By Dr. Robert R. Seyda


CHAPTER FIVE (Lesson LXXXIII) 03/08/23

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.

As a nonconformist to the Church of England’s orthodoxy, John Bunyan (1628-1688) wrote I am made right by the righteousness of another, and because I was made righteous, God accepted me as such. Therefore, he bestowed on me His grace, which, at first, I made poor use of and needed assurance that I was righteous and have eternal life.[1] It was not immediately by faith, but by the written word, which is called the word of faith, which declared to me, to whom grace, and the seed of faith were given, that I did have eternal life. So now, with boldness, I believe in the Son of God with peace and joy.[2] [3]

Isaac Barrow (1630-1677) hears the Apostle John saying that we are in union with the God of truth and His Son  Jesus, the Anointed One. He is the God of eternal life; (no false, no metaphorical God, but the supreme, ever-living God from whom, the Apostle Paul says, is traced the human ancestry of the Anointed One, who is God over all, forever praised! Amen.)[4] Hence, the Most High, the sovereign God blessed forever (a unique and characteristic attribute or title for God.)[5]

From his strategic viewpoint as a biblical expositor and educational pioneer, William Burkitt (1650-1703) says John wrote these things so his readers would know that they knew, believed, and assured they were Christians. Some were unsure they believed this to be true because they could not point to a fixed time or produce evidence that they became a believer by faith. Faith and assurance in a saint differ as much as reason and learning in a person; everyone has reasoning, but rationale is not learning, which is the improvement of reason.

Therefore, every reasonable person has faith, but everyone who has faith is not assurance, which is the fruit of faith. Faith was the first design and end of the Apostle John’s writing that they might know they did believe; the second follows that those that did believe did so on the name of God’s Son; the meaning is that they might more firmly believe, be more rooted, grounded, settled, and confirmed in the faith, to remain unshaken by all the storms of persecution that might fall upon them. It appears to be John’s aim when he urges the faithful to believe.The strongest believers may be encouraged to strengthen their faith and persevere in the faith by which they are maintained and established.[6]

With a spiritually contemplative mind, Matthew Henry (1662-1714) says that in light of all this evidence, it is only right that we believe on the name of God’s Son. So, let us thankfully receive the record of Scripture. They are always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that their labor is not in vain. The Lord the Anointed One invites us to come to Him in all circumstances, with our supplications and requests, notwithstanding the sin that besets us. Our prayers must always be offered in submission to the will of God. In some things, they are speedily answered; in others, they are granted in the best manner, though not as requested. We ought to pray for others as well as for ourselves.[7]

An Anglican priest opposing the monarchy of Church and State in favor of a constitutional parliamentary system, Thomas Pyle (1674-1756), paraphrases verses thirteen to fifteen, “And accordingly, my design in this Epistle was to satisfy all such true believers of the safety of their future condition; and to encourage them to a firm perseverance in this principle, upon a full assurance that God will deny them nothing that is truly needful for them; but will, in due time and manner, answer all their Christian prayers.”[8]

As a Lutheran clergyman opposing absolute monarchy and Roman Catholic Emancipation, supporting constitutional imperialism with a parliamentary system, Johann A. Bengel (1687-1752) notes that “these things” mentioned by the Apostle John appear in this Epistle. The verb, I write, is used in the opening verses.[9] In conclusion, it becomes, “I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, (which is the sum of verse five) that you may know that you have eternal life, derived from verse eleven. In other words, as John says in verse twelve, knowing that you have the Son means eternal life. Therefore, “ought” does not become our hope but our faith.[10]

Provider of priceless Christian and Jewish wisdom gems, John Gill (1697-1771) believes that the Apostle John’s claims that the things he had written were contained in the epistle and the context of victory over the world to those who accept that the Anointed One is God’s Son. We find it in God’s record with His witnesses that His Son is eternal life to those that believe in His name.

John’s whole purpose in writing was to assure them that they have eternal life in the Anointed One; they have a right to it and quality for it and will undoubtedly enjoy it. Knowing this is acquired by faith, and the testimony of the Holy Spirit is by grace a gift from God through the Anointed One. It is guaranteed as long as they have the Anointed One, believe in Him, and have that which serves to communicate, cultivate, and increase such knowledge.

