By Dr. Robert R. Seyda


CHAPTER FIVE (Lesson LXVI) 02/13/23

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.

Contextual interpretation specialist Gary M. Burge says that interpreting John’s thought requires thinking of the Father’s testimony as separate from the Spirit, the water, and the blood. Indeed, John does not indicate how the Father gave His testimony (he merely refers to its fact). In John’s Gospel, we find a similar case, where Jesus includes the Father as supporting His case but does not explicitly say how in His roll call of witnesses.[1] Instead, John urges that since we accept human testimonies, we should receive divine testimony. God’s spiritual authority rests behind the water and blood testimony. God’s Spirit affirms truths about the Gospel of Jesus the Anointed One. It is impossible to avoid thinking about the schism in John’s church at this point. Human testimonies were struggling for acceptance.

John says that these testimonies come up against other points of view and God. God’s point of view, expressed in the historical life of Jesus and kept alive in the church’s witness through the Spirit, must now win the day. Indeed, God’s witness is exclusive to His Son. Thus, the test of whether or not we accept God’s testimony rests here: Do we embrace the truth about Jesus the Anointed One? Do we concur with the apostolic eyewitness? Put in another light (as John is prone to do), to reject the truth about Jesus, to reject the “water and the blood,” is to stand opposed to God and contradict His witness.[2]

Emphasizing the Apostle John’s call to Christian fellowship, Bruce B. Barton (1954) states that when people become God’s children, they know that salvation is sure because they have the testimony in their hearts ‒ God’s witness.[3] They know that the Spirit who regenerated them gives them an inner witness to that reality.[4] God’s Spirit, alive in their spirit, witnesses that everything Jesus said and did was proper. That is the primary function of the Spirit – to testify and reveal Jesus to every believer.[5] They should realize that they are calling Him a liar by rejecting what God has so plainly said. This has two aspects: refusing to believe what God said about His Son and, consequently, refusing to accept the Anointed One who can save people from sin’s spiritual death penalty. The Apostle John blasted the false teachers who claimed to know God but did not believe God’s words concerning His Son. Their theory was logically impossible and amounted to calling God an outright liar.[6]

A scholar who truly inspires Christian missionaries, Daniel L. Akin (1957), points to where the Apostle Paul stated, “The Spirit testifies together with our spirit that we are God’s children.”[7] Then he adds that the internal witness of God’s Spirit in the heart confirms to the child of God that they were right to believe that Jesus is God’s Son who alone gives the gift of eternal life.[8] This internal testimony is God’s presence in us. It beautifully balances and complements the external and historical witness of the baptism and crucifixion of Jesus, all witnessed by the Holy Spirit.

In the context of pastoral theology and practical application, this verse is of great value. John does not point us back to a prior experience. Instead, he leads us now to look at a present testimony and witness. So, who are you trusting today? Who are you believing in today? Where are your hope and confidence today? Is it the Anointed One? If so, rest assured that you have the Son and His gift of eternal life. Not knowing the exact moment, you were converted does not mean you are not saved. An experience can be helpful, but present-day testimony provides confirmation and assurance that God wants you to enjoy and that your soul longs to have – “I believe in Jesus, the only Anointed One.” You will find that confession to be a blessed avenue of assurance that will cause you to proclaim with passion and conviction, “Jesus is the Son of God.”[9]

With a classical thinking approach to understanding the scriptures, Bruce G. Schuchard (1958) notes that the last of three references to “everyone / the one who believes” that the man Jesus is the Anointed One, God’s Son, marks another beginning. Here, John turns from the “witness of God to His Son” to accepting or rejecting that testimony. Cited previously with little explanation, God’s testimony to His Son now becomes the theme that unifies this concluding passage’s final subunit. The one who believes in the Son of God has the testimony in themselves. The person who does not believe God has acted as if He were a liar. It’s because they have rejected His testimony concerning His Son.[10]

