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Chapter 5

5:1 That Jesus is the Christ (\hoti Iˆsous estin ho Christos\). The Cerinthian antichrist denies the identity of Jesus and Christ (2:22). Hence John insists on this form of faith (\pisteu“n\ here in the full sense, stronger than in 3:23; 4:16, seen also in \pistis\ in verse 4, where English and Latin fall down in having to use another word for the verb) as he does in verse 5 and in accord with the purpose of John's Gospel (20:31). Nothing less will satisfy John, not merely intellectual conviction, but full surrender to Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour. "The Divine Begetting is the antecedent, not the consequent of the believing" (Law). For "is begotten of God" (\ek tou theou gegennˆtai\) see 2:29; 3:9; 4:7; 5:4,18. John appeals here to family relationship and family love. Him that begat (\ton gennˆsanta\). First aorist active articular participle of \genna“\, to beget, the Father (our heavenly Father). Him also that is begotten of him (\ton gegennˆmenon ex autou\). Perfect passive articular participle of \genna“\, the brother or sister by the same father. So then we prove our love for the common Father by our conduct towards our brothers and sisters in Christ.

5:2 Hereby (\en tout“i\). John's usual phrase for the test of the sincerity of our love. "The love of God and the love of the brethren do in fact include each the other" (Westcott). Each is a test of the other. So put 3:14 with 5:2. When (\hotan\). "Whenever" indefinite temporal clause with \hotan\ and the present active subjunctive (the same form \agap“men\ as the indicative with \hoti\ (that) just before, "whenever we keep on loving God." And do (\kai poi“men\) "and whenever we keep on doing (present active subjunctive of \poie“\) his commandments." See 1:6 for "doing the truth."

5:3 This (\hautˆ\) --that (\hina\). Explanatory use of \hina\ with \hautˆ\, as in Joh 17:3, to show what "the love of God" (4:9,12) in the objective sense is, not mere declamatory boasting (4:20), but obedience to God's commands, "that we keep on keeping (present active subjunctive as in 2:3) his commandments." This is the supreme test. Are not grievous (\bareiai ouk eisin\). "Not heavy," the adjective in Mt 23:4 with \phortia\ (burdens), with \lupoi\ (wolves) in Ac 20:29, of Paul's letters in 2Co 10:10, of the charges against Paul in Ac 25:7. Love for God lightens his commands.

5:4 For (\hoti\). The reason why God's commandments are not heavy is the power that comes with the new birth from God. Whatsoever is begotten of God (\pƒn to gegennˆmenon ek tou theou\). Neuter singular perfect passive participle of \genna“\ rather than the masculine singular (verse 1) to express sharply the universality of the principle (Rothe) as in Joh 3:6,8; 6:37,39. Overcometh the world (\nikƒi ton kosmon\). Present active indicative of \nika“\, a continuous victory because a continuous struggle, "keeps on conquering the world" ("the sum of all the forces antagonistic to the spiritual life," D. Smith). This is the victory (\hautˆ estin hˆ nikˆ\). For this form of expression see 1:5; Joh 1:19. \Nikˆ\ (victory, cf. \nika“\), old word, here alone in N.T., but the later form \nikos\ in Mt 12:20; 1Co 15:54f.,57. That overcometh (\hˆ nikˆsasa\). First aorist active articular participle of \nika“\. The English cannot reproduce the play on the word here. The aorist tense singles out an individual experience when one believed or when one met temptation with victory. Jesus won the victory over the world (Joh 16:33) and God in us (1Jo 4:4) gives us the victory. Even our faith (\hˆ pistis hˆm“n\). The only instance of \pistis\ in the Johannine Epistles (not in John's Gospel, though in the Apocalypse). It is our faith in Jesus Christ as shown by our confession (verse 1) and by our life (verse 2).

5:5 And who is he that overcometh? (\tis estin de ho nik“n?\). Not a mere rhetorical question (2:22), but an appeal to experience and fact. Note the present active articular participle (\nik“n\) like \nikƒi\ (present active indicative in verse 4), "the one who keeps on conquering the world." See 1Co 15:57 for the same note of victory (\nikos\) through Christ. See verse 1 for \ho pisteu“n\ (the one who believes) as here. Jesus is the Son of God (\Iˆsous estin ho huios tou theou\). As in verse 1 save that here \ho huios tou theou\ in place of \Christos\ and see both in 2:22f. Here there is sharp antithesis between "Jesus" (humanity) and "the Son of God" (deity) united in the one personality.

