Devotional Readings, M'Cheyne Bible Reading Notes

1 John 5 – Curious ending…

After having spoken much about love, especially loving our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, John ends his longest letter with the words. Reading this I can’t see how one can’t see it as pretty much black and white. John doesn’t give us much wiggle room. I’ve added a few comments or highlights to the text. You can also listen to Max read it here.

Overcoming the World

1Jn 5:1  Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him.

1Jn 5:2  By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments.

1Jn 5:3  For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.

1Jn 5:4  For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.

1Jn 5:5  Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?

Testimony Concerning the Son of God

1Jn 5:6  This is he that came by water and blood, even Jesus Christ; not by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit is truth.

1Jn 5:7  For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.

1Jn 5:8  And there are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one.

Old John Gill writes:

and these three are one; which is to be understood, not only of their unity and agreement in their testimony, they testifying of the same thing, the sonship of Christ; but of their unity in essence or nature, they being the one God. So that, this passage holds forth and asserts the unity of God, a trinity of persons in the Godhead, the proper deity of each person, and their distinct personality, the unity of essence in that they are one; a trinity of persons in that they are three, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost, and are neither more nor fewer; the deity of each person, for otherwise their testimony would not be the testimony of God, as in 1Jn 5:9; and their distinct personality; for were they not three distinct persons, they could not be three testifiers, or three that bare record. This being a proper place, I shall insert the faith of the ancient Jews concerning the doctrine of the Trinity; and the rather, as it agrees with the apostle’s doctrine in words and language, as well as in matter. They call the three Persons in the Godhead three degrees: they say (d),

“Jehovah, Elohenu (our God), Jehovah, Deu 6:4; these are the three degrees with respect to this sublime mystery, in the beginning Elohim, or God, created, Gen 1:1, &c.”

And these three, they say, though they are distinct, yet are one, as appears by what follows (e):

“come see the mystery of the word; there are three degrees, and every degree is by itself, yet they are all one, and are bound together in one, and one is not separated from the other.”

Again, it is said (f),

“this is the unity of Jehovah the first, Elohenu, Jehovah, lo, all of them are one, and therefore: called one; lo, the three names are as if they were one, and therefore are called one, and they are one; but by the revelation of the Holy Spirit it is made known, and they by the sight of the eye may be known, דתלתא אלין אחד, “that these three are one”: and this is the mystery of the voice which is heard; the voice is one, and there are three things, fire, and Spirit, and water, and all of them are one in the mystery of the voice, and they are but one: so here, Jehovah, Elohenu, Jehovah, they are one, the three, גוונין, forms, modes, or things, which are one.”

(There is more but it’s too long to post here.)

1 John 5:8

And there are three that bear witness on earth,…. To the same truth of the sonship of Christ:

the Spirit, and the water, and the blood; by the “Spirit” is not meant the human Spirit or soul of Christ; for however that may be a witness of the truth of his human nature, yet not of his divine sonship: and moreover cannot be said to be a witness in earth; rather the Gospel, called the Spirit, which is a testimony of Christ’s person, office, and graces and is preached by men on earth; or else the gifts of the Spirit bestowed on men on earth, both in an extraordinary and ordinary way, by which they have been qualified to bear witness to this truth; or it may be the Holy Spirit itself is intended, as he is in the hearts of his people here on earth, where he not only witnesses to the truth of their sonship, but also of the sonship of Christ, and is that witness a believer has within himself of it, mentioned in 1Jn 5:10. By water is designed, not internal sanctification, which though an evidence of regeneration and adoption, yet not of Christ’s sonship; but water baptism, as administered on earth in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost; and which is a noble and standing testimony to the proper, natural, and eternal sonship of Christ: and by “blood” is intended, not justification by the blood of Christ, but rather the blood of the saints, the martyrs of Jesus, who have shed it on earth, in testimony of their faith in the Son of God, and thereby sealing the truth of it; or rather the ordinance of the Lord’s supper, which is the communion of the blood of Christ; and represents that blood which was shed for the remission of sins, and has a continual virtue to cleanse from all sin, which is owing to his being the Son of God. The three witnesses on earth seem therefore to be the Gospel, attended with the Spirit and power of God, and the two ordinances of baptism, and the Lord’s supper:

and these agree in one; in their testimony of Christ, the word and ordinances agree together; and the sum and substance of them is Christ; they come from him, and centre in him; they are like the cherubim over the mercy seat, that looked to one another, and to that; and the two ordinances are the church’s two breasts, which are equal, and like to one another; there is a great agreement between them, they are like to two young roes that are twins.

1Jn 5:9  If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater: for this is the witness of God which he hath testified of his Son.

1Jn 5:10  He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son.

1Jn 5:11  And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.

1Jn 5:12  He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.

That You May Know

1Jn 5:13  These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.

1Jn 5:14  And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us:

1Jn 5:15  And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.

1Jn 5:16  If any man see his brother sin a sin which is not unto death, he shall ask, and he shall give him life for them that sin not unto death. There is a sin unto death: I do not say that he shall pray for it.

1Jn 5:17  All unrighteousness is sin: and there is a sin not unto death.

1Jn 5:18  We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not.

1Jn 5:19  And we know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness.

A while back we read:

Genesis 6:5  And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.

1Jn 5:20  And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life.

1Jn 5:21  Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen.

Read Gill’s interesting comment on this closing…

1 John 5:21

Little children, keep yourselves from idols, Amen. From Heathen idols and idolatry, into which the saints in those times might be liable to be drawn, by reason of their dwelling among Heathen idolaters, and being related to them, and by the too great freedom used in eating things sacrificed to idols in their temples; and from all other idols that might be introduced by some who went by the name of Christians, as the Gnostics, who worshipped the images of Simon and Helena; and the passage may be an antidote against the worshipping of images, afterwards introduced by the Papists. Moreover, errors and false doctrines, which are the figments of men’s minds, and what they are fond of, may be called idols, and should be guarded against, and abstained from; as also the lusts of men’s hearts, and all the evil things that are in the world, which are adored by the men of it; and even every creature that is loved too much is an idol; hence covetousness is called idolatry; nor should any creature or thing be loved more than God or Christ: the one only living and true God, Father, Son, and Spirit, he is only to be worshipped, feared, and loved.

I don’t quote Wikipedia often, but as to Simon and Helena, this comment is interesting. If you read more you see, much of the new age and Gaia (current) concepts being founded back then.

Justin Martyr and Irenaeus
Justin Martyr (in his Apologies, and in a lost work against heresies, which Irenaeus used as his main source) and Irenaeus (Adversus Haereses) record that after being cast out by the Apostles, Simon Magus came to Rome where, having joined to himself a profligate woman of the name of Helen, he gave out that it was he who appeared among the Jews as the Son, in Samaria as the Father and among other nations as the Holy Spirit. He performed such signs by magic acts during the reign of Claudius that he was regarded as a god and honored with a statue on the island in the Tiber which the two bridges cross, with the inscription Simoni Deo Sancto, “To Simon the Holy God” (First Apology, XXVI). However, in the 16th century, a statue was unearthed on the island in question, inscribed to Semo Sancus, a Sabine deity, leading most scholars to believe that Justin Martyr confused Semoni Sancus with Simon.

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