By Dr. Robert R Seyda


CHAPTER FIVE (Lesson VI) 10/03/22

5:1 If you believe that Jesus is the Anointed One – that He is God’s Son and your Savior – then you are God’s child. And all who love the Father love His children too.

Robert Cameron (1839-1904) mentions that the condition of this union with the Father and shared possession of the new life is faith in the Anointed One. This faith is also a sign of life. Believing is used here in its complete and definite sense. The third chapter of John’s Epistle expresses belief in the revelation made concerning the Anointed One,[1] and in chapter four, belief in the love manifested through Him.[2] But here, in chapter five, verse one expresses the personal relation of a believing soul to the Anointed of God. In addition to this truth about the Anointed One and the love manifested in Him, reliance upon Him brings the believer into vital contact with Him.

Cameron then adds that the one who believes that Jesus is the Anointed of God for salvation not only admits an intellectual truth but receives all that is involved in that truth. The Apostle John has previously considered the confession of the Anointed One concerning society, but he has in mind solely the faith of a soul in the person of the Anointed One without any regard to another. It is mankind meeting God in the Anointed One and with heart and mouth echoing God’s testimony about themselves and their Savior. It is the essence of what is needed to make a child of God. It is more than assenting to a proposition or expressing the truth. It is the uncontrolled contact of a soul with God through His Anointed One. Martha did not understand a word the Master said to her while grieving over her brother Lazarus’ death. When Jesus asked her if she believed what He said, she answered: “Yes, Lord, I have believed that You are the Messiah, the Son of God.”[3] Apparently, she did not comprehend what the Master said, but she believed in Him: His salvation and rest. She had faith in the right person, which is the right kind of faith. Everyone who believes this way is born of God.[4]

Sir Robert Anderson (1841-1918) says the Apostle John’s message should not be impossible for the natural mind to comprehend. In the wildest myths of false religions, there is nothing more incredible than the story of the life and death of the Son of God. However, for someone who knows who Jesus was and what “Messiah” means, to believe that Jesus is the Anointed One is so beyond the possibilities of human reason that it is proof of being born of God. Those who believe that Jesus is God’s Son are people with supernatural faith, which overcomes the world.[5] Yet just as in Him, the physical eye could see no beauty;[6] Likewise, the human mind can see no wonders in His Gospel. But John finds it fitting to preach the Gospel that the Holy Spirit may empower the Word to reveal the mighty mysteries and marvels of redemption. The Spirit has no desire to inspire John to lower and humanize it to bring it within reach of the natural individual apart from the work of the Holy Spirit.[7]

Erich Haupt (1841-1910) states that Apostle John presents the synthesis of our relationship to God and the Church, drawn from the love of God that is supposed to exist in us. In God’s eyes, being right is confirmed and verified only by a right relationship with fellow Christians. Now John looks at the matter from the other side: brotherly love is measured by our fellowship with God. This thought expressed in verse two is the fundamental note of the verses that follow, the chapter’s first verse forming only a transition. Several new ideas enter here. Instead of brethren used for the neighbor, the phrases “born of God” and “child of God” is selected for replication. It serves the synthesis that we love our fellow believers as children of God as God loves us. The validity of our love for them then is proven by the genuineness of our love for God. If this love for God is absent, I cannot love my neighbor as a child of God and therefore do not regard them with the right kind of sentiment. Since charity to the neighbor depends upon the infusion of divine love, that is, of the divine Spirit, such compassion will always be absent when the right relationship with God is unsustained. The first verse of chapter five asserts that between our relationship with God and our relationship with the brethren, there must be a reciprocal influence. It explains how the approval of our union with God is a sure token of our proper connection to spiritual brothers and sisters.[8]

George G. Findlay (1849-1919) states that the Incarnation is the basis of the loftiest and most potent human affections. Love to God and mankind are, according to the Apostle John, the same love toward like-minded believers. No matter how distant, they are one in the person of God’s Son and made children of God through Him. It is God’s nature in us to love other believers. If no one has that mindset, what will one value in the hereafter? The devoted believer who is not friendly is contradicting themselves. John is very short with people in this class; he calls them liars![9] Either they are hypocrites, willfully deceiving others, or they continue to deceive themselves. There is something of God in every born-again Christian; if one does not see and love that something, it is because their eyes of love have become dim. According to John’s doctrine in the closing verses of chapter four, one cannot truly love God without embracing their fellow believers with the same love.[10]

William Macdonald Sinclair (1850-1917) points out that when the Apostle John says, “Whoever believes,” we should not busy ourselves questioning who are those that still do not believe. This failure in trust is because so many have never heard the Gospel and its message of salvation. What’s important to John is that those who have this privilege of being God’s children are those who have accepted the message and the messenger, Jesus the Anointed One. To be born of God, in a general sense, is quite distinct from “only-begotten.”[11]

James B. Morgan (1859-1942) implies that this verse may contain the original theory of brotherly love John refers to in other parts of the Epistle. There he explains and enforces its meaning, but nowhere is it more fully expressed than here. We have seen it represented as rising out of love for God. We can assume then that loving God cannot exist without loving others. This assumption is reasonable and scriptural, for, in both exercises, it is one principle branching off in different directions. They are two streams issuing from the same fountain. Not only is there this necessary connection between them, but the same divine and supreme authority require both. Therefore, for a person to say they love God while hating their fellowman is to say they love God whom they disobey and dishonor. Still, as necessary as mandatory brotherly love is, there is only one way in which it can remain secure. That is what John explains in the text. Hence, we have said it contains the theory of brotherly love. As such, then, let us agree: “Whoever believes that Jesus is the Anointed One, is born of God; and everyone that loves Him that gave them birth, also loves those whom He has birthed into everlasting life.” [12]