5:6 This (\houtos\). Jesus the Son of God (verse 5). He that came (\ho elth“n\). Second aorist active articular participle of \erchomai\, referring to the Incarnation as a definite historic event, the preexistent Son of God "sent from heaven to do God's will" (Brooke). By water and blood (\di' hudatos kai haimatos\). Accompanied by (\dia\ used with the genitive both as instrument and accompaniment, as in Ga 5:13) water (as at the baptism) and blood (as on the Cross). These two incidents in the Incarnation are singled out because at the baptism Jesus was formally set apart to his Messianic work by the coming of the Holy Spirit upon him and by the Father's audible witness, and because at the Cross his work reached its culmination ("It is finished," Jesus said). There are other theories that do not accord with the language and the facts. It is true that at the Cross both water and blood came out of the side of Jesus when pierced by the soldier, as John bore witness (Joh 19:34), a complete refutation of the Docetic denial of an actual human body for Jesus and of the Cerinthian distinction between Jesus and Christ. There is thus a threefold witness to the fact of the Incarnation, but he repeats the twofold witness before giving the third. The repetition of both preposition (\en\ this time rather than \dia\) and the article (\t“i\ locative case) argues for two separate events with particular emphasis on the blood ("not only" \ouk monon\, "but" \all'\) which the Gnostics made light of or even denied. It is the Spirit that beareth witness (\to pneuma estin to marturoun\). Present active articular participle of \marture“\ with article with both subject and predicate, and so interchangeable as in 3:4. The Holy Spirit is the third and the chief witness at the baptism of Jesus and all through his ministry. Because (\hoti\). Or declarative "that." Either makes sense. In Joh 15:26 Jesus spoke of "the Spirit of truth" (whose characteristic is truth). Here John identifies the Spirit with truth as Jesus said of himself (Joh 14:6) without denying personality for the Holy Spirit.

5:7 For there are three who bear witness (\hoti treis eisin hoi marturountes\). At this point the Latin Vulgate gives the words in the Textus Receptus, found in no Greek MS. save two late cursives (162 in the Vatican Library of the fifteenth century, 34 of the sixteenth century in Trinity College, Dublin). Jerome did not have it. Cyprian applies the language of the Trinity and Priscillian has it. Erasmus did not have it in his first edition, but rashly offered to insert it if a single Greek MS. had it and 34 was produced with the insertion, as if made to order. The spurious addition is: \en t“i ouran“i ho patˆr, ho logos kai to hagion pneuma kai houtoi hoi treis hen eisin kai treis eisin hoi marturountes en tˆi gˆi\ (in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one. And there are three that bear witness in earth). The last clause belongs to verse 8. The fact and the doctrine of the Trinity do not depend on this spurious addition. Some Latin scribe caught up Cyprian's exegesis and wrote it on the margin of his text, and so it got into the Vulgate and finally into the Textus Receptus by the stupidity of Erasmus.

5:8 The Spirit and the water and the blood (\to pneuma kai to hud“r kai to haima\). The same three witnesses of verses 6,7 repeated with the Spirit first. The three (\hoi treis\). The resumptive article. Agree in one (\eis to hen eisin\). "Are for the one thing," to bring us to faith in Jesus as the Incarnate Son of God, the very purpose for which John wrote his Gospel (20:31).

5:9 If we receive (\ei lambanomen\). Condition of first class with \ei\ and the present active indicative, assumed as true. The conditions for a legally valid witness are laid down in De 19:15 (cf. Mt 18:16; Joh 8:17f.; 10:25; 2Co 13:1). Greater (\meiz“n\). Comparative of \megas\, because God is always true. For (\hoti\). So it applies to this case. That (\hoti\). Thus taken in the declarative sense (the fact that) as in Joh 3:19, though it can be causal (because) or indefinite relative with \memarturˆken\ (what he hath testified, perfect active indicative of \marture“\, as in Joh 1:32; 4:44, etc.), a harsh construction here because of \marturia\, though some MSS. do read \hen\ to agree with it (cf. verse 10). See \hoti ean\ in 3:20 for that idiom. Westcott notes the Trinity in verses 6-9: the Son comes, the Spirit witnesses, the Father has witnessed.

