By Dr. Robert R. Seyda


CHAPTER FIVE (Lesson XXVIII) 11/21/22

5:4 because everyone who is a child of God has the power to win against the world.

As stated in his interpretation Daniel L. Akin (1957) notes that the theme of verse four is made clear by the repetition of the Greek verb Nike, often translated as “conquer,” “overcomer,” or “victor.’ Nike is also the name of the Greek goddess of victory, speed, and strength. The Romans called the goddess NikeVictoria.” She surprisingly has wings in paintings and statues. One Modern English Translation says that whoever is born of God “is continually victorious [soaring over] the world.[1] Then John has more to say about “the world,[2] characterized by the trio of “lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life.” In addition to love, he points to another spiritual weapon that grants us victory over the weapons of the world in our spiritual battles: “our faith.”[3]

Thinking classically Bruce G. Schuchard (1958) notes that here in verse four, the Apostle John makes a causal comment that explains why God’s instruction is in no way burdensome to the one who lives in hope because everything born of God overcomes the world.[4]

Bright seminarian Karen H. Jobes (1968) does not see the Apostle John teaching some enthusiastic triumphalism but points to faith in the true gospel of Jesus the Anointed One that is “ours,” held by the author and those who share like faith. Jesus said that He has “overcome” the world.[5] Therefore, those who have faith in the Anointed One likewise have faith that overcomes all that is of the world.[6] The statement here that everything/everyone born of God overcomes the world supports the interpretation of 2:14-15, where the young men are said to be “overcomers.”[7]

5:5 It is our faith that has won the victory against the world. So, who wins against the world? Only those who believe that Jesus is the Son of God.


Here John reiterates the main theme of his letter concerning what love is, how love works, and how love can be seen and tested for its genuineness.  This trial of determining if God’s love resides in one’s heart is not only meant for God or fellow believers to verify but for the world as well.  The one thing that holds it all together is the common bond of faith in believing that Jesus is God’s Son; the man sent down from heaven by the Father to secure forgiveness for our sins so we will not suffer the punishment, and that we may have life eternal with Him.

When I served in the military, some people became my best friends, and there were those I did not particularly care for because of their attitude and demeanor.  But one thing remained certain.  Should we ever go into combat, they knew I would do everything I could to protect them, and they would do the same for me.  That’s because we were in the same army, fighting for the same enemy and serving the same Commander in Chief, the President of the United States. Christians may have their differences on specific issues, but as far as the world is concerned, when they look at us, they should see a united force ready to hold each other up for the cause of the Anointed One.

It was made clear to the Apostle John in his revelation that everyone who conquers will be clothed in white and will not have their name erased from the Book of Life. The Messiah will announce before the Father and His angels that they are His. As for anyone who is a conqueror, they will be made a pillar in God’s temple; they will be secure and will never have to leave, and God’s Name will be written on them, and they will be a citizen in His holy city of God – the New Jerusalem, coming down from heaven. They will have the Anointed One’s new Name inscribed on them. Therefore, everyone who conquers worldliness will sit beside Him on His throne, just as He took His place with the Father on His throne when He arrived victoriously.[8]

And then the Apostle John heard a loud voice booming across the heavens, “It has happened at last! God’s salvation, power, rule, and authority of His Anointed One are finally here, for the Accuser of our brothers has been thrown down from heaven onto earth – he accused them day and night before our God. But they defeated him by the blood of the Lamb and their testimony; for they were not selfish with their lives but laid them down for Him. Rejoice, O heavens! You citizens of heaven, rejoice! Be glad!”[9] Then the amazed apostle tells us, “I saw it spread out before me like an ocean made of fire and glass, and on it stood all those who were victorious over the Evil Creature and his statue and his mark and number. All were accompanying themselves with harps as they sang the song of Moses, the faithful servant of God, called ‘The Song of the Lamb.’” Their words were:

Mighty are Your acts and marvelous,

O God, the Sovereign-Strong!

Righteous Your ways and true,

King of the nations!

Who can fail to fear You,

We give glory to Your Name?

Because you and you alone are holy,

all nations will come and worship you,

because they see your judgments

are fair and true.[10]

No wonder the Apostle John was so positive about his message of being victorious over the world and its leader, the devil. What other way is there of conquering the world? And how can they who believe fail? There is a victory in the new birth from Jesus the Anointed One. The world system cannot bear God’s operating principles, so God’s Word is burdensome to them. They cannot tolerate such a scale of values.

Therefore, every Christian without exception – spiritual or carnal, mature or immature – has the faith to gain victory. The principle of success is universal for each believer, with all that the new nature in its entirety entails. The emphasis here is not on the believer who overcomes but on the power that God gave them at their spiritual strength to resist. The nature of the new birth inclines the heart of the believer toward God’s Word. The born-again spirit counteracts all the forces of the world system. The Greek tense indicates that whenever a person becomes born again, they are permanently born (perfect tense) with a new capacity to live for God.

Consequently, the idea of “overcomes” is to prevail once the victory is won.[11] Every child of God has the capacity to conquer the worldly system.[12] The Greek indicates that this victory is a continual overcoming. We must understand the “world” in terms of Satan’s value system. Christians need to remain victorious over the devil and his evil empire. There is power in the initial faith exercised in salvation. That power is inherent in those “born of God.”[13] In other words, Jesus makes His victory the triumph of His followers through spiritual birth.

Unfortunately, some Christians allow the world to overcome them because they are of the world. God wants us to be in the world but not of the world.[14] That’s because believers face very powerful forces against their spiritual life today. The values of this world fly in our faces every day through various media. The world pushes its ideals in many ways: immorality as a lifestyle, doing whatever it takes to get ahead, and lying if it suits your purposes. As a result, young adults violate biblical norms like no other generation. Consequently, some Christians do not gain victory over the world. The world conquers them. The “world” is a mindset that opposes God’s will and commandments.[15] Only the victory achieved at the cross overcomes the world.

As a result, we more and more gain victory over the world as our faith grows in the Anointed One’s triumph over sin, death, hell, and the grave. The object of our focus is on who and what gives victory over Satan’s system. Jesus conquered the world during His earthly ministry throughrough His sacrificial death for our sins. The tiniest faith grasps the reality of God’s gigantic eternal order and sees the ultimate failure of satanic tyranny.[16] So the principle behind this is that we overcome the world system by taking God at His Word.

Therefore, faith in an adequate object produces a good outcome. We get victory over the entire satanic system by placing faith in the Lord Jesus and His work on the cross. Victory does not come by putting faith in ourselves. The only adequate object of our faith is God’s promises. Hence, we overcome the world system by faith. By applying faith in the Word of God to specific problems, we commit to more excellent standards and values. We focus faith on Jesus the Anointed One and His provisions which allow us to grow more spiritually mature when we put God’s principles to practice by faith every day.

We can tell we walk by faith if we produce fruit,[17] introduce others to the Anointed One, and gain victory over our sinful tendencies. Faith is trust in God’s operating assets. If that does not tie in with experience, then our perception is wrong. We do not interpret the Bible by human know-how.  If our involvement contradicts the Bible, then there is something wrong with our procedure or perception. We might have been having a religious hallucination and become deluded. Instead, we interpret what we’ve learned from the Bible.  In God’s system of values, victory always comes through the Lord Jesus.[18]

In fact, we get our English word “Nike” from the Greek word meaning “overcomes.” Thus, Nike was the goddess of victory. Christians will escape the world’s influence forever when they enter heaven’s gates, but the issue here is defeating worldliness while we live on earth. No one can beat the world system unless they believe in the deity of the Anointed One. Victory results from faith in Him. It is not simply a rhetorical question but an appeal to fact.[19] Everything depends on who and what we believe. Jesus and His work are the content of our trust. The importance of the cross is who died on it.[20] The principle involved here is that faith in the incarnate Anointed One brings power to every Christian to overcome the world system.

[1] 1 John 5:4 Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)

[2] See 1 John 5:4-5; 1 John 2:16

[3] Akin, Dr. Daniel L., Exalting Jesus in 1,2,3 John (Christ-Centered Exposition Commentary), op. cit., loc. cit., Kindle Edition

[4] Schuchard, Bruce G., Concordia Commentary, 1-3 John, op. cit., pp. 526-527

[5] John 16:33

[6] Cf. 1 John 2:13–14; 4:4; 5:5

[7] Jobes, Karen H., 1, 2, and 3 John (Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on The New Testament Series Book 18), op. cit., p. 217

[8] Revelation 3:12, 21

[9] Ibid. 12:10-12a

[10] Ibid. 15:2-3; cf. Amos 3:13; 4:13

[11] 1 John 2:13,14

[12] Ibid. 4:4

[13] See John 16:33

[14] 1 John 2:15-17

[15] See 1 Timothy 4:10

[16] See Romans 8:37; 1 Corinthians 15:57

[17] John 15:8

[18] Galatians 6:14

[19] Galatians 1:4-5

[20] John 20:31

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David recollected that as a young lad, with long unruly hair and a ruddy complexion, sleeping out in an open pasture under a starry sky after watching his father’s sheep all day long; how he would take his little harp and sing to the God above all gods. Looking up, he saw the sky as a huge tent with the sparkling stars as lights that lit up the night. He may have even tried to count them once or twice. But what really impressed him was that each night every star was in exactly the same place, not one of them was missing. He was so overcome with awe that he penned a hymn to the creator of that starry universe.

O my LORD Eternal and heavenly Master, Your awe-inspiring works mark You as a genius, as You display Your grandeur all over the heavens for all the world to see. For through these small and tiny dots of light You communicate as a way of countering those who don’t take You seriously; yes, You do this to silence the doubter and unbeliever. When I look up into the sky and see the galaxies Your hands created, the stars and the moon You put into orbit I ask, “What role do humans play in this vast universe; why do You care and fuss over them?” Then I realized, You created them a little short of being angels; endowing them with attributes of honor and dignity; making them the smartest and most influential creatures on earth; putting them in charge to being stewards of Your handiwork, even taking care of the animals, both domestic and wild, including the birds that fill the sky and the fish that fill the sea. O LORD Eternal and heavenly Master, Your awe-inspiring works mark You as a genius for all the world to see.” Psalm 8:1-9

Reflection: Back in the days of the hippy movement I sat in a coffee house in Stuttgart, Germany talking with a long-haired flower-child about God. The young man was respectful but adamant about his doubts concerning God’s existence because he couldn’t see Him or talk to Him. At that moment the Holy Spirit gave me an inspiration, so I pointed to a picture hanging on the wall beside our table and asked the young man if he believed that picture came into being due to an accidental collision of paint and paper. He laughed and said, “That’s ridiculous; that picture was painted by an artist.” I responded that I wasn’t convinced because I couldn’t see the artist in the picture; how did I know that maybe one day it just appeared on the wall by accident. The young fellow looked at me for a moment and then admitted that even though I couldn’t see the artist in the painting, I had to accept the fact that an artist painted the picture because it just makes sense. I told him that in the same way, one must exercise faith to believe an unseen talented artist created such a beautiful portrait, we can also believe an unseen God created the beauty of the universe. The magnificence of God’s creation shows His responsibility for man’s existence, and man’s responsibility to acknowledge God’s handiwork. The young man smiled somewhat embarrassingly as he bowed his head and said, “Okay, you got me on that one.” I asked him if we could have prayer for him to have faith, but he wasn’t sure. As he went away I asked the Holy Spirit to go with him and open his eyes to the truth.

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By Dr. Robert R. Seyda


CHAPTER FIVE (Lesson CLII) 05/27/23

5:21 So, dear children, keep yourselves away from false gods.

Consistent with the Apostle John’s advice, Heinrich A. W. Meyer (1800-1882) has the Apostle John saying that if believers come to the true God through the Anointed One, they must take care that they do not lose this eternal and highest gift by giving themselves up to any vain idol. In this train of thought, John closes his Epistle with a short exhortation, however impressive in its brevity: “Begin planning to guard yourselves against idols.”

In the opening, the Greek word tekton,[1] we may see the depth of the feeling with which John utters these concluding words. Suppose the warning is not regarded as an appendix, foreign to the Epistle’s contents. In that case, we could accept the interpretation that John, the antithesis to the false teachers, had so decidedly referred to Jesus as being part of the true Godhead; he had a mental image of those teachers in view. It is only if so taken that the warning to keep themselves from idols forms another appropriate conclusion for the whole Epistle.

With noticeable spiritual comprehension, Henry Cowles (1802-1881) examines the significant points of truth in verses twenty and twenty-one by which “we know” and that the “Son of God has come into our world,” thereby giving us an understanding of the true God. It brought us into relations to God, best expressed by the words, “We are in Him.” Moreover, we are in Him, the true God, by being in His Son Jesus the Anointed One. To begin with, by knowing and receiving His Son, we have come to recognize, accept, and love the Father. Being in the Father comes with being in the Son. So intimate and so peculiar is the relationship of the Father to the Son that we can scarcely distinguish even in thought being in the Son from being in the Father who sent Him.

Having said all this, is it even supposable that John should close by saying there is but one true God, and to make Jesus Divine is to make two? John has not told us definitely how He avoids meeting this objection but has left us the fact with no attempt at metaphysical explanation. From his silence on this point, it is probably safe to infer that we shall need the light of a brighter world and perhaps the power of more acute, discriminating, comprehensive thought until we “know the Almighty to perfection.” His closing words are – “Little children, keep yourselves from idols.”

Is this warning connected in thought with the subject in hand? Perhaps so, perhaps not. In that age – idolatry was practiced everywhere – it could never be wrong to give this warning. Yet a certain connection is supposable ‒ say with verse nineteen, “The whole world lies in wickedness;” we who are of God must withstand idolatry on every side. Or possibly with verse twenty; “We worship the Father as God; the Son as truly Divine.” Beyond these, none other. Beware of being drawn to the worship of idols.”[2]

Called a great and rare spiritual thinker, Frederick Denison Maurice (1805-1872) points out that the Apostle John concludes his Epistle with a warning. He was born a Jew.  His goal was to witness against idols; his work was to testify of the living and true God. He existed only to do this; he was chosen to save his generation, to save the generations to come from worshipping a lie, from seeking happiness that would prove to be a lie. He saw Jesus the Anointed One as Him “in whom we are created,” of whom we are members. This Lord of our spirits, this Light of our understandings, is He in whom alone we can find the true God. Men have sought this in heaven, earth, and underground waters.[3] [4] It is He in whom alone they can find that eternal life, for which they are thirsting, and which they are trying to see in the visible earth, or some fantastic heaven, or in some depths which none have been able to sound.

Little children, as John calls his converts, believe that you need not ascend into heaven, go into the furthest corners of the earth, or go down into the abyss of hell, that you may find God. He is near you; He is with you. Therefore, trust Him; abide in Him; and perpetually renew your life at His fountain. That way, you will not bow down to the creatures of His hand; you will not confound the bright images cast forth by the minds He made in His image – which He has endued with a portion of His creative power – with your Creator and Father. Instead, you will adore Him, His Son, and He will enable you, by His Spirit, to offer yourselves, all your powers, and the earth which He has placed under you, as sacrifices to Him.’[5]

With his lifework well-illustrating the biblical and reformation ideal of a pastor-theologian, Robert S. Candlish (1807-1873) lets what the Apostle John says here in verse twenty-one be the test or criterion of what an idol is. Whatever worship or fellowship or companionship, whatever system or society, whatever work or way, whatever habit or pursuit or occupation, is of such a sort or has such influence over you that you cannot be in it and at the same time be in God. As little children to a loving Father, not remaining loyal and faithful to Him is nothing less than idolatry, whatever the object of your adoration may be.

Therefore, from all such idols, guard yourselves. And that you may keep away from them, remain evermore in union with God’s Son, your Lord and Savior Jesus the Anointed One. To always be “found in Him” is your only security.[6] To be in Him is to be in the Father, even as He is in the Father, and idolatry has no place in that.[7]

With precise spiritual discernment, William Alexander (1824-1911) points out that the Apostle John’s epistle closes with a short, sternly affectionate exhortation. “Children, guard yourselves” (the aorist imperative of immediate final decision) “from idols.” These words are natural in the atmosphere of John’s church in Ephesus.[8] The author of The Apocalypse has a similar hatred of idols.[9] The Gnostics allowed people to eat things sacrificed to idols freely. Modern, like ancient unbelief, has sometimes attributed to John a determination to exalt the Master whom he knew to be a man to an equality with God. But this is morally inconsistent with the Apostle’s unaffected shrinking from idolatry in every form.[10]

Alexander also notes the KJV and NIV translate the Greek verb phylassō as “keep.” But the word is used for “guarding.” In his Greek Lexicon, Thayer tells us that John’s use here in verse twenty-one means “to guard oneself against something.” That sure gives the idea of “keeping” a strong sense of urgency. Alexander says there is something in this passage we should pay attention to the horror of idols. Satan intends them to take away the glory of our Lord.

Bible archeologists tell us that there is no evidence or even mention of a heathen temple being converted into a Christian church in all of Asia Minor. It would be like taking an old outdoor toilet and turning it into a prayer chamber. All the prayers would not take away the stink of rotting excrement. No, the things a godless society worships and spends its money on are no substitute for loving God. They are like a narcotic; once you allow it to function in your system, each time, you’ll need more and more until God has no place in your life.[11]

With an inquiring mind, Daniel D. Whedon (1808-1885) says that John’s mention of idols caused them to immediately think of Gentiles brought by the Anointed One to understand the true God. They were surrounded on every hand by false godsin Ephesus and all of Asia Minor. In Ephesus, the temple of Artemis (Diana) still stood in pride and power. Hence it became the little body of Christians, one and all, to beware of idols.

It is the last tender warning of the venerable apostle to his little childrenat this same Ephesus to keepthemselves from Artemis and her images and adhere to the trueGod in His Son, Jesus the Anointed One. John closes with as emphatic an abruptness as he commences this epistle. But there was a particular danger arising from the seductions of the errorists condemned in this epistle, who, in fact, advocated participating in the sacrificial banquets of the pagan temples. An idol is an image, a pretense, a phantom, an unreality, in opposition to the true God, who is the infinite reality.[12]

In line with Apostle John’s conclusion, Henry Alford (1810-1871) sees the Apostle John parting from his little children with his warmest and most affectionate plea to keep themselves from idols – (John uses eidolon,idol” a figure of an imaginary deity, while homoiómalikeness[13] is that of some person or thing made into an object of worship. All around the Christian Church was heathenism: those born of God and those under the spell of evil were the only two classes: those who escaped Satan’s grasp and surrendered to the Savior’s arms and became God’s children. John now warns of the consequence of letting go of the only true God, in whom they can only abide by staying in His Son Jesus the Anointed One. In these solemn terms, to leave on their minds a wholesome terror of any the slightest deviation from the truth of God, seeing into what relapse it would plunge them.[14]

As a faithful and zealous scholar, William Graham (1810-1883) sees the Apostle John wanting to protect his little children, especially the converted Gentiles, from all false gods of the imagination to the worship of which their fallen, terrified, shivering nature is so prone. The mythologies of Greece and Rome were a great system of idol worship and were condemned in verse twenty-one. So, also, angel[15] and saint[16] worship is forbidden in John’s words “Little children, keep yourselves from idols.” Yahweh alone is our God. Every other worship is idolatry.[17]

With the zeal of a scriptural text examiner, William E. Jelf (1811-1875) is sure that with Christians knowing the true God, the supreme undivided Being, the Creator and Governor of a godless society, the true God as revealing Himself on earth in the separate person of His Son Jesus the Anointed One, must guard against falling into the errors as former generations did, who, chosen not to retain God in their knowledge, but substituted devotion to lifeless idols in place of worshipping the living God in His glory. But this does not seem to follow naturally from the context in the Epistle’s conclusion.

