NEW TESTAMENT CONTEXTUAL COMMENTARY
By Dr. Robert R. Seyda
FIRST EPISTLE OF JOHN
CHAPTER FIVE (Lesson CXXXIII) 05/11/23
5:19 We know that we belong to God, but the Evil One controls the whole world.
Expositor and systematic theologist Michael Eaton (1942-2017) explains that verse seventeen is instructive for those who follow the Anointed One. They are in a global conflict with an enemy that influences and, in many instances, controls cultures, societies, finances, and even governments. Under the sway of the evil one, this evil empire opposes with vehemence the advancement of the Gospel, ministries of mercy, and care for the weak and helpless. He hates believers for who they are and what they are trying to accomplish in winning lost sinners to the Anointed One, which requires us to have a wartime mentality and commitment.
Sacrifices must be made, and strategies bathed in spiritual wisdom must be created and implemented. But know this: as we move forward, we do so as the Army of God, a God who is in us and more excellent than he who is in a godless society. We are His, and He will protect us.
Emphasizing the Apostle John’s call to Christian fellowship, Bruce B. Barton (1954) says believers can know their position with God in eternity. They know they are God’s children, and they have been freed from Satan’s grasp. While the rest of a godless society is under the control of the evil one, Christians stand apart, separate from a godless society and Satan, united with God. Even those a godless society considers wise, great, and respectable are under Satan’s domain. 
With a classical thinking approach to understanding the scriptures, Bruce G. Schuchard (1958) finds in verse nineteen the second of three consecutive references in verses eighteen to twenty to “knowing that” emphasizes again those certainties that can and must, in the end, be known. We know that we are of God. These last three references to those who are “born of God” underscores the assurance of our belonging to God. The secessionists are of a godless society that belongs to the evil one. Thus, the whole world lies in (the power of) the evil one. John contrasts the circumstances of God’s children with those who belong to a godless society.
Therefore, those who are of God are not included in the phrase the whole world. The Epistle’s last reference to the “world” helps with its only other reference to “the whole world.’’ As such, the Epistle’s first reference to the “world” frame its beginning and end, While the evil one does not “touch” the Christian, a godless society lies helplessly in his grasp. Therefore, one either “lies in (the power of) the evil one” or “abides in the One who is true, in God’s Son, Jesus the Anointed One.” Thus. John exhorts again to the certainties of life and the love, of the fellowship of the beloved, placing himself and his adherents “in a category separate from the secessionists.”
Great expositional teacher David Guzik (1961) sees the Apostle John as repeating his idea from 1 John 3:6: “Whoever abides in Him does not sin.” The original Greek grammar makes it plain that John does not speak of a settled, continued lifestyle of sin. John is not teaching here the possibility of sinless perfection. As John Stott says, “The present tense in the Greek verb implied habit, continuity, unbroken sequence.” In verse eighteen, himself is more accurately him. John probably means here that He who has been born of God (that is, Jesus the Anointed One) keeps him (that is, the believer). John means that we are held by Jesus and protected from Satan.
What Greek scholars say about the word touch: The word is stronger than “touches.” rather “grasps, lays hold of.” The only place in his writings where John uses this particular verb for touch is in his Gospel, where Jesus tells Mary to stop clinging to Me. Because we are born of Him, Satan cannot attach himself to or connect himself to us in the same in the life of someone who is not born of Him.
An expert in highlighting the crucial part of a biblical message, Marianne Meye Thompson (1964) points to verse nineteen, where the Apostle John’s dualistic description of reality comes once again into view. The One born of God keeps him safe and says positively what and formulates negatively that the evil one cannot harm him. We are children of God, which contrasts with a godless society under the control of the evil one. The children of God have the assurance that they are held in God’s hand and that “no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand.”
Touch means to “contact with the intention to harm.” God’s children have the assurance that they are guarded and kept by the power of God. They are not immune to temptation nor free from sin. But they are not in the hands of an arbitrary God who, on a whim, may desert them, nor will they fall under the control of the evil one. Those who are faithful children of God cannot lose the life they have in God. 
In his unorthodox Unitarian way, Duncan Heaster (1967) agrees with the Apostle John that we know that we are born of God because we were birthed through the Holy Spirit. The Spirit abiding in us is the proof that we are His property. On the other hand, the whole world is under the spell of “the evil one,” a phrase earlier used by Jews about Satan, namely, our adversary and accuser.