5:10 Believeth on (\pisteu“n eis\). John draws a distinction between "not believing God" (\mˆ pisteu“n t“i the“i\) in next clause, the testimony of God about his Son, and surrender to and reliance on the Son as here (\eis\ and the accusative). See the same distinction less clearly drawn in Joh 6:30f. See also \eis tˆn marturian\ after \pepisteuken\ in this same verse and Joh 2:23. In him (\en haut“i\). "In himself," though the evidence is not decisive between \haut“i\ and \aut“i\. Hath made (\pepoiˆken\). Perfect active indicative of \poie“\ like \memarturˆken\ and \pepisteuken\, permanent state. A liar (\pseustˆn\). As in 1:10, which see. Because he hath not believed (\hoti ou pepisteuken\). Actual negative reason with negative \ou\, not the subjective reason as in Joh 3:18, where we have \hoti mˆ pepisteuken\). The subjective negative is regular with \ho mˆ pisteu“n\. Relative clause here repeats close of verse 9.

5:11 That God gave (\hoti ed“ken ho theos\). Declarative \hoti\ in apposition with \marturia\ as in verse 14; Joh 3:19. Note aorist active indicative \ed“ken\ (from \did“mi\) as in 3:23f., the great historic fact of the Incarnation (Joh 3:16), but the perfect \ded“ken\ in 1Jo 3:1 to emphasize the abiding presence of God's love. Eternal life (\z“ˆn ai“nion\). Anarthrous emphasizing quality, but with the article in 1:2. In his Son (\en t“i hui“i autou\). This life and the witness also. This is why Jesus who is life (Joh 14:6) came to give us abundant life (Joh 10:10).

5:12 Hath the life (\echei tˆn z“ˆn\). The life which God gave (verse 11). This is the position of Jesus himself (Joh 5:24; 14:6).

5:13 I have written (\egrapsa\). Not epistolary aorist, but refers to verses 1-12 of this Epistle as in 2:26 to the preceding verses. That ye may know (\hina eidˆte\). Purpose clause with \hina\ and the second perfect active subjunctive of \oida\, to know with settled intuitive knowledge. He wishes them to have eternal life in Christ (Joh 20:31) and to know that they have it, but not with flippant superficiality (2:3ff.). Unto you that believe on (\tois pisteuousin eis\). Dative of the articular present active participle of \pisteu“\ and \eis\ as in verse 10. For this use of \onoma\ (name) with \pisteu“\ see 3:23; Joh 2:23.

5:14 Toward him (\pros auton\). Fellowship with (\pros\, face to face) Christ. For boldness see 2:28. That (\hoti\). Declarative again, as in verse 11. If we ask anything (\ean ti ait“metha\). Condition of third class with \ean\ and present middle (indirect) subjunctive (personal interest as in Jas 4:3, though the point is not to be pressed too far, for see Mt 20:20,22; Joh 16:24,26). According to his will (\kata to thelˆma autou\). This is the secret in all prayer, even in the case of Jesus himself. For the phrase see 1Pe 4:19; Ga 1:4; Eph 1:5,11. He heareth us (\akouei hˆm“n\). Even when God does not give us what we ask, in particular then (Heb 5:7f.).

5:15 And if we know (\kai ean oidamen\). Condition of first class with \ean\ (usually \ei\) and the perfect active indicative, assumed as true. See 1Th 3:8; Ac 8:31 for the indicative with \ean\ as in the papyri. "An amplification of the second limitation" (D. Smith). Whatsoever we ask (\ho ean ait“metha\). Indefinite relative clause with modal \ean\ (=\an\) and the present middle (as for ourselves) subjunctive of \aite“\. This clause, like \hˆm“n\, is also the object of \akouei\. We know that we have (\oidamen hoti echomen\). Repetition of \oidamen\, the confidence of possession by anticipation. The petitions (\ta aitˆmata\). Old word, from \aite“\, requests, here only in John, elsewhere in N.T. Lu 23:24; Php 4:6. We have the answer already as in Mr 11:24. We have asked (\ˆitˆkamen\). Perfect active indicative of \aite“\, the asking abiding.

5:16 If any man see (\ean tis idˆi\). Third-class condition with \ean\ and second aorist active subjunctive of \eidon\ (\hora“\). Sinning a sin (\hamartanonta hamartian\). Present active predicate (supplementary) participle agreeing with \adelphon\ and with cognate accusative \hamartian\. Not unto death (\mˆ pros thanaton\). Repeated again with \hamartanousin\ and in contrast with \hamartia pros thanaton\ (sin unto death). Most sins are not mortal sins, but clearly John conceives of a sin that is deadly enough to be called "unto death." This distinction is common in the rabbinic writings and in Nu 18:22 the LXX has \labein hamartian thanatˆphoron\ "to incur a death-bearing sin" as many crimes then and now bear the death penalty. There is a distinction in Heb 10:26 between sinning wilfully after full knowledge and sins of ignorance (Heb 5:2). Jesus spoke of the unpardonable sin (Mr 3:29; Mt 12:32; Lu 12:10), which was attributing to the devil the manifest work of the Holy Spirit. It is possible that John has this idea in mind when he applies it to those who reject Jesus Christ as God's Son and set themselves up as antichrists. Concerning this (\peri ekeinˆs\). This sin unto death. That he should make request (\hina er“tˆsˆi\). Sub-final use of \hina\ with the first aorist active subjunctive of \er“ta“\, used here as in Joh 17:15,20 (and often) for request rather than for question. John does not forbid praying for such cases; he simply does not command prayer for them. He leaves them to God.

