Bible Query from
Q: In 1 Jn 1, what was the main reason 1 Jn was written?
A: John wrote against those who were trying to lead people astray: libertine proto-Gnostics who denied Jesus coming in the flesh. Likewise Tertullian, writing 207/208 A.D., said it was against Antichrists such as the Marcionites in Against Marcion book 3 ch.8 p.327, However, some people today disagree, so here are four parts for an extensive analysis.
Explicit: The most straightforward solution would be to ask John. Here is what he said about why he wrote.
a. That your joy may be complete. 1 John 1:4. John also discusses being complete in God's love in 1 John 4:12,17,18.
b. So that we will not sin. 1 John 2:1
c. Both an old and a new command. (love others) 1 John 2:7-8
d. Writing to those who know God, have their sins forgiven, have overcome the evil one. 1 John 2:12-14, and to those who know the truth. 1 John 2:21
e. John is writing about those who are trying to lead God's people astray 1 John 2:26
f. Writing to believers so that they can know they have eternal life. 1 John 5:13. 1 John uses the word "know" 42 times according to the NIV Study Bible p.1908.
Notice that the reasons John gives go from the general to the specific. 1 and 3 are setting the general context for what John will be saying. 4 is not so much a reason why John is writing, but rather, a reminder of why John is writing to them. Whatever someone claims is the main point of 1 John, it should relate to what John claims are the main points of 1 John, especially points 2, 5, and 6.
Absolute: Of the 104 verses, here is a breakdown of the top topics that includes 90% of the verses. These are apparently the major points John emphasized.
|Obey God's commands and don't sin (29 1/2 verses) 1:5-7; 2:1,3-8,15-17,28-29 3:3-9,22 1/2,23 1/2,24; 5:2-4,16 1/2,17-19,21|
|Believe Jesus and not lies (23 verses) 2:18-27; 4:1,4-6; 5:5,13,20|
|Experience Christ who came in the flesh (15 1/2 verses) 1:1-3; 2:13-14; 4:2-3,9 1/2 ,12-19|
|We must love one another (16 verses) 2:9-11;3:10 1/2 ,11-15, 16 1/2 ,17,23 1/2; 4:7-8,11,20-21; 5:1,2 1/2|
|We are not sinless, but God forgives our sin (6 verses) 1:8-10; 2:2,12; 4:10|
|Ask and receive from him (4 verses) 3:22 1/2 ; 5:14-15,16 1/2|
|Verses referring specifically to the Old Testament, Jews, Judaizers, legalism, and sacrifices. (0 verses)|
Q: In 1 Jn 1, who were the Gnostics?
A: Gnosticism was a group of heresies which wanted to mix fanciful Greek thought and Christianity. Gnostics are not specifically mentioned in First John. All Gnostics believed in fanciful godlike beings, and they believed Christ was just one of them. They believed the God of the Old and New Testaments were different, and the God of the Old Testament was evil, or at the very least, foolish and misguided. Gnostics accepted the Gospels but rejected most or all of Paul's writings. They had additional scriptures, which varied. There were two types of Gnostics: libertine and ascetic. All Gnostics said the physical body did not matter, only esoteric spiritual knowledge. Libertine Gnostics concluded that sinning all you wanted in the body was fine. Ascetic Gnostics concluded that you should be celibate, never marry, and treat your body harshly.
As an aside, the Basilidean Gnostic sect worshipped as their Supreme deity "Abrasay". It was considered magical to incant abrasadabra, which was later corrupted to "abracadabra", which is a nonsensical word magicians use today. This is according to www.worldwidewords.org.
It would seem very reasonable that 1 John is addressing Gnostics except for one thing: Gnosticism was not fully developed until 50 to 100 years later. However, proto-Gnosticism was prevalent then, and Eusebius records that John encountered proto-Gnosticism in the heretic Cerinthus. Thus many believe 1 John was written in a large part to combat proto-Gnosticism. See the previous question for more discussion. For more references on the heresy of Gnosticism, see the discussion on 2 John 7.
Q: In 1 Jn, is it true that John writes all his inspired works with one heretic, Cerinthus the Gnostic, in mind, as one Catholic claimed?
A: John knew of Cerinthus, but Cerinthus was not a Gnostic, though there were similarities of belief. Here is some info on Cerinthus, then on Gnostics.
