1 John 5




Victory Over the World (5:1-5)

1 Here John adds to what he has written in 1 John 4:2. Every believer in Christ is born of God; that is, every believer is God’s child. If we love the Father, we must also love His children.

2 In 1 John 4:20, John has said that if we do not love our brother, we do not love God. Here John says that if we love God, we will also love our brother. By loving our brother, we prove that we love God. By loving God, we prove that we love our brother. In fact, love for God and love for our brother is the same love. One love can’t exist without the other.

3 What is love for God? Love for God is to obey his commands (see John 14:15,21). What are His commands? To love one’s neighbor and one’s brother (2 John 6).

God’s commands are not burdensome, because He gives us the power to obey them (see Matthew 11:28-30).

4 God’s commands are not burdensome, because we have the power to overcome the world—that is, overcome Satan. How do we obtain this victory? Through our faith in Christ. Through faith, Christ lives in us. Christ has already overcome Satan (John 16:33). Therefore, through Christ, we too can overcome Satan (see 1 John 4:4).

In 1 John 2:14, John has written: The word of God lives in you, and you have overcome the evil one. To have the word of God live in us is the same as to have Christ live in us. Christ Himself is God’s Word (John 1:1).

5 Only those who believe in Christ can overcome the world (see 1 Corinthians 15:57).

Testimony to Christ (5:6-12)

6 Jesus came by water and blood—that is, He was manifested through water and blood. He was manifested as the Son of God by water—that is, at His baptism (Mark 1:10-11). He was manifested as our Savior and atoning sacrifice by blood—His own blood—shed for us on the cross (see John 19:34).

7 The Holy Spirit testifies that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the Savior of the world (John 15:26). One of the works of the Holy Spirit is to testify to the truth. The testimony of the Holy Spirit is true; He is the Spirit of truth (John 16:13). Therefore, we can have complete confidence in His testimony.

It is through the Holy Spirit that men follow Christ. It is through the Holy Spirit that the church is established and grows. It is through the Holy Spirit that believers overcome the world (verse 4). Through all these great works, the Spirit testifies that Jesus Christ is indeed the Son of God.

8 Not only the Holy Spirit testifies, but also water (Jesus’ baptism) and blood (Jesus’ death) testify. The water “testifies” in this way: at the time of Jesus’ baptism in water, the Holy Spirit descended upon Him, and God said, “You are my Son, whom I love” (Mark 1:11). The blood “testifies” that Jesus came to earth as a man and died for our sins. And finally the Holy Spirit Himself testifies in our hearts that Jesus rose from the dead and sent His Spirit (the Holy Spirit) to dwell within us. The testimony of these three—the Spirit, the water, and the blood—are in complete agreement. All three testify that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, the Savior of the world.

9 Man’s testimony is also very important. When Jesus was baptized, the people present heard God say from heaven, “You are my Son, whom I love” (Mark 1:11). Men saw Jesus die on the cross, and then with their own eyes they saw Him alive again three days later! The apostles spent the rest of their lives giving witness to these things which they had seen and heard (1 John 1:1-3).

But God’s own testimony is greater than man’s testimony (John 5:32,36). God’s witness is the Holy Spirit, who lives in us and through whom we experience God’s presence, power, and love. Because of the testimony of the Holy Spirit in our hearts, our faith can be just as strong as the apostles’ faith.

10 First we hear the Gospel—the testimony of men. Then we believe in the Son of God. And then we receive the testimony of the Holy Spirit in our hearts. Through the Holy Spirit our faith becomes even stronger. Through the Holy Spirit Christ lives within us as Lord.

If we reject the Gospel of Christ, we call God a liar. We have rejected the Spirit of truth.

11 And this is the testimony—the Gospel: God has given us eternal life,23 and this life is in his Son (see John 1:4). God gave His Son Jesus, that whoever believes in him … may have eternal life (John 3:16).

12 Without faith in Christ, there can be no eternal life (see John 3:36 and comment). Through faith we have the Son and, together with Him, eternal life.

Concluding Remarks (5:13-21)

13 Here John states the main reason he has written this letter: namely, so that you may know that you have eternal life. John wrote his Gospel that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name (John 20:31). Now, in this letter, John is writing to believers in order that their faith might become even more strong and certain—in order that they might know that they have eternal life.

14If we ask God for anything according to his will, we can have confidence that He will hear our request. And if He hears our request, He will give us what we ask (see 1 John 3:22 and comment).

15 John says here that if God hears us, we know that we have what we asked of him. Even though God may not give us what we ask for immediately, we can be so sure we will receive it that we can consider that we have already received it! For example, the promise of eternal life in heaven is so certain that even though we shall receive it only in the future, in a real sense we have already received it.

16 If anyone sees his brother commit a sin … he should pray and God will give him life. James said that through our prayer for a sinning brother, that brother will be spiritually cleansed and healed (James 5:16). But not only that, says John, through our prayer God will give him (the sinning brother) life. Here life can mean physical life—such as the renewed life a sick person receives after recovering from an illness. Or life can mean spiritual life— such as the new life a sinner receives after being forgiven and cleansed from his sins (James 5:19-20; 1 John 1:9). Therefore, let us constantly pray for each other that we might be delivered from both sin and physical sickness—that we might receive both renewed spiritual life and renewed physical life.

In the first part of this verse, John has been talking about sin that does not lead to death. Now in the second part of the verse, he mentions a sin that leads to death. What sin is that? That sin is blasphemy against the Holy Spirit (Mark 3:2829). God will not forgive this sin.

