By Dr. Robert R. Seyda


CHAPTER FIVE (Lesson LXXXII) 03/07/23

5:13 I write this letter to you who believe in the Son of God. I write so that you will know that you have eternal life now.

John points out the importance of knowing that God gave the right to all who believed and accepted Him to become His children.[1] So, it wasn’t only the Anointed One’s words. Many became convinced He was the Anointed One because of the miracles He performed in Jerusalem at the Passover celebration.[2] And so, we should pay attention to the Anointed One’s messages and miracles because people who believe in God’s Son are not judged guilty. But people who do not believe are already judged because they have not believed in God’s only Son.[3]

The Apostles took this message with them when they went to the world to preach the Gospel. When Peter and John raised a lame man to his feet, Peter told the onlookers that this crippled man’s healing was because he trusted Jesus. It was Jesus’ power that made him well. You can see this man, and you know him. He was made completely well because of faith in Jesus. You all saw it happen![4] Therefore, exclaimed the Apostles, when it comes to healing the soul,Jesus is the only one who can save people. His authority is the only supernatural power in the world that can save anyone. Therefore, we must be born again through Him![5] And the Apostle Paul passed on this same doctrine that this is a true statement to accept without question: “The Anointed One, Jesus, came into the world to save sinners.”[6]

Furthermore, this resurrection life we received from God is not a spirit that enslaves us and causes us to fear. On the contrary, the Spirit that we have makes us God’s chosen children. And with that Spirit, we cry with Jesus,[7]Abba,[8] Patēr.”[9] [10] And the Spirit Himself speaks to our spirits and makes us sure that we are God’s children, we will get God’s blessings for His people. He will give us all that He has shared with the Anointed One.[11] Thus, we must not forget that God called us and chose us to be His. We must do our best to live in a way that shows we are God’s called and chosen people. If we do all this, we will never fall. And we will be given a great welcome into the kingdom of our Lord and Savior, Jesus the Anointed One, a kingdom that never ends.[12]

Now we can see that the Apostle John’s word, “These things I have written to you,” sums up the Epistle. At the beginning, John said, “These things we write, that our joy [yours as well as mine] may be fulfilled;” Now, as he draws to a close, he says the same thing in other words. Their joy is knowing that they have eternal life through belief in God’s Son. There is a considerable variety of meanings in this verse, but it is a simple message. The interpretation of the last clause has produced various alterations to provide an easier reading. As regards construction and meaning, the verse should be carefully compared with John 1:12. In both, we have the interpretation at the end.

They also have John’s favorite Greek verb, pisteuō (“believe”), expressing the most assertive confidence in the object of belief. In addition, we have the remarkable expression, “believe in His Name.” This expression is no indirect hint for “believe in Him.” Names in Jewish history were often significant, sometimes given by God that they served to distinguish one person from another and indicate their character. So also with the Divine Name: it suggests the Divine attributes. “To believe on the Name of the Son of God” is to give entire devotion to Him as having the qualities of God’s Divine Son.

In verses thirteen to twenty-one, it is clear that the Apostle John summarizes his overall purpose for writing his epistle. He wants to assure believers of their possession of eternal life.[13]  The principle is that belief is the basis for salvation, not our merit. Eternal life is a quality and quantity of life that we cannot earn, deserve, or buy.  We cannot go to some spiritual supermarket and purchase salvation. If we wanted to buy it, we could never afford it.  We would have to pay the same price Jesus did. The only way we can get eternal life is to have it conferred on us freely.  God gives it free of charge.[14]

Thus, the purpose of 1 John is to motivate us from doubt to certainty. God wants us to “know” that we “have eternal life,” not assume or feel that we have it.  “Know” means to know with God-imparted innate knowledge.  It is a settled knowledge that gives peace to the mind and heart. Eternal life is a lifetime of fellowship with God both on earth and in heaven. Eternal life is the same kind of life that God possesses. Therefore, God is willing to share His eternal life with us.