Cerinthus was an early heretic who could be called a proto-Gnostic. The church historian Eusebius relates that Polycarp, a disciple of John the apostle, said this about John. "And there are those that heard from him that John, the disciple of the Lord, going to bathe in Ephesus and seeing Cerinthus within, ran out of the bath-house without bathing, crying, 'Let us flee, lest even the bath fall, because the enemy of the truth, is within."
The church writer Irenaeus (182-188 A.D.) wrote against Cerinthus. Here is what Irenaeus said in Irenaeus Against Heresies book 1 ch.26 p.351-352.
"Cerinthus, again, a man who was educated in the wisdom of the Egyptians, taught that the world was not made by the primary god, but by a certain Power far separated from him and at a distance from that Principality who is supreme over the universe, and ignorant of him who is above all. He represented Jesus as having not been born of a virgin, but as being the son of Joseph and Mary according to the ordinary course of human generation, while he nevertheless was more righteous, prudent, and wise than other men. Moreover, after his baptism, Christ descended upon him in the form of a dove from the Supreme Ruler, and that then he proclaimed the unknown Father, and performed miracles. But at last Christ departed from Jesus, and that then Jesus suffered and rose again, while Christ remained impassible, inasmuch as he was a spiritual being. [The next sections talk of other groups, the Ebionites, and then Cerdo, and then Marcion.]
Cerinthus had in common with some Gnostics a belief that the Creator of the world was a different being than the Supreme God, that Christ and Jesus were different, and Christ came upon Jesus. However, another heretic Irenaeus discusses is Marcion, and the Gnostics generally came from Marcion, not Cerinthus.
Cerinthus, Marcion, and the Gnostics in general probably came to some of their conclusions because their Greek culture taught them that God could not have emotions or be affected [emotionally] by His creation in any way. Plato taught that there were two worlds, the lower world, we call reality, and the higher world of ideals. Thus is it not surprisingly that some of these heretical views showed up more than once, since they came from the common source of Greek philosophy.
The Gnostics were actually not a group, but more than 30 different groups. Many Gnostics believed that they should live a frugal, ascetic life and never marry, while many others believed you could live any way you felt like, since the body did not matter anyway. Gnosticism did not come into full bloom (like a weed) until well after John's death, but proto-Gnostic beliefs were around in John's time.
As an aside, I have never read anywhere that Cerinthus or the Gnostics had any particular view on the Lord's Supper, the physical institution of the church, that salvation was by faith alone, the sacraments, or the hierarchical nature of the church.
Saying they believed sins are truly blotted out is false, because they did not believe there was sin, in the same sense as the Bible speaks of sin.
It is false to say that all that John wrote was against Cerinthus for at least three reasons.
1. While John certainly had heretics in mind in 1 John, he was against all who denied that Jesus Christ came in the flesh, denied that believers should live a holy life. John in no way limited himself to just Cerinthus, but rather said that "...many false prophets have gone out into the world..." (1 John 4:1)
2. The Catholic person's claim that all John's works were against one heretic, or even multiple heretics, reduces all the richness of John's writing to only one small point. If you had to reduce everything John wrote to one point, then believing the Jesus, the only begotten Son of God is the point, not believing against Cerinthus. Furthermore, while it is true that 1 John was written primarily to guard against "many false prophets", 3 John had other emphases, including the divisive church leader Diotrephes.
3. It sounds as though this Catholic person is out-of-step not only with the Bible, but with the Catholic Pope and modern Catholic Church. The Catholic Church has issued as statement basically saying that Luther's teaching on justification "is OK". This does not mean they have converted, or even that they agree with Luther's teaching, but rather that it is tolerated. It seems as if he is trying to make modern Conservative Christians into Gnostics, or at least into followers of Cerinthus.
You can be assured that Conservative Christians do not believe
The Creator and the Supreme God are different,
That Jesus and Christ are different,
That we should live our life in less than a holy way,
Or that we should falsely accuse a group of being an ancient heresy by twisting some of the facts and leaving out most of the other facts.
On a final note, while I think the Pope is greatly in error, and I see many serious errors in Catholic doctrine, nevertheless I have met a few Catholics whom I think were true believers. They did not necessarily "toe the line" on all the Catholic doctrines, (few Catholics do, actually) but where they saw a difference between what the Bible taught and what the Catholic Church taught, they followed the Bible.
Do you know there are no Protestants in heaven? There are no Catholics or Orthodox in heaven either. There are only people, saved by Jesus, who might have been Protestants, Catholics, or Orthodox, but their following Jesus was the most important thing to them.