On the contrary, it would imply a danger arising directly from Jesus being presented as God and man. It may well be that the Spirit brought before John’s mind the risk that Jesus being God in human form would lead them to make gods out of other creatures and invest them with Divine attributes and power (as did the Romans and Greeks) and approach them with prayer and praise. This would be idolatry involving noneternal creatures. And so, John adds these words at the end of his Epistle, lest the doctrine he insisted on concerning the God/man Jesus be misused and perverted.[18]

After checking the text closely, Richard H. Tuck (1817-1868) takes the Apostle John’s parting words as something suggested by the thought of Jesus being part of the “true Godhead.” Every scheme of thought, every object of affection, which is not of Him, is a rival to His kingdom, a false god, an imaginary presence without evidence or truth. Every street through which John’s readers walked, and every heathen house they visited, swarmed with idols in the literal sense; magnificent temples, groves, and seductive idolatrous rites constituted some of the chief attractions of Ephesus. The first four centuries AD history is recorded of the strictness necessary to preserve Christians from the interests of idolatry. John hints that Jesus is no idol. The Son of God, manifested in the flesh as the Son of man, was a Being not only altogether worthy to be worshipped and served but a Being whose worship and service are supremely ennobling.[19]

After observing the Apostle John’s attention to detail, John Stock (1817-1884) declares that since the Lord Jesus is part of the mighty Godhead,[20] one with the Father and the Holy Spirit, the first and the last,[21] and beside them, there is no God, who is the God of the whole earth:[22] to acknowledge any other is to be guilty of idolatry. All gods outside of the Anointed One are ideologies and lead to confusion; they are imaginary and things of arrogance, hearsay, and misunderstanding;[23] and they who make them are like them, and so are all that trust in them. We approach the Father, in and through the Son, by the power of God the Holy Spirit, and know these three are one. Christianity abhors lying. Knows no other god but one, and flees from idolatry2,[24] holding fast to the commandment, “Reverence the Lord your God and serve only Him. You must use only His name to make promises.”[25]

When a godless society is preferred above the Father, it becomes an idol to the spiritual adulterers and adulteresses,[26] who are lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God.[27] Satan tempts to every sin, to covetousness, which is idolatry: to self-worship, which is to worship him, who even dared to tempt the Lord, and by Him was cast down and overcome. The knowledge of God, renewed by the Holy Spirit, cleanses the heart from foul idolatry, leading to captivity. Then God is supremely loved; the blessings of this life acknowledged to have Him as their source, and which are thankfully used and enjoyed to His glory.[28]

With an inquiring spiritual mind, Johannes H. A. Ebrard (1819-1893) claims that verse twenty-one is not (as many think) an “abrupt” final appeal but is influenced by the Apostle John’s concept of the “true God.” If the Father, who revealed Himself in the Anointed One, is the true God – if the Son, in whom we have the Father, is the true God – it follows that we must guard ourselves against all idols, that is, against all false gods. This idea is comprehensive: it embraces all things and everything opposed to the God revealed in the Anointed One and His worship in “spirit” and “truth.”

Preeminently, it addresses the delusive and vain idols of Cerinthian Gnosticism and infidelity, whether ancient or modern. Still, it also includes the idols and false mediators of superstition, to whom the confidence is transferred which is due only to God in the Anointed One – be their name Madonna,[29] or saints, or church hierarchy, or the priesthood, or pictures, or good works, or office, or church, or sacraments. And this Anointed One we possess through the Spirit of God, whose marks and tokens are not priestly vestments, but faith and love. In this meaning, the Apostle’s cry sounds forth through all the ages in the ears of all Christians: Little children, keep yourselves from

[1] In Sanskrit the word taken denotes a wagon-builder, and that is also the literal meaning of our English word “carpenter.” In other words: an old-world carpenter was not so much someone who worked with wood (as would a modern carpenter) but rather someone who assembled things. In Greek, the word tekton means the same thing, and in the New Testament, this word is used to describe Jesus’ vocation. In Latin, the verb texere means to weave, and thus in English words like texture and text are derived from the act of weaving, and words like technology and tectonic from the idea of producing or assembling. As such, one Greek/English interlinear Bible renders tekton as “startup projects.”

[2] Cowles, Henry: The Gospel and Epistles of John, op. cit., pp. 361-362

[3] The underworld gods were named “Theoi Khthonioi” or “Chthonian gods” by the Greeks. They were ruled by the grim god Hades and his queen Persephone. The term “Chthonic gods” was also used for the closely related gods of agriculture

[4] See https://www.theoi.com

[5] Maurice, Frederick D., The Epistles of St. John, A Series of Lectures on Christian Ethics, op. cit., Lecture XIX, pp. 304-317

[6] Philippians 3:9

[7] Candlish, Robert S., The First Epistle of John Expounded in a Series of Lectures, op. cit., Lecture XLVI, pp. 564-576

[8] Acts of the Apostles 19:26-27

[9] Revelations 2:14, 15; 9:20; 22:15

[10] Alexander, William: Expositor’s Bible: The Epistles of St. John, op. cit., p. 275

[11] Alexander, William: The Holy Bible with an Explanatory and Critical Commentary, op cit., Vol. IV, p. 347

[12] Whedon, Daniel D., Commentary on the New Testament, op. cit., p. 282

[13] See Romans 1:23; 5:14; 6:5; 8:3; Philippians 2:7; Revelation 9:7

[14] Alford, Henry: The Greek Testament, op. cit., Vol. IV, p. 515

[15] Revelation 22:8-8; See Colossians 2:18

[16] 1 Timothy 2:5; John 14:13-14; See 2 Chronicles 33:15; Leviticus 26:1; cf. Philippians 4:6; Lamentations 3:40-41; John 14:6

[17] Graham, William: The Spirit of Love, op. cit., pp. 362-363

[18] Jelf, William E., Commentary on the First Epistle of St. John, op. cit., p. 82

[19] Tuck, Richard H., The Preacher’s Complete Homiletical Commentary, op. cit., pp. 329, 341-342

[20] Isaiah 9:6

[21] Ibid. 44:6

[22] Ibid. 54:5

[23] Ibid. 41:29

[24] 1 Corinthians 4:4

[25] Deuteronomy 6:13; cf. Luke 4:8

[26] James 4:4

[27] 2 Timothy 3:4

[28] Stock, John: An Exposition of the First Epistle General of St. John, op. cit., pp. 465-467

[29] The word Madonna is derived from the Italian “ma donna,” or “my lady” and is used to describe Mary, the mother of Jesus. Central to religious art and iconography, depictions of the Virgin Mary date back to the 2nd century.

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By Dr. Robert R. Seyda


CHAPTER FIVE (Lesson CXLI) 05/26/23

5:21 So, dear children, keep yourselves away from false gods.

More concerned with the Church than its Sacraments, William Jones of Nyland (1726-1800) informs us that idolatry gives another the love, reverence, and devotion that are rightly due to God alone. Many make an idol of riches. Money is their god, and they devote all their powers and opportunities to the eager pursuit of it. “Greed… is idolatry.” Others worship for pleasure, amusement, and endeavor to subordinate everything to their gratification. And others make honor, or fame, or power, their god. We may make an idol of some beloved relative or friend – wife, husband, or child. Or, in some respects, worst of all, a person may make a god of themselves – may think first and chiefly of himself, study their interests and happiness, and love themselves supremely.

It has been well said, “We can avoid wooden idols, but take heed of the idols of gold. It is no difficult matter to keep from dead idols, but be careful to worship the living ones, and especially yourself; for as soon as you appropriate to yourself either honor, praise, knowledge, or power, you set yourself in place of God, and He has declared that he ‘will not give His glory to another.’” And idol worship offers the greatest dishonor and insult to God.[1]

For example, a man with a heartfelt friendship with hymn writer John Newton (1726-1807),[2] Thomas Scott (1747-1821) comments that verse twenty-one especially the Scriptures in the Final Covenant are intended to draw people away from worshipping to “serve the One, living, and true God.” If so, can anyone imagine that an inspired writer would speak of Jesus the Anointed One in this manner unless He was and is equal with the Father, the proper object of all adoration? If the worship of the Son of Man is idolatry, surely John introduced his caution against idols in a very strange manner!

But if the triune YaHWeH, “Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,” three Persons in One undivided Godhead, the Object, and the only Object, of divine adoration: nothing could be more proper and emphatic for the Jews, rejecting the Son, and professing to worship God in One Person, (as the Mohammedans, Deists, Socinians, and others in after ages have done,) had changed the Object of worship, the God of the Bible, for an imaginary Being; and could not be excused from the charge of idolatry: for they could not be seen as different from those, who worshipped the Supreme Being, under the name of Jupiter, or Baal.[3]

So, nominal Christians today have even more need to be warned to “keep themselves from idols” more; and to be careful that they adore the triune God, in whose name the Anointed One commanded that His disciples should baptize[4] while they “bow their knees to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus,”[5] not to forget to “honor” the Son even as they admire the Father who sent Him. The personal assurance of acceptance and salvation arising from an inward consciousness of having been enlightened by God’s knowledge and Jesus the Anointed One, which is truly eternal life in Him.[6] Therefore, there is no need for another god.

At age fifteen, a potential young theologian who preached and held cottage and prayer meetings, Joseph Benson (1749-1821), notes that the Anointed One is last mentioned in verse twenty as the true God and eternal life.He partakes with the Father in proper Deity, and our immortal life is supported by union with Him. Therefore, in verse twenty-one, the Apostle John warns: “Dear children, keep away from anything that might take God’s place in your hearts.” That is, from all false worship of images or any creature and every inward idol: from loving, desiring, reverencing anything more than God. Instead, seek all help and defense from evil, all happiness, in the true God alone.

We should also note the Apostle John’s reflection on the happy difference that regeneration and the knowledge of God in the Anointed One made between them and the ignorant and wicked world and directed them to guard carefully against all idolatry. We know by all these infallible proofs; that God’s Son has come into a godless society; and given us an understanding by enlightening our minds; that we may know Him, that is true the living and true God, namely, the Father, of whom John appears to speak, and we are in Him that is true in His favor and in a state of union and fellowship with Him.

In addition, the particle “this” is not in the Greek text; rather, “in” or “through;” His Son Jesus, the Anointed One through whose mediation alone we can have access to, or communion with, the Father. The Anointed One is the last person mentioned; He is the true God and eternal life. He partakes with the Father in proper Deity, and our immortal life is supported by union with Him. Therefore, my beloved children, keep yourselves from idols. From all false worship of illustrations or any creature, and from every inward model: from loving, desiring, fearing anything more than God. Seek help and defense from evil. All happiness is found in the true God alone.[7]

Straightforward preacher Charles Simeon (1759-1876) says that in matters established by human testimony, we necessarily proportion our consent to the number and credibility of the witnesses. And if we act in the same manner towards the Holy Scriptures, we will not entertain doubt, either of their Divine authority in general or of the way of salvation contained in them. So, Moses and all the prophets concur with the Apostles in directing our eyes to the Anointed One as the only Savior of a godless society: but in the text before us, we have the testimony of One whose information we cannot doubt and whose integrity not impeached; of One who is too good to mislead, and too wise to be deceived.

This witness is no other than Yahweh. What false fascination is it to substitute any different plan of salvation in the place of that which God offers us? Suppose for one moment that we dare suggest to God that we knew a better way than He did what was best for Him and us to do. Could we also presume we are “stronger than He?” and can we persuade Him to make changes to His decrees? No! That is useless thinking! We may entertain our prejudices and load the Gospel with disgraceful ideas that promote as true and irreversible. But Scripture says, “Those that have the Son have spiritual life, and those that do not have God’s Son have no eternal life.” Let all of us then cease weaving a spider’s web and accept with gratitude “the true salvation that is in the Anointed One Jesus alone.”[8]

Considering everything the Apostle John has said so far, Adam Clarke (1774-1849) notes the Apostle John concludes with the same affectionate feeling with which he commenced. Keep yourselves from idols. Avoid the idolatry of the heathens; not only have no false gods but have the true God. Have no icons in your houses, none in your churches, none in your hearts. Have no object of idolatrous worship; no pictures, relics, consecrated tapers, wafers, crosses, etc., to which your minds may be divided and prevented from worshipping the infinite Spirit in spirit and truth.

Dr. Macknight, says Clarke, that John cautioned his disciples against going with the heathens into the temple of their idol gods, to eat of their feasts upon the sacrifices they had offered to these gods; and against being present at any act of worship which they paid them; because, by being present, they participated of that worship, as is plain from what the Apostle Paul has written on the subject.[9] That is a person’s idol or god from which they seek happiness; no matter whether it be Jupiter, Juno, Apollo, Minerva, Venus, or Diana; or pleasure, wealth, fame, a fine house, superb furniture, splendid linen and drapes, medals, curiosities, books, titles, human friendships, or any earthly or heavenly thing, God, the supreme good, only excepted. That is an individual’s idol that prevents them from seeking and finding their ALL in God. So be it! So let it be! And so it shall be, God, being our helper, forever and ever![10]

A servant of God whose preaching was doctrinal, imaginative, quaint, and earnest, Robert Finlayson (1793-1861), a preeminent Scottish preacher, points out that the Apostle John’s parting words, “My little children, guard yourselves against idols.” naturally fixes on the word of special affection for his readers. Earlier in this epistle, John put forward Divine keeping – “He that was begotten of God [the Divine birth] keeps him.”[11] Here in verse twenty-one, he puts forward self-keeping – “guard [‘keep,’ with added emphasis] yourselves.” The idols against which we are to be on our guard are the vain shadows that usurp the place of the true God.

In connection with heathen idolatry, there are false representations of God as above – to be apprehended by people’s senses. Heathens worshipped these in temples made with hands; they had many idols, taking delight in impurities and human victims’ blood. In connection with idolatry, in a broad sense, there are such false representations of God as these – pleased with our taking selfish gratification, does not extend his interest beyond our home or some narrow circle of friends, is indifferent to our happiness, overlooks our actions and will not bring us into judgment.

Let us oppose these false representations of God given in images of the Incarnation. Let us brood over this remarkable fact till pointless shadows flee away, and God comes to us in all the splendor of His love. We may think of John, now amid the realities of heaven, still beseeching us, and with greater intensity, to beware of the deceitful shadows that are here as often taken for God.[12]

After analyzing John’s conclusions, Gottfried C. F. Lücke (1791-1855) states that since the Father of Jesus, the Anointed One is the only true God, and since eternal life only exists in fellowship with Him through the Anointed One, and since beyond the sphere of this communion, there is only death, beware, little children, of the idols,[13] and every connection with them! The danger against which John warns never entirely ceased in the apostolical age, in those communities which converted from heathenism.[14]

At the time when John wrote, this danger was so much the greater, and the warning the more necessary, since the persecution and seduction of the heathen κόσμος (“kosmos”) was becoming ever more and more threatening, and constantly made a more and more easy prey of slothful half-Christians, who were satisfied with the mere appearance and name of Christianity. Therefore, it is also contrary to John’s words in the context to suppose anything different is implied in “idols,” such as gnostic heresies or anything similar.[15]

I found this short autonomous homily, which was very enlightening: (1) If something draws the unconverted away from the living God, anything that does this must be named an IDOL. (2) Love of self is born in us and, if not confronted early, will be our master. It feeds upon falsehood, unkindness, greediness, and pride. You must gratify it at whatever cost, and then it demands more and more. Self is a dreadful idol. Beware of it. (3) When choosing what to wear, don’t forget the beauty of the pearl fades if it’s not in its proper setting. (4) When it comes to pleasure, do not feed a child’s appetite for exciting amusements until they can use them, though so many innocent, playful ideas remain. We have known children whose Sundays were boring. The things they wanted to do were their idols.[16] So whenever you have a chance, ask your child on Sunday morning if they wish to go to church or Disney World.

Without using complicated language, Albert Barnes (1798-1870) says that this is a favorite mode of address by the Apostle John and was proper to use it in giving his parting counsel, embracing, in fact, all that he had to say – that they should keep themselves from idols, and allow nothing to alienate their affections from the true God. His object was to lead them to the knowledge and love of God, and his instructions followed. So, if, amidst the temptations of idolatry, and the allurements of sin, nothing were allowed to estrange their hearts from God.

Therefore, keep yourselves from showing any respect to idols. By not doing so, they would imply communion with them or their devotees.[17] The word rendered idols means an image, ghostly apparition of a god, shadows of the dead, or any image or figure representing anything, mainly invisible things. Hence, anything designed to represent God was to be acknowledged as representing Him or to bring Him, or His perfections, more vividly before the mind. The word “idol” applies to heathen deities,[18] but it would also be appropriate for any image designed to represent the true God and through or by which He was to be adored.[19]

With impressive theological vision, Richard Rothe (1799-1867) is of the persuasion that verse twenty-one contains the grandest doxology in praise and honor of the Anointed One that the Apostle John could utter. Everything that signifies falling away from the Anointed One comes under idolatry. The Anointed One is the sacred image, the means of revealing God given by God, through the religious recognition and adoration of whom sincere reverence, a religion uniting us with the true God alone is possible. Adoration of the Redeemer, therefore, is often regarded as an encroachment upon the adoration due to God alone. Instead, John sets forth as the only worship well-pleasing to God. Jesus the Anointed One alone reveals God for all humanity, And He does so despite His being in the form of a servant. He that sees Him sees the Father; he that fails to see the Father in Him does not know the Father.