We should note the present tense of “believe” suggests having a belief. This thinking differs from the non-Christian who does not possess ongoing trust in the Anointed One. Non-believers do not have and hold eternal life. Also, the word “in” involves motion towards and rest upon. We repose on the “name of the Son of God.”  “Name” stands for the person’s reputation. Our security is in a divine person for salvation. We trust in the unique person of the Son of God, Jesus the Anointed One, as God. Therefore, the name “Son of God” refers to the unique divinity of Jesus, the Anointed One, that makes eternal life possible. Confidence comes from trust in God’s Word and promises. 

Assurance of eternal life is not a presumption that doubts God’s promises. God makes it plain that we may know that we have eternal life, not that we might have it someday.  Physical life is not eternal life because we can lose it. But eternal life is unlike physical life because we cannot lose it. Eternal life is forever. Our feelings have nothing to do with whether we are truly born again; it is a matter of accepting God’s Word at face value. It is who says it that counts. It makes a tremendous difference who says what. If we receive a letter from a friend, we accept what they say at face value because it comes from a friend. We have no reason to suspect that they would deceive us.

On the other hand, we may receive a business letter from a company with whom we do business. We may wonder whether their proposal is valid. They may overstate, exaggerate, or downright lie to get our business, the economy being what it is in some cases. However, if we receive a communication from the Prime Minister of Canada, you would accept at face value what he said because of who he is.[15] John closes his Gospel by saying that Jesus did many other things. If they were all written in books, I don’t suppose there would be room enough in the whole world for all the books.”[16]

At this juncture, let’s summarize what we’ve learned so far. First, all who believe that Jesus is the Anointed One (v. 1), the Son of God (v.5), are themselves, children of God, to be loved as is their heavenly Father (v.). In fact, this reciprocal love is the Gather’s unburdensome command (v.3), originating from the Christian faith that has conquered the world (vv. 4-5).

Faith is belief in Jesus the Anointed One, who came in incarnated for His human ministry stretching from baptism to death, and testified to by the Spirit (v. 6). Not only does the Spirit give witness, but so do baptism and communion (v. 8). These church sacraments signify the Anointed One’s presence and the eternal life He brings (vv. 11-12). Spirit, Water, and Blood are part of God’s testimony. To deny them is to reject God’s witness and to affirm that He was lying. (v. 10). And, indeed, the purpose of this whole epistle is to help all to realize that they possess eternal life – if, that is, they believe in God’s Son (v. 13)


This verse has comments, interpretations, and insights of the Early Church Fathers, Medieval Thinkers, Reformation Theologians, Revivalist Teachers, Reformed Scholars, and Modern Commentators.

Oecumenius (500-600 AD) notes that the Apostle John says that he has written to those who are inheritors of eternal life, for such things would never be written to people who are not. After all, it is not right to give holy things to dogs or to scatter pearls before swine.[17]

With a studious monk’s spiritual insight, Bede the Venerable (672-735 AD) believes that the Apostle John wrote these things so that those who believe in the Anointed One will be reassured about their future blessedness. They will not be led astray by the deception of those who say that Jesus was not the Son of God and therefore has nothing to offer to those who have believed in Him.[18]

William Tyndale (1494-1536) believes that to share the faith the Apostles had of the Anointed One is to know they have eternal life. For the Spirit testifies to their spirits that they are the sons of God[19] and received under grace. Some Doctors of Theology say we cannot know whether we are in a state of grace; therefore, we don’t have the Apostles’ faith. And that they know it is not the cause why they object to it.[20]

John Calvin (1509-1564) states that there ought to be daily progress in faith, so he says that he wrote to those who had already believed so that they might trust more firmly and with greater certainty, and thus enjoy fuller confidence as to eternal life. So then, the use of doctrine is not only to initiate the ignorant in the knowledge of the Anointed One but also to confirm those more and more who have been already taught. It, therefore, must be diligent in learning that our faith may increase throughout our lives. For there are still many remnants of unbelief, and so weak is our belief that what we believe is not yet accepted unless there be a fuller confirmation.