Q: In 1 Jn 1:1-4, what purpose is there in this passage, versus just starting with verse 5?
A: There are three purposes John 1:1-4 serves.
Fundamentally, John's spiritual life does not rest on doctrine, or a "Christ concept". It does not rest on a Christ who was some sort of phantom. It rests on a living being, who took on real flesh and blood.
Authoritatively, John asserts his credentials as an eyewitness of Christ and what Jesus taught and did, fro the beginning.
Significantly, since John was with Christ from the beginning, you ought to have an interest in what He has to say about following Christ.
John's emphasis here is fellowship with God, fellowship with others, and the completeness of the fellowship. Later in the book he emphasizes how we are to love God and others.
Q: In 1 Jn 1, was this book written primarily to be read by Jewish Christians, as the hyper-Calvinist John Gill taught?
A: No. Gill taught that the main point of 1 John was written primarily to Jewish Christians to emphasize that salvation is for all the world. Gill's interpretation provides support for a peculiar interpretation of 1 John 2:2. However, I do not know of any recent writer who has provided an adequate basis for this opinion, and no Pre-Nicene writer every understand this book this way. See the first question on 1 John for more info.
Q: In 1 Jn 1:1-4, is John speaking of his experience as a Christian or his experience as a disciple and an eyewitness of Jesus?
A: While Christians do experience Christ in their lives, John is referring to his eyewitness experience as Jesus' disciple.
On one hand, it seems to be a great blessing to have seen Jesus when Jesus was on earth. On the other hand, in John 20:29, Jesus said people were more blessed who did not see and yet believed.
Q: In 1 Jn 1:3, John says our fellowship with each other is similar to our fellowship with the Father and Son? What are the aspects of fellowship?
A: The Greek word here, koinonia, was used outside of the Bible for business partners, joint owners of a property of shareholders. This word, or its derivatives, is in the New Testament over sixty times. It refers to a common faith (Philemon 6), common possessions (Acts 2:44; 4:30), and are partners in the gospel (Philippians 1:5). See The Expositor's Bible Commentary vol.12 p.307-308 for more info.
Q: In 1 Jn 1:4 what exactly does John mean by making joy complete? Similar phrases are used in Jn 15:11; Jn 16:22-24; 17:13.
A: Some manuscripts says "our joy" and others say "your joy". Regardless though, "our joy" including the readers of the letter, means ultimately the joy of the Holy Spirit as we abide in Christ. If you are abiding in Christ, you will have fellowship with Christ and each other, and you will believe and obey God. We receive the joy of the Holy Spirit when we first believe, but in our Christian experience joy and ebb and flow. Things can steal our joy, such as believing wrong things about God, disobeying Him, and loving the world instead of loving God.
Q: In 1 Jn 1:3, John says our fellowship with each other is similar to our fellowship with the Father and Son? What are the aspects of fellowship?
A: The Greek word here, koinonia, was used outside of the Bible for business partners, joint owners of a property of shareholders. This word, or its derivatives, is in the New Testament over sixty times. It refers to a common faith (Philemon 6), common possessions (Acts 2:44; 4:30), and are partners in the gospel (Philippians 1:5). See The Expositor's Bible Commentary vol.12 p.307-308 for more info.
Q: In 1 Jn 1:5-7, Jn 4-5, 7-9; 3:19-21; 8:13; 9:5; 12:35-36,46; Rev 21:23, why does John emphasize light so much? Why didn't he just say, Hey guys, follow the rules?
A: On one level he emphasizes that those who walk with God will not continue to sin. This is both a warning in our own life, and one way to discern false teachers vs. true. False teachers often say that sin is OK. On another level, John uses the metaphor of light to emphasize that righteousness is not just rules we follow, or something we do, but something we are and possess. It is OK to decided not to commit a sin, even though part of us might want to, because "the rules say so". But it is far better to get to the place where we decide not to commit a sin, because we just don't want to, based on who we are.
See The Bible Knowledge Commentary: New Testament p.884 for more info.
Q: In 1 Jn 1:5, how can there be no darkness with God?
A: There is no darkness when you look at a light; a shadow is only when something is blocking the light. Sins are like shadows where the light is blocked. We are called to be children of the light in Ephesians 5:8.
Q: In 1 Jn 1:5, under what circumstances should you ever "sin for God"?
