NEW TESTAMENT CONTEXTUAL COMMENTARY
By Dr. Robert R. Seyda
FIRST EPISTLE OF JOHN
CHAPTER FIVE (Lesson CXXXVII) 05/16/23
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.
A staunch conservative who upheld the doctrine of eternal torment for sinners, Joseph Angus (1816-1902) noticed that in addition to the moral themes in the Scriptures, evidence suggested by the morality of the Final Covenant, the character of our Lord, the open and honest sincerity and self-denial of the first Christians, and the ethical beauty of Christian principles, as illustrated in the lives of consistent believers, suggest a spiritual component.
The intellect partly appreciates this evidence but still more by the heart and conscience. (1) So far as it treats unregenerate as the Gospel finds them, it applies equally to all. (2) As far as it treats the regenerate as the gospel forms them, it appeals only to the believer. Angus also notes that the Greek adjective alēthinos (“true”) in the sense of real, genuine, contrasted with fictitious, pretended, is found nine times in the Gospel, six times in the Epistles, and nine times in the Revelation. 
After observing the Apostle John’s attention to detail, John Stock (1817-1884) feels that the Apostle John’s words are comparable to the many beautiful rays of a setting sun, which adorn the sky and forecast another coming day of splendor. So much is in them, and in inspired condensation, they exhaust every effort to unfold them. Though the Jews as a nation did not receive the Lord, a remnant according to the election of grace did receive Him, believed in Him, and know, with believing Gentiles, that He has come and no longer look for another.
Therefore, they need not say with the Church before His first advent, “Hurry, my love! Be like a gazelle or a young deer on the spice mountains.” Nor do they, like Abraham, look by faith and rejoice in anticipation of the great incarnation, and see the Anointed One’s day, and be glad; for they know that God’s Son has come, that He, the Sun of Righteousness, has risen with healing on His wings; and that He is near to all them that call on Him; yes all such as call upon Him in truth.
John Stock then goes on to defend his view of John’s majestic message in verse twenty: That is, we see days that kings and prophets desired to see, but did not. We do not sit in the twilight of Christianity but enjoy the noon day glory of the Lord shinning on us; for our Light and Life is here. By spiritual insight we see Him who is physically invisible and rejoice with unspeakable joy and full of Glory. The Church now awaits the second appearing of the Lord Jesus. But unlike His first coming, where He who had no sin was made sin for us, He returns to bestow on all them that trust in Him, the glory of eternal salvation which He, as the Son of Man, thoroughly enjoys, as the forerunner of His heavenly people.
The blessed Lord gave Him an understanding that intuition cannot supply. He made God’s wisdom available to His people by giving them the Spirit of Truth, who searches even the deep things of God so that they know what was freely given to them by God. Therefore, they know Him that is true and are in union with Him, even in God’s dear Son Jesus the Anointed One.
The Apostle Paul calls the faithful the children of the light and the day and says that though they were sometimes stumbling around in darkness, they now walk upright God’s light. Paul then prays that they may possess the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of the Anointed One to gain understanding and be enlightened to understand the Scriptures. The closer we walk to God, the clearer and more assured He gives a believer good insight, wisdom, knowledge, and joy.
With great joy, John praises his little children for knowing the Father and commends the church fathers for being faithful to Him a long time, as all God’s children are taught to do. Thus they know Jesus, who is faithful, who embodies Truth, in whom the Mosaic ceremonial laws found complete fulfillment and in whom God’s people rest securely by having encountered Him of whom Moses and the Prophets wrote. Therefore, they can repeat the words of the Apostle Thomas with complete confidence, “My Lord and my God!”
Consequently, they are in Him, as a branch in the true Vine from whence it derives its fruit: as a body member is to the head of that body, and therefore has spiritual and eternal life. Christians are one with the Anointed One, and He one with them, and can say, “My beloved is mine, and I am His.” Therefore, in this knowledge, which is in the heart and head, “Is life eternal, that they might know Thee the only true God, and Jesus the Anointed One, whom Thou hast sent,” as the Lord said in His prayer to His Heavenly Father.
Such believers know and have faith in the doctrine of the undivided unity of the Trinity, in which the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God, and yet there are not three Gods, but one God. They know the infinite meritoriousness of the Anointed One’s sacrifice, His power as our Mediator, and the certainty of spiritual and eternal life to all who have Him. And this knowledge will never fail to bless and secure them from deadly to eternal life errors to rob eternal life.