5:17 All unrighteousness is sin (\pƒsa adikia hamartia estin\). Unrighteousness is one manifestation of sin as lawlessness (3:4) is another (Brooke). The world today takes sin too lightly, even jokingly as a mere animal inheritance. Sin is a terrible reality, but there is no cause for despair. Sin not unto death can be overcome in Christ.

5:18 We know (\oidamen\). As in 3:2,14; 5:15,19,20. He has "ye know" in 2:20; 3:5,15. Sinneth not (\ouch hamartanei\). Lineal present active indicative, "does not keep on sinning," as he has already shown in 3:4-10. He that was begotten of God (\ho gennˆtheis ek tou theou\). First aorist passive articular participle referring to Christ, if the reading of A B is correct (\tˆrei auton\, not \tˆrei heauton\). It is Christ who keeps the one begotten of God (\gegennˆmenos ek tou theou\ as in 3:9 and so different from \ho gennˆtheis\ here). It is a difficult phrase, but this is probably the idea. Jesus (Joh 18:37) uses \gegennˆmai\ of himself and uses also \tˆre“\ of keeping the disciples (Joh 17:12,15; Re 3:10). The evil one (\ho ponˆros\). Masculine and personal as in 2:13, not neuter, and probably Satan as in Mt 6:13, not just any evil man. Touchest him not (\ouch haptetai autou\). Present middle indicative of \hapt“\, elsewhere in John only Joh 20:17. It means to lay hold of or to grasp rather than a mere superficial touch (\thiggan“\, both in Col 2:21). Here the idea is to touch to harm. The devil cannot snatch such a man from Christ (Joh 6:38f.).

5:19 Of God (\ek tou theou\). See 3:10; 4:6 for this idiom. Lieth in the evil one (\en t“i ponˆr“i keitai\). Present middle indicative of the defective verb \keimai\, to lie, as in Lu 2:12. \Ponˆr“i\ is masculine, like \ho ponˆros\ in verse 18. This is a terrible picture of the Graeco-Roman world of the first century A.D., which is confirmed by Paul in Romans 1 and 2 and by Horace, Seneca, Juvenal, Tacitus.

5:20 Is come (\hˆkei\). Present active indicative, but the root has a perfect sense, "has come." See \exˆlthon kai hˆk“\ in Joh 8:42. An understanding (\dianoian\). Here alone in John's writings, but in Paul (Eph 4:18) and Peter (1Pe 1:13). John does not use \gn“sis\ (knowledge) and \nous\ (mind) only in Re 13:18; 17:9. That we know (\hina gin“skomen\). Result clause with \hina\ and the present active indicative, as is common with \hina\ and the future indicative (Joh 7:3). It is possible that here \o\ was pronounced \“\ as a subjunctive, but many old MSS. have \hina gin“skousin\ (plainly indicative) in Joh 17:3, and in many other places in the N.T. the present indicative with \hina\ occurs as a variant reading as in Joh 5:20. Him that is true (\ton alˆthinon\). That is, God. Cf. 1:8. In him that is true (\en t“i alˆthin“i\). In God in contrast with the world "in the evil one" (verse 19). See Joh 17:3. Even in his Son Jesus Christ (\en t“i hui“i autou Iˆsou Christ“i\). The \autou\ refers clearly to \en t“i alˆthin“i\ (God). Hence this clause is not in apposition with the preceding, but an explanation as to how we are "in the True One" by being "in his Son Jesus Christ." This (\houtos\). Grammatically \houtos\ may refer to Jesus Christ or to "the True One." It is a bit tautological to refer it to God, but that is probably correct, God in Christ, at any rate. God is eternal life (Joh 5:26) and he gives it to us through Christ.

5:21 Yourselves (\heauta\). Neuter plural reflexive because of \teknia\. The active voice \phulassete\ with the reflexive accents the need of effort on their part. Idolatry was everywhere and the peril was great. See Ac 7:41: 1Th 1:9 for this word.


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