By Dr. Robert R. Seyda


CHAPTER FIVE (Lesson CXXXIV) 05/12/23

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.

So, did Jesus doubt who He was and His status with God? Not one bit. He made it clear that He was in charge of God’s mission on earth. He undeniably stated He was the One who gives genuine, eternal life. And those who’ve received it are protected from ever being snatched away. No one can kidnap them because His Father put them under His care. And His Father is so much greater than anyone out to steal them. He and the Father are one heart and mind.[1]

This also applied to their remaining strong and healthy as fruit-bearing branches of the True Vine. He told His followers they should stay in union with Him, just as He was united with them. In the same way, a branch cannot produce grapes by itself but only by being joined to the vine. They can’t bear fruit unless they are joined with Him.[2]

In one of His prayers, our Lord told His Father I’m not only praying for them but also those who will believe in Me because of their witness about Me. I pray that all of them will become one heart and mind ‒ Just as you, Father, are in me and I in you, so they might be one heart and mind with us. Then a godless society might believe that you, in fact, sent me. I gave the same glory you gave me, 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 you’ve sent me and loved them In the same way you’ve loved me.

That was what Jesus prayed to the Father and what John responded to with his comment: “(This is what eternal life means: that people can have a personal relationship with You, the only One True God and that they can have a personal relationship with the Jesus the Anointed One, the One You sent).[3]  Because by knowing Him and having a personal relationship with Him, He can help us avoid the errors and mistakes of sin just as He did.  So, this is why our Lord was able to tell the Father, “I have given them Your teaching. And a godless society has hated them because they don’t belong to a godless society, just as I don’t belong to a godless society.[4]

It came from Jesus’ lips when He said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. The only way to the Father is through me.[5] And His purpose for doing this was because “This is the meaning of eternal life: that people can know you, the only true God, and that they can know Jesus the Anointed One, the one you sent.”[6] And our Lord could say that because “I showed them what You are like, and I will show them again. Then they will have the same love you have for me, and I will live in them.[7] And this is precisely what John says here in the letter.

And we know that we can live in that One True God because Jesus said, “The Father and I are one.”[8]  Not only that, but Jesus also said, “One day you will know that I am in the Father. You will know that you are in me, and I am in you.[9] And what day will that be?  Jesus clearly says it will be the day He returns from death.  Because when that happens, then says Jesus, “All who love me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them. My Father and I will come to them and live with them.[10]

When expounding on the Scriptures, it is vitally important that we examine the context. For example, it would be easy to interpret this statement by Jesus to read that He and the Father – as a pair, would come live with the believer.  But when we look at the context in which Jesus has been declaring that He and the Father are one, it is safe to say that when Jesus comes to live with the believer, the Father automatically comes through Him.

After Jesus ascended back to be with the Father, that’s when everyone could be assured, “I will be in them, and You will be in me. So, they will be completely one. Then a godless society will know that You sent me and loved them just as You loved me.[11] Once more, when we read this in context, we discover that in John’s Gospel, Jesus told His disciples about the coming of the Holy Spirit to take His place.  Now He gives us this truth: by having the Holy Spirit with us and in us, we also have the Father and the Son because they are all three in unison.  That way, everything the Father did for the Son, He will do for the believer through the Spirit.

It all starts and ends with our remaining connected to the Anointed One, the True Vine, at all times so that His power flowing through us can not only keep us from falling into sin but strengthen us to the point that sin has no chance of invading our lives because our spiritual immune system is strong and vibrant.  To this end, John can now say:

Isaiah prophesied about this One True God, The Lord is the king of Israel. The Lord All-Powerful is the one who will set Israel free; I am the only living God. I am the Beginning and the End. There is no other God like me. If there is, let that god speak now.[12]  And God tells Isaiah that no matter where they go, they should say, “The only true God is with you, and there is no other God.[13] And God repeated this to the children of Israel through Jeremiah, “But the Lord is the One True God. He is the only God who is alive. He is the King who rules forever.[14]

Therefore, there was no reason for them to turn to or trust any other god. And since Jesus was with the One True God, that’s why John could begin his Gospel with these words, “Before a godless society began, the Word was there. The Word was with God, and the Word was God.[15] And if they had any doubts, Jesus Himself put those at rest when He said, “Don’t you believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The things I have told you don’t come from me. The Father lives in me, and He is doing His work. So, believe me when I say that I am in the Father, and the Father is in me.[16]