A: Never. We show our love for God by obeying Him. Either God wants us to do something, or He wants us to do something else, or He does not want us to do anything in a situation.
Q: In 1 Jn 1:7, what is the difference between walking according to the light, and walking in the light?
A: If you walk according to the light, you are waking according to the knowledge of the truth and obeying the commands that were given. John asks more of us than just walking according to the light though. We are to walk in the light, abiding in Jesus, living our life, not just obeying Him, but also in daily relationship and loving fellowship with Him. See The Bible Knowledge Commentary: New Testament p.885 for more info.
Q: In 1 Jn 1:7, since Christ cleanses us from all sin, why do Christians still sin?
A: We are still in the process of being made holy. Christ's atoning sacrifice was not only necessary to provide forgiveness for the sin we committed before we were saved, but also for the sins we commit after we are saved, as 1 John 1:7 shows.
Q: In 1 Jn 1:7, notice the tense of the verb "purify". Why does the blood of Jesus need to purify us from sins right now? How does this work?
A: Jesus took away the judicial guilt of our sins at the cross, but God wants us to work to be more Christlike now. We still sin, and bear consequences for our sins, and God wants us to reflect Christ in our lives in an ever-increasing way.
Q: In 1 Jn 1:7, since Jesus forgave everything on the cross, what do you think of the teaching that after coming to Christ we should no longer confess our sins or ask forgiveness?
A: This is not what John taught. We are to confess our sins in1 John 1:9; James 5:16; and Psalms 32:5; 38:18. We specifically ask God to forgive our sins in Matthew 6:12; The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.886 distinguishes between forgiveness for the non-believer who becomes a Christian, and "familial forgiveness", such as when a son asks his father for forgiveness, but knows that his place as a son is secure.
Q: In 1 Jn 1:8, who does the deceiving here? What are some ways people deceive themselves?
A: A person is deceiving themselves here.
a) People can deceive themselves about the truth; thinking things are true when they are not, or thinking things are false when they are true. People can believe things are unclear and murky, when actually in the Bible they are crystal clear.
b) People fail to guard their heart and are deceived there. They think that doing a sin continually, or even just once, will make them happier. They think they cannot live without some sin, or that they are unable to get the right thing.
c) People justify their sin. They claim they had no other choice, or that they had to do something to meet their needs.
Q: In 1 Jn 1:10, why do Jesus' words have no place in our lives, if we claim we have not sinned?
A: There are two parts here.
Never sinned: If someone claimed that they have never sinned, then they would not think they need a savior. They would be saying that the Bible's words that all have sinned, and they need a savior to redeem us are false. It is scary to think that they would be telling God that they have no need for His mercy.
Not sin anymore: If someone claimed they used to sin, and needed a Savior for that time, but don't sin anymore, then they claim they could not need God's mercy any more, only for the past. They probably have a very small view of sin. One time a Christian asked a "holiness" speaker if he was sinlessly perfect, and the holiness speaker said that yes, now he was. The Christian then asked him for his wife's phone number, and the holiness speaker asked why. The Christian said he wanted to call her and see if she would say that he never sinned anymore. The holiness speaker then backtracked and said that it wasn't that he didn't "make mistakes" anymore, it is just that he didn't sin. He did not see small wrong things as sins.
Q: In 1 Jn 2:1, is Christ the propitiation for the sins of the whole world? If so, will all be saved?
A: No. Some can receive God's grace in vain (2 Corinthians 6:1). The message of the Gospel is of no value to some people, because it is not combined with faith, as Hebrews 4:2 shows. See The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.887 for more info.
Q: In 1 Jn 2:1, does this refer to all people or all kinds of people?
A: Genuine Christians disagree, with two views.
Most Calvinists must interpret this as, "for the elect of Israel and of the whole world" and "valid anywhere in the world" per the Geneva Study Bible. Otherwise, their theology falls. However, even Hard Calvinists, such as A.W. Pink, would admit that 1 John 2:2 at least "in appearance" supports the concept of a universal atonement. Amyraldian and 4 1/2 point Calvinists, who accept universal as well as limited aspects of the atonement, believe the next view. For reference, here is the earliest Christian to write on 1 John 2:1 and teach a view similar to this.
Augustine (c.400 A.D.) in his commentary on 1 John, interpreted 1 John 2:1 as the church in the whole world. Augustine of Hippo also believed that baptized infants who died will all go to Heaven, and unbaptized infants will all go to hell, so Calvinists should not be too quick to appeal to Augustine for support here.
