July 2 – 1 John 5:1-12


Main Focus: Faith in the Son is the way to life and the way of life.

We’re now in the last few weeks of our progression through the book of John and have seen several recurring themes crop up. Some of the major ones thus far are rejection of sin/world (1:5-10, 2:12-17) and keeping watch (2:18-29, 4:1-6). Throughout the letter, John repeatedly encourages Christians to remain in Christ and to abide in him. The overarching message of this letter from John is clear: believe Jesus, obey his commandments, and love your brothers and sisters in Christ. This encouragement is intertwined with warnings of those who oppose the doctrine we hold about Jesus’ person. This is again the line in the sand between those who are of God and those who are not. 

As a quick digression, let’s jump to verses 6-8 since they’re a little funky and we don’t want their murkiness to cloud the lens through which we read this passage. Here we read that water, blood, and the Spirit all testify and are in agreement regarding Jesus, but what does that mean? Quickly recapping, this book was written while there was a heretic running amok named Cerinthus. Cerinthus was in modern-day Turkey and believed and taught that Jesus was just a man upon whom the divinity of Christ descended at his baptism (Matthew 3:13-17). Cerinthus also taught that Jesus’ divinity left him just before his crucifixion, effectively allowing him to die.

This dangerous heresy refutes Jesus’ place in the Trinity and his divinity as the Son of God. John writes this to warn and refute false doctrines, telling us that Jesus “came by water and blood, not by water only, but by water and by blood” (5:6a). The phrase “came by water and blood” refer to Jesus’ confirmation as the Son of God at his baptism (Matt. 3:17) and his very real death as a man (Matt. 27:45-54). John seeks to continually clarify that Jesus was and is both fully God and fully man. The Spirit’s testifying is John’s way of describing the prophetic witnesses from all of Scripture, such as Daniel and even John the Baptist. John writes this in this passage to tell us that through his prophets, God confirmed that Jesus was and is the Christ. His earthly ministry, from baptism (water) to death (blood) and resurrection, were ordained, approved, and set into motion by God (Spirit). The Message gives us a great summary of verses 6-8. 

“Jesus—the Divine Christ! He experienced a life-giving birth and a death-killing death. Not only birth from the womb, but baptismal birth of his ministry and sacrificial death. And all the while the Spirit is confirming the truth, the reality of God’s presence at Jesus’ baptism and crucifixion, bringing those occasions alive for us. A triple testimony: the Spirit, the Baptism, the Crucifixion. And the three in perfect agreement.”

Returning to the rest of the passage, John tells us that to love God is to love his children, fellow believers. This is a reminder of 1 John 1, where he writes, “If we walk in the light as he himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another” (1:7). John gives us this continual pattern of “if/then” phrases, not as verification (if you do, you’ll be saved), but as an indication (if you are truly saved, this is evidence). If you are genuinely born again and of God, there will be outward signs and external fruits signifying that transformation. Jesus talks of this regarding false prophets, but it applies to all who claim allegiance with Christ. In Matthew 17, he said that we would recognize them by their fruits (v15-19).

Continuing on past v6-8, we read John’s words that “The one who believes in the Son of God has this testimony within himself” (v10a); those who genuinely believe and follow Jesus have this internal confirmation through the Spirit. Verse 9 says, “If we accept human testimony, God’s testimony is greater.” Here, John tells readers that if they find human testimony acceptable enough, they have all the more reason to accept God’s testimony because his word and truth should carry far more weight in our hearts. Furthermore, believing and following God, by the power of the Holy Spirit, places this testimony within us (v10a). 

As we go into discussion this week, our hope is that we begin to see faith in Jesus as our way to and way of life. Verse 12 tells us that those who have the Son have life. Those who don’t have Jesus don’t have eternal life. We want to make this distinction: Jesus as our Savior is the way to life, while Jesus as Lord changes and impacts our way of life.

Questions for Discussion

• Could someone read 1 John 5:1-12 for us?

• What stood out to you from the passage?

• What does this passage say about those who believe Jesus is the Son of God?

• Why do you think God wants us to see that “our faith” is the victory that conquers the world?

• Reading v2-3 again, what are some of God’s commands that feel like a burden? What are some that don’t?

• When are you most prone to struggling with loving God’s commands?

• Why do you think John wants us to know that “whoever has the son has life”?

• What are some ways you can step out in faith this week?