Three Witnesses Testify (1 John 5:1-13)
John has been talking about the test of interpersonal relationships. He makes it very clear, “He who does not love does know God, for God is love.” His love has been demonstrated by the giving of His only begotten Son. Therefore, seeing God so loved us we ought to love one another. Now John transitions to the test of interpersonal relationship relative to our faith. We can know we abide in fellowship with God when we keep His commandments. Further, “everyone who loves Him who begot also loves Him who is begotten of Him” (1 John 5:1-3). Christianity without love is a contradiction of terms. The love of God must be alive in us and made manifest by our conduct toward our brother.
First, how can we know that we love those begotten by the Father and the Father too? We keep His commandments (1John 5:2). Just to make the claim, “I am loving God” amounts to nothing (1 John 5:3). Commandments have been given for the purpose of keeping. His commandments are not a burden. It is not a burden to believe in the Son of God, who died as a sacrifice for our sins. There is no greater joy than this confidence and trust. It is not a burden to be called one of God’s children. It is not a burden to love Him who first loved us. There can be no greater joy than to stand in this circle of love, to have His love poured out on us. His commandments are for our good.
Further, how can we be victorious? Faith in Christ gives us this victory (1 John 5:4). This victory is the reason that keeping God’s commandments are not a burden. How can victors find it hard to show their love for God by keeping His commandments? What in this world can possibly interfere with one born of God keeping His commandments? Victors go in victory, to trample upon any interference from the world. When God asks us to believe He is only asking us to be victorious. When He asks us to love He is asking only for fruit which our faith naturally produces. Both faith in Christ and love of our brother show we have been born from God.
Therefore, “For whatsoever is begotten of God overcomes the world.” Whatsoever is of Divine origin has a power that is mightier than the world’s. The world’s hostile pressure is more than neutralized and God’s commandments are not burdensome. “Greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world.”
From a worldly point of view, no one was more overwhelmed by defeat and disaster than was the Son of God. Faith is the victory because it is proof of our union with Christ, who is victorious over the world. He is the source of all conquering power to them in whom He abides. He that has the Son has life and while surrounded by the world’s hostile influence, he is made partaker in Christ’s own triumph over the world (1 John 5:12). If our victory is our faith, the victor is the believer. Yet, everything depends on what we believe about Jesus having come in the flesh as the son of God. To deny that He came is to be a liar (1 John 2:22). But faith that Jesus is the Christ makes the believer the victor over the world.
John affirms from beginning to end the Deity of Jesus. Deny this and there is no possibility of fellowship with the Father. Faith in Jesus as the Divine Son of God is an absolute. We could not or would not serve one in whom we have no confidence. At the very best we would ignore the advice or warning of one in whom there was no reason to believe. But, if a person has established his credibility by the testimony of competent witnesses, we have every reason to listen to the words of wisdom he may expound. Therefore, John parades three great witnesses to which he, or we can appeal: the water, the blood and the Spirit. How does the water, the blood, and the Spirit produce irrefutable proof that this Jesus of Nazareth was actually God’s son?
The first witness is testimony of the water. At the baptism of Jesus, as He came up out of the water, and the Spirit of God descended upon Him like unto a dove, and abode upon Him the voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son…” (Mt.3: 17). Therefore, the water, indicative of His baptism and the events surrounding it, bring forth the Divine proclamation. So, in His baptism, He was declared to be the very one of whom John writes (1 John 5: 6). It was this Jesus who John baptized and died on the cross.
The second witness is the testimony of blood. John says that Jesus came or was made known as God’s Son by the blood. He is referring to the incidents surrounding His death. “Truly this was the Son of God,” the centurion said (Matt. 27:54). Since the Gentile was convinced, many others were in like manner convinced.
The third witness is the testimony of the Spirit. “And it is the Spirit who bears witness, because the Spirit is truth.” How does God “testify”? Jesus says, “When the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me (John 15:26.) The Spirit of truth will testify, tell the truth of who Jesus is (John 16:13-16). Now John writes years later and says Jesus came by the water and blood and Spirit of truth testified. Eye witnesses gave testimony. All those things that happened at the water and at His death, are inscribed by the Spirit of God for our benefit. We have the testimony of the Spirit. The only way the Spirit ever testified to man is through His Word (2 Cor.5: 20, John 15: 26). People must believe that Jesus is the Son of God.
There are three witnesses that testify and these three agree in one (1 John 5: 7). If we receive testimony of men how much more so the testimony of heaven and earth, which is worthy of much more credit? The witness of God is greater, more certain and more worthy of credit than the writers of men (1 John 5: 9). John’s point is, how can this testimony concerning Jesus having come in the flesh as the Son of God be rejected?
There is still another witness, “He who believes in the Son of God has the witness in himself…” (1 John 5: 10.) The whole of revelation is contained in the Person of Jesus Christ. These facts, embraced under the headings, the water and the blood, are themselves evidential (1 John 5: 6-8). In them the Divine mission of Jesus is fully attested, and the eternal life of God manifested on earth (1 John 1: 2). Upon this, as its historical foundation, faith must always stand (1 John 2: 24). The certainty is derived from the witness of the Spirit, which continually attests the truth of the human testimony (1 John 5: 6b).
But, he who does not believe God’s witnesses concerning His son, has endeavored to make Him a liar. It is making God a liar in the worst possible way when one refuses to believe God’s testimony about His own Son. The two ways we can make God a liar: if we say we have no sin and if the testimony of the water and the blood become meaningless.
John binds everything together. God’s testimony brings us His son. Eternal life is in His Son. Believing God’s testimony is to have the Son, and to have Him is to have this life (1 John 5:13; 1:3).
By Rickie Jenkins