is often associated with water, blood, and the Spirit (as we see in verses 6, and 8). The Trinity is associated with water in Matthew 28:19. The Trinity is associated with blood in 1 Peter 1:2, and with the gifts of the Spirit in 1 Corinthians 12:4-6. There are, of course, other verses which support the doctrine of the Holy Trinity (2 Cor. 13:14; Gal. 4:4-6; Eph. 4:4-6; 1 Jn. 4:13-14; Rev. 4:8).

The Gnostics were not the only ones who denied the teaching of the Trinity. Arius (250-336 AD) denied the Trinity in that he believed that Christ was a created being. Much like today's Jehovah's Witness, he stated that Jesus was the Son of God, but not God the Son. Further, he believed there was a time when Christ was not, thus removing His eternality.

Sabellius (220 AD) also denied the Trinity in that he believed the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit were identical. He taught that Christ did not exist before His incarnation because He and the Father were the same person. So when Christ came to the earth, the Father was also here suffering for our sins.

The doctrine of the Trinity was categorically defended by early Church apologists, and rightly so. Cyprian (250 AD) writes of the Trinity, and our text, in stating: "The Lord says, 'I and the Father are One,' and again, of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost it is written: 'And the three are One.'" (On The Unity Of The Church I:6). He also writes, "For it is through this Trinity that the Father is glorified. For the Father willed, the Son did, the Spirit manifested. The whole Scriptures, then, proclaim this truth." (Against The Heresy Of One Noetus I:14).

The Johannine Comma is overwhelmingly rejected by scholarship today. However, external and internal evidences support the genuineness of this verse. Among the external evidence we find the Old Latin manuscripts, such as m and r, supporting the reading. It is cited in the Speculum (427 AD) and the Varimadum (380 AD). Besides the possible citation of Cyprain (250 AD) we also find it cited by Priscillian (385 AD), Cassian (435), Ps-Vigilius (date unknown), Ps-Athanasius (sixth century), Fulgentius (533 AD), and Ansbert (eighth century).

Nor is the passage without Greek evidence. It is supported by minuscules 61, 88, 221, 429, 629, 636, 918 and 2318 (see Aland's Text; 3rd edition, p. 824). Although the Greek support does not date as early as the Latin, it is clear from the above evidence that the citation existed long before the sixteenth century. While it is argued that the Comma is not in the oldest Greek manuscripts, it should also be remembered that none of the papyri manuscripts contain 1 John chapter 5 (except for P74 of the seventh century, which only contains verses 3-4, 9-10, and 17). Of the eleven uncial manuscripts which contain 1 John (and omit the Comma), seven come from the ninth and tenth centuries. The remaining four come from the fourth and fifth centuries. This information tells us that the majority of Greek manuscripts, which do not contain the Comma, likewise are of later dates. Further, we note that there is evidence for the Comma (in Latin) long before the fourth century. The external evidence, therefore, is not as weak as some would have us believe.

However, the strongest evidence is internal. As already noted in 1 John 4:13-14, there is a clear connection between the Trinity and to what they testify. Further, the uses of calling Christ, "the Word," is within the character of John's writings. Likewise, as we consider the context we see that the three-fold witness mentioned three times (verses 6, 7, and 8). Again, within the character of John. But what is most compelling is the Greek text itself. The phrase in verse 8, to pneuma, kai to udwr, kai to aima (the Spirit, and the water, and the blood), are all neuter nouns. They are, however, contiguous with the phrase, oi marturounteV (who bare witness) which stands in the masculine (as does the Greek word for three, treiV). The proper grammatical explanation for this, mixing the neuter and the masculine, is that the parallel is introduced in verse 7. There we find the phrase, o pathr, o logoV, kai to agion pneuma (the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost) which are masculine nouns (with the exception of the Holy Ghost, which stands in the neuter). The would allow for the masculine oi marturounteV since the clause contains two masculine nouns. If, on the other hand, the masculine nouns of verse 7 are removed we are at a loss as to why the masculine is used in verse 8. Therefore, the inclusion of the Comma is not only proper theology, it is proper Greek.

Verse 8:

And there are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one. As stated regarding verse 6, the identity of the three earthly witnesses has drawn considerable disagreement. Some have considered the three-fold witness to be another reference to the Trinity. Certainly the phraseology would be consistent with statements found in the Gospel of John.