This appearance in the center of our human history, notes Rothe, is the guiding star by which we alone can find our way. We are to fix our inner person’s gaze steadily on Him and, at the same time, to apprehend the features of His appearance more and more clearly and precisely; it is the art upon which the practical Wisdom of the Christian depends and the source of that which deserves to be called faithful Christian simplicity. The thought uttered at the close of verse twenty (that the Redeemer is the true God and eternal life) leads John directly to a view that forms an emphatic finish of his Epistle. The idea of God reminds him of God’s antithesis, the idols.[20] It occurs to him naturally that any turning away from the Anointed One to another, whoever and whatever it may be, is idolatry.[21]

According to Robert Jamieson (1802-1880), Andrew Fausset (1821-1910), and David Brown’s (1803-1897) way of thinking, the Apostle John’s words for his dear children to keep away from anything that might take God’s place in their hearts as an affectionate parting caution. The problem was that Christians were surrounded everywhere by pagan idolaters, with whom it was impossible to avoid meeting in the streets, bazaars, public baths, etc. Hence the need to be on guard against any indirect compromise or act of communion with their idol worship. Some in the city of Pergamos, in the region where John wrote, fell into the snare of eating things sacrificed to idols. When we cease to stick close to God, we allow possible contamination from a godless society’s cesspool run by the devil.[22][23]

[1] Jones, William: The Pulpit Commentary, op. cit., p. 169

[2] Newton, John: Composer of “Amazing Grace,”

[3] Cf. 1 Kings

[4] Matthew 19:28

[5] Ephesians 3:14

[6] Scott, Thomas: Commentary on the Holy Bible, pp. 413-414

[7] Benson, Joseph: Commentary on the Old and New Testaments, op. cit., p. 349

[8] Simeon, Charles: Horæ Homileticæ, Vol. XX, op. Cit., Discourse 2467, pp. 539-547

[9] 1 Corinthians 8:10

[10] Clarke, Adam: Wesleyan Heritage Commentary, op. cit., Hebrews-Revelation, p. 400

[11] 1 John 3:18

[12] Finlayson, Robert: The Pulpit Commentary, op. cit., Vol. 22, pp. 171-172

[13] Cf. 1 Corinthians 8:4

[14] Ibid. 10:14

[15] Lücke, Gottfried C. F., A Commentary on the Epistles of St. John, op. cit., p. 292

[16] British Weekly Pulpit, The Biblical Illustrator, Vol. 22, op. cit., First Epistle of John, op. cit., p.472

[17] 1 Corinthians 10:14

[18] 1 Corinthians 8:4,7; 10:19; Romans 2:22; 2 Corinthians 6:16; 1 Thessalonians 1:9

[19] Barnes, Albert, New Testament Notes, op. cit., 1 John 5, pp. 4896-4897

[20] 1 Thessalonians 1:9

[21] Rothe, Richard: Exposition of the First Epistle of St. John, op. cit., The Expository Times, September 1895, pp. 563-564

[22] Ephesians 5:5; Colossians 3:5

[23] Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown’s Commentary on the Whole Bible, New Testament Volume, op. cit., p. 731

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By Dr. Robert R. Seyda


CHAPTER FIVE (Lesson CXXXIX) 05/25/23

5:20 And we know that God’s Son has come and given us understanding. So now we can see the true One and live in union with that true God. We are in His Son, Jesus the Anointed One. He is the true God, and He is eternal life.

It is the very thing that will crush your Christian life. It is one thing to have faith in God, but it is another to be faithful to Him. We claim God’s Son as our Savior, but we reject His sovereignty over our souls. We give ourselves to entirely different value systems. Anything that deflects us from Jesus the Anointed One as the center of our spiritual life is an idol. What we devote ourselves to is our idol. The more we cultivate our loyalty to God and His values, the freer we are from our false personal gods.

John now affirms this principle with his last word “Amen.”  “Amen” means “so be it,” or“believe it.” Faithfulness to the truth is a maxim for maturity in the Christian life. An idol is any substitute for the real thing.  It imitates reality, but it is not truth. Whatever robs our worship of God is an idol. It is anything that comes between God and us. It does not have to be a statue, but anything we worship over God. It might be our job, our family, or our success.  If we think more of these things than we do of the Anointed One, we commit idolatry.  God will not take second place to anything or anyone. This is the greatest threat to our spirituality. As the well-known saying goes, “If the Anointed One is not Lord of all, He is not Lord at all.”

At this point, all believers should be praying in complete confidence: what we ask for is already ours (vv.14-15). One specific thing we should request is the conversion of a sinning spiritual brother or sister unless they’ve made the horrible decision to reject God and His message of salvation which is unforgivable. (vv.16-17). We who are born of God, however, will not backslide into sinning as long as we stay shielded by the Anointed One, part of God’s sphere and not of the devil’s compound, to whom the anti-God world belongs (vv.18-19). We cohabit with the Father and the Son, author of eternal life. John has one final word – guard yourselves against being conformed to a godless society.[1]


This verse has comments, interpretations, and insights of the Early Church Fathers, Medieval Thinkers, Reformation Theologians, Revivalist Teachers, Reformed Scholars, and Modern Commentators.

God’s servant with the heart of a champion for Christianity and an aggressive critic against heresy, Quintus Tertullian (155-225 AD) maintains that the Apostle John did not tell us to keep away from worship, but idols, that is, from their very likeness. It is wrong for you, created in the image of the living God, to become the image of an idol and a dead person.[2]

With great assurance, early church ecclesiastical teacher Didymus the Blind (313-398 AD) asks, why is it that after everything else he has said to his hearers during his letter, John should keep this warning about idols to the very end? I think it is because the Apostle John addresses the church in general. There must have been many in that assembly who were former idolaters, and he adds this caution for their benefit.[3]

Hilary of Arles (401-449 AD) notes that the letter ends as it began, with a warning to worship the one true God alone. Everything else that the Apostle John says is contained in this one golden rule.[4]

With a studious monk’s spiritual insight, Bede the Venerable (372-735 AD) hears the Apostle John saying to his readers, you who know the true God, in whom you have eternal life, so you must keep yourselves away from the teachings of the heretics, which lead only to eternal death. In the manner of those who made idols in place of God, the dissidents have corrupted the glory of the incorruptible God with their wicked doctrines, which bear the stamp of corruptible things.[5]

Respected Reformation writer, Matthew Poole (1624-1679) believes that from close association with the Gentiles in their worship and festivals in their temples, these pseudo-Christians felt enough leeway, as reported by the Apostle Paul’s discourses[6] (especially if any danger so required); wherein, instead of that communion with the Father and the Son,[7] which he was inviting them to, they should have fellowship with devils, as that other apostle tells his Corinthians.[8] And he might also have reference to the peculiar idolatries, which these sorts of people are noted to have been guilty of towards their great sect master.[9]

Isaac Barrow (1630-1677) quotes what the Apostle Paul said to the Athenians that their altar to “AN UNKNOWN GOD” is the God who made the whole world and everything in it. He is the Lord of the land and the sky. He does not live in temples built by human hands.[10] Therefore, we being the offspring of God, ought not to think that the Godhead is like gold, or silver, or stone, the engravement of art and man’s device: in which place, as the forming any image to represent divine things is manifestly prohibited, so the reasons which we touched against such practice are discernibly enough insinuated.

Neither should we omit that this law is confirmed in the Final Covenant, and there made a part of God’s new law: for we are commanded to flee idols, not to be idolaters,[11] to shun idolatry as a most heinous crime, of the highest rank,[12] proceeding from fleshly depravity, [13] consistently with good conscience, and to expose to meaning and the notion of idolatry[14] in which places, why should we understand it otherwise, then according to the plain sense of the word, which is the worship of images, or resemblances? Why should we take it otherwise than as being opposed to God’s Law, then in force? Why should we otherwise expound it according to the common notion and acceptance of God’s people at that time?[15]

Influenced by his Arminian view of salvation, Daniel Whitby (1638-1726) says that by saying “stay from the idols,” that is the false gods of the heathens among whom they lived.[16] They were to turn away from idols to the true and living God. Thus, an idol is not a true god because there is but one true God.[17] Consequently, to eat things offered to idols is to eat them with the apprehension that there was somewhat of power or virtue in that god to whom it was presented. Nevertheless, because these false gods were still represented by and worshipped and thought necessary to worship their deities, the apostle use the word idols and equally forbids that way of honoring the true God.[18]

William Sherlock (1641-1707) was a protestant church leader in England. In 1669 he became rector of St George’s, Botolph Lane, London, and in 1681, appointed prebendary[19] of St. Paul’s Church. His response to the Apostle John’s message in verse twenty goes, “If we reflect upon the holiness of God, and His hatred of sin and iniquity, and begin to fear that He can never be reconciled to sinners; let us take courage; the work is difficult, but God’s Son has undertaken it; and how great the distance between God and us is, yet through the Son we have access to Him.” Sherlock indicates that if we are still unsure about ourselves, all may be lost through our weakness and inability to do good; even for this, help is at hand; the Spirit of God is our support; He is the pledge and evidence of our redemption.

With these being essential for salvation, it was necessary to reveal to a godless society the doctrines concerning the Son and the Holy Spirit: and the belief in these doctrines is crucial to every Christian as far as the correct use of the means depends on true faith and confidence in the principles. Since we can only come to the Father through the Son, denying the Son is to cut off all communication between the Father and us. The same may be said of the blessed Spirit, who we are in the Anointed One. The Apostle Paul said, “Remember that those who do not have the Spirit of the Anointed One living in them do not belong to Him at all.”[20] Our blessed Lord told us, “This is the way to have eternal life – to know You, the only true God, and Jesus the Anointed One, the one You sent to earth.”[21]

With a spiritually contemplative mind, Matthew Henry (1662-1714) sees all humanity divided into two parties or colonies, those who freely belong to God and others enslaved by the wicked. True believers are God’s possession: they are of God, and from Him, and to Him, and for Him; while the rest, by far the more significant in number, are in the power of the wicked one; they do his works and support his cause.

This general declaration includes all unbelievers, whatever their profession, station, or situation, or by whatever name they may be called. God’s Son leads believers to the Father and is loved and favored by both and in union with both by the indwelling and working of the Holy Spirit. Happy are those who know that God’s Son has come and have the heart to trust in and rely on Him, the true One! May this be our privilege; we shall thus be shielded from all idols and false doctrines, and the idolatrous love of worldly objects, and be guarded by the power of God, through faith, unto eternal salvation. To this living and true God, be glory and dominion forever and ever! Amen.[22]

An Anglican priest opposing the monarchy of Church and State in favor of a constitutional parliamentary system, Thomas Pyle (1674-1756) hears the Apostle John closing this chapter with words to conclude: While the rest of the obstinate and unrepenting world continue enslaved to ignorance, idolatry, sin, and Satan, we Christians are fully and happily assured, that we are members of the church of the true God, by sincerely believing in Jesus the Anointed One His Son, who came into a godless society to teach us the way of true religion, and, being made man, suffered and died, to ensure our eternal life and happiness.[23]

With meticulous Greek text examination and confirmation, Johann Bengel (1687-1752 focuses on the Apostle John’s warning in verse twenty to “keep yourselves” in my absence, that no one deceives you. The elegance of the active verb with the reciprocal pronoun is more expressive than “be on your guard” in verse twenty-one, “from idols,” and not only from their worship but also from all communion and appearance of fellowship with them.[24] [25]

With all the Apostle John’s themes in mind, John Wesley (1703-1791) states that since there is no firm foundation for the love of our brethren except the love of God, there is no possibility of loving God except we keep ourselves from idols. The first thing to consider is the idols of which the Apostle John speaks. The second thing is to inquire, “How will we keep ourselves from them?”[26] Thirdly, Wesley asks, “What do they profess is their intention in the reverence they give to images and pictures?” Do they declare that the honor given to the image is for the persons the statue represents, whether God the Father, the Anointed One, angels, or saints? And when they kneel before the sculpture, do they worship God, the Anointed One, an angel, or a saint? And what about worshipping an image representing a divine person on the holy ones’ behalf? Is their worship due to the person depicted, or given to the image in the holy ones’ absence?

To give one honor to the person and another to the image is to worship them, not have that idol to pass on to God. But if they intend to pass their worship to the person represented through the image, then we know the falsehood involved when they kiss, uncover their heads, bow to, and worship an image. That’s why we all have a reason to remember the Apostle’s advice: “Keep yourselves from idols.”

Furthermore, Wesley responds to criticism from a reader named Mr. Hill concerning one of his sermons. Mr. Hill says Wesley “has struck out some words, and put in others, into the sermon.” Wesley responds this complaint is with Mr. Hill, so it is necessary to explain it. I generally abridge what I answer, which means striking out all unessential words. And I typically put into quotations from my writings such comments as I judge will prevent mistakes. Now to the contradictions: — “‘If we say we have no sin’ now remaining,” (I mean after we are justified) “we deceive ourselves.” I believe this: “Sinful tendencies will always remain in our flesh.” Again: “Many infirmities do remain.” I believe this; and accept “He that is born of God” (and “keeps himself,”[27] whether in act, word or thought. I likewise believe that in those perfected in love, “No wrinkle of infirmity, no spot of sin remains.”[28] [29]

With scholarly meditation, James Macknight (1721-1800) states that for the meaning of the Greek word eidōlon (“idols”), see what the Apostle Paul warned the Corinthians about.[30] The Apostle John cautioned his disciples against going with the heathens into the temples of their idol gods, to eat of the sacrifices which they offered to these gods provided at their feasts, and against being present at any act of worship given to these idols, because, by being present at the worship of idols, they participated in that worship. John’s appeal to the brethren to keep themselves from idols shows that this epistle was intended for the converted Gentiles and the Jews in Samaria.[31]

After skillfully scrutinizing the Apostle John’s theme, John Brown of Haddington (1722-1787) exclaims, “What trustworthy testimonies concerning the Anointed One are revealed to us to encourage and establish our faith in Him!” Therefore, nothing can be more highly reasonable than to rest in Him, assured of our eternal life in and through Him as the gift of God. And it is highly criminal and ruinous to our souls by discrediting His gospel declarations and promises to call Yahweh’s solemn witness a lie when it is a sure ground of hope in our pleading for every necessary blessing that the Anointed One has purchased and intercedes for it, and God has promised, for His sake, to grant it. But dreadful, as well as unpardonable, is the crime of desperate and willful rejection of the Anointed One and the Gospel. Christians have a great need to guard against every approach and ensure their regeneration by God’s Spirit, as an effectual preservative against it. Thrice happy are they who conscientiously improve their assured knowledge, faith, and hope, in carefully keeping their heart and life for God alone, in opposition to every idolatrous rival.[32]

[1] Cf. Romans 12:2

[2] Tertullian: Ancient Christian Commentary on the Scriptures, Bray, G. (Ed.), op. cit., Vol. XI, p. 2289

[3] Didymus the Blind: Ancient Christian Commentary on the Scriptures, Bray, G. (Ed.), op. cit., Vol. XI, p. 229

[4] Hilary of Arles: Ancient Christian Commentary on the Scriptures, Bray, G. (Ed.), op. cit., Vol. XI, p. 229

[5] Bede the Venerable: Ancient Christian Commentary on the Scriptures, Bray, G. (Ed.), op. cit., Vol. XI, p. 229

[6] 1 Corinthians 8:1-13; 10:14

[7] 1 John 1:3

[8] 1 Corinthians 10:20-21

[9] Poole, Matthew. Commentary on the Holy Bible – Book of 1st, 2nd & 3rd John (Annotated), Kindle Edition  

[10] Acts of the Apostles 17:24

[11] 1 Corinthians 10:7, 14

[12] Ibid. 5:10, 11; 4:9

[13] Galatians 5:20

[14] Revelation 9:20; 21:8; 22:15

[15] Barrow, John: The Theological Works, op. cit., Vol. VII, An Exposition of the Decalogue, Second Commandments, p. 448

[16] 1 Thessalonians 1:9

[17] 2 Corinthians 8:4

[18] Whitby, Daniel: Critical Commentary and Paraphrase, loc. cit., p. 472

[19] A prebendary is a member of the Anglican clergy, a form of canon with a role in the administration of a cathedral or collegiate church. Prebendaries sit in particular seats when attending services, usually at the back of the choir stalls, known as prebendal stalls.

[20] Romans 8:9

[21] Sherlock, William: Lange’s Commentary on the New Testament, op. cit., Vol. IX, p. 168

[22] Henry, Matthew: Concise Commentary on the Bible, op. cit., pp. 2060-2061

[23] Pyle, Thomas: A Paraphrase of the Epistles in the New Testament (1725), op. cit., p. 403

[24] Revelation 2:14, 20

[25] Bengel, Johann: Gnomon of the New Testament, op. cit., Vol. 4, p. 154

[26] Wesley, John, The Works of Vol. 6, Sermon 78, Spiritual Idolatry, p. 462

[27] 1 John 5:18

[28] Cf. Ephesians 5:27

[29] Wesley, John, The Works of: Vol 10, Section 3, Of Divine Worship, pp. 117, 472

[30] 1 Corinthians 8:4

[31] Macknight, James: Apostolic Epistles with Commentary, Vol. VI, p. 127

[32] Brown of Haddington, John: Self-Interpreting Bible, N. T., Vol. IV., p. 507

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By Dr. Robert R. Seyda



5:21 So, dear children, keep yourselves away from false gods.


These words by the Apostle John are right out of the Jewish Torah.[1] The Apostle Paul does the same by reminding the Corinthians that the Spirit warned us not to desire evil things as Israel’s fathers did nor worship idols as they did. Don’t the Scriptures tell us, “The people sat down to eat and drink and then got up to dance” in the worship of the golden calf? So be careful and avoid getting involved in any idol worship.”[2]

That’s why believers must never become partners with those who reject God. How can you make a partnership out of right and wrong? That’s not partnership; that’s war. Let me ask you, is light a best friend with the dark? Does the Anointed One walk arm-in-arm with the Devil? Do trust and mistrust hold hands? Who would think of setting up pagan idols in God’s holy Temple? But that is what we are, each of us a temple in whom God lives. God Himself put it this way:[3]

            I’ll live in them, move into them;

                I’ll be their God, and they’ll be my people.

                So, leave the corruption and compromise; leave it for good,” says God.

                “Don’t link up with those who will pollute you.

                I want you all for myself.

                I’ll be a Father to you; you’ll be sons and daughters to me.”

                The Word of the Master, God.[4] [5]

If the Apostle John’s words were sufficient to persuade all who hear or read them to turn away from idols and worship the Living God, what he saw in his revelation must have changed his mind. Thus, after Earth’s population was put through some of the most horrendous and terrifying experiences ever upon humanity, John noticed that the remaining men and women who survived these plagues and wars went on their merry way. They would not renounce their demon worship, nor their idols made of gold and silver, brass, stone, and wood – which neither see nor hear nor walk![6] Although World Wars I and II and September 11, 2011, New York’s Twin Towers massacre were not as appalling, still those drawn to churches and synagogues for prayer were soon back in their old sinful haunts.

