By Stan Brown
I John 5:10 The one who believes in the Son of God has the witness in himself; the one who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed in the witness that God has borne concerning His Son.
In this letter John has spent a great deal of space speaking to believers about fellowship with the Father and the Son, about knowing God, about walking in the light, about obeying God’s commandments, about loving one another. In essence, he has been exhorting believers to live in a manner that expresses who they are as God’s message of love to the world.
Now he gets down to the basics as he describes what it means to be born again from above. In describing this he uses the same phrase that he used more than thirty times in his Gospel as he writes the one who believes in the Son of God. In the Gospel he begins in John 1:12 as he describes the children of God with the words even those who believe in His name. He concludes in John 20:31 as he says but these have been written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name. In between, he repeats the phrase over thirty times including the precious statement in John 3:16 where he simply says whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. So. How do we know that we have eternal life? It is because we are included in those who believe in the Son of God (Nothing more and nothing less). And when we begin to doubt, He has placed the witness of the Holy Spirit within us. Ah yes, John wants us to deeply experience fellowship with God and here is where it begins with the one who believes in the Son of God.
We have another choice. We can refuse to believe God. In doing so we call Him a liar. God Himself has given testimony concerning His Son. This testimony is sourced in God, Himself. That testimony was made BY THE MOUTH OF TWO OR THREE WITNESSES (the Spirit, the water and the blood). In the previous verse, John has written the witness of God is greater, for this is the witness of God that He has testified of His Son. It may be easy to call God a liar now because people do not stand in His physical presence as they deny the truth of what He says. One day those who fail to believe will stand in His presence and admit that they have made Him a liar through their failure to believe what He has said concerning His Son. In a sense all stand in His presence right now as He is visible in His creation. Just as His presence in creation is denied so His testimony concerning His Son is denied. God always speaks the truth. We must be included in the words the one who believes in the Son of God.
Here is where the rubber meets the road. If we believe in the Son of God, we possess life. If we fail to believe we are saying to the One who possesses all power, “You Lie”.
By Stan Brown
I John 5:9 If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater; for the witness of God is this, that He has borne witness concerning His Son.
Things are really topsy turvy in the world in which we live. The properly authenticated testimony given by men is accepted as true while doubt is cast on the testimony of God concerning His One and Only Son. John speaks in the context of testimony that is authenticated by two or three witnesses. He essentially says that if we have two or three independent witnesses testifying to a particular event in court, we accept the story as true. He then makes a statement that is obviously true as he writes, the witness of God is greater. I respond with the colloquial, “No Duh!”. Hmm, man speaks; God speaks. Which one do we believe? It is enough that God speaks. In addition, God authenticates His own statement with three witnesses, the Spirit, water and blood. He authenticates his word concerning His Son with the testimony of the Spirit who is true, the water where Jesus was declared to be God’s Son at His baptism and the blood as the Son died in our place. Why would God even need to authenticate the truth of what He says? He speaks, it is true.
This paragraph is a rabbit trail. It occurs to me that we have come to the place where we no longer even accept the word of people in the mouth of two or three witnesses. The criteria for truth in the world today seems to be if it agrees with what I think or perhaps who can figuratively scream louder and longer on social media. We have lost the concept that when God speaks it is true. We don’t like what He says so we believe something else. When I think about it, God has authenticated truth in the mouth of two or three witnesses. He has spoken in creation. He has spoken in His Son. He has spoken in His written word. He is to be believed. This ends the rabbit trail.
At the end of the verse John tells us what this testimony concerns. God speaks about His Son, for this is the witness of God that He has testified of His Son. It is about the One who makes all the difference in the universe. It is about the One who died for us. It is about the One who gives us life. It is about the One who provides us fellowship with the Father and the Son. If we don’t accept this testimony, we have nothing (or to use the colloquial again Nada). God, testifies concerning and verifies the most important truth we can know, the truth about His Son and what He has done. John will have more to say about this in the following verses.
By Stan Brown
1 John 5:6-8 This is the One who came by water and blood, Jesus Christ; not with the water only, but with the water and with the blood. It is the Spirit who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth. For there are three that testify: the Spirit and the water and the blood; and the three are in agreement.