John wrote all this so they would be encouraged to continue believing in Him, hold on to their faith in Him, and continue believing in Him to the end. Also, increasing their trust in Him, faith is imperfect and capable of expanding and growing exceedingly by reading and hearing God’s Word explained to them, especially that part which respects the person, office, and grace of the Anointed One.[11]

Philip Doddridge (1702-1751) states that it is apparent that the Apostle John does not try to establish the reader’s faith, produce evidence of Christianity, or argue with them. Nevertheless, the wholesome characteristics, which John’s discourse tends to promote, would undoubtedly have a solid influence to confirm their faith. Such qualities appear to be the ardent zeal of Gospel teachers to establish their confirmation as faithful witnesses to significant facts received upon their credit. Therefore, this solid text proves that Christians are to believe in Jesus the Anointed One.[12]

After skillfully scrutinizing the Apostle John’s central theme, John Brown of Haddington (1722-1787) tells us that these divine testimonies concerning the Anointed One must become a clear and intense light before us who are under struggling in a helpless, guilty, and ruined state. After all, Jesus died so we might heartily receive and rejoice in Him as our Savior. Thus, by God’s Word and His Spirit’s witness, our spirit will have blessed assurance that we anticipate possessing eternal and the Anointed One in our lives. We should be increasingly excited and encouraged to believe in, and depend on, our salvation upon the merits and meditations of God’s only begotten Son.[13]

More concerned with Church than its sacraments, William Jones on Nyland (1726-1800) asks, “What is essential to this life?” The answer is, “A person’s most substantial and deepest love is to be fixed on God.” We have no revelation of God adequate to inspire this affection save that given to us in Jesus the Anointed One. On viewing life as consisting of the union of the soul with God, we affirm that this union can be effected only through the intercession of Jesus the Anointed One. Humanity is estranged from God by sin, “alienated from the life of God,”[14] and under condemnation because of sin. “The Son of man has the authority to forgive sins.”[15]There is no condemnation to them in the Anointed One, Jesus.”[16]

By the manifestation of God’s love in His life, and especially in His death, the Anointed One destroys the hostility of the sinful heart and reconciles it with God. “When we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by His Son’s death.”[17] The Anointed One reveals God as a Supreme Being possessing in infinite degrees those attributes necessary to command the soul’s, supreme love. He manifests the perfect righteousness of God.

The cross of Jesus the Anointed One is a declaration of God’s unquenchable hatred of sin and His zeal for maintaining holiness. It is the perfect revelation of religious truth for mankind’s intellect and heart. His Son is “Truth.”[18] Truth is incarnate in Him, and God’s love was perfectly expressed. He showed us the indescribable mystery of God in self-sacrifice. He reveals to our dim vision the transcendent beauty of His Divine character for our admiration and reverence. In a word, taking holiness as expressing the summation of Divine perfections, He reveals God’s infinite righteousness. In Him, we have such a revelation of the Supreme Being as is perfectly fitted to command the reverence of conscience, to quicken and strengthen the intellect, to expel all hate, and birth in the soul the purest, most profound, intense love and excite the reverent devotion of our being. Such a revelation is believed in and brought home to our spirit by the Holy Spirit. Only through the Anointed One can we attain the highest life.[19] [20]

Samuel Eyles Pierce (1746-1829) says that knowing they have eternal life in them was to produce faith and continued progression that they might go on, believing in the name of the Son of God. The actual knowledge of the Anointed One, received through the Gospel into the mind, produces assurance of His Salvation, such as having the same evidence that the Anointed One is theirs and that they are His. The Holy Spirit gave them the knowledge, experience, and enjoyment of believing in the name of God’s Son so they can enjoy the same being kept alive in them. There is no other way to do this than by believing.[21]

