I John 5:1-9
In a Nutshell
God has not left us to "work out all this" by our own devices. He has, in Christ, revealed Himself to us bequeathing eternal life to us, life in His family.
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When, by God's gift of His Son, we believe and are "born of God" His "considered advice" (His commandments) are not a burden. Why had they been burdensome hitherto?
Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone loving the parent [also] loves the one brought forth. 2 By this we [also] know that we love the children of God, whenever we find ourselves loving God and practising His considered advice. 3 For the love of God is in this so that we [can] hold onto His advice. And His advice is not [at all] a burden, 4 for whatever is born of God conquers the world; our faith being the victory that conquers the world. 5 Who is the one who can conquer the world but the one believing that Jesus is the Son of God? 6 This is [indeed] the one coming via [the signs of] water and blood, Jesus Christ, not only by the water only but by the water and the blood. And the Spirit is the one that confirms this, for the Spirit is the truth. 7 So these three are those giving confirmation: 8 the Spirit and the water and the blood, and these are united. 9 If we receive human confirmation, the confirmation of God is greater; for this is the confirmation that God has confirmed concerning his Son.
When we read our Bibles, structured as they usually are in chapters and verses, or in the present case in about 20 separate sections, we can too easily assume that when we come to a new verse or chapter or section we come to a new topic. The continuity between all that is written in this letter is somehow construed in terms of how our Bible translators and publishers have conveniently divided up the text for us.
That is also why I have also suggested that we do not know for sure whether this "first letter" is one continuous letter, or whether it is a compilation of the letters John wrote to various groups of Christian believers. For this reason I suggest that readers continue to look carefully at what is presented at any one place in terms of what goes before and what comes after.
Certainly, it is one coherent message throughout - in this letter and in II John and III John and in the gospel,. But what is presented here not only presupposes what is written but the ongoing fellowship of love that pertains between those who believe and those "who were first loved by Him" (4:19), and hence binding letter-writer to letter-reader. It reiterates the possibility that is presented to us by the "considered advice", teaching, wisdom, precept, commandment of Jesus:
… those loving God must love their brothers and sisters also [4:21].
That's the commandment, the law and the prophets, the purpose and the meaning, as Jesus confirmed (Mark 12:28-34), when His teaching was examined and authorised by one of the scribes after He had arrived at Jerusalem's temple (ref: 4:1 where the practise of putting any teaching to the test is confirmed, a task not only for "religious professionals" but for all believers). That sums it all up in a nutshell:
"The most important one," answered Jesus, "is this: Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: Love your neighbour as yourself. There is no other commandments greater than these."
We begin to see how this letter is written within a developing understanding of the first disciples who had come to believe that Jesus was indeed God's Anointed. The Christ, the Messiah, is the One who decisively fulfils all that Moses and the prophets had taught. For John the three decisive signs (vv. 6-8) of the ministry of Christ Jesus agree and constitute God's confirmation of His servant: the water of John the Baptist's baptism, the blood of His own baptism (see Mark 10:35-45 at v.39), in which His own blood was shed and the baptism of the Spirit, given to us in confirmation of the Son of God's ascended power at God's right hand.
Now that Jesus has come, brought forth by the will of His Father, those who believe are not left on their own. The Christian life is given to us - we are not left to drum up our courage so that, if possible, we might just scrape into God's Kingdom by bending our brains in order to merit God's approval and be confirmed by Him as one of the "saved". It's just not like that at all.
To believe in Christ Jesus is to profess that He is self-evidently God's Own Son, and since this profession is in response to God's own love for the world, the one professing it is truly born of God - that faith has not only been drawn out of us but given to us as we have come to know all this within the embrace of God's family circle. To be nominated by Jesus as His "friend" (John 15:14) is to be brought into His extended family, a family that now in its ongoing life reaches out into all the world to embrace all our neighbours, to invite all to be "our" brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus.
This is a faith that conquers the world because it is driven by love, the love that the Father has for the Son.