We can see why Jesus taught His disciples to call on their Father in heaven, blessed be His name, that His kingdom would come, and will be done on earth as in heaven. Ask Him for His provisions and protection and to forgive our wrongdoings the same way we have forgiven those who mistreated us. And don’t let us be led into temptations we can’t resist but rescue us from hardships and annoyances.[7] Some scholars believe that asking God not to lead them into temptation was the defense they needed against idol worship. Notably, the Greek adjective ponēros is a derivative of the Greek verb peirazō used to explain Satan’s temptation of Jesus in the wilderness. The devil’s main aim was to tempt Jesus into trusting him instead of God.

Why would you want a dead god when you have a living God? When you have an omnipresent God who can speak, why would you talk to a brainless idol who can’t answer prayer? When you have an omniscient God who can see everything, why would you want a wooden god with no eyes? If you have an omnipotent God who can pick you up when you fall, why serve an inanimate god who cannot pick itself up if it topples over? No, says John. Stay connected with the living Anointed One, who is united with the living God, so you can live for eternity.

Though this is a separate sentence, it is as if it were an appendix to the preceding doctrine. The reviving light of the Gospel ought to scatter and dissipate not only darkness but also all fog from the minds of the ungodly. Therefore, the Apostle not only condemns idolatry but commands us to beware of all images and idols, by which he implies that the worship of God cannot continue uncorrupted and pure whenever people begin to venerate icons or images. For so innate in us is a superstition that the least occasion will infect us with its contamination. Just like a match can start a fire, so a spark of idolatry will inflame and engross the minds of many when an occasion arises. And who does not see that images are such sparks? But what can sparks say that will save lost sinners? Torches are needed to set the whole world on fire.

At the same time, John speaks not only of images but also of altars and includes all the instruments of superstitions. Moreover, down through the ages, some churches have perverted this passage and only apply it to the statues of Jupiter and Mercury and the like, as though the Apostle did not teach against the corruption of Christianity whenever a manufactured bodily form is ascribed to God, or whenever statues and pictures form a part of worship. Let us then remember that we ought carefully to continue in the spiritual worship of God to banish far from us everything that may turn us aside to gross and carnal superstitions.

And we know. The “and” instead of “but” here is proper – it sums up the whole with a final assertion. Whatever a godless society and its philosophy choose to assert, Christians know that God’s Son has come in the flesh and endowed them with mental faculties capable of attaining knowledge of the true God. The Christian’s certainty is not fanaticism or superstition. And if someone asks about your hope as a believer, always be ready to explain it;[8] by the gift of the Anointed One, they can obtain an intelligent knowledge of Him who is indeed God. “Him that is true” does not mean God, who is not, like the devil, a liar, but “God through and through,” as opposed to the idols against which John goes on to warn them. Thus, the Epistle ends as it began, with the fulfillment of the Anointed One’s prayer.[9]

We must be content to leave the question open; both interpretations make excellent sense and none of the arguments favoring either one is decisive. Moreover, the question is not essential. That Jesus is the Anointed One, God’s Son, who was with the Father from all eternity, is the very foundation of John’s teaching in the Gospel and Epistles; and it is not of much concern whether this particular text contains the doctrine of the Divinity of the Anointed One or not.

But if with Athanasius of Alexandria (296-373 AD), we interpret the word “this” to be of the Anointed One, the conclusion of the letter is brought into harmony with its opening,[10] in which the Anointed One is spoken of as “the Eternal Life which was with the Father and was manifested to us.” Moreover, we obtain a striking contrast with what follows. “This Man, Jesus the Anointed One, is the Godhead: it is not idolatry to worship Him. Whosoever says that He is not Divine makes us idolaters. But idolatry is to us an abomination.”

So, let’s look at this final “we know” here in verse twenty-one. Christians know with certainty that God’s Son came in the flesh. This penetrates the point of difference with the false teaching John addresses throughout his epistle. It is impossible to fellowship with God apart from Jesus the Anointed One. Furthermore, the phrase “God’s Son” occurs six times in this last chapter. It expresses His eternal relationship with the Father.

In addition, the Greek word for “come” includes the ideas of arrival and personal presence. The Son of God came in personal presence in His incarnation.[11] For this reason, Christians have spiritual understanding through the Holy Spirit.[12]  Gnostics taught that salvation came through speculation but not believing in the incarnate Anointed One. Such “understanding” is the power or capacity of knowing.  Christians received the ability to recognize the incarnate Anointed One at the point of regeneration. This transformation allows believers to experience God in intimate fellowship.  “Know” here is knowledge held with assurance, not just by the acquisition process. 

Then notice the three uses of the word “true” in this verse. “True” means real as opposed to false. Jesus, through His person and ministry, stayed in line with the truth.  Everything He is and does follow the facts. He resembles the truth and corresponds by His very nature to what is genuine about God. There is nothing fictitious, imaginary, or counterfeit about Him.  God did not simulate Him.  There is no impression of pretension in Him.[13] By being like Him, we see that Christian living is life at its best. 

Therefore, the truth of Christianity rests upon Jesus the Anointed One as God’s Son.  Man-made Christianity is a religion, God-made Christianity is a relationship. It does not rely on relative or pluralistic thinking but on an eternal person. This reality transcends finite, human truth. No matter how brilliant a person may be, if they have never come to know God personally, they cannot understand God’s Word or its Author. God requires that we be introduced to the Author before we can comprehend His writing.[14] 

But we must ask, who wants to know anything about God these days? We want to know how to become a success. So, we became interested in stock market investments and political issues. But few of us have a vibrant interest in eternal things. As a result, people relegate God to the outer edges of the universe. Those who embrace the incarnation have an entirely different take on God. They not only want to know about Him but also to fellowship with Him. They cannot get enough of Him. Knowledge of God in the incarnation is knowledge on a personal and intimate basis.

Now comes the hard part. Do we know our spiritual address? The spiritual address of every believer is in the same status quo as Jesus the Anointed One. Every Christian has the status quo in God’s eyes. When God looks at us, He sees Jesus because we have Jesus’ perfect righteousness. Jesus has eternal life, so we have eternal life. Jesus took our condemnation, so we will never be condemned.[15]

It leads us to John’s last emphasis. In verse eighteen, we had ”he keeps[16]here the verb “you guard” – (KJV “keep”).[17] The aorist, rather than the present imperative, is used to make the command more forcible, although the guarding is not momentary but will have to continue. Also, what is the meaning of “the idols” here? In answering this question, it will be well to hold fast to the common canon of exposition, that where the literal interpretation makes good sense, the literal interpretation is probably correct.

Here the literal interpretation makes excellent sense. Remember, Ephesus was famous for its idols. To be “temple-keeper of the great Artemis” was its pride.[18] The moral evils which resulted from the abuse of the right of the sanctuary caused the Roman senate to cite the Ephesians and other states to submit their charters to the government for inspection. Ephesus had been the first to answer the summons and strenuously defended its claims. It was famous for its charms and chants, and folly of this kind found its way into the Christian Church.[19]

As so often happens with converts from a religion full of gross superstition, many observances survived by adopting Christianity. With these facts before us, we can hardly be wrong in interpreting “the idols” quite literally. The apostle’s “little children” could not live in Ephesus without constantly interacting with these polluting but attractive influences. Therefore, they must have nothing to do with them: “Guard yourselves and reject them.” But, of course, this literal interpretation places no limit on the application of the text. To a Christian, anything is an idol that usurps God’s place in the heart, whether this is a person, a system, a project, wealth, or whatever. All such intrusions come within the sweep of John’s injunction, “Guard yourselves against idols.”

Besides stone, wood, or metal idols, John opens the door for other substitutes for God by calling it idolatry. It means following a model of one’s invention or imagination. The Christian life will be severely stunted if a believer acquiesces to false teaching. That’s why “keep” expresses urgency and decisiveness – “Do not hesitate.  Do not fool around with false religion because of the serious damage it can do to your soul.”  The meaning is guard, defend – Defend yourselves against idols. Do not desert the reality of God’s Word for an illusion.”  Anything or anyone that substitutes for God is idolatry.

As such, an “idol” is anything that represents itself as God. It is a substitute for the real thing. It can be any false idea of who God is. It could be any value that is central and most important to the believer. It is anything that comes between the soul and the Savior. That might be a person, a pleasure, or an ambition. Some Christians think that when “worshipping” an idol, people use a format similar to Christian worship. But that is not true. The Hebrew verb for “worship” is šāḥâ and means to bow down before a superior image.[20] And the Greek verb proskyneō implies kneeling facing the floor to show homage to superior beings in rank.[21] And in the English language, it defines as “showing reverence and adoration for.”

So, the command to keep us from idols is a command to protect ourselves against spiritual corruption.  This mandate presents a contrast to “the true God” of the previous verse.  John pits the true God against false teaching.  Their teaching was the idolatry that John refers to here: “Since you already know the true God, defend yourself against any teaching that would violate who God is.”  How can we forsake the One who saved us and gave us operating assets for living the Christian life?

Twenty-first-century music and movie stars are as authentic as first-century idols. The terms for such images may change, but the principle behind them does not. By contrast, first-century people venerated the Greek god of extreme vanity and self-absorption ‒ Narcissus,[22] but we adore the “self.” They revered the god of wine, vegetation, fertility, festivity, ritual madness, religious ecstasy, and theater ‒ Bacchus,[23]and we addict ourselves to drugs, alcohol, and immorality. They worshiped the goddess of love ‒ Venus and we worship illicit sexual pleasure. They worshiped the god of physical beauty ‒ Apollo and we adore the body. Finally, they worship the goddess of science ‒ Minerva and we put great trust in science to answer the ultimate cosmological questions of life.[24]  God wants us to guard ourselves against anything that would ruin our march toward maturity in the Anointed One. Anything that masquerades as truth will blunt development in the Christian way of life. We can tell if we are idolaters by what we give our commitment, attention, interest, energy, time, or money. Whatever controls our thoughts is our god. What do you get animated about? That is your god. 

[1] Exodus 20:3-4

[2] 1 Corinthians 10:6-7, 14; cf. Exodus 32:6

[3] Cf. Leviticus 26:12; Jeremiah 32:38; Ezekiel 37:27

[4] Cf. Isaiah 52:11; Ezekiel 20-34, 41

[5] 2 Corinthians 6:16-17

[6] Revelation 9:18-20

[7] Matthew 6:9-13

[8] 1 Peter 3:15

[9] See John 17:13-19

[10] 1 John 1:2

[11] John 10:10; 1 Timothy 1:15

[12] 1 John 2:20

[13] John 6:32; 15:1; 17:3

[14] 1 Corinthians 2:14; Luke 24:45

[15] Romans 8:1; 1 Corinthians 15:22; 2 Corinthians 5:17; Ephesians 1:3, 6; 2:6, 10

[16] Cf. 1 Timothy 5:22; See Revelation 3:3 (“hold fast”)

[17] 1 John 5:21

[18] Acts of the Apostles 19:35

[19] Ibid. 19:13-20

[20] Genesis 18:2; Exodus 23:24; 34:14

[21] Matthew 2:2; 8:2; Acts of the Apostles 7:43

[22] Narcissus in Greek mythology, the son of the river god Cephissus and the nymph Liriope. He was distinguished for his beauty.

[23] Bacchus was the Roman god of agriculture, wine, and fertility, equivalent to the Greek god Dionysus.

[24] Luke 12:15; Ephesians 5:5; Colossians 3:5

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By Dr. Robert R. Seyda


CHAPTER FIVE (Lesson CXL) 05/23/23

5:20 And we know that God’s Son has come and given us understanding. So now we can see the true One and live in union with that true God. We are in His Son, Jesus the Anointed One. He is the true God, and He is eternal life.

A man who loves sharing God’s Word, Robert W. Yarbrough (1948) states that the third “we know” statement in verse twenty is a summation because “but” should be “and.” Despite the evil one’s sway, John issues a concluding threefold reminder. As it turns out, this is the final indicative declaration of the epistle. He and his readers share certainty regarding three matters. First, “God’s Son has come;”[1] Modern translations are unanimous, it seems, in rendering the present tense “He has come” in the perfect tense. Whatever the nuance of the verbal aspect, John’s point is that the incarnation is not at issue in the community he addresses. The epistle affirms that all of the good things flow from God’s Son.

Second, “Son of God.” Moreover, followers can anticipate his return.[2] It will mean vindication for them and judgment for the Gospel’s detractors. As John closes his epistle, he reminds them of the basis for the big picture dominating the landscape of his worldview: the appearance of the invisible God in human form. Third, “has given” us understanding so that we will know Him who is trustworthy. Yet, even at the end of his letter, John never stops insisting on the “correct doctrine.” However, there is more that God gave the Anointed One’s followers:[3]

Skilled in Dead Sea Scroll interpretation and Final Covenant writings, Colin G. Kruse (1950) sees the Apostle John’s reassurance continues into verse twenty. Using the third of his “we know” expressions, John reminds his readers: “We also know that God’s Son has come and given us understanding.” Two elements of the work of God’s Son are alluded to here, His coming as the historical Jesus and His giving understanding to people when they become believers. The Greek word dianoia, translated as “understanding,” is found only here in the Johannine writings, but the context makes its meaning clear enough: he has given us understanding “so that we may know Him who is true.” The Son of God’s wisdom is knowledge of God the Father. In John’s Gospel, Jesus addresses His Father as the “only true God.”[4]

The Apostle John refers to the God and Father of Jesus the Anointed One, when he uses the expression “the one who is true,” is made abundantly clear in the following sentence: “And we are in Him who is true” – even in His Son Jesus the Anointed One. The True One is the one whose Son is Jesus, the Anointed One. However, John wants to stress that those who believe are actually “in Him who is true,” that is, in God the Father, because they are “in His Son Jesus the Anointed One.”[5]

Believing that Christians can fall away from the faith, Ben Witherington III (1951) notes that the conjunction “but” begins verse twenty, thus contrasting what has just been said about the Evil One’s control of a godless society: But the Apostle John is not talking about cerebral knowledge, for believers also “know” that they are “in the True One.” Here it seems likely since, throughout this discourse, John often refers to Jesus as “The One” or “Righteous One” and the “True One,”  not God the Father. The closest heavenly relative for the Greek word yhios (“Son”) here clearly is Jesus.

Thus, Jesus is called both God’s Son and Divine here in this verse is not a surprising conclusion for John, who also wrote the Fourth Gospel prologue and recorded Thomas’ response to Jesus as “my Lord and my God.[6] Some have found here an echo of Jesus’ prayer.[7] Jesus is genuinely Divine and has everlasting life, so these remarks serve as a closing doxology. Finally, John wishes to stress that if someone heard the true Gospel, as the false teachers did, then fail to recognize and honor Jesus as the Anointed One, God’s Son, Savior, and indeed as God means that one is guilty of idolatry in verse twenty-one.[8]

With her crafted spiritual insight, Judith Lieu (1951) says that the third affirmation, “We know,” here in verse twenty, again alludes to the story that shaped the narrative of chapter four. John does not directly identify God’s Son with those born of God because each of these affirmations independently evoke significant themes. It is as one also born of God that protects those who share that dependency; it is as God’s unique child that he acts on God’s behalf to survive all that opposes God and to bring into the realm of life those who belong to God.

That “He has come” is decisive, for only by that intervention into the situation could victory be won. The verb “has come” tense emphasizes that coming is not a past event but something whose effects can neither be reversed nor surpassed. “We” refers to direct beneficiaries of His coming that are not expressed in light of past events (such as forgiveness) but as the gift of a new understanding and relationship with God.[9]

Contextual interpretation specialist Gary M. Burge (1952), says that in verse twenty, the Apostle John finally clarifies our hope. If a godless society is experiencing disintegration and many are aligned with the forces of evil, what hope is there for us in this world? John answers that Jesus the Anointed One has penetrated a godless society and worked as a saboteur, undermining its worldly system, and reversing its possibilities.

Note that here John describes the work of the Anointed One as bringing knowledge, but this should not be seen as a type of Gnostic enlightenment – the very thing to which John is opposed! Instead, Christian knowledge is focused on genuine reality, which happened in history. Thus, John does not say we merely know the truth; instead, we know “Him who is Truth.” Furthermore, John uses an adjective rather than the usual noun to underscore that Christian certainty is not about abstract reason or inspired enlightenment but about God, the real God, “Him who is true,” the only true God.[10] [11]

Emphasizing the Apostle John’s call to Christian fellowship, Bruce B. Barton (1954) mentions that the Apostle John reminds the believers of what they “know” to be true: they know that God’s Son has come. The false teachers had done their best to set the Anointed One aside, to make Him unimportant, and to have so-called “knowledge of God” without Him. But John has been explaining throughout this letter that this is impossible. Jesus the Anointed One is central to the true Christian faith. Jesus came to earth, returned to heaven, and now is present through His Holy Spirit.

The Son’s purpose in coming to earth was to reveal God the Father and to enable the believers to know Him experientially through Him.[12] The Holy Spirit has given [believers] understanding so that [they] can know the true God. Just as the Holy Spirit teaches believers about the Anointed One and points to Him, the Son teaches about and points to the Father. To be in fellowship with the true God is to be in harmony with His Son, Jesus the Anointed One, for when believers are united to the Son, they are also united to the Father.[13] Thus John is saying that Jesus, the Anointed One is the truly Divine.[14] The Father is the source of eternal life, and Jesus the Anointed One reveals that life,[15] so also, He is eternal life. Only through His death and resurrection was eternal life made available to humanity.[16]

With a classical thinking approach to understanding the scriptures, Bruce G. Schuchard (1958) makes the point that here in verse twenty, the last of three consecutive references to “we know” is made. To “knowing that,” unlike the two in verses eighteen and nineteen, this time begins with the support of the initial conjunction “and” then moves toward a hymn of praise climax. John again emphasizes certainties that can and must, in the end, be known.

And we know that God’s Son has come. The phrase “Son of God” along with the same designation at the passage’s beginning in verse thirteen and with “His Son, Jesus the Anointed One” here in verse twenty frames the message. To know the coming one[17] is to understand what can and must, in the end, be known. To know is to abide. To abide by and not to leave.[18] To benefit from and for the fellowship of the beloved is to gain from and for the confidence that ours is indeed the knowledge of the One True God through the Anointed One whom He sent. [19]

Prophetically speaking, Ken Johnson (1965) supposes that the followers of Carpocratians,[20] much like modern Jehovah’s Witnesses, taught Jesus would not physically return to earth. However, in verse twenty, the Greek verb hēkō (“is come”) says we know that God’s Son “yet is coming.” So true believers know Jesus will physically return to earth. He is the only true Diety and the only giver of eternal life. Because of this, we do not practice sin but obey the Anointed One’s mandates.[21]

As a lover of God’s Word, Peter Pett (1966) notes that the Apostle John concludes by stressing what we can know with assurance. The first thing we can know is that those born of God do not plan to go on sinning. They hate sin. They long to be rid of sin. They mourn over sin. They bring it to God and agree with His condemnation of it.[22] They seek its removal by cleansing in the blood of Jesus the Anointed One.[23] Thus they keep themselves within His love and His Kingly Rule so that the evil one cannot touch them. Alternately the meaning may be that “He Who was born of God keeps him,” that Jesus, uniquely begotten of God who was, acts as Savior and Redeemer.

