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  • JAMIESON-FAUSSET-BROWN - 1JOHN 5
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    CHAPTER 5

    1Jo 5:1-21. WHO ARE THE BRETHREN ESPECIALLY TO BE LOVED (1Jo 4:21); OBEDIENCE, THE TEST OF LOVE, EASY THROUGH FAITH, WHICH OVERCOMES THE WORLD. LAST PORTION OF THE EPISTLE. THE SPIRIT'S WITNESS TO THE BELIEVER'S SPIRITUAL LIFE. TRUTHS REPEATED AT THE CLOSE: FAREWELL WARNING.

    1. Reason why our "brother" (1Jo 4:21) is entitled to such love, namely, because he is "born (begotten) of God": so that if we want to show our love to God, we must show it to God's visible representative.
    - Whosoever--Greek, "Everyone that." He could not be our "Jesus" (God-Saviour) unless He were "the Christ"; for He could not reveal the way of salvation, except He were a prophet: He could not work out that salvation, except He were a priest: He could not confer that salvation upon us, except He were a king: He could not be prophet, priest, and king, except He were the Christ [PEARSON, Exposition of the Creed].
    - born--Translate, "begotten," as in the latter part of the verse, the Greek being the same. Christ is the "only-begotten Son" by generation; we become begotten sons of God by regeneration and adoption.
    - every one that loveth him that begat--sincerely, not in mere profession (1Jo 4:20).
    - loveth him also that is begotten of him--namely, "his brethren" (1Jo 4:21).

    2. By--Greek, "In." As our love to the brethren is the sign and test of our love to God, so (John here says) our love to God (tested by our "keeping his commandments") is, conversely, the ground and only true basis of love to our brother.
    - we know--John means here, not the outward criteria of genuine brotherly love, but the inward spiritual criteria of it, consciousness of love to God manifested in a hearty keeping of His commandments. When we have this inwardly and outwardly confirmed love to God, we can know assuredly that we truly love the children of God. "Love to one's brother is prior, according to the order of nature (see on 1Jo 4:20); love to God is so, according to the order of grace (1Jo 5:2). At one time the former is more immediately known, at another time the latter, according as the mind is more engaged in human relations or in what concerns the divine honor" [ESTIUS]. John shows what true love is, namely, that which is referred to God as its first object. As previously John urged the effect, so now he urges the cause. For he wishes mutual love to be so cultivated among us, as that God should always be placed first [CALVIN].

    3. this is--the love of God consists in this.
    - not grievous--as so many think them. It is "the way of the transgressor" that "is hard." What makes them to the regenerate "not grievous," is faith which "overcometh the world" (1Jo 5:4): in proportion as faith is strong, the grievousness of God's commandments to the rebellious flesh is overcome. The reason why believers feel any degree of irksomeness in God's commandments is, they do not realize fully by faith the privileges of their spiritual life.

    4. For--(See on 1Jo 5:3). The reason why "His commandments are not grievous." Though there is a conflict in keeping them, the sue for the whole body of the regenerate is victory over every opposing influence; meanwhile there is a present joy to each believer in keeping them which makes them "not grievous."
    - whatsoever--Greek, "all that is begotten of God." The neuter expresses the universal whole, or aggregate of the regenerate, regarded as one collective body Joh 3:6; 6:37, 39, "where BENGEL remarks, that in Jesus' discourses, what the Father has given Him is called, in the singular number and neuter gender, all whatsoever; those who come to the Son are described in the masculine gender and plural number, they all, or singular, every one. The Father has given, as it were, the whole mass to the Son, that all whom He gave may be one whole: that universal whole the Son singly evolves, in the execution of the divine plan."
    - overcometh--habitually.
    - the world--all that is opposed to keeping the commandments of God, or draws us off from God, in this world, including our corrupt flesh, on which the world's blandishments or threats act, as also including Satan, the prince of this world (Joh 12:31; 14:30; 16:11).
    - this is the victory that overcometh--Greek aorist, ". . . that hath (already) overcome the world": the victory (where faith is) hereby is implied as having been already obtained (1Jo 2:13; 4:4).

    5. Who--"Who" else "but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God:" "the Christ" (1Jo 5:1)? Confirming, by a triumphant question defying all contradiction, as an undeniable fact, 1Jo 5:4, that the victory which overcomes the world is faith. For it is by believing: that we are made one with Jesus the Son of God, so that we partake of His victory over the world, and have dwelling in us One greater than he who is in the world (1Jo 4:4). "Survey the whole world, and show me even one of whom it can be affirmed with truth that he overcomes the world, who is not a Christian, and endowed with this faith" [EPISCOPIUS in ALFORD].