In this verse, we can omit the “and” before “we know.” There is no “and” or “but” in the Greek text; the connection of the pronouns is impressive. This is the second significant fact of which Christians have certainty. They, as children of God, and preserved from the evil one by God’s Son, have nothing to do with a godless society, which still lies in the power of the evil one. The “evil one” here is not neuter but masculine.[17] Saying that a godless society lies in the evil one implies that it is under Satan’s dominion. As John Calvin says, there is no reason we should hesitate to shun a godless society, which condemns God and delivers itself into the bondage of Satan; nor is there any reason we should fear its hostility because it is alienated from God.

So, now we find that this is the third and last “know” in verses eighteen to twenty-one. Christians are to know with certainty that God’s Son came in the incarnation. It highlights the difference with the false teaching John addresses throughout his first epistle.  Is it impossible to fellowship with God apart from Jesus the Anointed One? The phrase “Son of God” occurs eight times in 1 John.  Six of the eight occur in this last chapter.  This expresses His eternal relationship with the Father, His Godliness. The Greek verb hēkō for “come” includes the ideas of arrival and personal presence.  This word denotes a state of presence.  The Son of God came in personal presence in the incarnation.

Christians have spiritual understanding through the Holy Spirit.[18] Gnostics taught that salvation came through theoretical knowledge, not believing in the incarnate Anointed understanding One. “Understanding” is the power or capacity of knowing, the faculty of comprehension. Christians received the ability to understand the incarnated the Anointed One at regeneration. But believers can know God in intimate fellowship. “Know” here is knowledge held with assurance, not by the process of acquisition of knowledge. 

Notice the three uses of the word “true” in this verse. “True” means real as opposed to false. Jesus called Himself real or genuine. Jesus’ person and work line up with the truth. Everything He is and does is the truth. He resembles what’s true and corresponds by His very nature to what is genuine about God. There is nothing fictitious, imaginary, or counterfeit about Him.  God did not replicate Him.  There is no semblance of pretension in Him.[19] With this foundation, it shows the Christian life is life at its best. 

Therefore, the truth of Christianity rests upon Jesus the Anointed One as God’s Son. It does not rest on relative or diverse thinking but on an eternal person. This truth transcends finite human logic. No matter how brilliant a person may be, if he has never come to know God personally, he cannot understand the Word of God or its Author. God requires that we be introduced to the Author before we can comprehend His writing.[20]

Knowledge of God in the incarnation is knowledge on a personal and intimate basis. Every believer’s spiritual address is in the same spiritual sphere as Jesus the Anointed One. Every Christian has a place in God’s eyes. When God looks at us, He sees Jesus. Jesus is perfect righteousness, so we are ideal righteousness. Jesus has eternal life, so we have eternal life. Jesus took our condemnation, so we will never be condemned.[21] 


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

With great assurance, early church ecclesiastical teacher Didymus the Blind (313-398 AD) commented that the understanding God gave, by which it is known that the true Son of God came, is the same as the understanding in the mind of the Anointed One.[22]

With a studious monk’s spiritual insight, Bede the Venerable (372-735 AD) asks: “What could be more straightforward than these words?” What could be sweeter to the ear? What could be a more powerful weapon to use against the heretics? The Anointed One is the true Son of God. The Father of our Lord Jesus the Anointed One is the true God. The eternal Son of God has come into a godless society of time, and He came only to save us so that we might come to know the true God, for no one can come to eternal life without knowing the true God. All these things John just keeps repeating over and over again.[23]

As a solid Trinitarian, Athanasius of Alexandria (296-373 AD), in his Statement of Faith, writes: “We believe in one Unbegotten God, Father Almighty, maker of all things both visible and invisible, that has His being from Himself. And in one Only-begotten Word, Wisdom, Son, begotten of the Father without beginning and eternally; word not pronounced nor mental, nor contamination of the Perfect, nor a dividing of the inaccessible Essence, nor an issue; but perfect Son, living and powerful,[24] the true Image of the Father, equal in honor and glory. For this, is the will of the Father that as they honor the Father, so they may honor the Son also.”[25]