The second thing that we know is that we are God’s property, while a godless society seems comfortable in the evil one’s embrace. It was the picture portrayed at Jesus’ temptations, where the devil had such unseen power that he could control nations.[24] A godless society thinks that it gets its way. The truth is it is deceived and led along by the evil one. He is the hidden but true ruler of the world’s godless society. It is in his arms. Yet not because of His supreme power but because people choose for it to be so in their foolishness. Worldly behavior, trends, and attitudes come because of the fraudulent activity of the evil one over those who love worldliness. They can only be delivered by responding to Jesus the Anointed One and being born of God.

The third thing that we know is that God’s Son has given us an understanding (through the Spirit) so that we know Him who is true, in contrast with the deceit and lies of the devil. We have been enlightened and entered into Him Who is true, dwelling in Him Who is true, even in His Son Jesus the Anointed One.

Notice the closeness of the relationship between Father and Son. To dwell in one is to stay in the other. Thus, the Father and His Son are the true Godhead and eternal life. So, John finishes with this stark contrast. On the one hand, a godless society, lying under the evil one (not ‘in him’ but as good as), deceived, without understanding, alienated from the spiritual life in God through the ignorance that is in them because of the hardness of their hearts,[25] existing in darkness, dead in trespasses and sins,[26] lulled into a false sleep.

On the other hand, being in the One who is trustworthy, receiving understanding, knowing the truth, dwelling in union with God, and His Son Jesus the Anointed One, walking in the light,[27] enjoying in and through Him eternal life, we rejoice because we have vitality and a spiritual relationship because of living in union with God. Indeed, this last situation is the reason for John’s final appeal.[28]

In his unorthodox Unitarian way, Duncan Heaster (1967) mentions that the coming of God’s Son is through the gift of the Spirit, the Comforter, whereby we feel His presence even more than when He visibly lived here on earth.[29] So John says that we can be confident that we have received His Spirit for greater spiritual understanding. This same Greek noun dianoia (“mind” or “understanding”) elsewhere of how the Lord, through His Spirit, enlightens our mind;[30] the gift of the Spirit envisioned in the Final Covenant is God’s way of being put into and written in our mind,[31] and “the mind” purified by the Spirit.[32] So a mindset is given to us; we do not develop it solely through mental effort. And that mind (disposition) is provided so that we might know we have a genuine relationship with Him. For “the spirit of truth” would teach us all things.[33] [34]

Bright seminarian Karen H. Jobes (1968) agrees that Christian knowledge of the truth must be more than acknowledging Jesus’ birth and death; it must entail trusting Jesus as the source of understanding about God. Jesus, the incarnate Son of God, has given us “understanding” – that facility and disposition to comprehend the significance of His coming. Jesus used this same Greek noun, dianoia when He summed up the greatest commandment.[35] We also find dianoia in the Septuagint Greek translation of God’s promise, where He will write His laws of the new covenant.[36] [37]

Systematic Theologian Fred Sanders (Current), Professor at Torrey Honors College, states that it is one thing to notice about discipleship’s trinitarian fulfillment grows even more profound and reaches back even further to show that the ultimate reason that the Father and the Spirit are not distractions from the Son or displacements of Jesus from His central place in our lives is that God is One. The unity of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is a deeper, stronger, more intimate union than anything in creation.

Therefore, it’s simply not possible to know one Person of the Trinity without the others. Any experience of Father, Son, or Holy Spirit is firmly, inwardly bound to the fullness of triune deity. In that perfect triune oneness above all worlds, which would have eternally been itself in divine blessedness whether disciples existed or not, the Son is never without His Father and Their Holy Spirit. That is why, when we live as disciples of the Anointed One, we can focus our attention on Jesus and counter the Father and Spirit in that very event. This is why, if you follow Jesus, you follow Him to His Father by the Spirit. [38]

[1] 1 John 5:20; cf. John 8:42

[2] Cf. 2:28; 3:2

[3] Yarbrough, Robert W., 1-3 John (Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament), op. cit., pp. 317-318

[4] John 17:3

[5] Kruse, Colin G., The Letters of John (The Pillar New Testament Commentary). op. cit., loc. cit., Kindle Edition

[6] John 20:51

[7] Ibid. 17:3

[8] Witherington, Ben III., Letters and Homilies for Hellenized Christians: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary on Titus, 1-2 Timothy and 1-3 John, op. cit., loc. cit., Kindle Edition

[9] Lieu, Judith: A New Testament Library, I, II, & III John, op. cit., p. 232

[10] Cf. 1 Samuel 3:7; Jeremiah 24:7; 31:34; John 1:9; 15:1; Revelation 3:7

[11] Burge, Gary M., The Letters of John (The NIV Application Commentary), op. cit., pp. 217-218

[12] See John 17:3

[13] Ibid. 17:21-24

[14] See John 1:1, 18; 20:28; Romans 9:5; Titus 2:13; 2 Peter 1:1

[15] John 1:4; 14:6

[16] Barton, Bruce G., 1,2,3 John (Life Application Bible Commentary), op. cit., p. 120

[17] 1 John 4:2; 5:6; 2 John 1:7; see also John 1:9; 11:27; 21:22

[18] See 1 John 2:19; 4:1; 2 John 1:7: contrast 3 John 1:7

[19] Schuchard, Bruce G., Concordia Commentary, 1-3 John, op. cit., pp. 582-583

[20] Carpocrates was a 2nd-century Christian Gnostic, i.e., a religious dualist who believed that matter was evil and the spirit good and that salvation was gained to a limited number with knowledge. 

[21] Johnson, Ken. Ancient Epistles of John and Jude, op. cit., p. 85

[22] 1 John 1:9

[23] Ibid. 1:7

[24] Matthew 4:8-9

[25] Ephesians 4:18

[26] Ibid. 2:1

[27] 1 John 1:7

[28] Pett, Peter: Commentary on the Bible, 1 John, op. cit., loc. cit.

[29] John 14:18

[30] Ephesians 1:18

[31] Hebrews 8:10; 10:16

[32] 2 Peter 3:1

[33] John 14:26

[34] Heaster, Duncan. New European Christadelphian Commentary: op. cit., The Letters of John, p. 81

[35] Matthew 22:37; cf. Mark 12:30; Luke 10:27

[36] Jeremiah 31:33

[37] Jobes, Karen H., 1, 2, and 3 John (Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on The New Testament Series Book 18), op. cit., p. 241

[38] Sanders, Fred: Discipleship in a Trinitarian Key, Revivalist Magazine, January/February 2023, pp. 18-19

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By Dr. Robert R. Seyda


CHAPTER FIVE (Lesson CXLII) 05/22/23

5:20 And we know that God’s Son has come and given us understanding. So now we can fellowship with the true One and live in union with that true God. We are in His Son, Jesus the Anointed One. He is the true God, and He is eternal life.

Then there is the minor permiss,[1] in the assertion, particular and personal; “we know” that we individually “are of God” and, therefore, separated from “a godless society that lieth wholly in the wicked one.” The strict logical conclusion would be, thus, “we know” that we do not sin. John, however, puts it somewhat differently to place our not sinning on a surer footing, more humbling to us, more glorifying to God – “We know that God’s Son has come.” And yet this is a fair enough inference and fits well enough into the argument when viewed in its full spiritual importance. Nor is it inconsistent with the other. For if those born of God do not sin, and if we consequently, being of God, sin not, it is all in virtue of “God’s Son being come;” come, in the first place, to “give us a knowledge of the True One;” come, secondly, to secure in that way our “being in the True One.”[2]

In line with Apostle John’s conclusion, Henry Alford (1810-1871) mentions that in verse twenty, there is yet another “to know.” That generally sums up the certainty that God’s Son had come and given us a better understanding of God. Our being in Him solidifies one crucial fact – knowledge of God now and in the everlasting hereafter.[3] God’s Son, who bestows this knowledge, is prominent here at the end of the Epistle.[4] He is eternal life, and those who have Him have the Father. This understanding is the divinely empowered inner sense by which we judge divine truths. It is not wisdom or judgment but the ability to attain it.[5] The early Church Fathers against the Arian error and most orthodox expositors since then have regarded this passage as a treasured testimony for the Godhead of the Son.[6]

As a faithful and zealous scholar, William Graham (1810-1883) says that verse twenty is the substance of the Anointed One’s deity. We have seen that the “and” after “we know” connects verse nineteen with verse twenty in a conflictive correlated way. Thus, “We know that we are of God, and the whole world lies in the wicked one.” However, we also know that to neutralize the power of the wicked one, God’s Son is come and given us understanding. The first great truth taught in verse twenty, therefore, is the coming of God’s Son, which, more than any other, reveals to us the joined love of the Father and the Son, the Sender and the Sent One, as well as the love of the Holy Spirit, by whom the divine and the human natures were united, and the Mediator of the new covenant qualified for His earthly and heavenly work.

John’s epistle begins and ends with this glorious theme; throughout the entire epistle, it occupies a very conspicuous place. When we consider the weighty consequences to mankind and the creation which depends on the incarnation of God’s Son, we will be inclined to think that John mentions it too often. But it is connected, in the closest way, with the whole plan of redemption and the office and constitution of the Mediator and forms the radiating center from which the operations of Yahweh, in His love and power, in providence and redemption, proceed to the edge of His boundless kingdom.

Indeed, two facts in the Bible can be appropriately called the poles in the mighty purpose of the redeeming God, around which all the various parts, prophecy and history, faith and hope, the workings of providence, and the proclamations of grace, perpetually revolve, they are the coming in the flesh and the coming in glory – the cross and the crown – by which the faith and the life of the Church have been sustained from the beginning, through all ages and dispensations, before, during, and after the fulness of the times united in the glorious person of the Redeemer.

If you consider deeply, there is no fact in the history of humanity which, for the wonderfulness of its nature, for the breathtaking grandeur of the conception which it develops, and for the priceless results which spring from it, may for a moment be compared with the coming of God’s Son. Its author is God; the incarnated person is the eternal Son; the mode of union and manifestation is the Holy Spirit; the natures united are the divine and the human, and the result is God’s glory and the salvation of every human being that wishes to be saved.[7]

With the zeal of a scriptural text examiner, William E. Jelf (1811-1875) states the difference in the moral nature of Christians regarding the sphere in which they live and the Prince to which they belong; there is a difference in their intellect. They have a power of intellectual apprehension given them whereby they know the true God and know Him to be the true God, and as a result, the mission of His Son. On the contrary, the heathens had neither any adequate conception of the true God nor any knowledge whether or not the God they believed in was true God. The Christian, as a consequence of the revelation of the Anointed One, has both these privileges. To know the true God would be imperfect was not to it; the knowledge added that He whom we worship is the true God.

By saying that the Anointed One has come or is now in a godless society, He is accepted as Head of the Church and proclaimed by His apostles and evangelists. By calling Him “the true one,” He is distinct from all others, not regarding His attribute of truth, but His being the true God. Thereby Christians have an indwelling communion with the true God by their abiding fellowship with His Son. The next question is to whom “this” refers, whether to the Anointed One or to Him in whom we are. Of course, it is interpreted according to the doctrinal views of the interpreters; and at first sight it seems as if it were scarcely possible to define it more accurately. But, when we analyze it, it would seem enough to weigh the balance in favor of making the Anointed One the substantive to which “this” refers.

If we substitute another word for “this,” that other interpreters make a pronoun, it reads, “the true God is the true God.” He had already spoken of “the true one,” with Whom our communion places us in fellowship with the Anointed One, and therefore, to say again that “This is the true God, and eternal life,” has a sufficient difficulty to make us prefer the Anointed One as “this.” On the other hand, it may be said that “this” refers to the Anointed One implied in “the Son of Him,” or, more properly speaking, to the person signified by “him,” of whom the Anointed One was the Son; but “him” itself only refers to “true,” so that the difficulty is not gotten rid of by this suggestion. Moreover, the Anointed One is called “life,”[8] though the same might be equally predicated of the Trinity, personally or collectively.[9]

Welsh preacher David Thomas (1813-1894) says three extraordinary things in verse twenty. (I) The greatest FACT IN HUMAN HISTORY. There are many incredible facts in the history of the human race. But of all the points, the advent of the Anointed One to our world twenty-two centuries ago is the greatest. This fact is the most — 1. Undeniable. 2. Influential. 3. Vital to the interests of everyone. (II) The extraordinary CAPABILITY OF THE HUMAN MIND. What is that? “An understanding that we may know Him that is true.” Humans have many distinguishing faculties – imagination, memory, and intellect. But the capacity to know Him who is true is, for many reasons, more significant than all. 1. It is a rare faculty. The mighty millions do not have this power.[10] 2. It is an Anointed One-imparted faculty – “He has given us.” What is it? It is love. “Those that do not love don’t know God.” The Anointed One generates this love. Love alone can interpret love, “God is love.” (III) The incredible PRIVILEGE IN HUMAN LIFE. “We are in Him that is true, even in His Son Jesus the Anointed One.” This means that Jesus is the one true God.[11]

A staunch conservative who upheld the doctrine of eternal torment for sinners,  Joseph Angus (1816-1902) noticed that in addition to the moral themes in the Scriptures, evidence suggested by the morality of the Final Covenant, the character of our Lord, the open and honest sincerity and self-denial of the first Christians, and the ethical beauty of Christian principles, as illustrated in the lives of consistent believers, suggest a spiritual component. The intellect partly appreciates this evidence but still more by the heart and conscience. (1) So far as it treats unregenerate as the Gospel finds them, it applies equally to all.[12] (2) As far as it treats the regenerate as the gospel forms them, it appeals only to the believer.[13] Angus also notes that the Greek adjective alēthinos (“true”) in the sense of real, genuine, contrasted with fictitious, pretended, is found nine times in the Gospel,[14] six times in the Epistles,[15] and nine times in the Revelation.[16] [17]

After observing the Apostle John’s attention to detail, John Stock (1817-1884) feels that the Apostle John’s words are comparable to the many beautiful rays of a setting sun, which adorn the sky and forecast another coming day of splendor. So much is in them, and in inspired condensation, they exhaust every effort to unfold them. Though the Jews as a nation did not receive the Lord, a remnant according to the election of grace did receive Him, believed in Him, and know, with believing Gentiles, that He has come and no longer look for another. Therefore, they need not say with the Church before His first advent, “Hurry, my love! Be like a gazelle or a young deer on the spice mountains.[18] Nor do they, like Abraham, look by faith and rejoice in anticipation of the great incarnation, and see the Anointed One’s day, and be glad;[19] for they know that God’s Son has come, that He, the Sun of Righteousness, has risen with healing on His wings;[20] and that He is near to all them that call on Him; yes all such as call upon Him in truth.[21]

Dr. Stock then goes on to defend his view of the majestic message John has in verse twenty:

“We see days that kings and prophets desired to see, but did not.[22] We sit not in the twilight of Christianity but enjoy the glory of the Lord risen upon us; for our light is come, even He who is both our Light and Life.[23] By faith, we now see Him who is invisible and rejoice with unspeakable joy and full of Glory.[24] The Church now looks for the reappearing of the Lord Jesus, who will appear for a second time.[25] But unlike His first coming, where He who had no sin was made sin for us,[26] but coming to bestow on all them that trust in Him, salvation with eternal glory; salvation which He, as the Son of Man, now thoroughly enjoys, as the forerunner of His people.[27]

The blessed Lord gave Him an understanding that no human intuition can supply. He made God’s wisdom to His people; He gives them the Spirit of Truth, who searches all things, even the deep things of God so that they know the things freely given to them by God.[28] Therefore, they know Him that is true and are in union with Him that is true, even in God’s dear Son Jesus the Anointed One.

The Apostle Paul calls the faithful the children of the light and the day[29] and says that though they were sometimes darkness, they are now light in the Lord. Therefore, he urges them to walk as children of “the Light.[30] Paul then prays that they may possess the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of the Anointed One to gain understanding and be enlightened[31] to understand the Scriptures.[32] The closer we walk to God, the clearer and more assured He gives a believer good insight, wisdom, knowledge, and joy.[33]

The blessed Apostle John commended little children as knowing the Father and fathers as knowing Him from the beginning,[34] as all God’s children are taught about Him.[35] Thus they know Jesus, who is faithful, who embodies Truth, in whom the Mosaic ceremonial laws have found true fulfillment and in whom God’s people rest securely by having discovered Him of whom Moses and the Prophets wrote.[36] Therefore, they can repeat the words of the Apostle Thomas with complete confidence, “My Lord and my God![37]

Consequently, they are in Him, as the branch of the vine is in the vine from whence it derives its fruit: as the member of the body is in the head of that body, and hence has life; and here life eternal: for Christians are one with the Anointed One, and He one with them, and can say, “My beloved is mine, and I am His.”[38] Therefore, in this knowledge, which is in the heart and head, is life eternal; “For this is life eternal, that they might know Thee the only true God, and Jesus the Anointed One, whom Thou hast sent,” as the Lord said in His prayer to His Heavenly Father.[39] 

Such believers know and have faith in the doctrine of the ever-blessed, undivided Trinity in unity, and unity in Trinity; that the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God, and yet there are not three Gods, but one God. They know the infinite meritoriousness of the Anointed One’s sacrifice,[40] His power as our Mediator, and the certainty of spiritual and eternal life to all who have Him. And this knowledge will never fail to bless and secure them from deadly errors to rob eternal life God affirms He will not forsake them as they bring the spiritually blind in a way unknown to them and dispels the darkness of ignorance around them by His light of truth.[41]

The Lord Jesus, the Anointed One, with the Father and the Holy Spirit, are one; this is the true God and eternal life. Furthermore, He is its cause, fountain, bestower, and preserver until it will be revealed in the glorified bodies and consecrated spirits of the redeemed. At this time, its fullness is beyond conception until the Lord Jesus will be celebrated with His saints and admired by all who believe,[42] with the glory of eternal life!”[43]

[1]Permiss” is a noun used as a rhetorical device in which a thing is predicated on the decision of one’s opponent which is “a permitted choice.”