The Spirit = God The Father: "God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth." --John 4:24

The Water = God The Holy Ghost: "He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.)" --John 7:38-39

The Blood = God The Son: "Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you." --John 6:53

However, it is also possible that the three earthly witnesses refer to our testimony as believers. We receive the Holy Spirit and bear His fruit (Gal. 5:22-23). We publicly demonstrate our discipleship in Believer's Baptism (1 Peter 3:21). And we openly recognize the atoning blood of Christ in recognition of the Lord's Supper (1 Cor. 11:24-26).

Verse 9:

If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater: for this is the witness of God which he hath testified of his Son. According to Scripture, the truth of an event could be verified by the mouth of two or three witnesses (Deut. 17:6; Matt. 18:16). John is proclaiming that God's witness is greater than man's witness. If we are to establish truth from the mouths of two or three human witnesses, then we certainly can establish the truth from the mouth of the three heavenly witnesses (verses 7-8).

Verse 10:

He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son. The record of this event is recorded within the believer through the Person of the Holy Spirit (John 15:26; 1 Cor. 2:13-14).

Verse 11:

And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Believers are not without testimony as to their salvation. We have the truth of God's word (verse 13), and we have the testimony of the indwelling Holy Spirit (Rom. 8:11-16).

Verse 12:

He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. There is no eternal life apart from the Person of Jesus Christ (John 14:6). The statement is clear and to the point: our only hope of redemption is in the Lord Jesus Christ. Apart from Christ, there is no salvation (Rom. 1:20). John Wesley makes an interesting point. "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." (Wesley's Notes). The promise of Scripture and our assurance of eternal life is found only in knowing Jesus Christ, the Son of God. To us has been given life eternal and life abundant. On this we have the promise of Christ Himself: "I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly." --John 10:10.

II. Believing The Word Of God (5: 13-21).

The Apostle John ends his epistle with themes which reflect how he began it.

1. The certainty of our salvation (5:13; 1:4)

2. The confidence of our prayers (5:14; 1:6-7)

3. The confession of our sins (5:16; 1:9)

4. The coming of our Messiah (5:20; 1:1-2)

5. The care of our brethren (5:21; 2:1)

Verse 13:

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, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God. When God says something, it is important. When God says something twice, it is very important. When God says something twice in the same verse, we had best take heed as to what is being said in that it is of the utmost importance. In this case, what God deems as extreme significance is our belief on the name of the Son of God. It is all the difference between Heaven and Hell.

It is one thing to believe in someone, and another to believe on that same person. John is not telling us that we must simply believe that Jesus Christ existed, or that He was the Son of God; there are many in this world who believe in these things and have not experienced the new birth. The Scripture is telling us that there is more. In addition to believing in the Person of Jesus Christ, we must also believe on Him. That is to say, we must place our faith and hope of eternal life solely on the Person of God's Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.

That ye may know. Along with personal belief on Jesus Christ as our Savior, there is personal assurance. We can know that we are saved. Biblical Christianity offers us complete and total assurance that our eternal life is secure because of the finished work performed for us through Jesus Christ (2 Tim. 1:12; Ecc. 3:14; John 10:27-30). If salvation had any part of our works or efforts, we would not have this assurance. But because salvation is totally performed for us by Christ Jesus, we have the assurance of the Eternal God (Eph. 2:8-9; Titus 2:13).

These things have I written. We would be remiss not to say something about the word of God. Here, the Holy Spirit informs us that we have the assurance of our salvation because we have God's eternal word on it. Our assurance is not based on our feelings, memories, or efforts. We gain assurance through the word of God. Additionally, the word of God offers us faith (Rom. 10:17), cleansing (Eph. 5:26), victory (Rev. 12:11), and abundant living (1 John 1:4). It is our sword (Eph. 6:17), and by it the universe was created (Heb. 11:1-3). Both the Scriptures and our Savior are called, "the word of God" (John 1:1; 1 Pet. 1:23).

Sadly, we live in an age where the word of God is under attack. Not from without, but from within. The very persons who call themselves Christians and who have placed themselves in authority to teach His word, have denied its authority by questioning its accuracy and authenticity. To these individuals, the Bible contains the word of God but is not truly and wholly the word of God.

