NEW TESTAMENT CONTEXTUAL COMMENTARY
By Dr. Robert R. Seyda
FIRST EPISTLE OF JOHN
CHAPTER FIVE (Lesson LIX) 02/02/23
5:10 All who believe this know in their hearts that it is correct. If anyone doesn’t believe this, they say God is lying because they refuse to believe what He said about His Son.
To apply this, we must recognize God’s witness about the Anointed One always involves accepting Jesus as His Son. We accept proof from teachers, accident eyewitnesses, and Delta airlines’ commitment to its planes’ airworthiness. This is the standard, everyday practice of people. Companies will lose credibility or business if they deceive us, so we generally do not doubt their witnessess’ accuracy. It is normal to trust what people say. How much greater is God’s credibility and witness to Jesus the Anointed One? We could have no more excellent source for our amazement of the Lord Jesus than the Father. The most important reason we should believe in the person and work of the Anointed One is that God the Father is the witness to Him.
COMMENTARY AND HOMILETICS
This verse has comments, interpretations, and insights of the Early Church Fathers, Medieval Thinkers, Reformation Theologians, Revivalist Teachers, Reformed Scholars, and Modern Commentators.
With a studious monk’s spiritual insight, Bede the Venerable (672-735 AD), concludes that this means whoever believes in God’s Son and does what the Son commands have God’s witness in them and is counted among God’s children. Jews and heretics are wasting their time when they claim to believe in God, because they reject the Anointed One and refuse to believe in Him. Whoever refuses to honor the Son does not glorify the Father who sent him.
In the Heidelberg Catechism (1563), we find the question: “Why do you say that you are righteous by faith alone?” The answer is not that I am acceptable to God, on account of the worthiness of my faith but by the righteousness and holiness of the Anointed One before God; and that I cannot receive and apply the same to myself any other way than by faith alone. 
As a firm spiritual disciplinarian, John Owen (1616-1683) states that the whole nature of justifying faith does not consist merely in the approval of the mind, be it ever so firm and steadfast, nor whatever effects of obedience it may produce. Its duty and office in justification have that particular value we are attempting to explain in that it does not equal all divine revelation. Still, it has a peculiar object proposed in Scripture. And whereas both of these will be in our description of the proper object and nature of faith, I will present a few things I find wrong in their description, sufficient to manifest how alien it is from the truth:
- Some say this consent is an act of understanding only – an act of the mind with respect to its truth, no matter its intent.
- All divine truth is equally the object of this consent. It does not respect its unique nature or use of any single fact, whatever kind it is, more than another; nor can it do so, since it regards only divine revelation.
- This consent to all divine revelation may be genuine and sincere, with no previous work of the law or any conviction of sin.
- It is not a way of seeking relief for a convicted sinner because they stand guilty before God. Such sinners are capable subjects of justification and do or can seek it in any manner.
- It is no more than what the devils themselves may have, as the Apostle James affirms. That instance of their believing God proves that they also believe this God, who is the first essential truth, reveals it to be true. And it may consist with all manner of wickedness, and without any obedience, and endeavor to make God a liar. And it is no wonder if people deny us to be justified by faith, who know no other faith but this.
Yet some may ask, “How can I commune with the Father in love? I don’t know whether He loves me, but I must believe He does. What if He does not accept me? I’d rather not perish for my presumption but find sweetness in His heart. God seems to be a consuming fire and everlasting punishment, so I’m afraid to look up unto Him.” The answer would be: “I don’t understand what knowing the love of God means. Although detected in a spiritual sense and experience, it is received purely by believing. Knowing it is accepting it as revealed.” You can have this assurance at the beginning of your walk with God. He who is truth said it, and whatever your heart says or Satan says, unless you accept it on this basis, you are calling Him a liar!
In addition, that saving faith is our “believing the record that God has given us of His Son,” and what God gives, we can be sure of what it communicates. So grace was promised and given to the elect in Jesus the Anointed One before the world began. It was to be transmitted to them, in and by the mediation of His Son Jesus the Anointed One, as the only way God will give eternal life to anyone. Therefore, it was wholly in Him and obtained from Him. Our acceptance of this testimony provided the only way for sinners to receive saving grace. Any refusal of it threatens our eternal security, and ruin is possible. And it is reasonable that it should be so; for, in our receiving this testimony of God, we “stamp our seal that God is true.”