Everyone else's view: The Greek means what it says. Martin Luther, in mentioning 1 John 2:2, wrote, "It is a patent fact that thou too art a part of the whole world; so that thine heart cannot deceive itself, and think, the Lord died for Peter and Paul, but not for me."
For reference, some Christians who believed Christ atoned for the whole world include
Clement of Alexandria (193-217/220 A.D.) in The Instructor book 3 ch.12 p.295 quotes 1 John 2:2, and understands it as it appears.
Origen (225-254 A.D.) mentions this verse and 1 Timothy 4:10 as applying not only slaves, women, and children, but also to the intelligent and simple in Origen Against Celsus book 3 ch.49 p.484.
Athanasius (c.297-373 A.D.) Incarnation of the Word ch.7.5 p.40. "For His it was once more both to bring the corruptible to incorruption, and to maintain intact the just claim of the Father upon all. ... and worthy to suffer on behalf of all and to be ambassador for all with the Father." See also Against the Heathen ch.1.4 p.6)
Gregory Nanzianzus (c.330-391 A.D.) On the Theophany, or Birthday of Christ
Cyril of Jerusalem (c.315-335-386) First Catechetical Lecture I
John Chrysostom (c.392-407 A.D.) numerous
Prosper of Aquitaine (c.420 A.D.) Answers to the Gauls Article 8 believed that Christ died for both the elect and reprobate who heard the Gospel. (Prosper accepted definitive aspects too, as shown by Article 9.)
See also the discussion on 1 John 1.
Q: Does the word in 1 Jn 2:2; 4:10 mean "atoning sacrifice" or "cleansing of sin"?
A: The Greek word here, hilasmos, is only used in these two verses. Some scholars (Westcott and Dodd) have interpreted this to mean cleansing of sin, in that there is now no more sin. The RSV has "expiation of sin".
However, the noun hilasterion is used in Romans 3:25 and the verb hilaskomai is used in Luke 18:13 and Hebrews 2:17. In these places it refers to the atoning sacrifice or propitiation of sin. See The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.887 for more info. The New International Bible Commentary p.1575 and the Believer's Bible Commentary p.2311. As the Evangelical Commentary on the Bible p.1180 says, "The description atoning sacrifice means a propitiary offering: Christ satisfies God's wrath against sin (4:10). He is not simply the expiation (RSV) given by God to annul the guilt of sin." Further supporting this is that 1 John 2:1 says that Jesus is pleading our case, which indicates more of a legal context than a physician's context here.
The Expositor's Bible Commentary vol.12 p.314 says there is no consensus on which is the primary meaning, but it points out that in Greek literature the word was used as an offering by the guilty person to appease the one who was offended. Wuest's Expanded Translation has both aspects, translating this as "expiatory satisfaction" in both 1 John 2:2 and 4:10.
Q: Does 1 Jn 2:3-5 contradict being saved by grace?
A: No, it complements it. Without verses like these, the doctrine of salvation by grace would have some missing pieces. See the discussion on James 1:17 and the three questions on Ephesians 2:5-8 for more info.
Q: In 1 Jn 2:7, what kinds of friends are there?
A: There is a special Greek word for friendship-love (phileo), but that is not the word used here. The word here is agapetoi, which means recipients of agape love.
Friends can simply be individual you have fun doing a common activity with. When you or they stop doing that activity, there is nothing more to that friendship. Of course we minister, worship, and do other common things with other Christians, but I hope your friendship with other Christians is much more than just this.
Friends can also be those you have affection for, or enjoy being around. You can talk things over with them, or you even get together when you do not have anything momentous to talk about. You just enjoy being together.
Friends can be those who you would do almost sacrifice for. Your friends can rely on you to do what is best for them, when they fall on hard times. And you can rely on them too.
John use of this term might include everything except not necessarily the first one, because he probably did not personally know all of his readers.
Q: In 1 Jn 2:6, how are we to walk as Jesus did?
A: This does not refer to wearing sandals, walking in Galilee, or other physical things. This metaphor means living our life the way Jesus would, or the way Jesus would want us to live.
Q: In 1 Jn 2:7-8, is John writing an old commandment, or a new commandment?
A: John is telling us poetically that he is writing both new and old aspects of what is an old commandment.
