1 John 3-5 Eternal Life in Christ

TMS Acts 1:8 Holy Spirit Power
Acts 1:6 “Therefore, when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, "Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?" 7 And He said to them, "It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority.

8 But you shall receive power
when the Holy Spirit has come upon you;
and you shall be witnesses to Me
in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth."

9 Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. 10 And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel, 11 who also said, "Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven."

Observations: 1:8 The disciples had forsaken all to follow Jesus with the expectation of receiving power and glory. Jesus had promised them reward in the Sermon on the Mount, and in His calls to discipleship, and spoke of His kingdom which He would share with them, so they were anxious to receive His promised power/authority. Jesus said it wasn't the right time for the restoration of the OT kingdom promised to Israel, but if they wanted power, they would get it when the Holy Spirit came upon them. As a result (use of kai for a consecutive sequence), they would be witnesses to Christ. They should start where they were, with those most similar to themselves, and then branch out to the surrounding areas, and finally reach to the ends of the earth. This is what happened in the book of Acts (see additional comments on Acts 1:8). Believers in Jesus all have the Holy Spirit (Eph 1; 1Cor 12) and as a result should be witnesses to Christ, first to those around them, and then as they mature to others that are dissimilar. A witness is someone who has heard, seen, or experienced something. Every Christian should have an abiding relationship with God in which they are experiencing things about God which they can share with others.
Application: God works in our lives so we can be witnesses of Him to those around us.
Prayer: Lord, thanks for Your work in my life; please guide me in sharing You and Your work in my life with others. Amen.

1John 3-5 John continues to build the confidence of believers in the apostolic message against the false teaching of the anti-Messiahs. John gives a number of “tests” or validations that the experience of the believers is the real deal, so they won't fall for the devil's deceptions. Among those are victory over sin as a result of an abiding relationship with Christ, based upon obedience; a Christlike love for other believers; a vibrant prayer life; ministry to the sinning; inner conviction of the Holy Spirit that they are pleasing to God, validated by their love and obedience. John also affirms that God had given them eternal life in His Son, so they should continue to believe in Him, and not in any false gods the false teachers present.

1John 3 No Need to Sin
3:1 Behold, how great a love the Father has bestowed on us,
that we should be called children of God!
For this cause the world doesn’t know us,
because it didn’t know Him.

2 Beloved, now we are children of God,
and it is not yet revealed what we will be.
But we know that, when He is revealed,
we will be like Him;
for we will see Him
just as He is.

3 Everyone who has this hope
set on Him
purifies himself,
even as He is pure.

4 Everyone who sins also commits lawlessness.
Sin is lawlessness.
5 You know that He was manifested to take away our sins,
and in Him
is no sin.
6 Whoever remains in Him
doesn’t sin.
Whoever sins hasn’t seen Him,
neither knows Him.

7 Little children, let no one lead you astray.
He who does righteousness is righteous,
even as He is righteous.
8 He who sins is of the devil,
for the devil has been sinning from the beginning.
To this end the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil.

9 Whoever is born of God doesn’t commit sin,
because His seed remains in him; and he can’t sin,
because he is born of God.

10 In this the children of God are revealed,
and the children of the devil.
Whoever doesn’t do righteousness is not of God,
neither is he who doesn’t love his brother.

11 For this is the message which you heard from the beginning,
that we should love one another;
12 unlike Cain, who was of the evil one, and killed his brother.
Why did he kill him?
Because his works were evil,
and his brother’s righteous.
13 Don’t be surprised, my brothers, if the world hates you.

14 We know that we have passed out of death
into life,
because we love the brothers.
He who doesn’t love his brother
remains in death.

15 Whoever hates his brother is a murderer,
and you know that no murderer has eternal life remaining in him.

16 By this we know love,
because He laid down His life for us.
And we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.

17 But whoever has the world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and closes his heart of compassion against him,
how does the love of God remain in him?

18 My little children, let’s not love in word
neither with the tongue only,
but in deed and truth.

19 And by this we know that we are of the truth,
and persuade our hearts before him,
20 because if our heart condemns us,
God is greater than our heart,
and knows all things.

21 Beloved, if our hearts don’t condemn us,
we have confidence toward God;
22 and whatever we ask, we receive from Him,
because we keep His commandments
and do the things that are pleasing in His sight.

23 This is His commandment,
that we should believe in the name of His Son, Jesus Christ,
and love one anothereven as He commanded.
24 He who keeps His commandments
remains in Him,
and He in him.
By this we know that He remains in us,
by the Spirit which He gave us.

