WALKING IN THE LIGHT

NEW TESTAMENT CONTEXTUAL COMMENTARY

By Dr. Robert R. Seyda

FIRST EPISTLE OF JOHN

CHAPTER FIVE (Lesson XXXIII) 11/29/22

5:5 But who could fight and win this battle except by believing that Jesus is actually God’s Son?

To be clear, Robert Cameron (1839-1904) points out that our Lord Jesus the Anointed One overcame the world by faith. He “endured the cross, despising the shame,” because of his faith in the “joy set before Him.”[1] When He stood before Caiaphas, helpless and friendless, he declared, “Nevertheless” (despite His hopeless condition), “hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of power.”[2] His faith was vivid and intense, and far-reaching. He was not blinded by what He saw on earth, but He had an eye open to the glories of heaven. On this account, the world had no hold on Him; the prince of this world had nothing on Him. There was no place of disloyalty or weakness, no lurking element of possible impatience under His yoke. He was the servant of God, with the spirit of the Son, and therefore was joyfully obedient. He was not deaf to earthly sounds but had an ear quick to hear every word that came from His Father’s lips. It was God’s people who had such blindness and deafness.[3]

When we have this same spirit of kinship, says Cameron, we too may overcome the world in a practical way as well as in intellectual belief. We may have to cut off a right hand or pluck out a right eye and treat the flesh and its lust as if they were dead. We may have to “go outside the camp, bearing the reproach[4] of the Anointed One; we may have to forego harmless pleasures; we may have to part from those whom we dearly love; we may have to lay down our lives for the brethren. These things will be grievous and yet joyful, “sorrowful but always rejoicing.”[5] But, like the Anointed One, we look forward to the end. Like Moses, we endure, “as seeing Him who is invisible,”[6] and in the future, we will assuredly rise to the height of our great position and share the victory that overcomes the world. We have had excellent knowledge, great joy, great fellowship, great intimacies, and great rank as children of God, but here is a great victory over the world, ensuring a final possession of the glory of heaven.[7]

The condition of this union with the Father and of joint possession of the new life is faith in the Anointed One. This faith is also a sign of Eternal Life. “Whosoever believes that Jesus is the Anointed One is born of God.” Believing is used here in its complete and definite sense. The third chapter expresses belief in the revelation made concerning the Anointed One, and in chapter four, trust in the love manifested through Him. But here in verse five, it expresses a believing soul’s relation to the Anointed of God. In addition to this truth about the Anointed One and the love manifested in Him, it relies upon Him, bringing the believer into vital contact with Him. The one who believes that Jesus is the Anointed of God for the purposes of 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, states Cameron. Still, he has here in mind solely the faith of a soul in the person of the Anointed One without any regard to another. It is a person meeting God in the Anointed One and with heart and mouth echoing God’s testimony about themselves and their Savior. It is the very essence of what is needed to make a child of God. It is more than assent to a proposition or a truth. It is even more than the expression of reality. It is the naked contact of a soul with God through its Savior.[8]

Manifestly, Erich Haupt (1841-1910) is quick to say that faith is nothing other than faith in Jesus as the Son of God. It was the work of the Anointed One to destroy or undo the works of Satan;[9] and His work specifically as the Son of God. So, he could say, “I have told you all this so that you will have peace of heart and mind. Here on earth, you will have many trials and sorrows; but cheer up, for I have overcome the world.”[10] Thus, faith in Him and complete fellowship with Him reflect all His work, even in us. Hence the close of our section, verse five, most exactly returns to its beginning in verse – born of God. It is what constitutes victory over the world’s temptations. It is exhibited in our interdependence upon each other in brotherly love.[11]

In agreement with the Apostle John’s goals, William Macdonald Sinclair (1850-1917) sees this as the Apostle John’s appeal to the consciousness of Christians. Ask yourself, are there des the disciples of Jesus who conquered all opposed to God? If so, where are they? God has declared that He will not harshly judge the Pagan world,[12] but salvation by God’s grace and mercy is a very different thing from the glories of the illuminated and victorious Christian heart. Where are they? Not Socrates, with his want of the sense of sin and his tolerance of evil; not Cicero, with his tormenting vanity; not the Gnostics, with their questionable lives: only those in whom dawned the bright and Morning Star[13] – Jesus, the Anointed One.[14]

Beyond any doubt, Alonzo Rice Cocke (1858-1901) wants to know, “Who else became superior to all the smooth talk of the ungodly, all the fury of the powerful, and the betrayal of the prophets of Satan? No one except those who believe that the Redeemer is the God-man?” We see the earliest flower of spring, which has pushed its way through the frost and cold and now stands smiling with its fragrant head open to the sun, and we say: “That flower has survived the winter.” So, where faith has made its way through the crust of the cold, frozen, opposing world, and lifts its head to God with a heart all fragrant with love to God and others, we say, “Faith has overcome the world, and now blooms with divine life despite the world’s hostility.” The Apostle John now proceeds to the heart of the fifth chapter, the testimony concerning Jesus the Anointed One.[15]

Venerable ministry veteran James B. Morgan (1859-1942) quotes our Lord, who said, “It is enough for the servant to mimic his master.”[16] Jesus referred to the treatment He received from the world and warned His followers that they might expect the same hostility. His intercessory prayer shows how deeply this subject impressed His mind. He pleads for them, saying to the Father, “I have given them Your teaching. And the world hates them because they don’t belong to the world, just as I don’t belong to the world. I am not asking You to take them out of the world. But I am asking that You keep them safe from the Evil One. They don’t belong to the world, just as I don’t belong to the world.”[17]  From this, we can take it that Jesus assumes that to the very end, the world and the Church should be separate, different, and contrary one to the other. The world would never cease to be an enemy against which God’s people would contend.


[1] Hebrews 12:2

[2] Matthew 26:64

[3] Isaiah 42:19 – New Living Testament (NLT)

[4] Hebrews 13:13

[5] 2 Corinthians 6:10

[6] Hebrews 11:27

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

[8] Cameron, Robert: The First Epistle of John, or, God Revealed in Life, Light, and Love, op. cit., pp. 207, 219

[9] Cf. 1 John 3:8

[10] John 16:33

[11] Haupt, Erich: The First Epistle of St. John: Clark’s Foreign Theological Library, Vol. LXIV, op. cit., p. 294

[12] Romans 2:13, 15

[13] Revelation 22:16

[14] Sinclair, William M., New Testament Commentary for the English Reader, op. cit., p. 491

[15] Cocke, Alonzo R: Studies in the Epistles of John; or, The Manifested Life, op. cit., p. 124

[16] Matthew 10:25

[17] John 17:14-16

About drbob76

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