NEW TESTAMENT CONTEXTUAL COMMENTARY
By Dr. Robert R. Seyda
FIRST EPISTLE OF JOHN
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 Nike “Victoria.” 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. Then John has more to say about “the world,” 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.”
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.
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. Therefore, those who have faith in the Anointed One likewise have faith that overcomes all that is of the world. 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.”
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.
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!” 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.
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. Every child of God has the capacity to conquer the worldly system. 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.” 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. 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. 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. 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, 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.
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. 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. The principle involved here is that faith in the incarnate Anointed One brings power to every Christian to overcome the world system.
 1 John 5:4 Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)
 See 1 John 5:4-5; 1 John 2:16
 Akin, Dr. Daniel L., Exalting Jesus in 1,2,3 John (Christ-Centered Exposition Commentary), op. cit., loc. cit., Kindle Edition
 Schuchard, Bruce G., Concordia Commentary, 1-3 John, op. cit., pp. 526-527
 John 16:33
 Cf. 1 John 2:13–14; 4:4; 5:5
 Jobes, Karen H., 1, 2, and 3 John (Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on The New Testament Series Book 18), op. cit., p. 217
 Revelation 3:12, 21
 Ibid. 12:10-12a
 Ibid. 15:2-3; cf. Amos 3:13; 4:13
 1 John 2:13,14
 Ibid. 4:4
 See John 16:33
 1 John 2:15-17
 See 1 Timothy 4:10
 See Romans 8:37; 1 Corinthians 15:57
 John 15:8
 Galatians 6:14
 Galatians 1:4-5
 John 20:31