Observations: 3:1-6 Believers are children of God, but the future blessings they will have as a result of that status aren't yet seen. When Christ is revealed in His glory, those who are pure in heart will see Him (one of the beatitudes - Mt 5:8). Those who have this hope of glory, purify themselves so as not to be disqualified (1Pt 1:22; 1Tim 1:5; Heb 10:22). The purpose in Christ coming wasn't to die for our sins, but remove them from us so we could have a relationship with God. In Christ there is no sin, since He is holy. Those who abide/remain in union with Him (“in Him”) don't sin. If we are drawing our motivations and strength from the vine, there's no room to sin. Whoever sins hasn't “seen” (used in 1:1, 2, 3 to describe the fellowship the apostles had with Christ) nor “known” Christ. There are three lines of interpretation. No one who read chapter 1 would claim sinless perfection, since that is refuted there. The more common view is to translate the present tenses as “habitual” which means those who know Christ don't continue to habitually sin. That view has some merit, but misses John's point. The view closer to John's thinking is that those who abide or remain in Christ don't wander off into trouble. A child staying contentedly on a parent's lap isn't going to get themselves into all kinds of trouble that would displease the parent (see comments on abiding in John 15).
3:7-15 To prevent the false teachers from leading abiding believers astray John points out that the believer who does what is right in God's sight is righteous, but the one who sins is of the devil (drawing their motivation from him, and his world). The devil has been sinning since before the Garden, and the Son of God was manifested, as promised in Genesis 3, to destroy the devil and His works of deceiving people into being unfaithful to God. The atoning work, and the indwelling Spirit of Christ put the devil out of business in the lives of those who abide in Christ. Whoever is born of God doesn't sin, because the seed of the word of God, energized by the Holy Spirit (1Pt 1:23; John 3:6) remains/abides in the believer. Those whose actions are sourced in God, don't sin. Those who don't do what is right in the sight of God, have their actions sourced not in God, but the devil. This particularly applies to those who don't love their brother (like Cain). Those who don't love are akin to murderers (Mt 5:21-22), and do not have eternal life (dominion of the Age, reward in the Messianic Kingdom) remaining in him. This is not about losing forgiveness, which is a permanent possession of those who are justified/born again, but it is about losing reward in the the Messianic Kingdom as Jesus taught in the Sermon on the Mount.
3:16-24 Jesus sets the standard for the love glory-bound believers need to have for each other: self-sacrificial for the others' benefit. Those who love in word/truth and deed gain an assurance of their future reward, as well as confidence in praying. Those who keep God's commands, and do what is pleasing in His sight also have the assurance of answered prayer. This is because they are so in tune with God's will, that when they ask Him for help in doing what He wants them to do, He is more than happy to help them. John summarizes what God wants us to do: believe in the name/character/glory of His Son, Jesus the Messiah, and love one another as He commanded. The one who does this, abides/remains in Him, and He in them. Another source of confidence is the work of the Spirit (Phil 2:13).
John 14:21 He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him."
Application: Those who abide in Christ don't sin; if you find yourself sinning, you might want to move closer to God and do things His way.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, thanks for Jesus, Your word, and Your Spirit, which make abiding in You possible, may I draw all my motivation and strength from You exclusively as I love others with a pure heart according to Your will. Amen.

1John 4 Victory
4:1 Beloved, don’t believe every spirit,
but test the spirits,
whether they are of God,
because many false prophets have gone out into the world.

2 By this you know the Spirit of God:
every spirit who confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God,
3 and every spirit who doesn’t confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God, and this is the spirit of the Antichrist, of whom you have heard that it comes.
Now it is in the world already.

4 You are of God, little children, and have overcome them;
because greater is He who is in you
than he who is in the world.
5 They are of the world.
Therefore they speak of the world, and the world hears them.
6 We are of God. He who knows God listens to us.
He who is not of God doesn’t listen to us.
By this we know the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error.

7 Beloved, let us love one another,
for love is of God;
and everyone who loves is born of God,
and knows God.
8 He who doesn’t love
doesn’t know God,
for God is love.
9 By this God’s love was revealed in us,
that God has sent His one and only Son into the world
that we might live through Him.
10 In this is love,
not that we loved God,
but that He loved us,
and sent His Son
as the atoning sacrifice for our sins.
11 Beloved, if God loved us in this way,
we also ought to love one another.
12 No one has seen God at any time.
If we love one another,
God abides in us,
and His love has been perfected in us.
13 By this we know that we remain in Him and He in us,
because He has given us of his Spirit.
14 We have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son as the Savior of the world.
15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God,
God remains in Him, and He in God.