Thomas Scott (1747-1821), a man with a heartfelt friendship with hymn writer[22] John Newton (1726-1807), notes that the first fruit of the Holy Spirit’s virtues, as indicated by many marks laid down in this Epistle, produce confidence. It is not a certainty of hope but confident of hope by faith that we may believe, confirm, continue, and increase to God’s glory and praise.[23]

Joseph Benson (1749-1821), at age fifteen, a potential young theologian preaching and holding cottage prayer meetings, meditated on these words, “These things have I written to you” concerning the fruit of regenerating faith, the water, and the blood, the witnesses in heaven and on earth, and especially about the things which they have witnessed, mentioned in the two last verses; to you that believe on the name of God’s Son

Hence, with faith grounded in a saving knowledge of Him and productive of the fruit spoken in verses one through four, you may know, based on the testimony of all the evangelists and apostles and the Anointed One, that you have and are heirs to eternal life, despite your past sins and present infirmities, to include, the imperfection of your knowledge and holiness, and the various defects of your love and obedience; and that you may believe. That is, persevere by believing in the name of the Son of God. may continue in the faith grounded and settled, and not be moved away from the hope of the Gospel, knowing that the just man shall live by faith, but if he draws back, God’s soul will have no pleasure in him.[24] [25]

Straightforward preacher Charles Simeon (1759-1836) believes that the Scriptures in the Final Covenant were written for the whole world. Yet perhaps we may say that the Gospels were written more immediately for unbelievers to convince them of the Messiahship of Jesus and that the epistles were written instead for believers to bring them to life, becoming their high and holy calling. This idea seems to be sanctioned by the Apostle John: for, at the end of his Gospel, he says, “I write these things that you might believe that Jesus is the Anointed One, the Son of God; and that, believing, you might have life through His name.”[26]

But, at the end of this epistle, John says, “These things I have written to you that you can believe in the name of the Son of God.” In truth, he had all the different classes of believers‒children, young men, and fathers: “I write unto you, little children because your sins are forgiven you for His name’s sake. Fathers, I am writing to you because you have known him from the beginning. I write unto you, young men because ye have overcome the wicked one.”[27] [28]

[1] Hebrews 5:13

[2] Romans 15:13; 1 John 5:13

[3] Bunyan, John: Practical Works Vo. 5, pp. 250-251

[4] Romans 9:5

[5] Barrow, Isaac, Theological Works, op. cit., p. 176

[6] Burkitt, William, Expository Notes, with Practical Observations, on the New Testament, op. cit., Vol. II, pp. 737-738

[7] Henry, Matthew: Concise Commentary on the Bible, op. cit., p. 2060

[8] Pyle, Thomas: A Paraphrase on the Acts of the Holy Apostles, upon all the Epistles of the New Testament, and upon the Revelations, (1725) op. cit., p. 402

[9] 1 John 1:4

[10] Bengel, Johann Albert: Gnomon of the New Testament, Vol. IV, op. cit., pp.150-151

[11] Gill, John: Exposition of the Entire Bible, op. cit., (Kindle Location 341753)

[12] Doddridge, Philip: The Family Expositor; or, A Paraphrase and Version of the New Testament, op. cit., p. 888

[13] Brown of Haddington, John: The Self-Interpreting New Testament, op. cit., p.1320

[14] Ephesians 4:18

[15] Matthew 9:6; Mark 2:10

[16] Romans 8:1

[17] Ibid. 5:10

[18] John 14:6

[19] Cf. John 3:36; Acts of the Apostles 4:12

[20] Jones, William, The Pulpit Commentary Vol. 22, The First Epistle of John, p. 164

[21] Pierce, Samuel Eyles: An Exposition of the First Epistle General of John, Comprised in Ninety-Three Sermons, Vol. 2, pp. 277–278

[22] Newton, John: Composer of “Amazing Grace,”

[23] Scott, Thomas: Theological Works, op. cit., p. 733

[24] See John 15:6; Romans 11:22

[25] Benson, Joseph: Commentary of the Old and New Testaments, op. cit., pp. 347-348

[26] John 20:31

[27] 1 John 2:12-14

[28] Simeon, Charles: Horae Homileticae, op. cit., Vol. XX, op pp. 543-544

About drbob76

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