Great expositional teacher David Guzik (1961) feels that the Apostle John does not want us to believe with blind faith. Instead, our faith is founded on reliable testimony. And we have the most reliable witness possible, God. Thus, John exposes the great sin of unbelief. Most everyone who refuses to believe God (in the complete sense of the word believes) doesn’t intend to call God a liar. But they do it, nonetheless. What hope can there be for the one who persists in hearing what God says and then calling Him a liar?[11]

In his unorthodox Unitarian way, Duncan Heaster (1967) states that the Lord Jesus didn’t witness to His word by giving out bits of paper or teaching a catechism; He was, in person, the constant exhibition of the word He proclaimed. It doesn’t mean we shouldn’t write books, pass out literature, or speak words from a platform. Our Christian lifestyle is the essential witness to people, that witness which wells up from the Anointed One’s teachings and spiritual life within us. We can see how God’s Word became flesh in the prophet Hosea’s writings.[12] The command to go and marry her was not “the word of the Lord” to Israel, as was his marriage and example of true love to his wife. Hosea’s example in his marriage was the word of the Lord to Israel. He made the word flesh.[13] The Lord did this to perfection, yet like Hosea, we must do the same in principle. Not believing in God and not believing in His word of the Gospel are paralleled here in verse ten. David parallels trusting in God and His word.[14] [15]

Bright seminarian Karen H. Jobes (1968) observes that a Christian is, by the Apostle John’s definition, one who heard the witness of the Final Covenant, recognized it as God’s interpretation of the significance of the life and death of Jesus His Son, and internalized it as their belief. But the rejection of the Gospel of Jesus the Anointed One is not a morally neutral act. John would not look favorably on the pluralistic, culturally centered view of religious belief that is so popular today, that “one’s belief is what is true for you but has no claim on me.” Because the apostolic testimony about Jesus is God’s testimony, to hear it and not believe it entails making God a liar.

This is the second time John mentions making God a liar. The first time involves the denial of personal sin.[16] God says humans are sinners alienated from Him, living in spiritual darkness with death as their only future. But in His love, He sent his Son to atone for that sin, to reconcile people to Himself. God has given His testimony, and it stands for all time. When someone rejects God’s love offered in the Anointed One in favor of some other belief system (or nonbelief), they implicitly declare that they know better than God, thus “making” Him a liar.[17]

5:11 This is what God told us: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son.


So, anyone who wants to dispute the evidence must disprove what God said.  Jesus disagreed with the Pharisees after they heard Him say, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never exist in darkness. They will have the light that gives life.” But the Pharisees said to Jesus, “When you talk about yourself, you are the only one to say that these things are true. So, we cannot accept what you say. Jesus answered, Yes, I am saying these things about myself. But people can believe what I say because I know from where I came. And I know where I am going. But you don’t know where I came from or where I am going. You judge me the way people judge other people. I don’t judge anyone. But if I judge, my judgment is true because I am not alone when I judge. The Father who sent me is with me. Your law says you must accept what they say when two witnesses say the same thing. I am one of the witnesses who speaks about myself. And the Father who sent me is my other witness.”[18]

So as far as John is concerned, when Jesus speaks, God is speaking.  So he now introduces his sixth test, the Test of Truth. If God could heal, cause the blind to see, the deaf to hear, the mute to talk, the lame to walk and raise the dead, and Jesus did all these things, then anyone begging for more proof is what David  called a “fool.”[19] So the key phrase in what Jesus said to the Pharisees in His defense is that the Light is the One who gives spiritual and eternal Life.