[2] Whedon, Daniel D., Commentary on the New Testament, op. cit., pp. 281-282

[3] Cf. 1 Thessalonians 5:23; 2 Thessalonians 3:16; Hebrews 13:20, 22

[4] 1 John 5:13

[5] Cf. John 1:12, 18; 17:2ff, 6, 25ff; 2 Corinthians 4:6; Ephesians 1:18; Eph 1:18 ) 

[6] Alford, Henry: The Greek Testament, op. cit., Vol. IV, p. 513

[7] Graham, William: The Spirit of Love, op. cit., pp. 353-355

[8] 1 John 1:2; John 14:6

[9] Jelf, William E., Commentary on the First Epistle of St. John, op. cit., pp. 81-82

[10] John 17:25-26

[11] Thomas, David: Homilist, Baptist Magazine by a Clergyman in England, 1862

[12] 1 Corinthians 14:24-25

[13] Romans 8:16; 1 John 5:20

[14] Luke 16:11; John 1:9; 4:23, 37; 6:32; 7:28;15:1; 17:3; 19:35

[15] 1 Thessalonians 1:9; Hebrews 8:2; 9:24; 10:22;1 John 2:8; 5:20

[16] Revelation 3:7, 14; 6:10; 15:3; 16:7; 19:2, 9, 11; 21:5; 22:6

[17] Angus, Joseph: The Bible Handbook, op. cit., pp. 110, 769 (4)

[18] Song of Solomon 8:14, The route the Nabateans took across the Negev with their camel trains was called the Spice Route; it stretched from the Persian Gulf (Arabia) to the ports of Gaza, passing through Petra (their capital) and Avdat. Their constant travel made for a transitory life. They did not live in houses, but they did build elaborate tombs for their dead, especially at Petra and Egra. Self-denial was a way of life, and they would not touch alcohol, which they saw as a sign of settling down.

[19] John 8:56

[20] Malachi 4:2

[21] Psalm 145:18

[22] Luke 10:24

[23] John 1:4

[24] 1 Peter 1:8

[25] Hebrews 9:28

[26] 2 Corinthians 5:21; Hebrews 9:26

[27] Hebrews 6:20

[28] 1 Corinthians 2:12

[29] 1 Thessalonians 5:6

[30] Ephesians 5:8

[31] Ephesians 1:17, 18

[32] Luke 24:45

[33] Ecclesiastes 2:26

[34] 1 John 2:13, 14

[35] Isaiah 54:13

[36] John 1:45

[37] Ibid. 2:28

[38] Song of Solomon 2:16

[39] John 17:3

[40] John 17:3

[41] Isaiah 42:16

[42] 2 Thessalonians 1:10

[43] Stock, John: An Exposition of the First Epistle of General of St., John, op. cit., pp. 462-465

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By Dr. Robert R. Seyda


CHAPTER FIVE (Lesson CXLI) 05/20/23

5:20 And we know that God’s Son has come and given us understanding. So now we can fellowship with the true One and live in union with that true God. We are in His Son, Jesus the Anointed One. He is the true God, and He is eternal life.

A dynamic speaker, and British Christadelphian critic,[1] H. P. Mansfield (1933-1987) states that anyone can look in vain in the Final Covenant where those people that bowed down to God’s Son and revered Him looked upon Him as God. Thomas said, “my Lord and my God.[2] The Apostle John speaks of Jesus the Anointed One as God.[3]In Hebrews, the Father says of His Son, “Your throne, O God, will last forever and ever; a scepter of justice will be the scepter of your kingdom.”[4]and in John’s Revelation, we read  about the rider on the white horse “treading the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty.”[5] So, Mr. Mansfield says the critic, please do not misrepresent God’s kingdom over which Jesus the Anointed One reigns. He reigns and will reign after He comes again.[6]

As a capable scripture analyst, Ian Howard Marshall (1934-2015) suggests that if humanity is divided into these two camps, how can a person find their way from one to the other? How could the church ever come into existence in a world that lies under the control of Satan? John’s third great declaration answers. God’s Son – none other than Jesus – has come into a godless society. He brought us an understanding of the truth, so we may know God’s true identity. Jesus’ mission was to bring knowledge of salvation. However, Jesus was misunderstood in terms of Gnosticism, the ancient religion which claimed that salvation comes through knowledge of the truths conveyed by the Revealer.

But the knowledge of which John speaks is different from that offered by Gnosticism. Throughout this Epistle, John has insisted on the incarnation of God’s Son, whereas the Gnostics would only allow that God’s Son was mystically united with Jesus. Moreover, John insisted on the death of Jesus to make an atoning sacrifice for our sins, whereas the Gnostics understood people’s need in terms of ignorance rather than of sin and hence saw no need for atonement. Finally, John insists on the need for belief in Jesus, whereas faith was replaced by knowledge in Gnostic types of religion.[7]

As a seasoned essayist on the Apostle John’s writings, John Painter (1935) points to the third “we know” in verse twenty and how it moves from statements about God’s children to address what we know about God’s Son. We know that he is coming. The verb “has come” is in the present tense. It implies a coming from the past with a continuing presence. Elsewhere the Apostle John uses the aorist passive “was revealed” to speak of His coming.[8] He was said to have come with a purpose: to take away sin and destroy the devil’s works.

Here the achievement of His appearance is viewed retrospectively. First, he has given us dianoia,understanding,” a word used only here in the Johannine writings and twelve times in the Final Covenant, where it sometimes translates as “heart.[9] It says that God “has scattered the proud in the imagination of their heart,[10] making “understanding” an aspect or function of the heart. That God has given us understanding suggests that it is a new understanding, a new heart, or a renewed mind,[11] a mind to know the True One.

The final sentence of verse twenty resonates with John’s Gospel[12] and continues to pose problems. To whom does “this” refer? The last person mentioned before this sentence is Jesus, the Anointed One. John does not hold back from referring to Jesus as God,[13] so reference to Jesus cannot be ruled out. However, the one implied appears to be God as “the one who is true.” When Jesus the Anointed One is referenced in the previous sentence, it is as “His Son Jesus the Anointed One,” so God is still the subject. The objection that the final reference to God as “this is the true God” is somewhat tautological is not without force. At the same time, John has a fair share of statements that approach repetition. Here, however, there is a point to the clear message because “this is the true God” is about to witness against idols in verse twenty-one. [14]

We see that John has been writing to refute the false dogma of the Gnostics who taught that Jesus was not the Anointed One, nor Divine. Then by what better way to conclude his remarks than to emphasize with such a positive statement that Jesus the Anointed One is indeed the true God, and He has eternal life? The Son, Jesus the Anointed One, has manifested as the very God of heaven. God covered Himself in the fleshly tabernacle of Jesus the Anointed One. As a human, our Savior walked among His creation. As God’s Son, our Redeemer died on the cross so blood could be shed to bring about humanity’s redemption, but God raised Him from the dead and highly exalted Him, taking Him to heaven as the disciples watched Him ascend. Jesus is the One who is coming back for His church shortly.[15]

As an articulate spokesman for the Reformed Faith movement, James Montgomery Boice (1938-2000) points out that verse twenty leads the Apostle John’s third “we know,” which is, as Stott notes, “the most fundamental of the three.” It strikes at the very root of the heretical Gnostic theology, for it is the affirmation that God’s Son, Jesus, has come into this world to give us knowledge of God and salvation. In other words, it is the assurance that He and nothing else is at the heart of Christianity; He and only He provides what all sinners desperately need. The need is not for philosophical enlightenment, as valuable as that may be in some areas.

The requirement is, first, to know God, and second, for a Savior. Knowledge of God, The first gift Jesus has brought us is the capacity to know God. It suggests that Jesus is God and that we see God in him, as he said to Philip,[16] and that we are incapable of spiritual sight until he gives it to us. Indeed, we are like the blind man in John’s Gospel,[17] who could not see the Anointed One and did not even seek Him until Jesus sought him and healed him. After that, we grow in knowledge as the blind man grew.[18]

The second gift of Jesus is salvation, which John suggests by one of his favorite terms: “eternal life.” Elsewhere he has indicated that the basis on which we enjoy such life is the atoning death of Jesus the Anointed One, to turn away God’s wrath against sin, and a new relationship established between God and the sinner. He has also indicated that the channel through which this life flows is faith, that is, believing in what God has said concerning the work of his Son and committing oneself to Him as Savior. Finally, however, John dwells on the idea of “eternal life,” indicating that the knowledge of God and union with him is life in complete salvation. [19]

Expositor and systematic theologist Michael Eaton (1942-2017) points out that the third thing we know is that God’s Son is come and given us understanding so that we may know the True One, and we are in the One who is true, in His Son Jesus the Anointed One. This is the true God and eternal life. John is utterly confident that he and his disciples are the authentic heirs of the message of Jesus. His words summarize the gospel over and against the teaching of the heretics. Jesus has come as God’s Son. The Son of God is also the man, Jesus, and the divine Savior, the Anointed One.[20]

Great Commission practitioner David Jackman (1945) finds that verse twenty brings a new awareness of God. This last great conviction is the ground and substance of the two preceding mentions of “we know.” Our victorious faith is grounded in what God has done in history, in the Anointed One. Christians know that Jesus the Anointed One has come in the flesh[21] and that He came by water and blood.[22] Understanding this seems to be a spiritual and intellectual capacity to receive the truth. God’s truth is addressed to the mind and penetrates the heart to activate the will, but it is not primarily understood intellectually.

There is always a further moral and spiritual aspect involved. Understanding Christian truth is not a matter of mastering doctrinal formulations, vital though they are or grasping abstract philosophical ideas like those the Gnostics spread, of meeting, knowing, and submitting to the person who is Truth. This kind of knowledge becomes fellowship. For Jesus, God’s Son, came to bring us into a personal relationship with God. The faithful Christian can be sure, therefore, that his mind has been illuminated and his will motivated by the Holy Spirit of truth, who has revealed Jesus as the true Son of God and through whom we come to know the true God, who is eternal life. [23]

After studying the context surrounding this verse, John W. (Jack) Carter (1947) imagines that the early church, much like the church today, was attacked by opponents both outside of the fellowships and within.  The culture tended to draw Christians away from the truth, pressuring them to accept their pagan beliefs and practices.  In addition, there were those within the body attempting to influence others using anything from erroneous doctrine to outright lies and deception.  The Apostle John wrote this letter as a resource to return an embattled and scattering fellowship to the truth of the Gospel, the validity of the nature and purpose of Jesus, and the truth concerning the surety of their salvation. [24]

According to Robert Jamieson (1802-1880), Andrew Fausset (1821-1910), and David Brown’s (1803-1897) way of thinking, the Apostle John wanted everyone to discover and understand that the Anointed One, God’s Son, came to give us eternal life is the summary of Christian privilege. The Anointed One’s office is to provide the inner spiritual understanding to discern the things of God. Some of the oldest Greek Manuscripts read, “(so) that we know” Him who is the authentic God – as opposed to every kind of idol or false god.[25] Jesus, by His oneness with God the Father, is also “He that is true.”[26] Even – “we are in the true” God, by being “in His Son Jesus the Anointed One.”[27]

With his lifework well-illustrating the biblical and reformation ideal of a pastor-theologian, Robert S. Candlish (1807-1873) points out that this is the third and last “we know” in verses eighteen to twenty. John insists that the Gnostics were the heretics of his day but in a better and safer sense. They pretended to be allknowing in the intellectual sphere of abstract speculation about divine nature. In contrast, the Apostle John would have us to be knowing, in the humbler yet really higher and holier experience of honest, direct, personal acquaintance and fellowship with the Divine Being, as coming down to us, poor sinners, in His Son, and taking us up, by His Spirit, to be sons and saints in His holy child Jesus. Those born of God do not sin because they keep themselves so that the wicked one cannot touch them.

Consequently, we are of God in contrast with a godless society, which lies wholly in the wicked; these are the two former examples of “we know.” And now the third “we know” has respect, neither to our standing as being of God, nor to a godless society’s position as lying in the wicked one but to Him who causes or occasions the difference, “God’s Son.” It would almost seem as if there was a regular syllogism[28] here; an argument built up in three propositions; two premises and a conclusion. First, there is the major premiss, in the general assertion, abstract and impersonal; “we know” that being born of God implies not sinning, since “he that is born of God keeps himself, and the wicked one cannot touch him.”

[1] The unitarian Christadelphian organization says there is no central authority to establish and maintain a standardized set of beliefs and it depends upon what statement of faith is adhered to and how liberal the ecclesia is, but there are core doctrines most Christadelphians would accept. In the formal statements of faith, a more complete list is found; for instance, the Birmingham Amended Statement of Faith has 30 doctrines to be accepted and 35 to be rejected.

[2] John 20:28

[3] 1 John 5:20

[4] Hebrews 1:8

[5] Revelation 19:11-15

[6] Mansfield, H. P., The Truth Vindicated, Sixth Debate February 27, 1962, p. 139

[7] Marshall, Ian Howard: The Epistles of John (The New International Commentary on the New Testament), op. cit., pp. 253-254

[8] See 1 John 1:2; 3:5, 8

[9] Matthew 22:37; Mark 12:30; Luke 10:27; and see Deuteronomy 6:5; Luke 1:51

[10] Genesis 6:5

[11] Romans 12:2

[12] John 17:3

[13] John 1:1, 18; 20:28

[14] Painter, John. Sacra Pagina: 1, 2, and 3 John: Volume 18, op. cit., loc. cit., Kindle Edition

[15] Walls, Muncia: Epistles of John and Jude, op. cit., pp. 96-97

[16] John 14:9

[17] Ibid. 9:1-38

[18] Cf. Ibid 9:11, 17, 33, 36, 38

[19] Boice, James Montgomery: The Epistles of John, An Expository Commentary, op. cit., pp. 147-149

[20] Eaton, Michael: Focus on the Bible, 1,2,3 John, op. cit., p. 197

[21] 1 John 4:2

[22] Ibid. 5:6

[23] Jackman, David: The Message of John’s Letters, op. cit., pp. 171-171

[24] Carter, Dr. John W. (Jack). 1,2,3, John & Jude: (The Disciple’s Bible Commentary Book 48), op. cit., p. 137

[25] 1 John 5:21

[26] Revelation 3:7

[27] Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown’s Commentary on the Whole Bible, New Testament Volume, op. cit., p. 731

[28] Syllogism is an instance of a form of reasoning in which a conclusion is drawn from two given or assumed premises, each of which shares a term with the conclusion and shares a common or middle term not present in conclusion (e.g., all dogs are animals; all animals have four legs; therefore all dogs have four legs).

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By Dr. Robert R. Seyda


CHAPTER FIVE (Lesson CXL) 05/19/23

5:20 And we know that God’s Son has come and given us understanding. So now we can fellowship with the true One and live in union with that true God. We are in His Son, Jesus the Anointed One. He is the true God, and He is eternal life.

Fourth, we come back to this confession of John, for to question it is to make missionary enterprise, if not a laughing stock, at least a much-ado-about-nothing. “We are of God, and the whole world is wicked.” Of course, we may not always confidently say who are God’s children and who belongs to the wicked ones. Nevertheless, these are the certainties of the Christian heart, never to be let go or explained away; these form the basis and inspiration of missionary purpose and work. And indeed, the measure of our assurance is the measure of our obligation. The more we know these things, the greater our burden of responsibility.[1]

With his stately speaking style,  William M. Sinclair (1850-1917) focuses on the truth that God has given us an understanding of Himself. [2] This spiritual faculty of discernment was one of the gifts of that Spirit that the Anointed One was to send.[3] Therefore, we believe in Him that is true, who is the personality of God amidst all the deceptions and fluctuations of a godless society.  The Apostle John felt, with the most absolute and penetrating and thankful conviction, that the followers of the Anointed One were rooted and grounded in perfect, unshakable, unassailable truth.

This firmness could not happen unless they rested on the living Son of God and held fast to Him. In addition, a sacred and shining crown to the whole Epistle is that this God, “as seen in His Son,”is the true God. If the Word had not been God, God could not have been seen in Him. And God, seen in His Son, is eternal life. It is only another way of putting what John says in his Gospel.[4]  Making “this is the true God” refer only to the Son is equally admissible by grammar but hardly suits the argument well.[5]

One of the most influential Anglican reconcilers, Charles Gore (1853-1932), here, we observe the Apostle John’s insistence on the importance of proper thinking about God. “We are to love the Lord our God with all our understanding, as well as with all our heart and soul and strength.”[6] It is shallowness, or shortness of thought, which causes so many to talk as if “what exactly people believe” is not essential as long as their hearts are right.

The fact is that however much inconsistency there may be between intellectual belief and practice at any particular moment or for any specific individual, in the long run, how people behave – the character of their whole civilization, indeed – depends upon what they believe about God. Thus John has a clear idea of the fellowship of mutual love to establish a Christian society.

Still, he remains convinced that this sort of society can come into being and maintain itself only if people believe that the very being of God is love, which must, therefore, be the law of a godless society. John is convinced that this assurance about God’s nature has come to us and can be maintained in no other way than through the belief that the hidden Father has shown, His mind and being in the historical person, Jesus, the Anointed One and Son of God – so truly one with the Father that in knowing Him we know the Father, and in being joined to Him we are united to the Father. He says this is the real God, in contrast to all the idols of men’s ungoverned imagination.[7]

Beyond any doubt, remarks Alonzo R. Cocke (1858-1901), that in verse twenty, we come to another of the Apostle John’s “we know.” Even though a godless society lies in sin, we have the sweet knowledge that God’s Son is come and gone as far as to touch our understanding with such heavenly enlightenment that we can “know Him that is true.” Only through the Son comes that knowledge of the true One, for all spiritual knowledge, is grounded in our fellowship with God through the spiritual life He gave us. The Anointed One brings us that life and engrafts us upon the root where all life and power flow. The Son must lead us to the true God and endow us with that keen sense of the spiritual life whereby the true God is known. But this knowledge goes even further: we know the true One; but more, we know that “we are in Him that is true, even in His Son Jesus the Anointed One.” What divine knowledge!

What a holy sphere in which to live, in Him that is true; but how exalted the privilege to know with the most resounding assurance that we are in that home of the soul. John arises on the wings of confidence to the heavenlies themselves. But those disciples were in a world of idol worship. He desires them to keep themselves pure from all contamination with idols. So, first, he reveals the true God. “This,” that is, “Him that is true, even His Son Jesus the Anointed One, is the true God.” He is the God to be worshipped, the eternal and infinite One; yes, He is “eternal life.” “In Him was life,”[8]and hence he is said to be “eternal life.” Life is, by figure, but for the author or procuring cause of life. Thus this beautiful epistle draws to a close, assuring us of the eternal life in its opening verses told us had been “manifested.”[9]

Esteemed ministry veteran James B. Morgan (1859-1942) It is apparent how frequently the Apostle John uses the expression “we know” and how many insights he applies. Confining our attention to the chapter before us, we read: “we know that we love the children of God,” … “we know that we have eternal life,” … “we know that we have the petitions we desired of Him,” … “We know that whosoever is born of God does not sin” … “we know that we are of God …” “we know that God’s Son has come” and “we know Him that is true.” This style is uncomplicated and is no less instructive but provides an example of the Christian religious nature. That is not an opinion but a certainty. Neither is it doubtful speculation but a reality we are conscious of. This remark applies to all essential elements in the Gospel of the Anointed One, the significant objects of faith, and our interest in them.

