WALKING IN THE LIGHT

NEW TESTAMENT CONTEXTUAL COMMENTARY

By Dr. Robert R. Seyda

FIRST EPISTLE OF JOHN

CHAPTER FIVE (Lesson LI) 12/26/22

5:7-8 So we have these three witnesses: the voice of the Holy Spirit in our hearts, the voice from heaven at the Messiah’s baptism, and the voice before He died. And they all say the same thing: Jesus is the Messiah God’s Son.

With a spiritually contemplative mind, Matthew Henry (1662-1714) asserts that we are all defiled by the power and pollution of sin in our nature. Our cleansing is in the Messiah Jesus through the washing of regeneration and renewing the Holy Spirit. Some think that the two sacraments here meant: baptism with water, as the outward sign of renewal, and purifying from the pollution of sin by the Holy Spirit, and the Lord’s supper, as the outward sign of the Messiah’s shed blood on the cross and accepting Him by faith as our Savior for pardon and justification.

It is important to remember that water and blood in traditional Jewish sacrifices and purifications also represent elements of our salvation. Our souls are washed and purified by the Water of Life from heaven and living in the Light. We are justified, reconciled, and presented righteous to God by the blood that satisfied the curse of the Law and obtained the purifying Spirit for the internal cleansing of our nature. He loved the Church and sacrificed Himself so that He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the Word; He might present it to Himself a glorious bride.[1]

Such cleansing and sanctification are found in the Savior’s declaration and by God’s Spirit, who cannot lie.[2] Three bore witness to these doctrines concerning the person and the salvation of the Messiah. First, the Father repeatedly, by a voice from heaven, declared that Jesus was His beloved Son.[3] Next, the Word said that He and the Father were One[4] and that whoever had seen Him had seen the Father, and the third is the Spirit who gives witness that all of this is true.[5]

Then there are three testimonies to the doctrine taught by the apostles, respecting the person and salvation of the Messiah. 1) The Holy Spirit. We come into the world with a corrupt, carnal disposition, which is enmity to God. Doing away by the regeneration and new-creating of souls by the Holy Spirit is a testimony to the Savior. 2) The water: this demonstrates the Savior’s purity and purifying power. His disciples’ actual and active purity and holiness are represented by baptism. 3) The blood He shed: and this was our ransom, this testifies for Jesus Christ; it sealed up and finished the sacrifices of the First Covenant. The benefits procured by His blood prove that He is the world’s Savior. No wonder those who reject this evidence are rightly called blasphemers of God’s Spirit. These three witnesses are for the same purpose; they agree on one thing – Jesus is God’s Son.[6] [7]

Thomas Pyle (1674-1756) was an Anglican priest who opposed Roman Catholic absolute monarchy and favored a parliamentary system. He heard the Apostle John saying that in all the controversies about human affairs, the positive testimonies of two or three credible witnesses are sufficient to determine the truth in any court: and the Jews allowed it by their law to be so. So that the evidence of Jesus being the true Messiah, the Messiah, the Word, and God’s Son who died upon the cross, is, according to their notions, established beyond all contradiction. For, as in heaven there are three divine persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit; so do the three testimonies of water, blood, and Spirit of the Messiah, while He was upon earth, concur in the full demonstration of this great truth. These powers and miracles of the Holy Spirit incontestably show that the Father sent Him, and the Son came into the world for the salvation of all mankind.[8] Therefore, it is not that Pyle ignored the controversy over the questioned portions of verse seven but that it did not take away from the truth.