Also, in the conversation between Jesus and Nicodemus, we find an apparent reference to this provision, “Moses hung the snake in the desert. It is the same with the Son of man. Therefore, He must also be crucified. Then everyone who believes in Him can have eternal life.[20]  This led John to close that chapter by declaring, “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life. But those who do not obey the Son will never have that life.[21]

When Jesus was feeding the 5,000 listeners near the Sea of Galilee, He made this a point of reference to His mission when He said, “I came down from heaven to do what God wants, not what I want. I must not lose anyone God has given me. But I must raise them on the last day. This is what the one who sent me wants me to do. Everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him has eternal life. I will resurrect them in the final days is the belief my Father wants.[22] When the subject returned to the bread, Jesus told them, “I can assure you that anyone who believes has eternal life. I am the Bread that gives life.[23]

When Jesus’ teaching turned somewhat esoteric, and many who had been following Him for the bread turned and left, He asked His disciples if they also planned on leaving.  It was then that Peter stood up and said, “Lord, where would we go? You have the words that give eternal life. We believe in you. We know that you are the Anointed One from God.[24] Then after Jesus used His parable of the true shepherd and the sheep, and the Pharisees objected to His making that claim, Jesus made it clear, “I give my sheep eternal life. They will never die, and no one can take them out of my hand.[25]

Afterward, Jesus was informed that some Greeks who came to celebrate the Passover in Jerusalem, our Lord began to describe why everything that happened at that time was so vital to His plans.  He told all who listened, “The Father who sent me told me what to say and what to teach. And I know that whatever He says to do will bring eternal life. So, the things I say are exactly what the Father told me to say.[26]

Later on, in the Garden of Gethsemane, as the Master was agonizing in prayer that God’s will, not His will, be done, He told His heavenly Father just before His arrest, “You gave the Son power over all people so that He could give eternal life to all those you have given to Him. And this is eternal life: that people can have a personal relationship with You, the only true God, and have a personal relationship with the Savior, the Son of man, the one You sent.[27]

In verse eleven, we have the substance of the internal testimony mentioned in verse ten. It is this – we are conscious of the Divine gift of eternal life, and this we have in the Son of God. The distinction between eternity and time is what the human mind feels to be natural and necessary. But we might become confused when we try to think of eternity. The Apostle John’s idea of endlessness may be included in it, but it is not the main one. We admit that it is not time, that it is the very antithesis of time, yet we attempt to measure it while we declare it immeasurable. We make it simply a very long time. In John’s writings, the main idea of “eternal life” has no direct reference to time. Eternal life is possessed already by believers; it is not a thing of the future.[28] It is that life in God that includes all blessedness and is not broken by physical death.[29] Its opposite is exclusion from God.

[1] John 5:37

[2] Burge, Gary M., The Letters of John (The NIV Application Commentary), op. cit., pp. 204-205

[3] 1 John 5:9

[4] See Romans 8:16; Galatians 4:6

[5] See John 14:26; 15:26; 16:7-13

[6] Barton, Bruce B., 1, 2, & 3 John (Life Application Bible Commentary), op. cit., p. 112

[7] Romans 8:16

[8] 1 John 5:11-12

[9] Akin, Dr. Daniel L., Exalting Jesus in 1,2,3 John (Christ-Centered Exposition Commentary), op. cit., loc. cit., Kindle Edition

[10] Schuchard, Bruce G., Concordia Commentary, 1-3 John, op. cit., pp. 540-541

[11] Guzik, David: Enduring Word, 1,2, & 3 John & Jude, op. cit., pp. 94-96

[12] Hosea 1:2

[13] John 1:14

[14] Psalm 56:3-4

[15] Heaster, Duncan. New European Christadelphian Commentary: op. cit., The Letters of John, pp. 73-74

[16] 1 John 1:10

[17] Jobes, Karen H., 1, 2, and 3 John (Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on The New Testament Series Book 18), op. cit., p. 224

[18] John 8:12-19

[19] Psalm 14:1

[20] John 3:14-15

[21] Ibid. 3:36

[22] Ibid. 6:38-40

[23] Ibid. 6:47

[24] Ibid. 6:68-69

[25] Ibid. 10:28

[26] Ibid. 12:49-50

[27] Ibid. 17:2-3

[28] John 3:36; 5:24; 6:47, 54; 17:3

[29] 1 John 1:25

About drbob76

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