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  • The Gnostics and the Cerinthians did not believe that Jesus and the Christ were identical (see note 1 John 2:221b and note 1 John 4:31). Hence, they were not the children of God, were not begotten of God. But whoever believes that the man Jesus is the Christ, God incarnate (John 1:1, 14; 20:31), has been begotten of God and has become a child of God (John 1:12-13). Such a one loves God the Father, who has begotten him, and also loves the brother, who has been begotten of the same Father. This explains, confirms, and strengthens the word in the preceding verses (1 John 4:20-21).

  • Loving God and practicing His commandments are the prerequisites for our loving the children of God. This is based on the divine birth and the divine life.

  • Lit., practice. See note 1 John 1:65.

  • Keeping the commandments of God constitutes our love toward Him and is an evidence that we love Him.

  • Lit., heavy. To the divine life with its capability, the commandments of God are not heavy.

  • Referring to every person who has been begotten of God. Yet such an expression should refer especially to that part, i.e., the spirit of the regenerated person, that has been regenerated with the divine life (John 3:6). The regenerated spirit of the regenerated believer does not practice sin (1 John 3:9) and overcomes the world. The believer's divine birth with the divine life is the basic factor for such victorious living.

  • Both in his Gospel and in this Epistle John stressed the divine birth (John 1:13; 3:3, 5; 1 John 2:29 and note 1 John 2:297; 1 John 3:9; 4:7; 5:1, 4, 18), through which the divine life is imparted into the believers in Christ (John 3:15-16, 36; 1 John 5:11-12). This divine birth, which brings in the divine life, is the basic factor of all the mysteries concerning the divine life, such as the fellowship of the divine life (1 John 1:3-7), the anointing of the Divine Trinity (1 John 2:20-27), the abiding in the Lord (1 John 2:28-29; 3:1-24), and the divine living that practices the divine truth (1 John 1:6), the divine will (1 John 2:17), the divine righteousness (1 John 2:29; 3:7), and the divine love (1 John 3:11, 22-23; 5:1-3) to express the divine Person (1 John 4:12). The divine birth with the divine life is also the basic factor in this section, vv. 4-21. It assures the God-begotten believers, giving them confidence in the ability and virtue of the divine life.

  • Since regenerated believers have the capability of the divine life to overcome the world, the powerful satanic world system, the commandments of God are not heavy or burdensome to them (v. 3).

  • The faith that brings us into the organic union with the Triune God and that believes that Jesus is the Son of God (v. 5) that we may be begotten of God and have His divine life, by which we are enabled to overcome the Satan-organized-and-usurped world.

  • Such a believer is one who has been begotten of God and has received the divine life (John 1:12-13; 3:16). The divine life empowers him to overcome the evil world energized by Satan. The Gnostics and the Cerinthians, who were not believers of this kind, remained pitiful victims of the evil satanic system.

  • He, Jesus Christ, came as the Son of God that we might be born of God and have the divine life (John 10:10; 20:31). It is in His Son that God gives us eternal life (vv. 11-13). Jesus, the man of Nazareth, was attested to be the Son of God by the water He went through in His baptism (Matt. 3:16-17; John 1:31), by the blood He shed on the cross (John 19:31-35; Matt. 27:50-54), and also by the Spirit He gave not by measure (John 1:32-34; 3:34). By these three God has testified that Jesus is His Son given to us (vv. 7-10), that in Him we may receive His eternal life by believing into His name (vv. 11-13; John 3:16, 36; 20:31). The water of baptism terminates people of the old creation by burying them; the blood shed on the cross redeems those whom God has chosen from among the old creation; and the Spirit, who is the truth, the reality in life (Rom. 8:2), germinates those whom God has redeemed out of the old creation, by regenerating them with the divine life. Thus they are born of God and become His children (John 3:5, 15; 1:12-13) and live a life that practices the truth (1 John 1:6), the will of God (1 John 2:17), the righteousness of God (1 John 2:29), and the love of God (1 John 3:10-11) for His expression.

