By Dr. Robert R Seyda


CHAPTER FIVE (Lesson VII) 10/04/22

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.

Zane Clark Hodges (1932-2008) states that if someone asks who their Christian spiritual brothers and sisters are, the answer is “everyone who believes that Jesus is the Anointed One is born of God.”[1]  Whether or not a believer exhibits an admirable life, they should be an object of their fellow Christian’s love. This love does not spring from something lovable in the person themselves, but their fatherhood, since everyone who loves the Father also loves His children. Moreover, love for God’s children is not mere sentiment or verbal expression but is inseparable from loving God and obeying His commands.[2] If someone asks about what it means to love God, the answer is to follow His instructions. Thus, by this series of statements, the Apostle John reduces love for God and one’s fellow Christians to its fundamental character. A person obeys God’s rules by doing what is right toward God and his fellow believers, thus loving God and them. But it must be remembered that this includes the willingness to sacrifice for one’s spiritual brother or sister.[3] [4]

Ian Howard Marshall (1934-2015) sees the Apostle John moving to the theme of faith and divine sonship due to John’s concentration on faith in the following verses. But the second part of the verse is still concerned with love. Therefore, the first part of the verse should probably be understood as an introduction to further thoughts about love. He begins by affirming that everybody who makes a true confession of faith about Jesus has been born of God. Thus, faith is a sign of the new birth, just as love is,[5] and doing what is right indicates that a person has been born again. At the same time, faith is a condition of the new birth: “to all who received Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become God’s children.”[6] However, John is not trying to show how a person experiences the new birth. Instead, he aims to indicate that a person stands in a continuing child relationship with their Father God. That is further evidence that they have solid faith in who Jesus was and who Jesus is.[7]

John Painter (1935) points out that all eleven statements in the form of (“whosoever”) are related positively or negatively to these three: believing, loving, and righteousness. These three examples in verse one (born, begat, and begotten – KJV) are evidence of the children of God birthed by God. Probably because of the orientation to provide such tests, the Apostle John did not clarify whether belief precedes birthing,[8] whether receiving Him is understood as a metaphor for believing,[9] or whether birthing precedes belief. He aims to show the necessary connection between the two so that it becomes evident that correct belief, along with loving and doing righteousness, reveals the children of God while their opposites reveal the devil’s brood.[10] From this, we can see that the argument in 1 John was widespread in the Asia Minor (Middle East today) area. There is a familial logic to it. To love the Father implies loving those He loves. In loving each other, they will love their divine parent more. John’s first epistle does not take this step but affirms that to love one’s spiritual brother and sister is immediate proof of love for God. It is instantaneous in John’s letter because he knows no other evidence to verify the claim, “I love God.”[11]

Muncia Walls (1937) feels that the Apostle John is still dealing with the arguments the Cerinthian Gnostics raised in this epistle. These heretics argued that Jesus was not Christus – the “Anointed One.” By this, they denied the incarnation of God in human form. John’s argument here is that those who genuinely believe that Jesus is the Anointed One are of God. Like other such statements found in John’s writings and elsewhere in the Final Covenant, says Walls, we are not to take the expression as meaning the only thing necessary for salvation is a mere expression of belief in the Anointed One.[12]

James Montgomery Boice (1938-2000) asks, “Which comes first, faith or life?” It expresses whether a person chooses God by believing in the Anointed One or God determines whom He decides to make alive in the Anointed One. John’s first verse answers this question about the new birth. Unfortunately, in none of the English versions is the full sense of the verse adequately communicated, for the differences in tenses are not as striking in English as in Greek. The verb pisteuō (“believe”) is in the present tense in the Greek text, indicating a present, continuing activity. For instance, the word “born” (in the phrase “born of God”) is also in the perfect tense. The perfect tense indicates a past event with continuing consequences. In other words, we are the result and proof of our new birth in the past by which we became and remained God’s children. In fact, we believe and do everything spiritual in nature precisely because we have first been made alive. If this were not the order, then the tests of life would have no value as indicators that an individual is truly God’s child.[13]

Michael Eaton (1942-2017) (1) says that in his quest to produce a loving company of followers, the Apostle John starts this section by defining what having a spiritual brother or sister means. He begins: “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Anointed One has been born of God.” In other words, the new birth is by having faith. There are five times in this epistle where John clearly states that the new birth results from faith: (i) New birth produces righteousness.[14] (ii) New birth prevents sinful tendencies from being in control.[15] (iii) New birth produces love.[16] (iv) New birth overcomes the world.[17] (v) New birth gives us protection from Satan.[18] One might think that verse one says, “Faith causes new births.” However, the parallel statements and the tenses that John uses make it clear that the point is the other way round. Therefore, we must add a sixth to the five new birth results mentioned elsewhere: (vi) new birth is the source of faith.[19] [20]

William Loader (1944) says that the phrase “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Anointed One” is what it means to be a Christian. Indeed “Christian” is derived from this confession of faith.[21] Originally it was an affirmation of the belief that Jesus was the promised Messiah, the Anointed One, the Christus. Usually, the hope for the Messiah was associated with Jewish religious hopes. He would be a leader who would liberate the people from their oppressors, particularly the Romans. He would be a new David, a Son of David, the anointed king of Israel.[22] Only Christianity could use such a term for Jesus by significantly modifying its content.[23]

