We begin this week by studying the final chapter in 1 John: 1 John 5:1-5
The doctrines and theology that we embrace are extremely important and have the utmost significance. If we do not rightly believe, then we may not be saved; and even if we have correctly believed the gospel but have poor theology then we will not behave in a way that is pleasing to G-d. Truth (proper theology and right doctrines) impacts our behaviour.
v1: Whoever: Everyone. The invitation of the gospel is offered to all of humanity. Although Israel received it first, it was always G-d’s intent that through Israel this gospel would go forth into all the world (Acts 1:8).
- Whoever believes: All those who accept Yeshua as their L-rd and Saviour.
- Born of G-d: We have all been naturally born once. This is speaking of being born again – what theologians call ‘regeneration’. When we are born again (through faith in Yeshua) we are going to have a new identity, we are going to be new men and new women (a new creation – 2 Cor 5:17). This is written in the perfect tense – which means: we have been born again in the past, this newness of life continues on now and will continue on into the future and into eternity. It is also written in the passive. This tells us that we had nothing to do with bringing about this birth and newness of life. It was done on our behalf. We received it, by faith, but G-d did it. From the moment we are born again G-d recognises us and we become part of His family forever. We cannot maintain, improve, or change our salvation through our behaviour. Our salvation is a free gift, given to us when we accept Yeshua (Roms 10:9-10) – we have been redeemed by His blood.
- Him who begot: i.e. G-d the Father.
- Loves him who is begotten of Him: This is set within a context (see 1 John 5:2). It is not speaking of Messiah (although of course we are going to love Him too). Yeshua is indeed the begotten Son of G-d, but Messiah has always existed (When the Bible speaks about the only begotten son of G-d it simply points out that G-d the Son is from G-d the Father – meaning that He is divine and has the same attributes and eternal existence that He came from). He was not born in the sense that he was not and then He became. When we were (physically) born it could not be said of us that we were begotten of G-d. When we were born we were born lost in our sins. This concept of being born again gives us a new and eternal reality. Yeshua has always been perfect (sinless) and in eternal reality. When we have been born again by G-d, through faith, we are called to love. This Scripture is saying that we need to love the one (those) who have also been born again by G-d i.e. our fellow believers. There needs to be unity among believers. We need to love G-d and we need to love one another.
v2: By this: …in what was just said. Verse 2 is clarifying what we read about in verse 1. Verse 2 helps us to properly understand the last part of verse 1.
- Children of G-d: This does not include all of humanity. Only those who have believed, by faith, in Yeshua are called children of G-d.
- When we love G-d: i.e. When we are demonstrating love for G-d.
- keep His commandments: If we say that we love G-d the fruit that can be seen by others in our lives is that we keep G-d’s commandments (Luke 6:43-44)
v3: This is the love of G-d: The subject of this verse is G-d. Faith in Yeshua brings about G-d’s work in our lives. This verse is talking about all the commandments of G-d – the commandments in the Old as well as in the New Testaments (Some are teaching today that we need to unhitch ourselves from the Old Testament and its laws. This is unbiblical – a false teaching).
v4: Overcomes the world: When we love G-d we are going to keep His commandments. Keeping His commandments does not bring about our salvation, but keeping His commandments causes us to live a victorious life.
- Our faith: Our faith is inherently tied to victory – overcoming the things of the world. That victory is manifested by doing the commandments of G-d.
v5: Believes that Yeshua is the Son of G-d: John ties victory up with what he taught us in the beginning of this book – we are victorious through faith in Messiah. Faith in Messiah is going to change us. It is going to cause us to be born again, to become a new creation. This is going to manifest itself in love – first love for G-d, and secondly love for those who belong to G-d (those who have shared in the same experience that we have shared in – having been born again). This love is going to manifest itself through these people (those who are born again) by the keeping of the commandments. When we live this type of life we are going to have victory, and that victory is going to be seen in us overcoming the world. It is only when we believe, by faith, in Yeshua as the Messiah and as the Son of G-d that we are going to have victory and overcome in this world.