16 We know and have believed the love which God has for us.
God is love,
and he who abides in love
abides in God,
and God abides in him.
17 In this love has been made perfect among us,
that we may have confidence in the day of judgment,
because as He is, even so are we in this world.
18 There is no fear in love;
but perfect(ed) love casts out fear,
because fear has punishment.
He who fears is not made perfect in love.

19 We love Him,
because He first loved us.
20 If a man says, "I love God," and hates his brother, he is a liar;
for he who doesn’t love his brother whom he has seen,
how can he love God whom he has not seen?
21 This commandment we have from Him,
that he who loves God should also love his brother.

Observations: 4:1-6 God has given us His Spirit, but that doesn't mean that every prophetic spirit is from God, because there is a world of evil spirits around us. Therefore, believers should apply this simple test to those “spirits” speaking though prophets: every spirit who confesses/acknowledges that Jesus is the promised Messiah who has come into the world in the flesh, is of God. Those that don't are anti-Messiah, empowered by the Anti-Messiah/Christ, Satan's chief agent. He is already in the world, but believers have nothing to fear, because greater is the One who is in them: the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth, the Spirit of Glory. Verse 4 is a good one to memorize and meditate upon. The false teachers draw their motivation and message from the world (and the evil one who runs this present age -Eph 2:1-3) therefore the worldlings listen to them, rather than to the apostolic teaching. Those who are sourced in God, listen to revealed truth. So one can discern the spirit of truth and the spirit of error based receptivity.
4:7-15 The one who is born of God not only listens to truth and doesn't sin, but loves as God has modeled and commanded. The one who doesn't love, doesn't know God, since God is the source and expression of love, as expressed in Jesus dying for our sins. God's love for us is the standard for us loving each other. If we do so, God abides in us, and His love is perfected (brought to fulfillment/completion). When we love like God intended, the inner witness of the Holy Spirit confirms to our conscience that we are abiding, and doing what pleases God. The apostles have seen/know and testify that the Father sent Jesus (His beloved Son in whom He is well pleased) to be the Savior of the world (as in everyone, not just a select few - John 3:16). Whoever acknowledges/confesses that Jesus is the Son of God has the abiding relationship with God, that is only possible through Jesus.
4:16-21 The one who abides in love (and thus maintains an intimate relationship with the God of love) has love perfected or brought to its intended purpose, so that the believer can have confidence on Judgment Day. That confidence comes about from loving as God loved, which is the standard to which we are held. The one who has loved “perfectly” or in whom love has been “perfected” has nothing to fear on judgment day, because hitting and maintaining the standard God requires (which is only possible through an abiding relationship with the Vine), eliminates any possible negative consequences. The one who fears judgment needs to work on perfecting their love. The one who loves God is loyal to God (Jn 14:15) in response to the love God has shown him/her (hesed). The love God wants us to have will overflow into a love for other children of God. The one who doesn't desire what is in another's best interest, doesn't love God.
Application: Love of truth and other believers (reflected in our ministry to them) are hallmarks of those who will do well on Judgment Day.
Prayer: God, thanks that Your Spirit dwells within me and is far greater than Satan or any of his minions; keep me from his deceptions, and guide me in loving others as You would. Amen.

1John 5 Life in the Son
5:1 Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God.
Whoever loves the Father also loves him who is born of Him.
2 By this we know that we love the children of God,
when we love God and keep His commandments.
3 For this is the love of God,
that we keep His commandments.
His commandments are not grievous.

4 For whatever is born of God overcomes the world.
This is the victory that has overcome the world: your faith.
5 Who is he who overcomes the world,
but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?
6 This is He who came by water and blood, Jesus Christ;
not with the water only,
but with the water and the blood.
It is the Spirit who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth.
7 For there are three who testify: 8 the Spirit, the water, and the blood;
and the three agree as one.
9 If we receive the witness of men,
the witness of God is greater;
for this is God’s testimony which He has testified concerning his Son.
10 He who believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself.
He who doesn’t believe God
has made Him a liar,
because he has not believed in the testimony
that God has given concerning His Son.

11 The testimony is this,
that God gave to us eternal life,
and this life is in His Son.
12 He who has the Son
has the life.
He who doesn’t have God’s Son
doesn’t have the life.

13 These things I have written to you who 
believe in the name of the Son of God,
that you may know that you have eternal life,
and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.