For example, there is an ongoing debate between evangelical Christians and the Roman Catholic Church on the doctrine of Sola Scriptura (the authority of Scripture alone). This can be seen in the questionnaire by the Saint Benedict Center (The Slaves of the Immaculate Heart of Mary) and a debate between Brother John Mary and Professor James R. White. When asked, "Do you believe in Sola Scriptura (Scripture Alone) - that the Bible is the only source of supernatural Revelation?" Brother John Mary simply replied, "No." (Downloaded from http://www.catholicism.org/debate/bjf.htm on 11/15/97). When asked the same question, Professor White correctly replied with, "I believe in sola scriptura, but sola scriptura does not say 'the Bible is the only source of supernatural revelation,' since general revelation would likewise be considered 'supernatural.' Sola scriptura teaches that the Bible is the only infallible rule of faith for the Church." (Downloaded from http://www.catholicism.org/debate/Whitef.htm on 11/15/97).

Questioning the authority of God's word is not limited to the Catholic Church. Mainstream denominations likewise have individuals within them who question the authority of God's word regarding historical events. Those of us who believe in the final authority of Scripture in all matters of faith and practice, including its authority in matters of science and history, have no problem believing in a literal Adam and Eve. Those who question God's word do not have such a historical assurance.

Professor Walter E. Keller, a Lutheran theologian, writes:

"I cannot say that the distinction between Law and the Gospel will answer the question as to whether Adam and Eve were historical, but that distinction releases me from the burden of having to say that Adam and Eve must have been historical. They may have been; from the viewpoint of the distinction between the Law and the Gospel the question of their historicity is an indifferent matter." (Cresset, February, 1973).

Likewise, Baptist theologian Dale Moody states:

"The famous four (Adam, Eve, Cain, and Abel) are only representative human beings at the dawn of civilization, not the only human beings. There is plenty of room here for L.S.B. Leackey's discoveries in Adam's ancestors." ("table Talk On Theology Tomorrow," Review and Expositor, Summer 1967, p. 345).

Again, the Catholic Church agrees in stating that the belief in the historical persons of Adam and Eve is not essential:

"The account of creation, for instance, with its six days, is in poetic form. What it wishes to convey is that all things come form the hand of God. The form used is that of noble poetic imagery, not that of reporting . . . It is only recently that it has been recognized that the story of Adam and Eve was not to be taken as a piece of reporting. It deals, as we have seen, with man. This much was also known long ago. But for lack of other sources, it was thought that the names and details were also historical." (A New Catechism: Catholic Faith For Adults, The Seabury Press, 1973, p. 49).

The significance here is more then a denial of the Biblical account of creation. In denying the historical persons of Adam and Eve, the Biblical account of original sin and our understanding of the nature of Satan regarding Scripture is also denied. These two doctrines (original sin and the authority of Scripture) is the basis of John's argument in our text in 1 John 5:13. If there were no real, historical Adam; then there is no real and historical fall of man. Therefore, there is no need for salvation and the Second Adam, the Lord Jesus Christ (1 Cor.15:45). Thus we see the importance of believing the Bible as a whole, even in historical and scientific statements.

The authority of Scripture is where we find our assurance of salvation. This is why John strongly points out that we "know" we have eternal life because these things were "written." To deny the literal Adam and Eve would also deny the literal account of Satan's corruption of Scripture in that he questions its authority. Dr. Donald Grey Barnhouse has correctly pointed this out in his booklet, The Bible Under Attack:

"No matter from what angle the matter is approached, the situation is the same as it was in the Garden of Eden. The first question mark in the punctuation of the Bible is after the question put by Satan when he tempted Eve to doubt the Word of God. 'Indeed, has God said . . . ?' (Gen. 3:1). Although under many names, it is still the same doubt and comes form the same source, whether it is called higher criticism, liberalism, modernism, neo-orthodoxy, demythologizing, formgeschichte, or any other name." (Victor Books, 1974, p.5).

Once we begin to pull at the threads of the fabric of God's Holy Word, we unravel our final authority, deny our need of salvation, and have no sure foundation for anything revealed in Scripture. The real truth, however, is that man's theologies, philosophies, and understandings come unraveled in the light of God's sure and unchanging Word. We best take heed how we judge the Bible, for it will one day judge us (Heb. 4:12-13).

Verse 14 & 15:

And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him. We have confidence in prayer, because we have believed the word of God. Confidence follows believing what is written. The great saint of faith and prayer, George Muller said, "Prayer is not overcoming God's reluctance; it is laying hold of His willingness."