But we ought to observe how to confirm faith, even after having the office and power of the Anointed One explained to us. For the Apostle John says that he wrote these things, that is, that eternal life is to be sought nowhere else but in the Anointed One, so that they who were believers already might mature, that is, make progress in believing. Therefore, godly teachers must confirm disciples in the faith, to praise as much as possible the grace of the Anointed One so that being satisfied with that, we may seek nothing else. The Apostle further teaches in this passage that the Anointed One is the main object of our faith, and our faith in His name has annexed the hope of salvation. In this case, believing is that we become God’s children and heirs.[21]

James Arminius (1560-1609) notes that according to the actions required of believers, we distinguish that faith,[22] adds hope, and relates to morals. Hope is offered as an object to be believed in and morals as the work to be performed.[23] [24]

John Cotton (1585-1652) feels that among the help and benefits the Apostle’s writings afforded the Church were (1) Teaching,[25] (2) Putting them in remembrance,[26] (3) Stirring them up to practice what they knew. [27] (4) To the humble the spirits that were puffed up.[28] (5) That they might be strengthened in their faith.[29] (6) That their hearts were filled with joy.[30] (7) These writings have the foundation of faith that all Christians have accessed the subject matter of all the preaching of the ministers, for, by them, the people of God are fully furnished and made perfect to every good work.[31] [32]

As a firm spiritual disciplinarian, John Owen (1616-1683) argues that testimonies confirming that wherever faith towards our Lord Jesus the Anointed One is necessary, it is still believing “in Him,” or “on His name,” according to our faith in God is everywhere expressed. Nothing more is intended than that belief in any doctrines revealed by His Apostles oblige us to believe in them or their reputation. For instance, we are urged to consider the doctrine of the Apostle Paul, the revelations made by him, and the danger of our eternal welfare by not believing in them, yet we are to believe in Paul. It is something Paul utterly detested.[33] The reader may consult, among others, John,[34] Paul,[35] and Peter.[36]

[1] John 1:12

[2] Ibid. 2:23

[3] Ibid. 3:18

[4] Acts of the Apostles 3:16

[5] Ibid. 4:12

[6] 1 Timothy 1:15

[7] Mark 14:36

[8] Abba, Aramaic for “papa

[9] Patēr, Greek for “father

[10] Cf. Romans 8:15,Galatians 4:6

[11] Romans 8:15-17

[12] Daniel 7:14

[13] See John 1:12; 6:35; 6:47; 9:24; 11:25-26

[14] Cf. Romans 6:23; Acts of the Apostles 13:38-39; 16:30-31; Romans 4:5; Galatians 3:22

[15] John 20:30-31

[16] Ibid. 21:25; cf. 2 Timothy 1:12; Titus 1:2; 1 John 1:4

[17] Oecumenius, Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, Gerald Bray, ed., op cit., Vol. XI, p. 225

[18] Bede the Venerable, Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, Gerald Bray, ed., op cit., Vol. XI, p. 225

[19] Romans 8:16

[20] Tyndale, William: Expositions of Scripture, 1 John 5, op. cit., p. 211

[21] Calvin, John: Commentary on Catholic Epistles, 1 John, op. cit., loc. cit.

[22] 1 John 5:13

[23] Matthew 9:13; 21:22, 23; Mark 1:15; Luke 24:27

[24] Arminius, James: The Works of James Arminius, Vol. 1, op. cit., p. 374

[25] 2 Thessalonians 2:2

[26] 2 Peter 1:22-23

[27] Ibid. 1:1-4

[28] 2 Corinthians 12:7, 8

[29] 1 John 5:13

[30] Ibid. 1:4

[31] 2 Timothy 4:16-17

[32] Cotton, John: Exposition of First John, op. cit., p. 612

[33] 1 Corinthians 1:13, 15

[34] John 1:12; 3:16, 18, 36; 6:29, 35, 41; 7:38, 39; 1 John 5:10, 13

[35] Acts of the Apostles 14:23; 16:31; 19:4; 24:24; 26”18; Romans 3:26; 9:33; 10:11

[36] 1 Peter 2:6

About drbob76

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