  • Some MSS add, and Spirit.

  • Or, by.

  • Or, by.

  • Or, by.

  • The Spirit, who is the truth, the reality (John 14:16-17; 15:26), testifies that Jesus is the Son of God, in whom is the eternal life. By thus testifying, He imparts the Son of God into us to be our life (Col. 3:4).

  • Denoting the reality of all that Christ as the Son of God is (John 16:12-15). See note 1 John 1:66.

  • I.e., unto the one point or purpose in their testimony.

  • The testimony by the water, the blood, and the Spirit that Jesus is the Son of God is the testimony of God, which is greater than that of men.

  • God testified concerning His Son so that we might believe into His Son and have His divine life. If we believe into His Son, we receive and have His testimony in ourselves; otherwise, we do not believe what He has testified, and we make Him a liar.

  • The testimony of God is not only that Jesus is His Son but also that He gives to us eternal life, which is in His Son. His Son is the means through which He gives us His eternal life, which is His goal for us.

  • Because the life is in the Son (John 1:4) and the Son is the life (John 11:25; 14:6; Col. 3:4), the Son and the life are one, inseparable. Hence, he who has the Son has the life, and he who does not have the Son does not have the life.

  • The written words of the Scriptures are the assurance to the believers, who believe into the name of the Son of God, that they have eternal life. Our believing to receive eternal life is the fact; the words of the Holy Writings are the assurance concerning this fact — they are the title deed to our eternal salvation. By them we are assured and have the pledge that as long as we believe into the name of the Son of God, we have eternal life.

  • Verses 1 John 5:4-13 show us how we have received eternal life, which is mentioned in 1 John 1:1-2. Then vv. 14-17 tell us how we should pray in the fellowship of eternal life, which is mentioned in 1 John 1:3-7.

  • Referring to the boldness that we have for our prayer in fellowship with God. See note 1 John 3:211b.

  • Based on the fact that we have received eternal life through the divine birth by believing into the Son of God, we can pray, in the fellowship of eternal life, by contacting God in the boldness of a conscience void of offense (Acts 24:16), according to His will, assured that He will hear us.

  • This knowing is based on the fact that after receiving the divine life we abide in the Lord and are one with Him in our praying to God in His name (John 15:7, 16; 16:23-24).

  • Not in ourselves according to our mind but in the Lord according to God's will.

  • Lit., toward.

  • This must be a prayer made while we are abiding in fellowship with God.

  • The subject is still he, the subject of the first predicate shall ask, indicating that the asker will give life to the one for whom he is asking. This does not mean that the asker has life of himself and can give life by himself to others. It means that such an asker, who is abiding in the Lord, who is one with the Lord, and who is asking in one spirit with the Lord (1 Cor. 6:17), becomes the means by which God's life-giving Spirit can give life to the ones for whom he is asking. This is a matter of life-imparting in the fellowship of the divine life. To be one who can give life to others, we must abide in the divine life and walk, live, and have our being in the divine life. In James 5:14-16 the prayer is for healing; here the prayer is for life-imparting.

  • Undoubtedly, this refers to spiritual life imparted, through the prayer of the asker, into the one for whom he is asking. However, according to the context, this spiritual life will also rescue the physical body of the one for whom the asker is asking, from the danger of suffering death because of his sinning (cf. James 5:15).