Adam Clarke correctly states, "All that God has promised we are justified in expecting; and what he has promised, and we expect, we should pray for." The verse is not declaring that we can demand what we will from God Almighty and He is obligated to answer. It is, instead, pointing out that our Biblical requests will be answered because our Lord cares for us and hears our petitions. Therefore, prayer is asking and receiving. Not demanding and possessing.

Biblical prayer must be asked in faith believing (James 4:2-3). According to this same passage in James, it cannot be asked by our own selfish lusts. Later, James points out that prayer (regarding healing prayer) must be associated with confession of our faults and it must be effectual and fervent (James 5:14-16). Both James and Paul agree that sometimes we do not know what to pray for, in which case God has promised to help us (James 1:5-6; Rom. 8:26-27). The Prophet Isaiah reminds us that in our time of waiting on God to respond to our prayers, we find strength (Isa. 40:31). When we have our hearts right before God in prayer, we then have the assurance of answered prayer (Psalm 139:23-24; Phil. 4:6-7).

Verses 16 & 17:

If any man see his brother sin a sin which is not unto death, he shall ask, and he shall give him life for them that sin not unto death. There is a sin unto death: I do not say that he shall pray for it. All unrighteousness is sin: and there is a sin not unto death. Here we are told of the sin unto death. The translators of the Geneva Bible clearly saw this as a reference to the unpardonable sin and define it as a total rejection of Jesus Christ:

"We have to make prayers not only for ourselves, but also for our brethren which do sin, that their sins be not unto death: and yet he expects that sin which is never forgiven, or the sin against the Holy Ghost, that is to say, an universal and willful falling away from the known truth of the Gospel." (Spelling modified).

John Wesley tends to agree. In commenting on the phrase, "a sin which is not unto death" he states that it is, "any sin but total apostasy from both the power and form of godliness." (Wesley's Notes). However, he then also adds, "A sin unto death may likewise mean, one which God has determined to punish with death." It is more Biblically consistent to recognize this later meaning, for the context deals with believers.

There are sins which we may see the brethren commit which require our intervention on their behalf. Nonetheless, when one continues to rebel and insists on following the flesh instead of the Spirit, the Lord for His testimony sake may end their life prematurely (1 Cor. 5:1-5; 11:29-30). Correspondingly, we have such an event recorded in the book of Acts regarding Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5:1-11).

Verse 18:

We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not. The phrase "is born of God" is found also in 1 John 3:9 and is explained in 1 John 5:4. Our new birth is a spiritual birth, and it is our spirit, which was dead in trespasses and sins (Col. 2:13), which has been born of God (John 3:6-7).

Sinneth not. The phrase is in the present tense. That is to say, right now our spirit is without sin because it has been born of God. Some have translated this as, "whoever is born of God does not continue in sin." or "does not practice sin." The Greek tense does permit such a translation, but leaves us with the same problem. For we all still sin, and therefore continue in sin and practice the things which we know grieve our Lord (Eph. 4:30). Further, it is impossible to be Biblical and say that Satan does not touch those who sin not, for the Bible reveals great saints of God who have been touched by the Devil (Job 1:1; 2:4-6; 2 Cor. 12:7; 1 Thess. 2:18). Still, our spirit is not touched by the Devil for we are hidden in Christ Jesus (Col. 3:3). Nevertheless, we are commanded here to keep ourselves, that is we are commanded to walk in accordance to God and His will (Jude 21).

Verse 19:

And we know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness. The verse is self explanatory and offers for us a great contrast between the believer and the unbeliever.

Verse 20 & 21:

And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life. Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen. The Christian has an understanding of Jesus Christ the world cannot know, because we have a personal relationship with Him. We are in Him and He knows us. John concludes this epistle by again pointing out that the Gnostic belief concerning Jesus Christ is contrary to the Christ of the Bible. The historical, Biblical Jesus is the real Jesus Christ. "This is the true God." Not a god of man's understanding and intellect, but the true God who has revealed Himself to us through the Person of His Son. Thus we have the conclusion of the whole matter. To follow any one or anything other than the real Christ as found in the Holy Scriptures, is to follow a false Christ which is nothing more than an idol. All our "gods" are nothing more than false idols according to God (Psalm 96:5).

Commendo Vos dilectioni Dei, et odio papatus et superstitionis.

Thomas Holland
logos161@aol.com

Dr. Holland's Home Page:
Logos1611

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