Everyone who truly apprehends it knows its truth and, with their fellowship, knows the Anointed One and the salvation He has conferred upon them. They know this to be true in the same way that they see the value of the food that nourishes them or the attire that clothes them by experience. Therefore, they can say, “I am not ashamed of the Gospel of the Anointed One, for it is the power of God and the wisdom of God to salvation to everyone that believes.”[10] They know it’s true because they have felt its power.[11]

A man who appreciates Jesus’ embodiment of the divine transforming emotion on how we live in this world, Robert Law (1860-1919) states that in verse twenty, we find the certainty of Christian Belief and the facts upon which it rests, and the supernatural power which has quickened it to the perception of those facts. Then with a final reiteration of the real significance of the Epistle, “This is the true God and Eternal Life,” and an abrupt and sternly affectionate call to all believers to beware of yielding the homage of their trust and dependence to the hopeless shadows which slink nearby to usurp the place of the True God.[12] 

Most scholars assume that in the Epistle, God is the absolute final source of that life – Eternal Life – the possession of which is the supreme end for which man, and every spiritual nature, exists. So, it is implied in John’s testimony, “This is the witness, that God gave us Eternal Life,[13]” and in all the passages, too numerous to be quoted, that speak of the existence of this Life as the result of a Divine birth. That God is also the inherent source of Life – that it exists and is maintained only through a continuous vitalizing union with Him, as of the branch with the vine – is no less implied in those equally numerous passages that speak of our abiding in God and God abiding in us.[14]

Thinking as a dispensationalist, Arno C. Gaebelein (1861-1945) notes that the conclusion of the Apostle John’s Epistle consists of three statements that “we know.” We know that whoever is born of God does not sin, but He (he) that is born of God keeps himself, and that wicked one does not touch Him (him).” Sin is the touch of the wicked one. If the believer guards himself by living in fellowship with the Father and the Son, walking in the Light, the wicked one cannot reach him; he lives according to his new nature without sinning.

So, we who are of God in a world that cohabits with the wicked should remain separated. If believers are not, they move around in the wicked one’s territory, and the author of sin finds occasion to touch them and lead them to sin. However, since we know that God’s Son has come and given us an understanding that we may know Him that is true, and we are in Him that is true, even in His Son Jesus the Anointed One – the true God and eternal life, we should be safe in this world.[15]

In reviewing what the Apostle John says in this verse, Archibald T. Robertson (1863-1939) mentions the Apostle John’s use of “understanding” is only here in verse twenty, while it appears in the Apostle Paul’s[16] and the Apostle Peter’s writings.[17] John only uses “knowledge” and “mind” in Revelations.[18] It is essential in understanding these references to note why the Apostles chose the word they did.[19]

With characteristic fundamental thinking, Alan England Brooke (1863-1939) highlights the fact that the Anointed One, God’s Son, fulfilled His mission by doing the work characterized by His name (Yeshua – “Savior”), and the effects continue to this day. Thus, the Apostle John uses the word “understanding” not found elsewhere in his writings. The faculty of “knowing” or “discerning” is what it expresses. The faculty of knowing, or discerning, seems to be what it describes. It is worth noting that “knowing” or “knowledge” is also absent from the Johannine writings, and “understanding” occurs only twice elsewhere.[20] Also, “that we may know” is well supported here, as in John’s Gospel.[21]

Furthermore, God, the One who alone completely corresponds to His ‘‘Name,” in whom the idea is completely realized. The attempt to make God the subject of “understanding,” notwithstanding the preceding “has come” and to interpret “the true” of the Anointed One, hardly needs serious refutation. The God who “fulfills the highest conception” of the Godhead can only be known through the faculty of discernment given by His Son, through His historic appearance on earth. John is already mentally contrasting the true with the false conceptions of God against which he warns his readers in the last verse of the Epistle.

The phrase, “and we are in Him that is true,” must have the same reference here as in the preceding clause. Therefore, there is no difficulty supposing that John, who uses the phrase “that we may know Him that is true,” should use the words “we are in Him that is true” concerning God. The following clause supports this interpretation. To interpret the words “in His Son Jesus the Anointed One” as being in apposition to “in Him that is true,” appended to leave no doubt as to the change of reference in “in him that is true,” is far less natural than “the Son of Him” description of the method in which union with God is realized.[22]

With an eye for detail, David Smith (1866-1932) states that the assurance and guarantee of it are the facts of the Incarnation, an overwhelming demonstration of God’s interest in us and His concern for our highest good. Not simply a historical fact but an ongoing operation not “came,” but “has come” and “has given us.” Our faith is not a matter of philosophical theory but of personal and growing acquaintance with God through the enlightenment of the Anointed One’s Spirit, “the real” as opposed to “the false” God of the heretics.[23]

As a spiritual mentor, Ronald A. Ward (1920-1986) notes that when the Apostle John says that God’s Son has come, the usual effect of using the present tense would be “He is now here,” but this does not apply in verse twenty. Therefore, His abiding is not physical but spiritual in every believer. That means “a godless society will never be the same again” as before He came. Yes, He came and made atonement for our sins to gain God’s forgiveness, which is still available by grace. And this gift God gave us through His Son – which we now possess – as insight to know Him; we need this gift because before we received it, we were “living in the darkness of ignorance.”[24] Our confidence stands on the fact that we are in Him who is genuine, whose permanent gift of the Spirit[25] and the perpetual offering of understanding[26] includes moral and spiritual discrimination and discernment.[27]

With academic precision, Stephen S. Smalley (1931-2018) mentions that for the third and final time, John speaks of the grounds of Christian confidence by using the verb “we know” or “we can be sure”). But on this occasion, the reference is to the Anointed One; it is accordingly fundamental in character and triumphant in tone. How, it may be asked, can we “cross the line” from death to life and be rescued from a godless society and the evil one? John answers the question by speaking of God’s Son, whose person and work are the means of eternal life and the basis of all Christian certainty.  Nevertheless, we can be sure that God’s Son has come even while the whole world lies in the grip of the evil one.[28]

An insistent believer in Grace, Zane Clark Hodges (1932-2008) agrees that the coming of God’s Son granted believers an understanding which made possible a more excellent knowledge of God. John and his circle were in Him who is true (and so were his readers as they continued to “abide” in Him). But to stay in God is to abide in His Son Jesus the Anointed One. For that matter, Jesus the Anointed One is the true God[29] and eternal life.[30] With this grand affirmation of the deity of the Anointed One, John concluded his summary of apostolic truths that stand against the antichrists’ falsehoods.[31]

Inspired by Jesus’ words, “go into all a godless society,” Edward J. Malatesta (1932-1998) says the Christological reflection of 5:18-20 clarifies while summarizing several points of the Christology of 2:29-3:10, as the following comparison shows:

3:9 the one born of God does not sin5:18 the one born of God does not sin
3:9 because His seed remains in them5:18 because the One who birthed them protects them
3:8 God’s Son came to destroy the works of the devil5:18 the evil one does not touch God’s children
3:6 everyone who remains in Jesus does not sin5:20 we are in the truthful One, in His Son, Jesus the Anointed One

The three certitudes introduced by “we know” are followed by a final proclamation which is the letter’s most developed confession of faith concerning Jesus: “He is the truthful One, God and Life eternal.”

[1] Greenhough, John G., The Cross in Modern Life, The Expositor’s Library, Published by Hodder and Stoughton, New York, 1914, Ch. XII, The Certainties of our Warfare, pp. 120-121.

[2] Cf. Acts of the Apostles 26:18; 1 Corinthians 2:12-15; Ephesians 1:18

[3] Cf. 1 John 2:20, 27; See John 14:26; 16:13

[4] John 17:3; cf. 1 John 5:11-13

[5] Sinclair, William M., New Testament Commentary for English Readers, Charles J. Ellicott,  op. cit., Vol. 3, p. 494

[6] Deuteronomy 6:5; Matthew 22:

[7] Gore, Charles: The Epistles of St. John, op. cit., p. 218

[8] 1 John 1:4

[9] Cocke, Alonzo R: Studies in the Epistles of John; or, The Manifested Life, op. cit., pp. 137-139

[10] Romans 1:16-17

[11] Morgan, James B., An Exposition of the First Epistle of John, op. cit., Lecture LI, pp. 508-509

[12] Law, Robert: The Tests of Life: A Study of the First Epistle of St. John, op. cit., p. 273

[13] 1 John 5:11

[14] Law, Robert: The Tests of Life: A Study of the First Epistle of St. John, op. cit., p. 54

[15] Gaebelein, Arno C., The Annotated Bible, op. cit., pp. 160-161

[16] Ephesians 1:18; 4:18

[17] 1 Peter 1:13

[18] Revelations 13:18; 17:9

[19] Robertson, Archibald T., Word Pictures in the New Testament,  op. cit., pp. 1971-1972

[20] Revelation 13:18; 17:9

[21] John 17:3

[22] Brooke, Alan E., A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Johannine Epistles, op. cit., pp. 150-153

[23] Smith, David: The Expositor’s Greek Testament, 1 John, op. cit., p. 199

[24] Ephesians 4:18; cf. John 14:17; 1 Corinthians 2:14

[25] 1 John 4:13

[26] Ibid. 5:20

[27] Ward, Ronald A., The Epistles on John and Jude, op. cit., pp. 59-60

[28] Smalley, Stephen S., Word Biblical Commentary, Vol. 51, 1,2,3 John, op. cit., pp. 305-306

[29] Cf. John 1:1, 14

[30] Cf. 1 John 1:2; 2:25; 5:11-13

[31] Hodges, Zane C., Bible Knowledge Commentary, op. cit., loc. cit.

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By Dr. Robert R. Seyda


CHAPTER FIVE (Lesson CXXXIX) 05/18/23

5:20 And we know that God’s Son has come and given us understanding. So now we can fellowship with the true One and live in union with that true God. We are in His Son, Jesus the Anointed One. He is the true God, and He is eternal life.

What object is gained by saying this? (4) the Anointed One is not only the immediate antecedent; whatever may be said to the contrary, he is the principal subject of the preceding part of the verse. To be convinced of this, one must read it carefully. (5) Life eternal Is the predicate, not of the Father, but the Son, especially in John’s writing.[1] The Scriptural thought is that the Father has life, but the Son is life. To call the Anointed One life eternal is to unite the closing of the Epistle with its beginning. (6) To call the Anointed One, the Son, the true God harmonizes with statements in the Gospel and Revelation of John.[2]

With the ability of a linguist’s concentration on nuances, Greek word scholar Marvin R. Vincent (1834-1921) says we should compare this verse with scriptures in the Apostle John’s Book of Revelations.[3] Also, on “true,” look at what John says in his Gospel.[4] Vincent then suggests reading what Evangelist Henry Drummond (1851-1897 wrote. Here is what we found:

Just as naturally as the flower and the mineral and the Man, each in their way, tell me about themselves, He tells me about Himself. He strangely condescends in making things plain to me, assuming for a time the Form of a Man that I may better see Him at my poor level. It is my opportunity to know Him. This incarnation is God making Himself accessible to human thought – God opening to man the possibility of correspondence through Jesus, the Anointed One. And this correspondence and this Environment are those I seek. He assures me, ‘This is Life Eternal, that they might know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus the Anointed One whom You sent.’ Do I not now discern the more profound meaning in ‘Jesus the Anointed One whom You sent?’ Do I not better understand with what vision and rapture the deepest of the disciples exclaims, ‘The Son of God is come, and has given us an understanding that we might know Him that is True?’”[5] [6]

Noting the Apostle John’s doctrinal implications, John James Lias (1834-1923) examines the Apostle John’s three concluding thoughts in verses eighteen, nineteen, and twenty. First is the knowledge that a Divine power protects us from sin. (I) This promise rests on the fact that we have been born of God; for example, our confidence is in God, not in ourselves, in the new life, not the old one. We have not yet attained the condition of which the Apostle speaks. But (a) we are tending there, and (b) the practical value of knowledge is that whenever we realize this one source of strength, we have it. The feebleness of our hold on the truth is the cause of our many falls. We never fall, but when we forget on whom we are to rely.

(II) It also rests on God’s Son’s protection. Since our faith is too feeble to conceive of God (a) He has taken man’s shape and thus brought Himself within reach of our capacities. And (b) He is one of ourselves. If we have been born of God, it is through the agency of one the One. The allusion here may be (1) to the eternal Son by the Father or (2) to His assumption of human flesh. But whichever it be, “He was not ashamed to call us brethren.[7] (3) The evil one has no power over those over whom Jesus watches. It is not that he cannot tempt them, for he tempted Him.

It is not that we have not sinned, for “in many things, we offend all.” But it is that He Who conquered sin in our mortal flesh, in our fallen nature, can defeat it in us. And hence, however many the assaults of the evil one may be, we have only to believe that we are in the Anointed One to overcome them all.[8]

With his systematic spiritual mindset, Augustus Hopkins Strong (1836-1921) proclaims that being in God has its basis in the Anointed One, His Son, and this also makes it more natural that “this” should refer to “the Son.” But ought not “is true” then to be without the article as in John’s Gospel? [9] No, for John’s purpose here in verse twenty is not to say what the Anointed One is but who He is. In declaring what one is, the predicate must have no article; in declaring who one is, the predicate must have the article. So John says that this Son, on whom our being in the true God rests, is this faithful God.[10]

A tried and tested biblical scholar who believes in the up-building of the Christian life, Robert Cameron (1839-1904) concludes that the Apostle John has a third truth he wants his readers to know. What we learn in this case is only imparted to us, however, that we may understand something else – the highest and the most divine thing that may come to the understanding of man. We realize that God’s Son has come and given us understanding. A better rendering would be insight, or to be still more exact, a through and through knowledge. We have the power to penetrate things, to understand them as they are. In the spiritual realm, we have given what the X-ray is in the sphere of matter. We can trace life’s complex facts and mysteries and arrive at correct conclusions.

This gift is doubtless through the illuminating power of the Holy Spirit, who guides us into all truth. He has entered our hearts, giving us this penetrating insight that we may come to know, by a continuous and progressive apprehension, “Him that is true.” “That I may know Him,”[11] said Paul, long after he had become a believer. Thus, outwardly to our senses, we have a person revealed; inwardly to our consciousness, we have a personal revelation.

This opens the eyes of our understanding so that “we know” the trustworthy Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are here, although John does not mention them by name. The Son makes the revelation; the Spirit he gives furnishes the illumination, and the everlasting God, even the Father, becomes known to our hearts. “This is eternal life that they may know thee, the only true God.” 

What blessed knowledge this is! We know that the one begotten of God does not practice sin; we know that we are of God, while a godless society lies in the evil one; and we know that Jesus has come and has given us a clearness of perception that by this means we may know the real and true God. We are back to God, and we know Him better than knowing anyone – better than we can know ourselves.[12] [13]

As a secular and sacred Law enforcer, Sir Robert Anderson (1841-1918) mentions that calling someone by their first or nickname implies excellent familiarity. So, if there are Christians who have gained such a position with their Lord and Savior, it is not for us to judge them. But when those who claim no such place must not allow ourselves to be betrayed by their example into thoughts or modes of speech which His presence would rebuke and silence. If we desire “to sanctify the Anointed One in our hearts as Lord, we will be careful and eager to own Him as Lord with our lips.” And all influences that hinder the realization of that desire are unwholesome, and we do well to shun them.

However, the message the Apostle Paul had for the Corinthians[14] give us faith and hope in Christianity, and no one who lets go of any part of the truth they express has any right to the name of Christian. To reject the hope of His return is a mark of apostasy as denying the Atonement. And no spiritual Christian will need to be reminded of the significance of the word, the Lord’s death. “The death of Jesus” might mean the end of His earthly life in Judea long ago. It is the prevailing thought in Christendom, with the crucifix symbolizing it.

Faith brings us into the presence of the Lord in His glory, and we rest upon His words, “I am the living one. I died but look – I am alive forever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and the grave.”[15] Therefore, as John says in verse twenty, “We know that God’s Son came[16] – that is the Christian’s past. However, “But from now on the Son of Man will be seated in the place of power at God’s right hand[17] – that is present. And as for the future, “We eagerly waiting for Him to return as our Savior.”[18] [19]

With his Spirit-directed calculating mind, Alfred Plummer (1841-1926) agrees with other commentators that verse twenty introduces the third remarkable fact of which believers have specific knowledge. The first two Christian certitudes are that the believer, as a child of God, progresses under the Anointed One’s protection towards the sinlessness of God. At the same time, the unbelieving world lies wholly in the power of the evil one.

Therefore, Christians know that both in the moral nature they inherited and in the moral sphere in which they live, there is an ever-widening gulf between them and a godless society. But their knowledge goes beyond this. Even in the intellectual sphere, in which the Gnostic claims to have such advantages, Christians are superior by being joint heirs with the Anointed One.

Also, the Greek δέ (“and”) brings the Epistle to a conclusion:[20] Or it may mark the opposition between a godless society’s evil case and what is stated here; in which case δέ should be rendered “but.” Furthermore, the phrase “is come” includes the notion of “is here,” but it is the arriving at the incarnation rather than the perpetual presence that is prominent in this context. Giving us “an understanding” means the capacity to receive knowledge.

In John’s writings, the Greek noun dianoiaunderstanding” occurs nowhere else. But John isn’t finished yet. This was all done “that we may know” literally, “that we may continue to recognize, as we do now” (the Greek conjunction,  ἵνα, “that”) with the indicative. It is the appropriation of the knowledge John emphasizes; hence “recognize” (Greek verb ginōskō) rather than “know” as used in the opening of verses eighteen, nineteen, and twenty, meaning: the possession of the knowledge.

Finally, “Him that is true” God; another parallel with the Anointed One’s Prayer; “that they should know You the only true God,”[21] where some authorities give the conjunction ἵνα (“that”) with the indicative, as here. “True” does not mean “that cannot lie,”[22] but “genuine,” “real,” “authentic,” as opposed to the false gods in verse twenty-one. What is Gnostic’s claim to superior understanding in comparison with this? We know that we have the Divine gift of intelligence, which means we attain the knowledge of a personal God who embraces and sustains us in His Son. As such, “we are in Him.”

Also, “Him that is true” again means God. It is arbitrary to change the meaning and make this refer to the Anointed One. Thus, “The Son has given us understanding by which to attain the knowledge of the Father.” Instead of resuming “and we do know the Father,” John advances by saying: “And we are in the Father.” Knowledge has become fellowship.[23] God has appeared as a human; God has spoken person to person; and the Christian faith, which is the one absolute certainty for humanity and means of reuniting them to God, is the result. Yes, “even in His Son Jesus the Anointed One.” Omit “even” in the KJV and Revised Version (RV) to make “in Him that is true” refers to the Anointed One. This last clause explains how we are in the Father by being in the Son.[24] [25]

With regal etiquette, Ernst von Dryander (1843-1922) hears the Apostle John’s urging to resist evil, which we as Christians must make, as was taken and adhered to by the Apostle, yet he did not take it nor carry it out in his strength. “We know,” he says, “that whosoever is born of God does not sin,” but this certainty rests upon a further conviction, “We know that we are of God.” That is the foundation of his Christian life. This blessed conviction gives believers the spirit of peace, which assures their faith is “the victory that survives living in a godless society.” And from where do people get this conviction? None received it by good decisions nor gained it in Bible School or Seminary but learned they were not born of God. The discipline of repentance is needed before anyone can belong to Him.