    6. This--the Person mentioned in 1Jo 5:5. This Jesus.
    - he that came by water and blood--"by water," when His ministry was inaugurated by baptism in the Jordan, and He received the Father's testimony to His Messiahship and divine Sonship. Compare 1Jo 5:5, "believeth that Jesus is the Son of God," with Joh 1:33, 34, "The Spirit . . . remaining on Him . . . I saw and bare record that this is the Son of God"; and 1Jo 5:8, below, "there are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood." Corresponding to this is the baptism of water and the Spirit which He has instituted as a standing seal and mean of initiatory incorporation with Him.
    - and blood--He came by "the blood of His cross" (so "by" is used, Heb 9:12: "by," that is, with, "His own blood He entered in once into the holy place"): a fact seen and so solemnly witnessed to by John. "These two past facts in the Lord's life are this abiding testimony to us, by virtue of the permanent application to us of their cleansing and atoning power."
    - Jesus Christ--not a mere appellation, but a solemn assertion of the Lord's Person and Messiahship.
    - not by, &c.--Greek, "not IN the water only, but IN the water and IN (so oldest manuscripts add) the blood." As "by" implies the mean through, or with, which He came: so "in," the element in which He came. "The" implies that the water and the blood were sacred and well-known symbols. John Baptist came only baptizing with water, and therefore was not the Messiah. Jesus came first to undergo Himself the double baptism of water and blood, and then to baptize us with the Spirit-cleansing, of which water is the sacramental seal, and with His atoning blood, the efficacy of which, once for all shed, is perpetual in the Church; and therefore is the Messiah. It was His shed blood which first gave water baptism its spiritual significancy. We are baptized into His death: the grand point of union between us and Him, and, through Him, between us and God.
    - it is the Spirit, &c.--The Holy Spirit is an additional witness (compare 1Jo 5:7), besides the water and the blood, to Jesus' Sonship and Messiahship. The Spirit attested these truths at Jesus' baptism by descending on Him, and throughout His ministry by enabling Him to speak and do what man never before or since has spoken or, done; and "it is the Spirit that beareth witness" of Christ, now permanently in the Church: both in the inspired New Testament Scriptures, and in the hearts of believers, and in the spiritual reception of baptism and the Lord's Supper.
    - because the Spirit is truth--It is His essential truth which gives His witness such infallible authority.

    7. three--Two or three witnesses were required by law to constitute adequate testimony. The only Greek manuscripts in any form which support the words, "in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost, and these three are one; and there are three that bear witness in earth," are the Montfortianus of Dublin, copied evidently from the modern Latin Vulgate; the Ravianus, copied from the Complutensian Polyglot; a manuscript at Naples, with the words added in the Margin by a recent hand; Ottobonianus, 298, of the fifteenth century, the Greek of which is a mere translation of the accompanying Latin. All the old versions omit the words. The oldest manuscripts of the Vulgate omit them: the earliest Vulgate manuscript which has them being Wizanburgensis, 99, of the eighth century. A scholium quoted in Matthæi, shows that the words did not arise from fraud; for in the words, in all Greek manuscripts "there are three that bear record," as the Scholiast notices, the word "three" is masculine, because the three things (the Spirit, the water, and the blood) are SYMBOLS OF THE TRINITY. To this CYPRIAN, 196, also refers, "Of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, it is written, 'And these three are one' (a unity)." There must be some mystical truth implied in using "three" (Greek) in the masculine, though the antecedents, "Spirit, water, and blood," are neuter. That THE TRINITY was the truth meant is a natural inference: the triad specified pointing to a still Higher Trinity; as is plain also from 1Jo 5:9, "the witness of GOD," referring to the Trinity alluded to in the Spirit, water, and blood. It was therefore first written as a marginal comment to complete the sense of the text, and then, as early at least as the eighth century, was introduced into the text of the Latin Vulgate. The testimony, however, could only be borne on earth to men, not in heaven. The marginal comment, therefore, that inserted "in heaven," was inappropriate. It is on earth that the context evidently requires the witness of the three, the Spirit, the water, and the blood, to be borne: mystically setting forth the divine triune witnesses, the Father, the Spirit, and the Son. LUECKE notices as internal evidence against the words, John never uses "the Father" and "the Word" as correlates, but, like other New Testament writers, associates "the Son" with "the Father," and always refers "the Word" to "God" as its correlate, not "the Father." Vigilius, at the end of the fifth century, is the first who quotes the disputed words as in the text; but no Greek manuscript earlier than the fifteenth is extant with them. The term "Trinity" occurs first in the third century in TERTULLIAN [Against Praxeas, 3].

    8. agree in one--"tend unto one result"; their agreeing testimony to Jesus' Sonship and Messiahship they give by the sacramental grace in the water of baptism, received by the penitent believer, by the atoning efficacy of His blood, and by the internal witness of His Spirit (1Jo 5:10): answering to the testimony given to Jesus' Sonship and Messiahship by His baptism, His crucifixion, and the Spirit's manifestations in Him (see on 1Jo 5:6). It was by His coming by water (that is, His baptism in Jordan) that Jesus was solemnly inaugurated in office, and revealed Himself as Messiah; this must have been peculiarly important in John's estimation, who was first led to Christ by the testimony of the Baptist. By the baptism the

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