In a broader application of these words after the first century, we take from this the impression that there are two “spirits” operating in a godless society; a godly spirit and a worldly spirit. The first one is God’s Holy Spirit, and the second is what we call the “spirit of the age,” what we have to deal with in everyday life. It is like a ghost following us, wanting to scare us back into the safety of living under the Law.
Bright seminarian Karen H. Jobes (b. 1968) 5:19 The topic of knowledge of God and its source is of primary concern to John. The Son of God entered history in human form to reveal who God is – Truth – that would otherwise remain unseen and unknown. That revelation of God in the Anointed One is the source of genuine knowledge about God, which cannot be acquired from any other source. The importance of factual knowledge about God is seen in Jesus’ statement, which directly relates knowledge of God with eternal life.” And the attainment of eternal life is paramount to John’s Gospel, for it is why the Gospel was written.
Unfortunately, some of the statements in John’s Gospel, or the tradition that those statements represent, were being distorted and misunderstood to the point that actual knowledge of God was being jeopardized. False teaching and beliefs were the cause of the schism in the church(es) to which 1 John was written so that those who believe in the name [Yeshua, meaning “Savior”] of God’s Son may know that they have eternal life. It is only logical, therefore, that 1 John be centrally concerned with the proper knowledge of God and its source.
A skilled sermonizer, David Legge (b. 1969) sees what the Apostle John says in verse nineteen as the fourth certainty of eternal life is found. To know that we are of God, and the whole world lies in wickedness, the assurance that Christians belong to God, they are owned of God – what a certainty that is: to be able to say, “I am His and He is mine!” Then in verse twenty, we read the fifth and final certainty that he gives us in this conclusion. The fifth certainty is that Jesus the Anointed One is the true God. But, of course, that was doubted by some of these false teachers who had been infiltrating and influencing the church at Ephesus and many other infant churches.
5:20 And we know that God’s Son has come and given us understanding. So now we can fellowship with the true One and live in union with that true God. We are in His Son, Jesus the Anointed One. He is the true God, and He is eternal life.
Perhaps the Apostle John heard Jesus pray just before He ascended back to His Father in heaven that He was satisfied that He completed His mission here on earth. He wanted His Father’s protection on all who came to believe in Him as God’s Son, the Anointed One, Savior of a godless society. Not only them but everyone in the future who would become believers in Him. Jesus prayed, “My prayer for all of them is that they will be of one heart and mind, just as you and I are, Father that just as you are in me and I am in you, so they will be in us, and a godless society will believe you sent me.”
Our Master then told His and our heavenly Father it was His goal that all of them would become one heart and mind, just as He and the Father were one. He wanted them to be in union with He and His Father for this purpose, so a godless society might believe that God sent Him. The same glory you gave me, I gave them, so they’ll be as unified and together as we are – I in them and You in me. Then they’ll be mature in this oneness and give the godless world evidence that God sent Him and loved them in the same way He loved His Son. So, finally, the Apostle John concludes with his tenth test, the Test of Christian Identity.
As the Apostle Paul saw, when someone becomes a Christian, they become a brand-new person inside. They are not the same anymore. A new life has begun! That’s why Paul told the Philippians that, in his case, all the things he once thought were so important, he threw out as trash. In their place, he was given the priceless gift of knowing the Anointed One Jesus as my Master; firsthand, everything I once thought I had going for me is insignificant. I’ve dumped it all on the junk pile so I could embrace the Anointed One and be embraced by Him. It is God’s way of making us suitable with Himself and depends on faith – counting on the Anointed One alone.
What makes this all a mystery is that the Jews already had the prophecies of His coming. Certainly, the Rabbis must have told them that a child was to be born – for us! The gift of a son – for us! He’ll take over the running of a godless society. His names will be Amazing Counselor, Strong God, Eternal Father, Prince of Wholeness. That His ever-expanding, peaceful government would never end. He will rule with perfect fairness and justice from the throne of his father, David. He will bring true justice and peace to all world nations. This is going to happen because the Lord of heaven’s armies has dedicated Himself to doing it! Even GOD, King of Israel, your Redeemer, GOD-of-the-Angel-Armies, says: “I’m first, I’m last, and everything in between. I’m the only God there is. Who compares with me”?