God affirms He will be with them as they bring the spiritually blind to the way unknown to them which dispels the darkness of ignorance by His Light of truth. The Lord Jesus, the Anointed One, with the Father and the Holy Spirit, are one. Furthermore, He is its cause, fountain, bestower, and preserver until it will be revealed in the glorified bodies and consecrated spirits of the redeemed. At this time, its fullness is beyond conception until the Lord Jesus will be celebrated with His saints and admired by all who believe, with the glory of eternal life!”
With an inquiring spiritual mind, Johannes H. A. Ebrard (1819-1893) explains that the clause “we are from God” leads naturally to another great truth, to the person of Him through whose mediation we have become God’s children. We know that God’s Son “has come” and has given us “the understanding, that we may know Him” “Understanding” is not “knowledge,” but the power of capacity of knowing, especially the facultas cognoscendi (“the ability to know”) as it rests upon an ethical-religious basis.
It may therefore be translated as “sense” or “discernment.” As the Anointed One has come and through this act of love sparked in us, thus communicating His nature to us, He has furnished us with the necessary understanding to know God. For God is, according to John [Light]; and 4:8 [Love]; and only he who is penetrated by His light, and kindled by His love, can know Him. But God is here termed “true,” not as He who is the “truth,” and not as He who possesses the attribute of truth; forms here, as after this verse, the antithesis to fictitious, or false. The true God stands in opposition to the imagined and vain gods, which are not Light and Truth.
With precise spiritual discernment, William Alexander (1824-1911) sees verses eighteen, nineteen, and twenty as three seals affixed to the close of this Epistle – three primary canons of spiritual reasoning, perception, and knowledge. Each is marked by the emphatic “we know,” stamped at the opening of each first line.
The first “we know” is a sense of purity made possible to the Christian through Him, who is the one born of God. The evil one cannot touch them with the contaminating touch, which implies association.
The second “we know” involves a perception of privilege, the conviction that by God’s power and love, we are brought into a sphere of light, out of the darkness in which a sinful world has become as if cradled on the lap of the evil one.
The third “we know” is the deep consciousness of the very presence of God’s Son in and with His Church. And with this comes all the inner life – supremely a new way of looking at things, a new possibility of thought, a new cast of thought and sentiment, “understanding.”
Words denoting intellectual faculties and processes are rare in John. “He gave us understanding that we continuously know God.” And in “His Son Jesus the Anointed One [this is the true God and eternal life], we are in the very God.”
This passage interpretation is supported by the pronoun’s position, which cannot be referred naturally to any subject but Jesus the Anointed One. Alexander notes that English theologian Daniel Waterland (1683-1740) quotes Irenæus. “It was impossible, without God, to come to a knowledge of God, He teaches men, through His Word, to know God.”  Alexander also notes that children of God, not only do we have the five senses of the body to depend on for gaining knowledge, but we now have a sixth sense called “faith.” Psychologists call a human’s sixth sense “proprioception.” It is the mysterious ability to locate things in the dark.
It’s something like a game we played as kids called “Pin the tail on the donkey.” First, you look at the picture of the donkey on the wall. They then tried to calculate the number of steps and the height of the tail’s place. Then you were blindfolded. In some games, they even turned you around several times. Then you try to pin the paper tail in your hand on the donkey in the proper place. Laughter would fill the room as people went in the wrong direction, feeling with their hands till they found the wall, located the picture of the donkey, and finally pinned it on the tail. It was rarely exactly in the right place.
Neurosurgeons have discovered two nerves that serve as receptor switches to our brain: piezo1 and piezo. But when it comes to faith, there are other receptors, something I believe my mother had. She could tell when I was lying just by looking at my face. So when something got broken, and she called us children together, she didn’t take you long to pick out the guilty party.
But let me illustrate this sixth spiritual sense: I was driving from Switzerland to a US Army base in Germany to speak at a Servicemen’s Fellowship in the base chapel. Coming through the Black Forest on a tiny two-lane highway, I noticed that as I went uphill, the road was cut through small hills with high banks and ditches on both sides to channel the rainwater off the road. In other words, one side of the car was just within the middle yellow line, and the other was just a foot away from the ditch. Suddenly I noticed a car approaching me at the top of the hill with a delivery truck behind it.