David Jackman (1945) notes that to describe the nature of faith, the Apostle John again uses the phrase. “Everyone who does such-and-such,” as he has done on several previous occasions in the letter.[24] It is a phrase that includes all who satisfy the requirements for salvation (in this case, all who believe that Jesus is the Anointed One) and excludes everyone else. It is designed to increase the faithful Christian’s blessed assurance and exclude all those who would try to climb into the Great Shepherd’s sheep pen some other way than entering through the only door, the Anointed One.[25] [26]

John W. (Jack) Carter (1947) believes that many church teachers had something preventing them from realizing their faith’s true and lasting reward. For instance, their Jewish background demanded that Christians follow strict Mosaic Ceremonial Laws. Others taught methods of salvation that were inconsistent with God’s Word, causing believers to doubt and making them vulnerable to being led away from the truth. However, the Apostle John’s message was that those born again fully accept Jesus’ nature as described in God’s Word. This characteristic is a person’s choice, not an action. It is a belief, not some moral accomplishment. One who loves the LORD accepts Him fully for who He is: the Messiah, the Christus, YAHWEH who came in the flesh, born of a human woman, lived as a human, and returned to His former status in eternity. The idea that God could inhabit a person makes no logical sense. No mechanism in this physical universe serves as a model of this truth.  Acceptance of Jesus the Anointed One is an act of faith. It is through this faith that salvation is awarded to the believer.[27]

Robert W. Yarbrough (1948) notes that the birth language in verse one has the effect of highlighting God’s explicit work in the community to whom John is writing.[28] It doesn’t include human factors like natural affection and religious assent. It may or may not be a fitting account of what some believe today, but it does not describe the Christian experience as John understands it. Faith’s tie to God is not grounded in its tenacity, much less in self-serving spiritual autism,[29] says Yarbrough; instead, it is a willing response to a saving message brought home by divine regeneration through faith. The sublime authorship of Christian redeeming faith – for which John gives God all the credit – makes possible an inspiring outcome: love for others. The singular nature of early Christianity’s fundamental characteristic, love, which had no close parallels in pagan religions of the era, may help explain John’s determination to show that the impulse that gives rise to faith and then results in love comes from God and not from humans themselves.[30]

Colin G. Kruse (1950) mentions that verse one begins: “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Anointed One is born of God.” Here the Apostle John reintroduces a theme he developed earlier in the letter, reminding his readers that only those who believe that Jesus is the Anointed One are born of God. It is something the secessionists deny [31], but true believers acknowledge. The secessionists’ modified Christology is reflected in John’s various references to their beliefs in the letter. When one puts them all together, it becomes clear that their Christology involved a denial that Jesus the Anointed One is the Messiah, God’s Son, come in the flesh and whose death was actual and necessary.[32] However, John refers to the whole by mentioning one part at different places in the letter. Accordingly, in the present context, where John says that those who believe that Jesus is the Anointed One are born of God, he stresses the content of the true Christian confession against the denials of the secessionists.[33]

[1] Cf. “born of God” in 1 John 3:9; 4:7; 5:4, 18

[2] Ibid. 5:2; cf. 2:23; 3:22, 24; 5:3

[3] Cf. 3:16-17

[4] Hodges, Zane C., John F. Walvoord and Roy B. Zuck, Dallas Theological Seminary, The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, op. cit., vol. 2, pp. 900–901

[5] 1 John 4:7

[6] John 1:12

[7] Marshall, Ian Howard: The Epistles of John (The New International Commentary on the New Testament), op. cit., pp. 226-227

[8] See John 1:12-13

[9] Ibid. 20:21

[10] Cf. 1 John 3:10 and see 2:29-3:3

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

[12] Walls, Muncia: Epistles of John and Jude, op. cit., p. 81

[13] Boice, James Montgomery, The Epistles of John, An Expositional Commentary, op. cit., p. 125

[14] 1 John 2:29

[15] Ibid. 3:9

[16] Ibid. 4:7

[17] Ibid. 5:4

[18] Ibid. 5:18

[19] Ibid. 5:1

[20] Eaton, Michael: Focus on the Bible, 1,2,3 John op. cit., p. 172

[21] Acts of the Apostles 11:26

[22] See Psalms of Solomon 17

[23] Loader, William: Epworth Commentary, The First Epistle of John, op. cit., pp. 58-59

[24] 1 John 2:29; 3:3-4; 4:2-3,7

[25] John 10:1-9

[26] Jackman, David: The Message of John’s Letters, op. cit., p. 134

[27] Carter, Dr. John W. (Jack). 1,2,3, John & Jude: (The Disciple’s Bible Commentary Book 48), op. cit., p. 116

[28] Cf. Philippians 2:12-13

[29] Autism (ASD) refers to a broad range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech, and nonverbal communication.

[30] Yarbrough, Robert W. 1-3 John (Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament), op. cit., pp. 270-271

[31] See 1 John 2:22-23

[32] Cf. ibid. 4:2-3, 15; 5:1, 6-8

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

About drbob76

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