What is blasphemy against the Holy Spirit? It is the continuous and deliberate rejection of God, of Christ, of the Gospel, and of the witness of the Holy Spirit in our hearts. Or, in other words, it is to knowingly continue in sin without repentance. God is calling all men to repent, to leave their sins and turn to Christ. But if men despise God’s call—if they despise His grace—then God can do nothing more for them; they have rejected His Holy Spirit. This is what it means, then, to blaspheme against the Holy Spirit.

All believers from time to time grieve the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 4:30). We all sin from time to time (1 John 1:10). Thus some Christians worry that perhaps they have committed this unforgivable sin, the sin that leads to death. But they do not need to worry! If anyone is worried that he has committed this sin, then that is proof he has not committed it. The reason is this: People who have truly committed this sin never worry about it. They don’t care if they sin; they give no thought to God. Their hearts are hardened.

John does not say that we should pray for the person who commits this sin that leads to death. But how can we know for sure who has committed this sin? In one way, we might be able to recognize such a person from his evil work (Matthew 7:16). But how could we be sure he could never be forgiven? We could never be sure. Only God knows who will be forgiven and who will not be. Jesus said, “Do not judge” (Matthew 7:1). Therefore, we must continue to pray for all men, that they might repent of their sins and turn to Christ.

17 Here a question arises: Does not all sin lead to death? For the wages of sin are death, wrote Paul (Romans 6:23). Yes, for those who do not believe in Christ, all sin leads to death, eternal death. But when believers sin, their sins do not lead to death, because God forgives them and cleanses them (1 John 1:9). Therefore, for true Christians, sin does not lead to death.

18 Here John repeats what he said in 1 John 3:6,9. … anyone born of God does not continue to sin. Here again, John is not talking about the person who sins occasionally; he is talking about the person who keeps on sinning deliberately.

The one who was born of God (that is, Christ) keeps him (the believer) safe, and the evil one (Satan) does not touch him. Christ keeps believers from falling into the sin that leads to death (see John 10:28-29 and comment).

19 We believers are children of God. Therefore, we are not of this world. We have been moved from the kingdom of darkness (the world) into the kingdom of heaven. The world is under the control of the evil one, Satan (see John 17:14-16).

20 Notice how many times in this letter John says the words, we know (see verses 2,15,18,19). Faith in Christ is not blind faith or ignorant faith. It is true faith; it is faith in the truth. Christ is the truth (John 14:6). And we can know Christ, who is the true, living Son of God. Therefore, why should we worship dead idols? (verse 21).

21 We must keep ourselves from idols (Exodus 20:3-6). Idols are not only stones and images that people worship. Idols are anything we love more than God—such as pleasure, work, money, possessions, position, fame, family. If in our daily lives we put any of these things in a higher place than God, we make them into idols and we make ourselves idol worshipers. These things are false gods. These are things of the world. We cannot love the world and love God at the same time (see Matthew 6:24; 1 John 2:15-17). Therefore, John says: Dear children, keep yourselves from idols—that is, from the love of the world.


1 Christ is not like other incarnations. He is the one and only Son of the one true living God. Christ, although He was fully God, came to earth as a man. He was both fully man and fully God (see General Article: Jesus Christ).

2 In place of the word our, some versions of the Bible say “your.” The general meaning is the same.

3 In the Greek text, the word purifies literally means “keeps on purifying.” The New Testament was originally written in Greek.

4 Some Christians believe that in this life also we can become sinless; but most believe that this is not possible. For further discussion, see General Article: Holy Spirit.

5  We, of course, must love our neighbor too. But first of all, we must love God. Then His love will flow into us, and enable us to love our neighbor. We cannot truly love our neighbor until we have first loved God (see Mark 12:31 and comment).

6  The antichrist is a powerful enemy of Christ, who will appear some time before Christ comes again. Many Bible scholars believe that the antichrist is the “man of lawlessness” that Paul refers to in 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12. The antichrist is an agent of Satan. In fact, according to John, the antichrist has his own agents, false teachers, who are already in the world. John also calls these antichrists.

7  For further discussion of this subject, see General Article: Can We Lose Our Salvation?

8  In place of the words the truth, some versions of the Bible say “all things.” In the context of this verse, the meaning is essentially the same.

9 In the Greek text, the word does means “keeps on doing.”

10  In place of the words keeps on sinning, some versions of the Bible say “sins.” However, according to the Greek text, the correct meaning is “keeps on sinning.” This is important for understanding this verse.

11  In the Greek text, the word does means “keeps on doing.”

12  In place of the words continue to sin, some versions of the Bible say “sin.” However, “continue to sin” is the correct meaning of the Greek text (see comment to verse 6 and footnote to comment).

13  In the Greek language: “keeps on doing.”

14 In the Greek language: “does not keep on doing.”

15 John is speaking here in a practical sense. Of course, before we can truly love others, we must first love God and desire to do His will (Mark 12:30). His will is that we should love others.

16 Here brother means fellow believer.

17 In this context, world means “evil or unbelieving men.”

18  Of course, a man can lie in order to deceive us; but such a lie will in time be exposed by the man’s actions.

19  These two kinds of spirits influence man’s own human spirit. When a spirit that acknowledges Jesus is in a man, that man will then acknowledge Jesus. When a spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is in a man, that man will not acknowledge Jesus.

20  In the Old Testament, God appeared in the form of an angel to a number of individuals, such as Abraham and Moses. But no man was ever allowed to fully see God Himself.

21  We are in the world, but not of the world (John 15:19; 17:14-16,18).

22 Men possess a natural human love, such as the love between family members and between close friends. This love is also pleasing to God. But this is not the kind of love that John is talking about in this section. John is talking about a totally unselfish spiritual love; only those who have the Holy Spirit will have this kind of love.

23 Eternal life is the greatest and most wonderful part of our salvation.