  • Concerning sin unto death, Bible teachers have different interpretations. Some say that it refers to the sin of the antichrists in denying that Jesus is the Christ (1 John 2:22), which keeps them in death forever. But according to the context of this verse, sin unto death is related to a sinning brother, not to an antichrist or any other unbeliever. Since this section, vv. 14-17, is related to prayer in the fellowship of eternal life (covered in 1 John 1:3-24; 2:1-11), whatever it deals with must be related to the matter of the fellowship of the divine life. In the fellowship of the divine life there is the governmental dealing of God according to the spiritual condition of each of His children. In God's governmental dealing, some of His children may be destined to physical death in this age because of a certain sin, and others may be destined to physical death because of other sins. The situation is like that of Ananias and his wife, Sapphira, who were dealt with by physical death because they lied to the Holy Spirit (Acts 5:1-11), and like that of the Corinthian believers, who were dealt with by the same judgment because they did not discern the Body (1 Cor. 11:29-30). This was typified by God's dealing with the children of Israel in the wilderness (1 Cor. 10:5-11). All the Israelites except Caleb and Joshua were judged by God with physical death because of certain sins. God's governmental dealing is severe. Miriam, Aaron, and even Moses were not spared from this kind of dealing, which came because of certain of their failures (Num. 12:1-15; 20:1, 12, 22-29; Deut. 1:37; 3:26-27; 32:48-52). The punishment of God's governmental dealing with His children is not at all related to eternal perdition; it is a dispensational dealing according to the divine government, a dealing that is related to our fellowship with God and with one another. Whether or not a sin is unto death depends on God's judgment according to the sinning believer's position and condition in the house of God. In any case, for the children of God to sin is a serious matter. It may be judged by God with physical death in this age! The apostle did not say that we should make request concerning a sin that is unto death.

  • Every wrongdoing, everything that is not just or righteous, is sin (cf. 1 John 3:4 and note 1 John 3:42).

  • That we might avoid sinning, which not only interrupts the fellowship of the divine life (1 John 1:6-10) but may even bring in physical death (vv. 16-17), here the apostle again stressed, by the assurance of the capability of the divine life, our divine birth, which is the basis of the victorious life. The basic fact of our divine birth prevents us, the regenerated ones, from practicing sin (1 John 3:9 and note 1 John 3:92), that is, from living in sin (Rom. 6:2). See note 1 John 2:297.

  • Some teachers say, based on John 17:15, that he here refers to Christ, who was begotten of God and keeps the regenerated one. But the phrase begotten of God in this clause, a repetition of the phrase in the preceding clause, is the factor that, according to logic, determines that he refers still to the regenerated believer. A regenerated believer (especially his regenerated spirit, which is born of the Spirit of God — John 3:6) keeps himself from living in sin, and the evil one does not touch him (especially his regenerated spirit). His divine birth with the divine life in his spirit is the basic factor of such a safeguard (see note 1 John 5:41).

  • I.e., guards himself by watchful care.

  • I.e., grasp, lay hold of, for doing harm and fulfilling evil purposes.

  • Lit., out of. Since we have been begotten of God, we are out of Him and thus possess His life and partake of His nature. By this we are separated unto God from the satanic world, which lies in the evil one.

  • "The whole world" comprises the satanic world system (1 John 2:15 and note 1 John 2:152a) and the people of the world, the fallen human race.

  • I.e., remains passively in the sphere of the evil one's influence, under the evil one's usurpation and manipulation. While the believers are living and moving actively by the life of God, the whole world (and especially the people of the world) is lying passively under the usurping and manipulating hand of Satan, the evil one.

  • The Greek word does not refer to an essentially worthless and wicked character, nor does it indicate worthlessness and corruption, degeneracy from original virtue. It refers to one who is pernicious, harmfully evil, one who affects others, influencing them to be evil and vicious. Such an evil one is Satan, the devil, in whom the whole world lies.

  • I.e., come through incarnation to bring God to us as grace and reality (John 1:14) that we may have the divine life, as revealed in John's Gospel, to partake of God as love and light, as unveiled in this Epistle.

  • The faculty of our mind enlightened and empowered by the Spirit of reality (John 16:12-15) to apprehend the divine reality in our regenerated spirit.

  • This is the ability of the divine life to know the true God (John 17:3) in our regenerated spirit (Eph. 1:17) through our renewed mind, enlightened by the Spirit of reality.

  • The genuine and real God.