14 This is the confidence which we have toward Him,
that, if we ask anything according to His will,
He listens to us.
15 And if we know that He listens to us,
whatever we ask,
we know that we have the petitions
which we have asked of Him.

16 If anyone sees his brother
sinning a sin not leading to death,
he shall ask,
and God will give him life for those who sin not leading to death.
There is a sin leading to death.
I don’t say that he should make a request concerning this.
17 All unrighteousness is sin,
and there is a sin not leading to death.

18 We know that whoever is born of God
doesn’t sin,
but he who was born of God
keeps himself,
and the evil one doesn’t touch him.
19 We know that we are of God,
and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.
20 We know that the Son of God has come,
and has given us an understanding,
that we know Him who is true,
and we are in Him who is true,
in His Son Jesus Christ.
This is the true God,
and eternal life.
21 Little children, keep yourselves from idols.

Observations: 5:1-3 Belief in Jesus as the Messiah promised in the OT (especially as the provision for our sins, the atoning sacrifice of Isaiah 53) results in being born again (Jn 1:12 the chiastic center of the prologue). Whoever loves the Father loves His children. When we love God and keep His commandments, we will love others. When our values change so that the sacrifices of love are not burdensome, we know we are loving as God desires.
5:4-10 The one who is born of God overcomes the world because of their faith in God's revelation. That revelation tells us that Jesus is the Son of God (the heir) who gives the Spirit to those who believe in Him, which makes overcoming and victory possible. Jesus came or was testified to by water and blood. When He was baptized, the voice of the Father testified that He was well pleased with His Son (Mt 3:17). The blood or sacrificial death and subsequent resurrection also testified to His identity, as did the ministry of the Holy Spirit in authenticating His works and His spokesman (particularly on the Day of Pentecost). Verse 7 has additional words in some versions which are most likely added in the eighth century, and are omitted in the WEB text above. The point is that there is more than one witness to the Sonship of Jesus, given by both men (the apostles) and God (in the life of Jesus). The one who believes has the testimony in themselves (their own lives), but the one who doesn't believe is calling God a liar, who authenticated Jesus.
5:11-15 The testimony is that God gives believers eternal life (dominion in the Age of the Messiah). This life is in His Son, the ruler of the Millennial Kingdom. The one who has an abiding relationship with the Son, has the life God promised. The one who doesn't have the relationship John has been talking about in the letter, doesn't have the life. It's one or the other. John says he is writing to those who believe in the name of the Son of God (Jesus -Jn 1:12) so that they may know they have eternal life (dominion in the coming Age), and that they may continue to believe, (so they don't forfeit what God has given them, like Israel did).
A relationship with God isn't just about what happens in the future, but has benefits in the present, like a vibrant prayer life. If we are abiding and knowing and doing His will, then asking anything according to His will gets a sure positive response from God.
5:16-21 While on the subject of praying according to God's will, if someone sees their brother in Christ sinning, he/she should intercede for the sinning believer, and God will give him life for those who are not sinning in such as way that they are headed to the discipline of deprivation of life. All unrighteousness is sin, but some have greater consequences than others. The one who is born of God, and in whom God's seed/Spirit remains/abides, doesn't sin (or continue to sin in the weaker alternative view). The one born of God keeps/guards him/herself so the evil one doesn't influence him/her. Believers are sourced in God's power, while worldlings are subject to the power of the evil one. Believers know that the Son of God has come in the flesh, and given them understanding so that they know Him who is true, and abide in Him who is true, that is Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God. This is the testimony of the true God, and the testimony of eternal life. John closes with an admonition to keep themselves from idols which are false gods, rather than the true God.
Application: Loving and obeying the Lord Jesus, the coming Messiah, is the best way to live happily ever after.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, thanks for giving me life in Jesus, both now and in the future; may I be on my guard and abide in You so that I may have confidence and joy when You return. Amen.

Digging Deeper

God in a nutshell: God gives us life in His Son when we believe, and gives us ample testimony to base our belief in Him.

Build-a-Jesus: Jesus is the authenticated Son of God, in whom God gives us forgiveness and eternal life.

Us in a nutshell: We need to abide in Christ, obeying His commands, particularly loving other believers if we expect to live the victorious Christian life in this world, and the abundant life in the next.

Where to Go for More:

1 comment:

  1. Can you please explain 1 John 5:16-17 more specifically? What is a sin not leading to death? Assuming death means loss of dominion, doesn't all sin head this direction? Or is a one-time sin the exception?