I calculated it to be no more than fifty yards away when the truck suddenly pulled out to pass the car. They were side by side as they sped toward me. When they got within 20 yards of me. I swerved to the right within inches of the ditch, slammed on my brakes, bowed my head, and said, “Jesus, I’m coming home to you,” as I felt the wind of the passing truck rock my little Volkswagen seconds later. Then, there was silence. I raised my head and thanked God I was still alive. Then I quickly looked into my side view mirror and saw the truck and car continuing down the road. Needless to say, I praised God and knew with my sixth spiritual sense that God let this happen for a reason. I looked at my clock, and it was 2:30 PM.
When I arrived in Germany at Ramstein Air Force Base, I went to the home of the soldier who invited me to come and speak. His wife greeted me at the door. But before I could take off my coat and settle down, she asked me urgently, “Tell me, Brother Seyda, where were you today at 2:30 PM?” Then, before I could answer, she told me she was in the kitchen getting things ready for our meal, when all of a sudden, the Holy Spirit told her to drop everything and go pray for me. She looked at the clock, and it was 2:30 PM. She had never met me until now and didn’t know the route I would take to get there. So, she said, I dropped my utensils, ran into the bedroom, dropped to my knees, and began calling on God to be with you and protect you. I prayed until the feeling faded, then got up and continued cooking. But I’ve been dying to know where you were. When I told her the story, we both began praising God and rejoicing in how He takes care of His children. She responded to what is called the sixth spiritual sense of faith.
After contemplating John’s train of thought, William Kelly (1822-1888) finds that there is nothing indefinite here in verse twenty, no toning down of the absolute contrast firmly and unhesitatingly drawn between ourselves, as the family of God on the one hand, and the whole world on the other in its awful subjection to the wicked one. With the same inward consciousness, the Christians knew that their new being had its source in God and that the whole world lay in the power of the wicked one. What makes each side distinct from each other? ‒ on the one God is their source and on the other Satan is their sorcerer. “We are of God” in our consciousness, and a godless society is of the devil’s viper brood, as we too well know. It belongs to the new life to realize, appropriating by faith the known blessings to ourselves as is God’s will.
 1 Corinthians 14:24-25
 Romans 8:16; 1 John 5:20
 Luke 16:11; John 1:9; 4:23, 37; 6:32; 7:28;15:1; 17:3; 19:35
 1 Thessalonians 1:9; Hebrews 8:2; 9:24; 10:22;1 John 2:8; 5:20
 Revelation 3:7, 14; 6:10; 15:3; 16:7; 19:2, 9, 11; 21:5; 22:6
 Angus, Joseph: The Bible Handbook, op. cit., pp. 110, 769 (4)
 Song of Solomon 8:14, The route the Nabateans took across the Negev with their camel trains was called the Spice Route; it stretched from the Persian Gulf (Arabia) to the ports of Gaza, passing through Petra (their capital) and Avdat. Their constant travel made for a transitory life. They did not live in houses, but they did build elaborate tombs for their dead, especially at Petra and Egra. Self-denial was a way of life, and they would not touch alcohol, which they saw as a sign of settling down.
 John 8:56
 Malachi 4:2
 Psalm 145:18
 Luke 10:24
 John 1:4
 1 Peter 1:8
 Hebrews 9:28
 2 Corinthians 5:21; Hebrews 9:26
 Hebrews 6:20
 1 Corinthians 2:12
 1 Thessalonians 5:6
 Ephesians 5:8
 Ephesians 1:17, 18
 Luke 24:45
 Ecclesiastes 2:26
 1 John 2:13, 14
 Isaiah 54:13
 John 1:45
 Ibid. 2:28
 Song of Solomon 2:16
 John 17:3
 John 17:3
 Isaiah 42:16
 2 Thessalonians 1:10
 Stock, John: An Exposition of the First Epistle of General of St., John, op. cit., pp. 462-465
 1 John 4:9, 14
 Ephesians 4:18; 2 Peter 3:1
 1 Peter 1:13; Matthew 22:37; Ephesians 2:3; Hebrews 8:10; 10:16; Luke 1:51; Colossians 1:21
 In the context of 1 John 4:9
 Ibid. 4:10
 1 John 1:7
 And John 17:3
 Ebrard, Johannes H. A., Biblical Commentary on the Epistles of St. John, op. cit., p. 345
 Irenæus Against Heresies, Bk. 4, Ch. 5, p. 927
 Alexander, William: Expositor’s Bible: The Epistles of St. John, op. cit., p. 275
 Ibid. The Holy Bible with an Explanatory and Critical Commentary, op. cit., Vol. IV, p. 346
 Kelly, William: An Exposition of the Epistles of John the Apostle, op. cit., p. 390