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1 John 5 Study Notes


5:1-21 The previous chapter emphasized love. John affirmed in this chapter that the road to love is paved with faith.

5:1-2 True faith leads to a particular quality and depth of love. To believe is to have been acted upon in a dynamic, transformative way by God. It is to have been born of God. The words also loves the one born of him refers to love for a fellow believer.

5:3 Love for God is not separate from keeping his commands. God’s commands teach his people how to do what God accepts as pleasing (Rm 12:1-2). Knowledge of God transforms the human will, making what was once a burden light and easy to carry (Mt 11:30).

5:4 Everyone who has been born refers to people transformed and made new through faith.

5:5 Confessing Jesus as the Son of God should be understood as including his status as the Christ and that he has come in the flesh. “To believe anything less about Jesus is to believe in somebody who does not have the ability to save us from the power of the godless world” (I. Howard Marshall).

5:6 The words came by water and blood probably refer to Jesus’s baptism and his death. The Spirit . . . testifies through John’s witness to the meaning of these events in Jesus’s life. John was present at both the baptism and the crucifixion of Jesus. Moreover, Jesus promised the Holy Spirit to John and other believers to aid their understanding (Jn 16:13).

5:7-8 By speaking of three witnesses, John may have been thinking of Dt 19:15 (also Mt 18:16). The Spirit testifies along with the water (Jesus’s baptism) and the blood (Jesus’s atoning death).

5:9 Both Jewish and Roman law depended on witnesses who bore clear testimony to establish the facts of a legal case.

5:10 By speaking of the testimony God has given, after writing that it is the Spirit who testifies (vv. 6,8), John affirmed that the Holy Spirit is God.

5:11 John spoke of the testimony that is in the believer (v. 10). Believers have growing conviction of the gift they have received (eternal life) and its source (his Son).

5:12 There is no salvation outside of faith in Christ.

5:13 Assurance was one of John’s major goals in writing this epistle.

5:14-15 The deepest answer to prayer is to know that he hears us. To know this is to have what we have asked of him. For believers, prayer seeks communion with the Father more than the acquisition of favors or the satisfaction of desires.

5:16 A sin that doesn’t lead to death (cp. v. 17) is a sin for which forgiveness is possible (1:9). Sin that leads to death may be the flagrant offenses against God that so much of 1 John warns against. John may have been speaking about apostasy (falling away from Jesus; denying the apostolic truth). John called on his readers to leave these offenses and offenders in God’s hands rather than agonizing in prayer about them. “Death” means spiritual death and eternal separation from God.


Greek pronunciation [AY doh lahn]
CSB translation idol
Uses in 1 John 1
Uses in the NT 11
Focus passage 1 John 5:21

In the Greek OT, eidolon (idol) refers to the physical representation of a god (Ex 20:4; Dt 5:8). By extension, it points not only to that physical representation, but to the supposed existing god behind that form. The worship of these idols was evidence of that fact (Ex 20:5; Nm 25:2; Dt 5:9) and some were even understood to have demonic powers (Dt 32:17). This usage provides the background for the NT use of eidolon. Paul regards idols as false gods, powerless compared to the true God (1Th 1:9). He acknowledges the existence of demonic powers behind idols but understands them to have no real power over the Christian, who knows that idols are but false gods (1Co 8:4-7; 10:19-21). Christians are exhorted to abstain from association with idols and the false gods they represent (Ac 15:20; 1Jn 5:21), for there is only one God (1Co 8:4).

5:17 As grave as all sin is, and granting that particular evil deeds can bespeak terminal opposition to God, there is also sin that can be overcome through prayer, repentance, and renewed faith resulting in reform and restoration. John’s instruction ends on a cautionary and hopeful note.

5:18 On does not sin, see note at 3:6.

5:19 We know refers both to apostles like John and to his readers. The whole world is under the sway of Satan, but his reign is fleeting and fading (2:8,17).

5:20 With the phrase he is the true God, John clearly affirmed the full divinity of Christ.

5:21 This closing verse of the epistle has puzzled interpreters for centuries. Idols may be John’s shorthand for all the lies, errors, hate, and rebellion that his letter warned against—in the hope that his readers would satisfy their souls with true knowledge of Christ.