So, it is no wonder that the Apostle John began his Gospel by saying that before anything else existed, there was the Living Word with God. He has always existed and is Himself God. With His words everything there is was created – nothing exists that He didn’t make. Yet, even some of Jesus’ disciples were unsure. Once, our Lord told Philip, you’ve been with me all this time, and you still don’t understand? To see Me is to see the Father. So how can you ask, “Where is the Father?” Don’t you believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words I say are not My own but are from my Father who lives in Me. And He does His work through me.
When the Apostle John talks about understanding more about our state as Christians, it should not be surprising if he remembered when they all went to ask the Lord why He was using so many parables. Jesus told them that this was a gift from God, which was why they had insight into God’s kingdom. They know how it works. But not everybody has this gift, this understanding, because it hasn’t been given to them yet. That’s why Luke could record that Jesus increased their knowledge of God’s Word, showing them how to interpret the Scriptures. It’s precisely why Jesus thanked His heavenly Father.
And the Apostle Paul was only too happy to remind the Corinthians that it’s a gift from God that they were given life in the spirit through the Anointed One Jesus. He showed us God’s plan of salvation; He was the one who made right with God; He made us pure and sanctified and gave Himself to purchase our salvation. That’s why we have the saying, “If you’re going to blow a horn, blow a trumpet for God.” It was God who said, “Let there be light in the darkness,” and made this light shine in our hearts so we could know the glory of God we see and God in the face of the Anointed One, all bright and beautiful.
No wonder the Apostle Paul, and all his companions, couldn’t stop thanking God for the believers in Ephesus. They could not bring themselves to quit asking the glorious Father of our Lord Jesus the Anointed One, to give them the wisdom to see and understand who the Anointed One is and all He has done for them. Paul stated, “I want your eyes focused and clear so that you can see what He’s calling you to understand the confident hope He has given to those He called” – His holy people who are heirs to a rich and glorious inheritance. Paul’s goal was that they might be able to feel and understand the extravagant dimensions of the Anointed One’s love as all God’s children should. So let them teach out and experience breadth and length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights and live wholesome lives full of God’s goodness!
And just like the Apostle Paul, the Apostle John wished his readers would be encouraged and knit together by strong ties of love and have the rich experience of knowing the Anointed One with confident and peaceful minds. For God’s great mystery, which at last has been made known, is none other than the Anointed One. In Him lie hidden all the mighty, untapped treasures of wisdom and knowledge and nowhere else. Could someone find this on their own? Not at all. Listen to the message sent to the Church in Philadelphia, “The One sending this has the key of David which can open and shut doors that no one else can. And the Church at Laodicea received this notice: The One sending this message He who stands as a firm, faithful and true Witness of all that is or was or evermore shall be.
 1 John 4:4
 Akin, Daniel L., Exalting Jesus in 1,2,3 John (the Anointed One-Centering Exposition Commentary), op. cit., loc. cit., Kindle Edition
 See 1 John 2:15-17; 3:1, 13; 4:3-5; 5:4-5
 Barton, Bruce B., 1,2, 3 John (Life Application Bible Commentary, op. cit., p. 119
 See 1 John 2:15-17
 Ibid. 5:4-5
 Ibid. 2:2
 Schuchard, Bruce G., Concordia Commentary, 1-3 John, op. cit., pp. 581-582
 John 20:17
 Guzik, David: Enduring Word, 1,2, & 3 John & Jude, op. cit., pp. 100-101
 John 10:28; 17:3, 5
 See Job 2:5; Psalm 105:15; Zechariah 2:8
 Thompson, Marianne M., The IVP New Testament Commentary Series, 1-3 John, op. cit., p. 147
 John 3:3-5
 1 John 2:13, 14; 3:12; 5:18
 Heaster, Duncan. New European Christadelphian Commentary: op. cit., The Letters of John, p. 81
 John 1:18
 John 17:3
 John 20:31
 1 John 5:13
 Jobes, Karen H., 1, 2, and 3 John (Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on The New Testament Series Book 18), op. cit., pp. 238-239
 Legge, David: Preach the Word, 1 John, op. cit., Sermon 16
 John 17:1, 3-23
 2 Corinthians 5:17
 Philippians 3:8-9
 Isaiah 9:6-7
 Ibid. 44:6
 John 1:1-3
 Ibid. 14:9-10
 Matthew 13:10-11
 Luke 24:45
 John 17:25
 1 Corinthians 1:30-31
 2 Corinthians 4:6
 Ephesians 1:17-18
 Ibid. 3:18
 Colossians 2:2-3
 Revelation 2:7
 Ibid. 3:14