I am treating these three verses together because they belong together. This has to be one of the passages in Scripture that is right at the top in the race for most possible interpretations. Barnes, in his commentary Barnes’ Notes on the Bible includes at least ten (I lost track of the exact number) if you include sub interpretations. Everyone agrees that it has to do with the authentication of who Jesus is. There is no question concerning who the Spirit is but water and blood bring out disagreements among the commentators. To summarize, the commentators agree on the fact that John is affirming who Jesus is but spends a lot of time figuring out who the witnesses are. I am going to give a simple straightforward interpretation of the passage and let you look at the commentaries should you desire. BY THE MOUTH OF TWO OR THREE WITNESSES EVERY FACT MAY BE CONFIRMED (Matt. 18:16 from Deut. 19:15).
This passage is certainly central to John’s epistle in that it strongly demonstrates who Jesus is. He is God Himself who came to earth as the incarnate Son of God in order to die for our sins and rise from the dead as a demonstration of the validity of that sacrifice and His victory over death. It is an affirmation of who Jesus is that would fly in the face of the antichrists who were denying the person of the Son of God. John says that there are three that testify to who Jesus is. The Spirit, (that is the Holy Spirit, that is God Himself) is central to that testimony. The Spirit is Truth just as Jesus is Truth (John 14:6) and God is Truth (Isa. 65:16; 1John 1:5). The message that He certifies is true because the Spirit is truth. The testimony of the water refers to the Baptism of the Son by John the Baptist as He was miraculously declared to be who He was, that is the Son of God. The testimony of the water declares who He already is. It was a testimony that John the Baptist accepted as he said He who sent me to baptize in water said to me, ‘He upon whom you see the Spirit descending and remaining upon Him, this is the One who baptizes in the Holy Spirit.’ “I myself have seen, and have testified that this is the Son of God (John 1:33-34). In fact, the Father Himself testified at that time This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased. (Matt. 3:17)” This leaves only the blood which refers to His death which offers the cleansing from sin to all people and was validated by His resurrection from the dead as well as His ascension into Heaven.
Although the commentators may discuss the details forever, there is really no question about the point John is making. The one in whom we trust is the Son of God. This is confirmed by three witnesses (the water, the blood and the Spirit). This Jesus is the One who makes possible all that John affirms in this letter. He is the One whose blood cleanses us from all Sin; He is the One who enables us to be born of Him; He is the One who procures our fellowship with the Creator; He is the One who leads us into the light, He is the One who enables us to be God’s message of love. He truly is the Way, the Truth and the Life. The truth contained in these three verses (BY THE MOUTH OF TWO OR THREE WITNESSES) validates everything that we believe.
DAILY DEVOTION: 1 JOHN 5:5: When we accept Jesus as Savior, the power to overcome the world is there
By Stan Brown
I John 5:5 And who is the one who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?
Who is the one who overcomes the world? What is it that we must overcome? In the previous verse John has said that which is born of God is the overcomer. It is faith that overcomes. Now he says that it is the one who believes in Jesus as the Son of God who overcomes the world. Overcoming the world system is based on our new birth. It is only those who know Jesus Christ as Savior that can overcome the world.
Does this mean that everyone who has accepted Jesus as Savior is an overcomer? In one sense the answer is yes since we have escaped from the captivity of sin and the power of Satan in our lives. When we accept Jesus as Savior, the power to overcome the world is there. Jesus has already overcome the world and offers us the opportunity to overcome the world in which we live. To suggest that every believer avails himself or herself of that opportunity would fly in the face of everything John has already said. There would be no need to encourage believers to walk in the light if that were true. Many believers remain captivated by the world in which they live and ensnared by the lies of Satan. As believers, our faith in Him has already afforded great victory as we have moved from the family of the evil one to the family of the Holy One. But God offers victory and overcoming power right now in the face of Satan’s world.