Therefore, the Anointed One is very God of very God; as John says in his general Epistles, “And we are in Him that is true, even in His Son Jesus the Anointed One: this is the true God and everlasting life:”[26] Almighty of Almighty.[27]

A man with a personal desire for contemplative purity and a duty to serve others living in the pollution of worldly affairs Gregory the Great (540-604 AD), writes to Quiricus, Archbishop in Hiberia,[28] concerning the false doctrine of Nestorius (386-450 AD),[29] pointing to his followers who were baptized in the name of the Holy Trinity. Gregory comments that they were ignorant because of the error of their heresy in that, after the manner of Jewish unbelief, they did not believe in the Incarnation of the Only-begotten Son.”[30] Gregory then testifies that we say that the Word was made flesh not by losing what He was but by taking what He was not. For in the mystery of His Incarnation, the Only-begotten of the Father increased what was ours but diminished not what was His.

Therefore, the Word and the flesh are one Person; as Jesus said, “No one has ascended to heaven, only He that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven.[31] Therefore, He Who is God’s Son in heaven was the Son of man who spoke on earth. That’s why John then says, “We also know that God’s Son has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know Him who is true. And we are in Him who is true by being in His Son Jesus the Anointed One. Therefore, He is the true God and eternal life.”[32] [33]

With a studious monk’s spiritual insight, Bede the Venerable (672-735) asks what could be more precise than these words? What could be sweeter to the ear? What could be a more powerful weapon to use against the heretics? The Anointed One is the true Son of God. The Father of our Lord Jesus the Anointed One is the true God. The eternal Son of God has come into a godless society of time, and he came only in order to save us so that we might come to know the true God. No one can come to eternal life without knowing the true God. All these things John just keeps repeating over and over again.[34]

With his prophetic-inspired mind, Andreas of Caesarea (563-614, notes that at the end of his letter, the Apostle John never stops insisting on the need for correct doctrine. We have been given understanding to the extent that we know God’s Son has come into a godless society. It is another way of saying that “we have the mind of the Anointed One.” The person with this mind and understanding knows what is true and is united with Him because they share the same mind.[35]

[1] John 10: 28-30

[2] Ibid. 15:4

[3] Ibid. 17:3

[4] Ibid. 17:14

[5] Ibid. 14:6

[6] Ibid. 17:3

[7] Ibid. 17:25

[8] Ibid. 10:30

[9] Ibid. 14:20

[10] Ibid. 14:23

[11] Ibid. 17:23

[12] Isaiah 44:6

[13] Ibid. 45:14

[14] Jeremiah 10:10

[15] John 1:1

[16] Ibid. 14:10-11

[17] See 1 John 2:13, 14; 4:4

[18] Ibid. 2:20

[19] John 6:32; 15:1; 17:3

[20] 1 Corinthians 2:14; Luke 24:45; John 1:9; 6:32; 14:6; 15:1

[21] Romans 8:1; 1 Corinthians 15:22; 2 Corinthians 5:17; Ephesians 1:3, 6, 2:6, 10

[22] Didymus the Blind: Ancient Christian Commentary on the Scriptures, Bray, G. (Ed.), op. cit., Vol. XI, p.228

[23] Bede the Venerable: Ancient Christian Commentary on the Scriptures, Bray, G. (Ed.), op. cit., Vol. XI, pp. 228-229

[24] Hebrews 4:12

[25] John 5:23

[26] 1 John 5:20b

[27] Athanasius of Alexandria: The Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series, Vol. 4, Statement of Faith #1, op. cit., p. 372

[28] The Iberian Peninsula, in southwestern Europe, is occupied by Spain and Portugal.

[29] Nestorius, A Christian theologian whose several teachings in the fields of Christology and Mariology were seen as controversial and caused major disputes.

[30] John 1:14

[31] Ibid. 3:14

[32] 1 John 5:20

[33] Gregory the Great, The Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 13, Bk 11, Epistle 67, pp. 184-185

[34] Bede the Venerable, Ancient Christian Commentary on the Scriptures, Bray, G. (Ed.), op. cit., Vol. XI, p. 229

[35] Andreas of Caesarea: Ancient Christian Commentary on the Scriptures, Bray, G. (Ed.), op. cit., Vol. XI, p. 229

About drbob76

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