A Study of 1 Jn.5:4-21
John is continuing his teaching on Fellowship with God and fellow believers, and here he deals with victory over worldly influences and confirms the Guarantee of our salvation.
Victory over the World is a possibility for all believers in Christ who obey His commands <1 Jn.5:4-5>. Having already cautioned us of the subtle attraction of worldliness; the realm controlled by Satan and organized against God and therefore at war with all Christ’s followers <see 1 Jn.2:15-17>; John now reveals to us how this worldliness can be conquered. First, he reveals who are the overcomers: “…for everyone born of God overcomes the world.” <1 Jn.5:4a (NIV); cf Jn.1:12-13>; all those who have heard the gospel message and have turned to God in true repentance have been brought into the family of God as His children <see Eph.1:13; 2 Cor.1:21-22>; we have been adopted into God’s family in the person of His Son our Lord Jesus Christ. Secondly, John states that the overcoming factor is our faith in God: “This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.” <1 Jn.5:4b (NIV)>; and confirms this with his next statement: “Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.” <1 Jn.5:5 (NIV)>; and he gives the reason why this is possible in the previous passage by stating that true love for God is “to obey his commands” <1 Jn.5:3 (NIV)>; so, we see that victory over the world is possible to all believers who constantly obey God’s commands. In this world with all its attractions that challenge us each day as we are confronted with important decisions; how do we know God’s commands? We can only find and obey God’s will for us by being familiar with what the scriptures teach, and work toward the application of these teachings in every aspect of our daily lives. By doing this we can begin and continue to resist the devil and all the deceits he brings to us <see Jas.1:22; 4:7>.
Every believer in Christ is given a “Guarantee of Salvation” <1Jn.5:6-13>. There has been much debate as to the meaning of the first sentence: “This is the one who came by water and blood — Jesus Christ. He did not come by water only, but by water and blood.” <1 Jn.5:6a (NIV)>; but it is evident that John is trying to correct the false teaching of the Gnostic heresy. Gnostics believed and taught that Christ came upon “the man Jesus” at His baptism and left Him before His passion in the Garden of Gethsemane, stating that The Christ did not die on the cross, it was only the man Jesus who died (Believers Bible Commentary and NIV Study Bible). Here John uses “water” as an emblem of Jesus’ baptism and “blood” as the symbol of Jesus’ atoning death. John is teaching that Jesus was the Christ when He died on the cross just as much as when He was baptized; and concludes the statement with: “And it is the Spirit who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth.” <1 Jn.5:6b (NIV); cf Jn.14:16-17a; 15:26>. He then proceeds to give us five affirmations that Jesus is the Christ – The Son of God.
He begins by giving the first three assertions: “…the Spirit, the water and the blood; and the three are in agreement.” <1 Jn.5:8 (NIV)>. What does this mean? The Holy Spirit affirms the fact that Jesus is the Christ (God) because the Spirit is truth <1 Jn. 5:6b>, and this affirmation is seen throughout the N.T., and we see two examples of this. First, the Spirit descended upon Jesus at His baptism <see Jn.1:32-34; Matt.3:16>; and the Spirit continues to confirm this in the hearts of believers that Jesus’ baptism and death verify that He is the Christ, God’s Son <see 1 Cor.12:3; 1 Jn.2:27>. Secondly, confirmation that Jesus is God is seen at His baptism (“water”) where God affirms it <see Matt.3:16-17>. Third, the “blood” which speaks to Christ’s death on the cross, or His atoning sacrifice <1 Jn.2:2> also affirms His deity; in this we observe that His life was not taken from Him on the cross, He gave up His life <see Matt.27:50; Lk.23:46; Jn.10:17-18; 19:28-30>. This is further confirmed to us in the resurrection of Christ, for if the work of redemption was not completed in Christ there would be no salvation for us <see Rom.5:18-19>. In this we observe that all the conditions for our salvation is complete in Christ’s atoning sacrifice.
John continues to give two more assertions. Fourth, it is the confirmation of each and every believer in Christ: “Anyone who believes in the Son of God has this testimony in his heart. Anyone who does not believe God has made him out to be a liar, because he has not believed the testimony God has given about his Son.” <1 Jn.5:10 (NIV)>. Our belief and acceptance of Christ testifies to the fact that Jesus is God’s Son <see Jn.1:9-14>, and the life of the believer should be a witness to this fact; as John concludes that those who reject Christ are accusing God of dishonesty. The fifth and final assertion is that of God Himself; “God’s testimony is greater because it is the testimony of God, which he has given about his Son.” <1 Jn.5:9 (NIV)>.
He concludes this section by giving the greatest assertion: “And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.” <1 Jn.5:11-12 (NIV)>; this is the summation of all of the gospel message, we have eternal life in and through Jesus Christ only. Eternal life cannot be achieved by creeds, religious beliefs, church membership, good religious works and activities or by any other means <Acts 4:12>, it is only through belief and acceptance of the Lord Jesus Christ as God’s eternal Son! That is the whole purpose of the Scriptures and the message of the gospel: “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.” <1 Jn.5:13 (NIV)>; this is our assurance of salvation! Can you honestly say that you have this assurance?