It is a daunting task as we look around us and see pandemics and sin and Satan moving the world to chaos around us. We may look to eternity with expectancy and hope, yet God offers the ability to be overcomers and conquerors right now. John says that it is our faith that offers the opportunity to conquer the world. Interestingly enough, this is the only time that John uses the word faith in either his Gospel or his epistles. We are certainly saved by faith but John wants us to live by faith as well. Paul writes, “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me (Gal. 2:20). In the great faith chapter (Hebrews 11) the author of that book tells us that just as our spiritual life begins at the moment we place our faith in Him we must also live by faith. Paul writes for we walk by faith, not by sight (2Cor. 5:7). Our eyes of sight see an impossibility. Our eyes of faith trust in our Savior who has overcome the world. Do we really believe that we are overcomers? Even when doubt creeps into our minds, we must live out our faith. God has said that I am an overcomer. I must believe Him and live in light of it.
As a believer God has rescued me from eternal death. Now he wants me to believe that He has overcome. He wants me to love. He wants me to obey.
By Stan Brown
I John 5:4 and His commandments are not burdensome. 4 For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world — our faith.
Jesus declared, “These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). In his epistle, John has previously affirmed that as vigorous young men and women, we have overcome the evil one (I John 2:13-14). He has stated that we have overcome the world because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world (I John 4:4). The world is the system controlled by Satan. The theme of the world is one that keeps rising to the surface in this letter. It is our opponent in this life. It is that which entices us into sin and pulls us away from the light of God’s love. But remember, we have overcome the world because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.
John says that it is our faith that has overcome the world. Everyone who is born of God has overcome the world and the prince of this world. The word translated victory is from the same root as the word overcome. Little Kittel describes it as a victory that is not always obvious at the time but a victory nevertheless. When we accept Jesus as our personal Savior, we have gained victory over the world and its ruler. This individual victory might not be obvious to the world each time someone is born into God’s family it marks a defeat for Satan and he knows it. Ray Vander Laan describes it as taking the world back from Satan one person at a time. Luke quotes the words of Jesus as he states “But when someone stronger than he attacks him and overpowers him, he takes away from him all his armor on which he had relied and distributes his plunder (Luke 11:23). The word translated overpower in Luke is the same as overcome in the current verse. We as believers are the plunder taken back from the evil one. Each time someone enters God’s family, the strength of Satan and of the world has been overpowered.
John’s point in this verse is that when we are born of God a great victory is declared. It is a victory that is eternal and can never be lost. John has written this letter to encourage us to make sure that that initial faith victory results in continual faith victories in this life. Not only is Satan overcome when we are born of God, he is defeated every time we obey God’s commandments, every time we love one another, every time we take seriously our responsibility as God’s message to the world. But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us (Rom. 8:37). Paul was not satisfied with mere victory as he adds the prefix hyper to the word victory. God’s love lived out in our lives results in an overwhelming victory.
By Stan Brown
I John 5:3 For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome.
In context, the love of God speaks of our love for God as the previous verse indicates. Yet the concepts of our love for Him and His love for us cannot truly be separated. After all, love is sourced in God. In fact, God is love. As John uses the word commandments for the final two times in this letter, he intertwines God's love and God’s holiness together in each of His commandments. If we love Him it will be shown in the tangible way of doing what He says. John then says that these commandments are not burdensome which stands in stark contrast to what Jesus had to say about the rules laid down by the religious leaders of His day, “They tie up heavy burdens and lay them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves are unwilling to move them with so much as a finger (Matt. 23:4). The seeming freedoms that the world offers are in reality destructive, heavy weights. Jesus said Matt. 11:30 “For My yoke is easy, and My load is light.” This does not mean that we will never face difficult things in this life but those difficulties have nothing to do with what Jesus asks us to do. He offers to relieve our burdens rather than add to them. God is not in the business of making things difficult for us.
Jesus describes these commandments, as acts of love when He says “‘YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND. (Matt:22:37)’ As the first tablet of the law demands, we will express our love for Him by placing Him as the one and only supreme authority in our lives, indeed the One with whom we fellowship on a continual basis and we must never make light of that relationship. We serve the God who is Holy and as we love Him, we will do what He says. After all He loves us with supreme love.
Jesus also describes these commandments as acts of love as He says, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF’ (Matt. 22:39). The second tablet of the Law demands that we express God’s love in our dealings with each other. When we love God, we will love each other. We love God in response to His magnificent love for us. We love one another as His love flows out in our lives. His holiness requires that we live in accordance with the commands that express that holiness. His love requires that we live in accordance with His commandments because they offer what is best for us. God’s holiness and love can never be separated. Everything He does streams out of His character in which holiness and love are perfectly interwoven.
