The Proof of Love and the Victory of Faith
1Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Messiah is God’s spiritual child and has been fathered by God himself. And everyone who loves Father God loves his children as well. 2This is how we can be sure that we love the children of God: by having a passionate love for God and by obedience to his commands. 3True love for God means obeying his commands, and his commands don’t weigh us down as heavy burdens. # 5:3 God’s grace empowers us to love, which makes his commands a delight instead of a duty. The spontaneity of love is never crushed by the commands of a loving God. 4You see, every child of God overcomes # 5:4 The Greek verb tense indicates continuous action, “continually conquers the world” (system). the world, for our faith is the victorious power that triumphs over the world. 5So who are the world conquerors, defeating its power? Those who believe that Jesus is the Son of God.
The Spirit, the Water, and the Blood
6Jesus Christ is the One who was revealed as God’s Son by his water baptism and by the blood of his cross—not by water only, but by water and blood. # 5:6 At Jesus’ baptism the voice of the Father acknowledged him as his beloved Son. At the cross his blood was shed to bring the reality of Christ to those who believe in him. The majority view of current scholarship is this passage refers to Jesus’ baptism and the cross. It is possible, however, that John is referring to the blood and water that spilled from the side of Jesus after his death. And the Spirit, who is truth, confirms this with his testimony. 7So we have these three constant witnesses giving their evidence: # 5:7 There is considerable historical and theological debate surrounding vv. 7–8. Some later, less reliable manuscripts have for vv. 7–8: “There are three that testify in heaven: the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit. And these three are one.” This is known as the Comma Johanneum. But there has been a nearly complete agreement of scholars that this reading was added by copyists, with many theories of who it was. Although there is nothing heretical about this addition, it seems to have been inserted to reinforce the doctrine of the Trinity. It is not included in modern versions nor in the Aramaic. 8the Spirit, the water, and the blood. And these three are in agreement. 9If we accept the testimony of men, how much more should we accept the more authoritative testimony of God that he has testified concerning his Son?
10Those who believe in the Son of God have the living testimony in their hearts. Those who don’t believe have made God out to be a liar by not believing the testimony God has confirmed about his Son. 11This is the true testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life has its source in his Son. # 5:11 Or “this life is in [as connected to him as source] his Son.” It can also mean that God has placed us in life union with his Son to manifest eternal life in us. 12Whoever has the Son has eternal life; whoever does not have the Son does not possess eternal life.
Assurance of Eternal Life
13I’ve written this letter to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you will be assured and know without a doubt that you have eternal life.
14Since we have this confidence, we can also have great boldness before him, for if we ask anything agreeable to his will, he will hear us. 15And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we also know that we have obtained the requests we ask of him.
16If anyone observes a fellow believer habitually sinning in a way that doesn’t lead to death, # 5:16 That is, if the sinning is persisted in, it may lead to death. Some believe this may refer to the unforgivable sin of blasphemy of the Holy Spirit (Matt. 12:31–32; Mark 3:28–30; Luke 12:8–10), or possibly the sin that brings death in taking communion “unworthily” (1 Cor. 11:27–30), or lying to the Holy Spirit (Acts 5:1–11). However, John speaks in this letter about the gross apostasy of those who turn away from the truth and depart from the fellowship of believers and follow the teaching of antichrists. you should keep interceding in prayer that God will give that person life. Now, there is a sin that leads to death, and I’m not encouraging you to pray for those who commit it. 17All unrighteousness is sin, but there is sin that does not result in death.
18We are convinced that everyone fathered by God does not make sinning a way of life, because the Son of God protects the child of God, and the Evil One cannot touch him. 19We know that we are God’s children and that the whole world lies under the misery and influence of the Evil One. 20And we know that the Son of God has made our understanding come alive so that we can know by experience the One who is true. And we are in him who is true, God’s Son, Jesus Christ—the true God and eternal life!
21So, little children, guard yourselves from worshiping anything but him. # 5:21 Or “keep yourselves from idols.” The Aramaic can be translated “Keep your souls from fear of idols.”