  • The Greek word (an adjective akin to the word reality in John 1:14; 14:6, 17) means genuine, real, as opposed to false and counterfeit.

  • We not only know the true God; we are also in Him. We not only have the knowledge of Him; we are in an organic union with Him. We are one with Him organically.

  • To be in the true God is to be in His Son Jesus Christ. Since Jesus Christ as the Son of God is the very embodiment of God (Col. 2:9), to be in Him is to be in the true God. This indicates that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is the true God.

  • This refers to the God who has come through incarnation and has given us the ability to know Him as the genuine God and be one with Him organically in His Son Jesus Christ. All this is the genuine and real God and eternal life to us. All that this genuine and real God is to us is eternal life to us, that we may partake of Him as everything to our regenerated being.

  • I.e., garrison yourselves against attacks from without, such as the assaults of the heresies.

  • Referring to the heretical substitutes for the true God that were brought in by the Gnostics and the Cerinthians, as revealed in this Epistle and in John's Gospel and as referred to in the preceding verse. The idols here also refer to anything that replaces the real God. As genuine children of the genuine God, we should be on the alert to guard ourselves from these heretical substitutes and from all vain replacements for our genuine and real God, with whom we are organically one and who is eternal life to us. This is the aged apostle's word of warning to all his little children as a conclusion to his Epistle.

    The center of this Epistle's revelation is the divine fellowship of the divine life, the fellowship between the children of God and their Father God, who is not only the source of the divine life but is also light and love as the source of the enjoyment of the divine life (1 John 1:1-7; 4:8, 16). To enjoy the divine life we need to abide in its fellowship according to the divine anointing (1 John 2:12-28; 3:24), based on the divine birth with the divine seed for the development of the divine birth (1 John 2:29; 3:1-10). This divine birth was carried out by three means: the terminating water, the redeeming blood, and the germinating Spirit (vv. 1-13). By these we have been born of God to be His children, possessing His divine life and partaking of His divine nature (1 John 2:29; 3:1). He is now indwelling us through His Spirit (1 John 3:24; 4:4, 13) to be our life and life supply that we may grow with His divine element unto His likeness at His manifestation (1 John 3:1-2). To abide in the divine fellowship of the divine life, that is, to abide in the Lord (1 John 2:6; 3:6), is to enjoy all His divine riches. By such abiding we walk in the divine light (1 John 1:5-7) and practice the truth, righteousness, love, the will of God, and the commandments of God (1 John 1:6; 5, 2:17, 2:29; 3:10-11; 5:2) by the divine life received through the divine birth (1 John 2:29; 4:7). To preserve ourselves in this abiding in the divine fellowship, three main negative things need to be dealt with. The first is sin, which is lawlessness and unrighteousness (1 John 1:7-10; 2:1-6; 3:4-10; 5:16-18); the second is the world, which is composed of the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the vainglory of this life (1 John 2:15-17; 4:3-5; 5:4-5, 19); and the last is idols, which are the heretical substitutes for the genuine God and the vain replacements for the real God (v. 21). These three categories of exceedingly evil things are weapons used by the evil one, the devil, to frustrate, harm, and, if possible, even annihilate our abiding in the divine fellowship. The safeguard against his evildoings is our divine birth with the divine life (v. 18); and, based on the fact that through His death on the cross the Son of God destroyed the works of the devil (1 John 3:8), we overcome him by the word of God that abides in us (1 John 2:14). By virtue of our divine birth we also overcome his evil world by our faith in the Son of God (vv. 4-5). Moreover, our divine birth with the divine seed that was sown into our inner being enables us not to live habitually in sin (1 John 3:9; 5:18), because Christ has taken away sins through His death in the flesh (1 John 3:5). In case we sin occasionally, we have our Advocate as our propitiatory sacrifice to take care of our case before our Father God (1 John 2:1-2), and His everlasting efficacious blood cleanses us (1 John 1:7). Such a revelation is the basic and substantial element of the apostle's mending ministry.

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