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
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
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
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
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;
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
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
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.