Consequently, we ascribe to Him the glory of His truth and all the other holy virtues of His divine nature – the most eminent duty we are capable of in this world; by refusing to do so, we make Him out to be a liar. And the gravity wherewith this testimony is stated in verse seven is very remarkable, “There are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit; and these three are one.” Therefore, the holy trinity act distinctly in the unity of their divine nature, to give this testimony: and they do so by those different operations, and work of God saving sinners by Jesus the Anointed One as declared in the Gospel. Obviously, Owen is not disposed to address the controversy prevalent in his day concerning that verse seven is not authentic and was inserted into the text.
In his fiery manner, John Flavel (1627-1691) suggests that we look at the guilt, misery, and unbelief of those who reject the Gospel message. It is a sin that reflects great dishonor toward God. Rejection makes a person guilty of the vilest contempt of the Anointed One and the whole design of redemption by Him. All of God’s attributes were manifested in the work of redemption by the Anointed One. Therefore, the apostle calls Him “the wisdom of God and the power of God.” And the neglect and rejection of the Anointed One imply the weakness and folly of His redemption.
Distrust includes in it the most painful spiritual judgment inflicted on mankind’s soul, even spiritual blindness and the fatal darkening of the understanding by Satan. Atheism also positions a person to endure the curse and threat written in God’s book, among which is: “They who do not believe are damned,” showing that nothing can be more evident than that condemnation follows spurning the Spirit’s call to salvation. This sin and that punishment are fastened together with chains of stubbornness.
With all the Apostle John’s themes in mind, John Wesley (1703-1791) points to the Scriptures to accentuate the person and work of the Holy Spirit. (1) “God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, given to us.” “And because we are His children, God sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, prompting us to call out, “Abba (Aramaic), Pater (Greek)!” And the witness in ourselves continually increased that parental love of God,” and God’s pardoning love to us by “See how very much our Father loves us, for He calls us His children, and that is what we are!” This is because God is the desire of our eyes and the joy of our hearts, our portion in time and eternity.
With scholarly meditation, James Macknight (1721-1800) also speaks about having God’s witness in us through the Holy Spirit. So here, as in the next verse, the testimony is used for the thing being witnessed. The thing being witnessed is that God has given us eternal life through His Son. Therefore, those who believe in the Son may have eternal life. In themselves by faith in the Son, the thing witnessed is that they have the characteristics of God’s children in them. Thus, the new life that began in them is both a pledge and proof that God in due time will ultimately bestow on them eternal life through His Son. However, those who do not believe in God, that is, don’t think that the witness God gave is invalid concerning Jesus at His baptism, claiming Him as His Son with a voice from heaven. Also, when after His death, God demonstrated Jesus to be His Son, by raising Him from the dead. By refusing to believe these testimonies, John uses the Greek verb poieō (“making”) to make God a liar or false witness.
 See Matthew 3:17; 17:5; Acts of the Apostles 1:8
 Bede the Venerable, Ancient Christian Commentary, Bray, G. (Ed.), op. cit., Vol. XI, p. 224
 Ephesians 2:8-9
 1 Corinthians 1:30
 1 John 5:10
 Heidelberg Catechism: Lord’s Day 23, Question 61
 James 2:19
 1 John 5:10
 Owen, John: The Doctrine of Justification by Faith, op. cit., pp. 132-133
 1 John 4:16
 Owen, John: Of Communion with God, op. cit., pp. 48-49
 2 Timothy 1:9; Titus 1:2
 Owen, John: The Doctrine of the Trinity and the Person and Satisfaction of Christ, op. cit., p. 9
 1 Corinthians 1:24
 2 Corinthians 4:4
 Mark 16:16
 Flavel, John: The Method of Grace: How the Spirit Works, op. cit., Ch. 32, p. 448
 Romans 5:5
 Galatians 4:6
 1 John 5:10
 Ibid. 3:1
 Wesley, John, The Works of: Vol. 4, First Series of Sermons, Sermon 4, p.99
 Macknight, James: Apostolic Epistles with Commentary, Vol. VI, pp. 114-115