With meticulous Greek text examination and confirmation, Johann Bengel (1687-1752) notes that bearing witness, used instead of witnesses, implies that the act of providing witness, and the effect of the testimony, are always present. Earlier in verse six, the Apostle John spoke of the spirit, in the neuter gender, the spirit that bears witness. Now, in verse seven, he says in the masculine gender; there are three who bear witness. To be bearing witness is appropriately applied to persons only: and the fact that three are described, by personification, as witnesses on earth, just as though they were persons, is admirably adapted to the personality of the three who bear witness in heaven; but yet neither the spirit (that is the truth of the Gospel), nor the water, nor the blood, are persons. Therefore, John advancing from verse seven to employs a figure of speech, adapted to the briefness of the discourse, to say this: There are three classes of men,[9] who discharge the office of bearing witness on earth as follows:

First, witnesses were ordained to preach the Gospel. Secondly, in particular, that class of witnesses who administer baptism, as John the Baptizer and the others. Thirdly, that class of witnesses who beheld and put on record the passion and death of the Lord. There is, therefore, a figure of speech of the most weighty kind: namely, one wherein (a) by using one name to represent the whole class of witnesses, as though it were said, a prophet, baptist, apostle: for although these three functions might often meet in one man, yet of themselves, they representative of many of the same kind.[10] On that account, using an attribute or office for the thing meant is the more suitable. The degrees of these three functions are found in the Gospel,[11] where the word prophet is used in a more restricted sense. (b) So, those who testify as eye-witnesses, ministers, or the Spirit, with the water and blood, are mentioned as being on earth.[12] [13]

Provider of priceless Christian and Jewish wisdom gems, John Gill (1697-1771) offers an excellent illustration by using the first numbers in the Jewish Kabalistic “Tree of Life[14] to represent the three divine Persons. (See the chart below) The first is called the crown, which no creature can comprehend. For the Christian, this describes the Father.[15] The second is labeled wisdom, illuminating the crown of creation, the brightness of equal unity, exalted above every head. He is titled, by the Kabalists, as “the second glory.”[16] To believers, this is the Son of God. The third is termed understanding and is the foundation of ancient wisdom, called the worker of faith; He is the parent of faith, and from His power, faith flows. For those born again, this represents the Holy Spirit.[17]

Now they say, notes Gill, that these three first numbers are intellectual and are not “properties” or “attributes,” as the other seven are. Rabbi Simeon ben Jochai says, “of the three superior numbers, it is said, ‘God spoke once, I have heard it twice.’”[18] Thus, strength belongs to God, states Rabbi Simeon. So, the superior numbers of whom it is said, one, one, three ones, and this is the mystery of “God spoke once, I have heard it twice.”[19] It has the ring of the “three-in-one” aspect of the Christian Trinity.

 1. Crown 
3. Understanding6. Harmony2. Wisdom
5. Strength9. Foundation4. Lovingkindness
8. Surrender10. Manifestation7. Victory

[1] Ephesians 5:25-27

[2] John 6:44

[3] Matthew 3:17; 17:5; Mark 1:11; 9:7; Luke 3:22; 9:35; 2 Peter 1:17

[4] John 10:30

[5] 1 John 5:6

[6] Henry, Matthew: Concise Commentary on the Bible, op. cit., p. 2059

[7] Burkitt, William: Expository Notes, op. cit., Vol. II, pp. 736-737

[8] Pyle, Thomas: A Paraphrase of the Epistles of the New Testament, op. cit., pp. 400-401

[9] 1 John 5:9; cf. John 5:34

[10] Cf. Ephesians 4:11

[11] Matthew 11:9, 11

[12] 1 John 5:8

[13] Bengel, Johann: Gnomon of the New Testament, op. cit., Vol. 4, p. 145-146

[14] Kabbalah provides you a map for understanding the how and why of things happening in your life. The “Tree” comprises eleven energies that flow from the infinite to the finite (similar but distinct from the Chakra system). These energies, collectively called Sefirot, are guides to discovering how to move your creativity to actualization and force behind what happens in your life and the lives of others.

[15] Cf. John 1:18

[16] Cf. 1 Corinthians 1:24; Hebrews 1:3

[17] See 1 Peter 1:2

[18] Psalm 61:11; (12) in the Complete Jewish Bible

[19] Gill, John: Exposition of the Bible, 1 John, op. cit., loc. cit.

About drbob76

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