Q: In 1 Jn 2:12-14, why does John emphasize fathers, young men, and little children?
A: Scripture does not say why John, through God's Sovereignty, chose this poetic expression. However, we can see that a person can have different roles in the church, sometimes simultaneously. Here is my view.
New believers (children) should concentrate on the fact that their sins have been forgiven, they have a new life, and they have a relationship with God.
Co-workers (young men) should concentrate on (internally and externally) overcoming the evil one, being strong in the Lord, and having the word of God living in them.
Leaders (fathers) in all their busy working and leading, should not lose sight of their relationship with God they had as children.
Q: In 1 Jn 2:16, how does most sin fall into these three categories?
A: Notice that these are not just sins here, but rather the sinful motivation that leads us to sin.
Lust of the flesh (sarx) refers to what satisfies our bodily appetites, whether sex, gluttony, drunkenness or drugs.
Lust of the eyes refers to that which entices, whether wealth, beauty, fancy homes, fine cars, or material possessions.
Pride of life refers to the innate desire of many to tell the world "I am somebody, on my on achievement", or "I am better than you". Perversely, someone who does not excel at something can feel inferior because they think that is the yardstick of their worth. For many youth growing up, they tend to judge their self worth base on their looks, their scholarly achievement, or their athletic achievement.
Q: In 1 Jn 2:16, what is unusual about the word for "pride of life" here?
A: This is only one word in Greek, alazoneia, thought it takes three English words to even get close to its real, precise meaning. In the Bible it is only used here and in James 4:16.
Perhaps the exact meaning is somewhere between someone you can't stand to be watch, because of their prideful arrogance, and someone who is comical to watch, because of their silly foolishness. - You don't want to be this.
Here is what an alazon is, according the Greek writer Plutarch.
"The Alazon is the kind of person who will stand on the mole and tell perfect strangers what a log of money he has at sea, and discourse of his investments, how large they are, and what gains and losses he has made, and as he spins his yarns he will send his boy to the bank - his balance being a shilling. If he enjoys company on the road, he is apt to tell how he served with Alexander the Great, how he got on with him, and how many jewelled cups he brought home; and to discuss the Asiatic craftsman, how much better they are than any in Europe - never having been away from Athens. He will say that he was granted a free permit for the export of timber, but took no advantage of it, to avoid ill-natured gossip; and that during the corn-shortage he spent more than fifteen hundred pounds in gifts to needy citizens. He will be living in a rented house, and will tell anyone who does not know the facts that this is the family residence, but he is going to sell it because it is too small for his entertainments. (Plutarch's Characters, quoted in Dodd, Johannine Epistles p.42)." This is from See The Expositor's Bible Commentary vol.12 p.321-322 for more info.
Q: In 1 Jn 2:18,22, how are there many antichrists?
A: There is only one Antichrist, but before him there will be many lesser antichrists. There is only one primary Antichrist according to Matthew 24:4-5,26; Mark 13:6,14; Luke 21:8; Daniel 9:26-27, 11:36-37; 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4; and Revelation 13:1-10. However, there are many lesser antichrists as 1 John 2:18,22 and 2 John 7 show. There might be a relationship between someone having the spirit of the antichrist in them (1 John 4:3), and what psychologists describe as a Messiah complex.
The following people have either made the following claims, or else others made the following claims about them.
|Grigori Rasputin (at least some others claimed this)|
|Rev. Jim Jones of Jonestown (died 11/16/1978)|
|Rev. Moon of the Unification Church|
|Jacob Katzan (1977-)|
|Guru Maharah Ji of the Divine Light Mission|
|many Hindu and New Age gurus|
|...A Jewish Messiah Come the First Time|
|Sabbatai Sebi/Zvi In Sept. 1666 A.D. he was forced to become Muslim|
|Rabbi Schneerson of New York (now dead)|
|probably Theudas in Acts 5:36. He claimed to be someone great|
|...The Mahdi in Shi'ite Religions|
|First Fatimid caliph 'Obaidallah/'Ubaydullah (909-933/934 A.D.)|
|Imam al Husayn bin al-Kasim al-'Iyani (1010-1013 A.D.) (Husayniiya Zaydite sect)|
|Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (1879 A.D., Ahmadiyya Movement)|
|Baha'ullah (Baha'is) (1817-1892)|
|Husayn 'Ali Nuri Baha', half-brother to Baha'ullah of the Baha'is|
|Sliman Murshad of Syria (1900-1949)|
|The Mahdist movement in Sudan|
|...Zoroastrian Messiahs, or Saoshyants|
|Mohammed was worshipped as visible God by Muhammidiyya|
|'Ali is divine according to the 'Ulyaniyya/'Alaya'iyya|
|'Ali bin Abi Talib and Saliman al-Farisi. They did not claim to be God, but long after their death some 'Alawite sects worshipped them as sort of a Muslim Tritheism.|
|Lord Hakim (The Druze) (996-1021 A.D.)|
|God existed in the form of all the prophets according to the Rizamiyya / Muslimiyya Shi'ite sect|
|Emperor Nero, or Emperor Nero reincarnated|
|Judas reincarnated (Judas was also called the one doomed to destruction in John 17:12.)|
|Prince George (American Revolutionary War)|
|Pope John XXII (by followers of Peter Olivi 1248-1298)|
|John F. Kennedy|
Q: 1 Jn 2:19, how might the going out of false teachers be traumatic?
