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Bible Commentaries

E.M. Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament

1 John 5



Other Authors

Questions For First John Chapter Five

1.Identify one produced by the new hirth.

2.What is the seed of the new birth?

3.State the central fact of the Gospel.

4.What belief begets one of God?

6.What love will be extended to the one begotten?

6.Is brotherly love an important evidence?

7.What is evidence of this love?

8.Does a disobedient man love the brethren?

9.What is said of the commandments of God?

10.Define the word in light of Matthew 11:30.

11.What birth will overcome the world?

12. State what gives us victory over the world.

13. What must be the source of this weapon?

14.Show how such belief will overcome the world.

15.By what did Jesus come into the world?

16.Where is the blood line recorded?

17.At what circumstance did water first figure?

18.Was the Spirit in evidence here?

19.What three bear witness on earth today?

20.Where does the Spirit speak?

21.At what institution do we see the blood?

22.And where is water in evidence?

23.How does this testify on behalf of Christ?

24.Do men sometimes act on human testimony?

25.Which is the greater kind of testimony?

26.How is the witness "in himself" as in verse ten?

27.Disbelief makes God out as what?

28.State the purpose of the whole system.

29.What requests will God hear from us?

30.How may we avoid making wrong requests?

31. Does this require "special providence"?

32. For what manner of sin should a brother pray?

33.Identify first "he" verse16 by James 5:16.

34.To whom should he pray?

35.What "life" is here meant?

36.Is it consistent to pray for what we see lost?

37.Is not he lost who rejects Christ?

38.Will this prevent the lost from returning voluntarily?

39.May some unrighteousness be reclaimed?

40.Who is the "wicked one" in verse18?

41.What man sinneth (or practiceth) not?

42.By what does such a one keep himself?

43.In what does the whole world lie?

44.Was this to improve or to get worse?

45.What does,John say he knows?

46.How could he know this?

47.Must we know this in order to serve Christ?

48.By what do we walk?

49.How do we obtain this assistance?

50. State the closing admonition

Verse 1

In the New Testament there is only one original word for either born or begotten. which is gcnnao, hence the connection has to be depended upon in each case to determine which is the proper translation. Since the act of begetting is that of the father, it should be the proper translation in passages where the connection shows that he is the parent being spoken of. On that ground the word born in this verse should have been translated "begotten" just as it is in the others. The seed of reproduction is the word of God and it tells us that Jesus is the Christ. Whenever a man believes that truth, he is begotten of the Father. Therefore it says that everyone who loves him who begat (who is the Father) loveth him also who is begotten (and that is the child). All this is logical, for if we love a man we should love his children.

Verse 2

In 1 John 3:14 it is stated that we know we have passed from death unto life because we love the brethren. But that passage does not deal with the question of how to know that we actually do love the brethren, while the present. verse does tell us how, namely, that we love God and kccp his COm1n(Ln( Lamentations 6"nl‘8. And so a man"s mere assertion that he loves the brethren is not to be accepted. He cannot truthfully make the claim unless he has obeyed the commandments, including repentance, baptism and the others which God has given in the New Testament.

Verse 3

Our love for God is proved only by keeping His commandments. Grievous means heavy or burdensome and it certainly should not seem burdensome to obey the commands of the One whom we love.

Verse 4

The world- means the evil practices" of mankind. (See the comments on 1 John 2:15.) If a man truly loves God of whom he was begotten. the love he has for his Father will induce him to overcome the evil practices of the world. That is because his love is directed by his faith that was produced by the word of God.

Verse 5

This is the same as the preceding verse except it states how and when one is born (begotten) of God. That is when he believes in Jesus as the Son of God as was stated in verse1.

Verse 6

The pronouns this and he refer to Jesus as the Son of God. The verse deals with three items that testified to that claim. He came means his introduction to the world especially into the public ministry. The water refers to his baptism because it was then John the Baptist said he learned that Jesus was the one who was to come after him. The Spirit also is mentioned because he appeared in the form of a dove in connection with the voice of God that acknowledged the Son. The blood was in evidence when Jesus shed it on the cross, thus concluding the long blood line that began with Adam and ran down through the ages. (Read Luke chapter3.)

Verse 7

Most translations omit this verse on the ground that it is not in the oldest Greek manuscripts. I will make remarks similar to what were said at 1 John 2:23. The passage does not add anything that is different from the other passages on the same subject. nor will anything be lost if it is left out. With these comments I shall proceed with the next verse.