God is love. God is light. He offers to alleviate the burdens of this life with perfect fellowship with the One who is both love and light casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you (1Pet. 5:7).
By Stan Brown
I John 5:2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and observe His commandments.
OK, I think I get it. Loving God and loving His children are eternally and intricately intertwined. You can’t have one without the other. When we love God, we will love His children. We know we love God’s children because we keep His commandments; that is, we will do what He says. John uses the word commandment(s) fourteen times in these epistles. Sometimes he uses the singular and sometimes the plural. There are subtle differences in the way he uses them. Today we are going to look at his use of the plural commandments.
The first two times it is used it has to do with knowing Him. Remember that to John knowing Him designates a significantly more intimate relationship with the Father than does just possessing eternal life. He uses the word twice in the following verses, By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments. The one who says, “I have come to know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him (1John 2:3-4 ). Knowing God and doing what He says are forever intertwined.
The next use relates to the requests we make from Him, and whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do the things that are pleasing in His sight (1John 3:22). When we love Him and love each other we receive what we ask as we do the things that are pleasing in His sight. (we know that loving Him and loving each other are the essence of his commandments. Might we also recognize how intricately His holiness is interwoven with love throughout His commandments.)
The fourth use speaks of the concept of the mutually abiding relationship we have with our God who is ultimately holy (He is light) and loving (He is love). The one who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him (1John 3:24).
The fifth use of the plural is found in the current verse as it conveys the love of God. When we obey God’s commandments which are tailored for our benefit (1) we know Him in a way that has no parallel; (2) whatever we ask we receive from Him; (3) we abide in Him and He in us; (4) we both experience God’s love and become the message of God’s love.
It is breathtaking to realize that God not only gives us commandments that are beneficial to us but also gives to us the wherewithal to keep them. He has provided for us the sin cleansing blood of His Son. This results in our entering His family as we accept Him through faith. This results in our walking in His light and His love as we confess our sins and continue to walk in His light and His love.
By Stan Brown
I John 5:1 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.
As I write on each individual verse, I ask myself how many things can John possibly have to say about love. He repeats himself for emphasis but never tires of this essential subject. We, as well, must never tire of it. John drives home the point about loving each other. In the previous verse he has said that those who love God will love their brothers and sisters. Now he expands on the meaning of the previous verse as he lets them know who their brothers and sisters are. This reminds us of the question the lawyer asked Jesus when he was told to love his neighbor as himself. Seeking to justify himself, he asks “Who is my neighbor?” Jesus responds with the parable of the Good Samaritan where he lets the lawyer know that everyone who is in need is his brother.
John knows that some of his readers will ask the questions; “who is my sister?” and “who is my brother?”. Just as did the lawyer, they seek to justify themselves. There are some brothers and sisters who are hard for us to love. We want to duck behind the door when we see them coming. They drive as crazy just to see them let alone talk to them. Never mind that we may do the same to others at times. We don’t have the time to listen to their needs or their complaints or they are not important enough to us to take time for them. John answers the unspoken question without equivocation. Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is our brother and sister. John states that everyone who loves God (the One that begat) will also love His kids (the ones begotten of Him). There are no exceptions. It is also true, that I must forgive those that fail to treat me with love. It is amazing how long I can remember those who have snubbed me.
But wait a minute! What about those who have seriously injured me, sometimes in unspeakable ways? Or even worse, have seriously injured someone that is dear to me. God has a plan for this as well. It involves loving forgiveness but not always restored fellowship. Our sins may be forgiven but it takes repentance in order to restore our fellowship with God. God’s plan for loving restoration with one another is outlined in Matt. 18 where Jesus says “If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother. “But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that BY THE MOUTH OF TWO OR THREE WITNESSES EVERY FACT MAY BE CONFIRMED. “If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector (Matt. 18:15-17). This plan involves the love of God.
But it is not the exception upon which John dwells. It is the everyday active love for one another that he stresses. God wants me to love my unlovable brothers and sisters as well as those who are easier to love. God’s grace does not immediately change the unlovable into being easy to love but it does allow me to love them. Being God’s message of love to the world means that we allow the love of God to shine through us to everyone. It begins with our brothers and sisters and continues to all those in the world, indeed all whom Jesus described as our neighbors. When I do not love a child of God I am simply saying that I do not love God.