Robert Law (1860-1919) cautions that the Apostle John asserts that our relationship with our fellow believers is ordained for this reason. “And we have this command from Him: The one who loves God must also love their fellow believers.”[13] The first reason we realize our love for God to others is an opportunity.[14] The second is the express revelation of the Divine purpose for mankind. The ultimate end for which all social relations exist is that they may be, so to say, the arteries through which the Divine Life of Love flows. We find the third reason in verse two – its role in nature. The commandment, “They who love God also love their spiritual brothers and sisters,” is based on the profound universal law of kinship. Here in verse one, the clause is strictly introductory to the second. The statement, “Whoever believes that Jesus is the Anointed is born of God,” is made only to define the persons to whom the brotherly love of Christians is due and the grounds on which it is owed. In opposition to the Gnostic’s exclusiveness, it claims the full measure of brotherly love for all believers. It does so because all are children of One Father. Those who love their parents as the source of their life must love those whose life is derived from the same origin. The psychological necessity for family love follows love for one’s spiritual brothers and sisters. In other words, those who are “born of God” cannot but love those who share the life that unites humans in their deepest convictions, dispositions, aspirations, and hopes.[15]

Archibald T. Robertson (1863-1934) mentions that the antichrist followers of Cerinthus[16] denied the identity of Jesus as the Messiah.[17] Hence John insists on this form of faith (Greek pisteuō; to believe”) here in the fullest sense.[18] Nothing less will satisfy the Apostle John, not merely intellectual conviction, but a total surrender to Jesus the Anointed One as Lord and Savior. Divine birthing is the forerunner, not the consequence of believing. Being “born of God” is expressed in other parts of this Epistle.[19] John appeals here to family relationships and family love. So then, our love for a mutual Father is proven by our conduct towards our spiritual brothers and sisters in the Anointed One.[20]

Alan England Brooke (1863-1939) notes that a new birth has occurred where true faith in Jesus as God’s appointed messenger is present. The Apostle John does not state whether faith is the cause or the result of the new birth. The point is not present in his thoughts, and his argument does not require an explanation. What he wishes to emphasize is the fact that they go together. Where true faith dwells, the new birth is a reality and has lasting and permanent consequences. The believer has been born of God. But incidentally, the tenses “make it clear that Divine birthing precedes believing, not the consequence of believing.”  Therefore, Christian belief, essentially the spiritual recognition of spiritual truth, is a function of the Divine Life imparted to those who believe.

Brooke then points out that the phrase used in John’s Gospel, “to those who believed in His name,” [21] suggests complete and voluntary submission to the guidance of a Person who possessed the character their name implies. Although John is careful not to conceive of any genuine faith stopping short of being convinced of the statement, “He gave the right to become children of God.” They would have regarded the belief that Jesus is the Anointed One as inseparable from faith in Jesus as the Anointed One. Neither belief nor knowledge is, for John, a purely intellectual process. The antichrist’s denial affects this confession of faith.[22] It stresses the identity of Jesus as the incarnated Anointed One, as opposed to the prevalent theories of a higher power descending at Jesus’ baptism and leaving at His crucifixion. The child’s love for their parents naturally carries a divine passion for spiritual brothers and sisters. The step in the argument, “Everyone born of God loves God,” is passed over as too obvious to require a statement. We are reminded again that we must deal with the language of meditation.[23]

Ronald A. Ward (1920-1986) finds that the Apostle John makes no exceptions in distinguishing the facets of faith: (a) I believe that Jesus is God’s Son, (b) I believe, trust, and have faith in Jesus. John combines belief and faith, which can exist separately but only when combined can they be called “saving faith.”[24] When putting both together, it reads: “I believe that the Anointed One is Jesus.” [25]

[1] 1 John 3:10

[2] Ibid. 4:9

[3] John 11:27

[4] Cameron, Robert: The First Epistle of John, or, God Revealed in Life, Light, and Love, op. cit., p. 207

[5] 1 John 5:5

[6] Isaiah 53:2; Mark 6:3

[7] Anderson, Sir Robert: The Gospel and Its Ministry, op. cit., p. 25

[8] Haupt, Erich: The First Epistle of St. John: Clark’s Foreign Theological Library, Vol. LXIV, op. cit., pp. 285-286

[9] 1 John 4:20

[10] Findlay, George G: Fellowship in the Life Eternal: An exposition of the Epistles of St. John., op. cit., Ch. XXII, p.368

[11] Sinclair, W. M: New Testament Commentary for English Readers, Charles J. Ellicott, (Ed.), op. cit., Vol. III, p. 490

[12] Morgan, James B., An Exposition of the First Epistle of John, op. cit., Lecture XXXIX, pp. 384-385

[13] 1 John 4:21

[14] Ibid. 4:20

[15] Law, Robert: The Tests of Life: A Study of the First Epistle of St. John, op. cit., pp. 252-253

[16] Cerinthus taught that Jesus, the offspring of Joseph and Mary, received the Spirit of the Anointed One at His baptism as a divine power revealing the unknown Father. This Anointed One left Jesus before His death and the Resurrection.

[17] 1 John 2:2

[18] Stronger than in 1 John 3:23; 4:16

[19] 1 John 2:29; 3:9; 4:7; 5:4,18

[20] Robertson, Archibald T., Word Pictures of the New Testament, op. cit., p. 1966

[21] John 1:12

[22] 1 John 2:22

[23] Brooke, Alan E., A Critical and Exegetical Commentary of the Johannine Epistles, op. cit., pp. 128-129

[24] See James 2:19

[25] Ward, Ronald A., The Epistles of John and Jude, op. cit., p. 53 

About drbob76

Retired missionary, pastor, seminary professor, Board Certified Chaplain and American Cancer Society Hope Lodge Director.
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