Instead, it is discovered here in verse twenty: “We know that God’s Son is come, and has given us an understanding that we may know Him that is true, and we are in Him that is true, even in His Son, Jesus the Anointed One.” They received this new Divine life from the Anointed One, and from Him, they also received this blessed conviction of their salvation. In following the Anointed One, a new “understanding” dawned upon them, whereby they perceived the unseen world, learned to know their God as “Him that is true,” and realized that life on earth is but a shadow. Redemption in Jesus the Anointed One is the act of grace that snatches us from the service of the evil world and gives us new life from God, over which sin has no more power. The coming of God’s Son (i.e., His work of Redemption) has given us a new “understanding,” whereby “we may know Him that is true” (i.e., God).[26]

A prominent Baptist minister John Gershom Greenhough (1843-1933), who focused on the key role played by Nonconformity in nurturing the labor movement in late Victorian and Edwardian Britain, opines that this has been called the Epistle of Love, and it well deserves that title; but it might be more appropriately called the Epistle of Certainties. There is a ring of absolute assurance from the opening words to the finish. Nor was the language of this Apostle John at all unfamiliar or hard to understand. As he wrote and spoke, he felt and testified to all those first witnesses of the Anointed One.

First, John testified that the strength and dominant power of the early disciples were in their certainties. It was the age of skepticism, a period of almost universal uncertainty. People were everywhere boastfully declaring or mournfully confessing that nothing was or could be known about the higher powers and a future life. And then these Apostles went forth with triumphant certainty on their lips, holding the clue to all the great mysteries in their hands. No wonder people gathered around to hear them.

Second, the certainties of the Apostolic Church made it a missionary Church. The boldness of that early faith was magnificent. There was no hesitation because there was no doubt. They could neither fear nor hold back nor sit still in their absolute assurance. Every church must stay alive and earnest and aggressive. In this respect, the Gospel never changes. Third, the measure of our certainty is the measure of our power. In all future ministry, the one essential is the absolute assurance we hold proven truths, that our weapons have been forged in God’s furnace, that the Holy Spirit has given us directions, and Divine lips uttered the promises which inspire us. Also, that He in whose Name we go out is the only true God and eternal life. The Church has had enough of the pruning hook and the dissecting knife. She wants to use the sword again in her real warfare. She wants to feel her feet again planted on apostolic certainties.

[1] 1 John 11; 2:5: 1,1,2; 5:11m 12m 1311, 12, 13

[2] Sawtelle, Henry A., Commentary on the Epistles of John, op. cit., pp. 63-64

[3] Revelation 3:7, 14; 6:10

[4] John 1:9

[5] Drummond, Henry: Natural Law in the Spiritual World, Published by Hodder and Stoughton, London, 1898, pp. 240-241

[6] Vincent, Marvin R., Word Studies in the New Testament, op. cit., p. 374

[7] Hebrews 2:11

[8] Lias, John James: The First Epistle of St. John with Homiletical Treatment, op. cit., pp. 411-420

[9] John 1:1

[10] Strong, Augustus H: Systematic Theology, Vol. 1, p. 556

[11] Philippians 3:10

[12] Philippians 3:10

[13] Cameron, Robert: The First Epistle of John, or, God Revealed in Light, Life, and Love, op. cit., p. 248

[14] 1 Corinthians 11:26

[15] Revelation 1:18

[16] 1 John 5:20

[17] Luke 22:69; cf. Romans 8:34

[18] Philippians 3:20

[19] Anderson, Sir Robert: The Lord from Heaven, op. cit., pp. 79-80

[20] Hebrews 13:20, 22

[21] See John 17:3

[22] Titus 1:2

[23] 1 John 1:3; 2:3, 5

[24] Cf. 1 John 2:23; John 1:14, 17, 18, 23

[25] Plummer, Alfred: The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges, N. T., Vol. IV., pp. 171-172

[26] Dryander, Ernst von: A Commentary on the First Epistle of St. John in the Form of Addresses, op. cit., p. 249

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By Dr. Robert R. Seyda



5:20 And we know that God’s Son has come and given us understanding. So now we can fellowship with the true One and live in union with that true God. We are in His Son, Jesus the Anointed One. He is the true God, and He is eternal life.

Familiar with John’s writing style, William B. Pope (1822-1903) says that the Apostle John’s words in verse twenty should remind us of the only occasion “God’s Son is come,” is used in this sense is when our Lord declared to the Jews in one sentence the mystery of His eternal Sonship, His presence in a godless society by incarnation, and His mediatorial mission: “If God were your Father, you would love me, because I have come to you from God. I am not here on my own, but He sent me.”[1] The children of God know with an assurance that is above all doubt that God’s Son is incarnate with the human race and “lived among us.” 

It is John’s triumphant closing of his Epistle, as it is a testimony to the manifestation of eternal life and a protest against all anti-Christian error. Keeping both these objects in view, John goes on: “and has given us understanding that we may know Him that is true.” This word “understanding” signifies the inner faculty of the Spirit, which discriminates “know,” which is the result of the “unction from the Holy One.”

Through this inward enlightenment by Him, who is the Truth, through His Spirit, we “know” Him that is true, as the “only real God.” It is the “only true God” in His unapproachable distinction from all false gods or objects of hope, who is eternal life. In the words of Jesus, the Anointed One has come because He was sent. But He came as God revealed, and John hastens from the spiritual knowledge to the spiritual experience of fellowship with that Father, not “and” Jesus but “in union with Him.” Thus, we are one with His Son Jesus the Anointed One. The absence of “and” leaves the plain assertion that we are in the true God by being in His Son – thus making the true God and His Son one – is the solution to the question to whom the following clause refers.

This is the true God and eternal life. His Son Jesus the Anointed One is Himself the true God, His revelation and presence with us; nor know we any other. Since He has come, those who do not see God in Him serve a god of their imagination. When the apostle adds “and eternal life,” it brings joy for the privilege of all believing Christians. They have in the Son the Father’s perfect Love manifested to us. Thus, the end of the Epistle revolves back to the beginning. Christian doctrine is the revelation of the true God in the Anointed One, and Christian blessedness is life everlasting in the Father and the Son.[2]

A strong supporter of church laity in ministry, Willibald Beyschlag (1823-1900) notes that the Apostle John saw God only in the face of Jesus the Anointed One. No person could be more pierced than by John becoming conscious that through Jesus, new knowledge of God, the only actual knowledge of God, had come into a godless society. That’s what John is talking about here in verse twenty. Before this knowledge of God in the Anointed One, everything narrated in the First Covenant of Moses seeing God and the prophets grow pale. Don’t you know, no one has seen God at any time?

This concept contradicts the Scriptures that say the only begotten Son in the Father’s bosom has revealed Him.[3] This new knowledge of God is expressed in the name of God as Father, which, in confirmation of what we have learned about Johannine Christology, is nowhere narrower in its extent than the name “God,” to leave room for a God the Son beside a God the Father; it coincides throughout with what we read in John’s Gospel,[4] with that is said in his Epistle,[5] and gives to the idea of God the character of eternal love made manifest to humanity.[6]

With holiness doctrine expertise, Daniel Steele (1824-1914) gives us a point-by-point exposition of verse twenty and remarks that even in the intellectual sphere, in which the Gnostics (knowing ones) claim to have such advantages, the Christian is, by the Anointed One’s bounty, superior. In the Greek, this reiterated “we know” is in this case introduced by the adversative particle “but,” making a startling antithesis with the preceding clause. Bad as a godless society is under the tyranny of Satan, there is no ground for pessimistic despair. “That which is as yet dark will be made light.”[7]

We are given the power of ever-advancing knowledge and present divine fellowship. We can wait, even as God waits. The words “The Son of God has come” implies His permanent presence, inspiring life, hope, and strength in every believer. And the promise “He has given us an understanding” expresses the permanency of this gift elsewhere described in the Paraclete who came to stay, whose office it is to reveal the Anointed One to the eye of faith to give insight into spiritual truth.

The Apostle John continues, “That we may know.” It means knowing more and more of the depths of Divine love through a never-ending exercise of our ever-expanding powers. This is eternal life. “Him, that is true.” The Heavenly Father revealed in His Son the loftiest and purest idea of God possible in mankind’s mind, in contrast with the imaginary, unreal and imperfect objects of worship which mislead and debase all the pagan nations. So the statement, “We are in Him that is true,” is not by physical incorporation into the body of the glorified Anointed One but by genuine and blissful fellowship. Thus, “So far as believers are united with the Anointed One, they are united with God.” Shows John’s assumption of humanity explains how the union is possible.” Therefore, John says, “This is the true God and eternal life.”

All the scholars agree that “this” may grammatically refer to the Father, the principal noun in the previous sentence, or to Jesus the Anointed One, the nearest noun. In favor of the first theory are the following arguments: (1) The Father is the leading subject of discourse. (2) It is precisely John’s style to repeat with some addition what has been already written. (3) The Father is the primary source of life, and the Son is secondary.[8] (4) This view harmonizes with John’s Gospel.[9] (5) The fact that God is the true God is in reference to the argument against idolatry, a more special point than the Divinity of His Son.[10]

The following are reasons for referring “this” to the incarnate Son of God: (1) His is the noun last mentioned. (2) The Father, having been twice called “the true one” in verse nineteen, to call Him so the third time would be needless repetition. (3) In this Epistle and John’s Gospel, the |Anointed One is styled “the life.”[11] (4) Athanasius thus interprets this text in his controversy with the Arians. (5) The primary purpose of this Epistle is to establish the reality of the Anointed One’s humanity, that God’s Son who has come in the flesh is worthy of worship. He is the revelation of the true God; He is the true God.[12]

A novelist whose specialty was composing allegories about mankind’s pilgrimage back to God, George Macdonald (1824-1905), shares his story about the Marquis of Lossie. In describing the groom, Malcolm MacPhail’s sister Florimel’s frustration with Lady Clementina for refusing to join her to discuss Malcolm’s mistreatment of a treasured horse named Kelpie. But after a good night’s sleep, she woke up somewhat humbled.

So, Macdonald comments, “All sorts of means are kept at work to make the children obedient and simple and noble. Joy and sorrow are servants in God’s nursery; pain and delight, ecstasy, and despair, minister in it; but amongst them, there is none more marvelous in its potency than that mingling of all pains and pleasures we especially give the name of Love.”[13]

For Macdonald, this illustrates what the Apostle John was saying that we know that God’s Son has come and has given us understanding. So now we can understand the true One and live in that true God. We are in His Son, Jesus the Anointed One. He is the true God, and He is eternal life. So, John concludes that we should live like a person who knows God equipped for these situations.

British Critic, journalist, and theologian Richard Holt Hutton (1826-1897) states that it seems that a great deal of the wonderful beauty of the Book of Psalms consists in the fact that this time had not yet come. The sacred heart was in those days alone with God, in a sense in which it has never been alone since. The lesson which the Apostle John enforces here in verse twenty, and which it was most accessible for those to implement, in whom a single human love had concentrated at once all that they counted most authentic in their whole life, human or Divine – was a lesson entirely foreign to the minds of the more significant number of the Psalmists. The authors of these beautiful poems found it much easier to love God than to love humans, and their only theme of perpetual wonder was how it had been possible for God to love humanity.[14]

After sufficient examination, Brooke Wescott (1825-1901) acknowledges that the Apostle John’s third affirmation of knowledge is introduced by the adversative particle (“and”). There is, this seems to be the line of thought, a startling antithesis in life of good and evil. We have been made to feel it in all its intensity. But at the same time we can face it in faith. That which is as yet dark will be made light. We are given the power of growing knowledge and present divine fellowship. We can wait even as God waits.

The Greek particle de (“that”) is not frequent in John’s writings.[15] Faith rests on the permanence of the fact and not upon the historical record only.[16] This is the only place in which the term occurs in John’s writings; generally, nouns that express intellectual powers are rare.

Thus, John never uses dianoia (“mind,” disposition,” “thought,”[17] nor is nous (“understanding”) found in his Gospel or Epistles. That with which “God’s Son” Incarnate has endowed believers is a power of understanding, of interpreting, of perceiving the correct issues, the complex facts of life; and the end of the gift is that they may know, not by one decisive act but by a continuous and progressive apprehension “Him that is true.” Thus the object of knowledge is not abstract but personal: not the Truth, but Him of Whom all that is true is a partial revelation.[18]

Considered a monarch in the pulpit, Alexander Maclaren (1826-1910) notes that once more, John triumphantly proclaims, “We know.” The sound of deep conviction rings in his voice. He is sure of his footing. He does not say “We incline to think,” or even “We believe and firmly hold,” but he says, “We know.” A very different tone from that of many of us, who, influenced by currents of present opinions, feel as if what was a rock to our fathers had become quicksand to us! But John in his simplicity thinks that it is a tone which is characteristic of every Christian. I wonder what he would say about some Christians now. This third of his triumphant certainties is connected closely with the two preceding ones, which have been occupying us in former sermons. It is because “God’s Son is come” that people are born of God and are of Him.

It is so in another way, for the words of our text should not read “And we know” rather than “But we know.” The preceding observations suggest them, and they present the only thought that makes it tolerable to know that while the whole world lies in the wicked, we know that God’s Son has come. Falling back on the certainty of the Incarnation and its present issues, we can look in the face of humanity’s grave condition and still have hope for a godless society and ourselves.

So these three things – the coming of the Anointed One, the knowledge of God which flows into a believing heart through that Incarnate Son, and the dwelling in God, which is the climax of all His gifts to us – these three things are in John’s estimation certified to a Christian heart and are not merely matters of opinion and faith, but in cases of knowledge. We must know for ourselves if we would lead others to believe. [19]

Like a spiritual farmer planting the seed of God’s Word, Henry A. Sawtelle (1832-1913) points out that in verse twenty, we have the summation of “we know.[20] The same “we know” beginning each of verses eighteen, nineteen, and twenty gives them “the appearance of a confession or summary of faith.” So, “That God’s Son is come into a godless society, in the flesh; to emphasize this basic matter, especially against the perversion of the antichrists; and it was a comforting, satisfying fact, at the very basis of atonement and redemption, and the dismay of him who cuddles a godless society in his wickedness. But God gave us understanding. This “understanding” is “divinely empowered inner sense,” or spiritual faculty, which the Anointed One gives us, made compelling by His Spirit on our minds, making us capable of spiritual knowledge, as the following clause shows.

The natural man needs this spiritual action upon his understanding that he may know spiritual things.[21] And the Anointed One has come and given the Spirit for this creative work. So that we may know or, as in the Revised Version, (the indicative; declaring the object of the understanding and the fact that we already have the thing, in one statement) Him that is true (or the True One). The “True One” is God,[22] as the pronoun in the expression “His Son” that follows, demonstrates. And He is called the True One, and not “true”), the real, genuine God, to assert his distinction from all fictitious or false gods having a godless society’s heart, whether the devil (god of this world) or images.

It is, then, one privilege of the Gospel to know God; to know Him, not merely by reason or conscience, not merely through theological propositions, but with the knowledge of personal experience, as one knows the scent of flowers, the sweetness of music, or the refreshment of the morning dew, attaining that sensible, satisfying appreciation of God, marked in words of Job’s friend, Eliphaz, “Submit to God, and you will have peace.”[23]

That we are in Him that is true (the True One) is distinguished from those who are in partnership with the false and “wicked one.” We not only know God in spiritual experience, but we are in Him, in the life element of God the Spirit, in union with His Son, Jesus the Anointed One. Verses nineteen and the first part of twenty are not separated even by a verb that joins a subject to an adjective or noun. It’s as though they are so involved as to repeat what has been said. To be in fellowship with the True One is to be in harmony with His Son.[24]

These two facts are inseparable. In fact, we have a relationship with the Father through unity with the Son. This same Spiritual association with the Father and the Son stood before John’s mind at the Epistle’s opening; appropriately, it comes back into view at the close. The new life is filled with a conscious partnership with the Father and the Son. This is the true God and eternal life. To whom does the word “this” refer; to the remote True One or His Son, Jesus the Anointed One? We must favor the latter reference with the ancient interpreters and against many modern ones because: (1) The Son is the nearer and more obvious antecedent, apart from all theologizing. (2) The connection calls for it. In effect, John said that to be in the Father was to be in the Son. “How so?” the mind queries. Because the Anointed One is the true God, not less than the Father. (3) It does not advance the thought and seems like repetition after the Father has been designated as the True One twice. This (true one) is the true God.

[1] John 8:42

[2] Pope, William B., The International Illustrative Commentary on the N.T., Vol. IV, op. cit., p. 42

[3] John 1:18

[4] Ibid. 17:3

[5] 1 John 1:2

[6] Beyschlag, Willibald: New Testament Theology, Trans. Neil Buchanan, Vol. II, pp. 426-427

[7] See Luke 8:17

[8] John 5:26

[9] Ibid. 17:3

[10] Cf. 1 Thessalonians 1:9

[11] Cf. John 1:4; 6:33, 35; 8:12; 11:26; 14:6; 17:3; 20:31; 1 John 1:2; 5:12, 20

[12] Steele, Daniel: Half-Hours with St., John’s Epistles, op. cit., pp. 150-152

[13] MacDonald, George. The Marquis of Lossie, Published by C. Kegan Paul & Co., London, 1878, Ch. XLIII, A Perplexity, p. 198-199,

[14] Hutton, R. H., Criticisms on Contemporary Thought and Thinkers, MacMillan and Company, London, 1894, Vol. II, XXII Dean Church on the Psalms, p. 235

[15] Cf. 1 John 1:7; 2:2, 5, 11, 17; 3: 12, 17; 4:18; 3 John 1:14

[16] Cf. John 8:42; 1 John 3:1; 4:13; see 3:23;24

[17] See Matthew 22:37; Luke 10:27

[18] Westcott, Brooke F., The Epistles of St. John: Greek Text with Notes, op. cit., pp. 195-196

[19] Maclaren, Alexander: Sermons and Expositions on 1 John, op. cit., “Triumphant Certainties – 3”)

[20] 1 Thessalonians 5:23; 2 Thessalonians 3:16; Hebrews 13:20

[21] Ephesians 1:18

[22] John 17:3

[23] Job 22:21

[24] John 14:6, 20; 17:23

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