By Stan Brown
I John 4:21 And this commandment have we from him, That he who loves God love his brother also.
John doesn’t stutter. God is love and we must be all about love. In the previous verse, he has said if we don’t love one another we don’t love God. Now he mentions the converse as he says if we do love God, we will love our sisters and our brothers and this is not just a polite suggestion from John. He describes it as a commandment. This is not new from John. He has previously said, This is His commandment, that we believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as He commanded us (1John 3:23). He declares that love is absolutely associated with abiding, The one who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him (1John 3:24).
Let’s step back for a moment and ask ourselves the question, “If God so loved the world, why does John seem to ignore the world and focus on love for other believers?” Didn’t Jesus say concerning the commandments “The second is like it, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF’ (Matt. 22:39)? Perhaps John focuses on other believers because some believers are pretty difficult to love. God understands that. He loves us. Perhaps it is because we need to practice on one another before getting it right in the world. It is certainly because loving one another demonstrates God to the world. We become God’s message to the world when we love one another. The message is muffled when we fail to love each other. As He prayed to the Father, Jesus said, that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me (John 17:21). When we love we abide. When we abide we are the message. It is an amazing statement when Jesus asks that we might be united even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You. Without love for one another this is impossible. Without love for one another we fail to be God’s message to all those whom God loves.
In the previous fifteen verses the word love has occurred twenty-five times. John has just said if we are not loving our believing brothers and sisters, we are not loving God. It is also true that if we are not loving our fellow believers, we are not loving those who have not believed in the Son. Loving one another is the lynchpin that draws it all together. Love for God is nonexistence when it is not displayed in love for one another. Love for those in the world is displayed when we love one another. John never suggests that we are not to love the folks living in the chaos of the world but rather that the greatest thing we can do for them is display God’s love by loving each other. Let us be the Message!!
By Stan Brown
I John 4:20 If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen.
Put your action where your mouth is. In the previous verses John had extolled love for one another. Now, he gets down to the nitty-gritty as he says “prove it”. The outward demonstration of our love for God is not words but actions of love. One might say that love is a verb rather than a noun. Just as love is action rather than words, it is also action rather feeling. John shoots straight as he declares that those who claim love for God and cannot even love their sisters and brothers are in fact “liars".
So, I say “I love God” (and I may also declare that I love all the rest of His children), yet I ignore their real needs while I am quick to condemn their actions as I extol my own. The only logical conclusion is that I do not love God. I may be His child but I have no idea what it means to love Him. Remember the required action of love includes not only those brothers and sisters who are loveable but those who are unlovable as well. After all, I am the recipient of God’s love. If God loves me, I can love others.
It is true that John is emphasizing love for fellow believers here. After all, love begins at home. We learn to love by loving our spiritual brothers and sisters. In loving each other we demonstrate love to the world because it is this testimony that shows the world the truth of the message. We do serious harm to the message of the Gospel when we fail to love each other. Although John stresses love for each other, he in no way denies that we must also love everyone else in the world. Such a statement would be pure folly. After all, when the Jewish lawyer asks the question “who is my neighbor?”, Jesus responds with the parable of “The Good Samaritan”. In effect, he says that whoever is in need is my neighbor.
So, John continues his attack on what he sees as a failure to love with a down to earth statement. He attacks this practice as patently ridiculous. He declares, for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen. Based on the fact that we live in a physical world in which everything we do and say is colored by the physical, a paraphrase of that statement might be; “Are you nuts? Look around! You have never even seen God yet you make the easy declaration that you love Him as you think no one will be able to call you on it. But wait a minute! You have all these brothers and sisters in need around you whom you continually ignore and you can see them. Their needs are continually before you. You have the resources to help and you ignore them. You claim love for God. Your deeds proclaim that you are a LIAR!
This verse rests on the great foundation of our Lord’s depiction of His commandments as He says, Matt. 22:37-39 And He said to him, “‘YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.’ “This is the great and foremost commandment. “The second is like it, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF’ (Matt. 22:37-39).
Let us love one another!!!