Verse 8

This verse differs from verse6 as to date only; each has to do with the threefold testimony for the divinity of Christ. However. verse6 pertains to the time of His stay on the earth. while this one is continuous and applies to what has been going on since Christ left the earth. The testimony of the Spirit is that which is recorded in the New Testament and written by the inspired men. The water is in evidence every time a person is baptized. because there is no way to account for the continuation of this plain ordinance other than the fact that it originated in the time of Christ. The blood testifies every time the Lord"s supper is observed in which is the fruit of the vine, for Paul says ( 1 Corinthians 11:26), "As often as ye eat this bread and drink this cup. ye do show the Lord"s death till he come." Three agree in one means they all bear testimony to one fact, namely. Jesus is the divine Son of God.

Verse 9

If we receive the witness of men means that we do receive such witness. It is as if he said "since we receive such witness," etc. It is true that human testimony when confirmed is an established rule of mankind in dealing with each other. The apostle is making the point that we should receive the testimony of God, for it is much greater than mere human testimony. That which God gives establishes the fact that Jesus is His Son.

Verse 10

Hath the witness in himself. Not that he produced it by his own mind, but it is testimony that can be receivedrby the mind and hence can be retained there. (See Hebrews S:10.) Made him a liar. When a man rejects a statement made by another he thereby makes that man out a liar. Otherwise if the other person is not regarded as a liar, there would be no pretext for the first one to disbelieve him. All of this pertains to the declaration of God that Christ is his Son.

Verse 11

Record is from the same word as "evidence." John means that in giving to us the evidence of the Sonship of Christ, we are thereby given assurance that we may have eternal life through Him.

Verse 12

The foregoing important truths are summed up in the conclusion that to have life one must have the Son by sincere belief in Him as the source of that life.

Verse 13

Written an-to you that believe again sets forth the idea that not all of the apostolic writings are given as new information. The purpose for repeating it is stated that ye may know or that they may have their faith for eternal life confirmed.

Verse 14

The proviso according to his-will is important and shows that we are not at liberty to make just any kind of wild request and expect God to grant it.

Verse 15

This verse explains What it means to be heard for our prayers. When we have the petitions (granted) then we know that they were scriptural or God would not have granted them-

Verse 16

Sin unto death. Not that the man has reached the state of eternal death but is healed unto it; his conduct is in that direction. The condition described in Hebrews 6:4-6 is a clear case of this kind of sin; let the reader see the comments at that place. Paul says it is impossible for another person to renew that kind of sinner to repentance. It would therefore be inconsistent to engage in a prayer service with a brother who has gone so far in deliberate sin that he could not be induced to repent by anyone else. John says he would not ask anyone to pray for such a brother. The kind of sin that is not unto death would be like that mentioned in Galatians 6:1 where the brethren are told to work for the restoration of the one overtaken. He shall ask sounds as if John means for the brother discovering sin in another to do the praying for him, when Peter told Simon to pray for himself. That it true but it is also true that brethren can pray together on behalf of the erring one. Then if he repents the Lord will grant him life (forgiveness) for his sins. (See James 5:15-16.) The pronouns may be a little confusing the way they are used. The first he means. the man who sees his brother sin, and the second he means the Lord from whom all forgiveness must come. (See Ephesians 4:32 as to the source of forgiveness.)

Verse 17

A ll unrighteousncss is sin. (See the comments at chapter3:4.) John makes this statement that it might not seem he is underestimating the seriousness of any sin. He wishes only to show that not all sins are as fatal as others; that there is such a sin-not unto death.

Verse 18

See the comments at verse1for the meaning of born and begotten. For the verse in general see the comments on 1 John 3:9.

Verse 19

We means those who have been begotten of God. Whole world lieth in wickedness. World means the inhabitants of the earth as it does in 1 John 2:15. The italicized Words mean the same as "all that is in the world" in 1 John 2:16, which explains why the world is said to lie in wickedness .

Verse 20

The word know is frequently used by inspired writers to mean a strong assurance, not that it is intended to take the place of faith. It is true that the apostle John could use the word in its technical sense concerning Christ. That is because he was with Him in person during all of his personal ministry. He also knew that Christ had given him the (inspired) understanding which he promised, for just before leaving this world Jesus told his apostles he would send the Spirit upon them which would guide them into all truth ( John 16:13). The true God is said in contrast with the false ones that were worshiped by many people. He also is the source of eternal life in that He gave his only begotten Son into the world for that purpose.

Verse 21

Little children is explained at 1 John 2:1. Even the best of disciples need to be cautioned against evils that we would not ordinarily expect them to commit. John tells his readers to keep themsclires from idols which is one of such warnings. Paul told the brethren in Corinth to "flee from idolatry" ( 1 Corinthians 10:14).


Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Zerr, E.M. "Commentary on 1 John 5:4". E.M. Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament. 1952.

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