A: Of course their false teaching could lead some astray, but when they choose to leave, or were told to leave, some might question the wisdom of the orthodox leaders to reduce their numbers, or accuse the orthodox of being divisive. See The Expositor's Bible Commentary vol.12 p.324-325 believes it was voluntary on the part of the false teachers. Regardless though, this could be confusing for new believers.
Q: In 1 Jn 2:20 (KJV), what is "unction"?
A: This King James Version expression means "anointing".
Q: In 1 Jn 2:20 why would John mention our anointing from the Holy One here?
A: There are four probable reasons.
a) We received salvation because of our anointing with the Holy Spirit, when we came to Christ.
b) We continue to have salvation, because the anointing of the Holy Spirit keeps us in the Lord.
c) This is not anointing to do live however we wish, but an anointing from "the Holy One".
d) Some Gnostics such as the Naasenes, boasted of a special anointing. "We alone of all men are Christian, who complete the mystery of the third portal, and are anointed there with speechless chrism." (Philosophuma vol.9 p.121-122) This is quoted from Dodd's Johannine Epistles p.61 and The Expositor's Bible Commentary vol.12 p.325. This could have been prophetic, or else proto-Gnostics might have done the same.
Q: In 1 Jn 2:22, this goes against the teaching of the proto-Gnostic heretic Cerinthus, who said that "Christ" came upon Jesus at Jesus' baptism, and left Jesus before His death. That way Christ (as God) would not suffer, only Jesus would suffer. What verses in the Bible would prove that wrong?
A: Besides 1 John 1:22, here are other verses specifically saying either "Christ" or "Christ Jesus" (but not just "Jesus") would suffer and die.
Luke 24:26 "Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?"
Luke 24:46 "This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day."
Acts 3:18 "But this is how God fulfilled what he had foretold through all the prophets, saying that his Christ would suffer."
Acts 17:3 "...explaining and proving that the Christ had to suffer and rise from the dead. 'This Jesus I am proclaiming to you is the Christ,'..."
Acts 26:22b-23 "I [Paul] am saying nothing beyond what the prophets and Moses said would happen - that the Christ would suffer and, as the first to rise from the dead, would proclaim light to his own people and to the Gentiles."
Romans 3:24-25 "...the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement through faith in his blood."
Romans 5:6 "Christ died for he ungodly"
Romans 5:8b "While we were still sinners, Christ died for us."
Romans 6:3 "...Or don't you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?"
2 Corinthians 1:5a "For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives,..."
There are more also, but you get the point.
How much of this was written in the time of Cerinthus. Cerinthus was likely towards the end of John's life, so probably most of the New Testament (excluding Revelation) was written by then. Even if Cerinthus had not been aware of the other scriptures though, he was aware of what the apostles (including John) taught, and Cerinthus chose to teach something totally different from what they said. Platonic Greeks believed that since God was perfect, He was not subject to passion (feeling) or suffering and God could not suffer. Cerinthus came up with a way that Christ could be God and yet God could still not suffer. Many would follow after Cerinthus because he could harmonize their pre-Christian reasoning with the gospel. Some things should not be harmonized.
See The Expositor's Bible Commentary vol.12 p.325 for more info.
Q: In 1 Jn 2:25 and 1 Pet 1:9, is eternal life something Christians are only promised, or is it something Christians already have as in Eph 1:4?
A: Both. This is a repeat of the discussion on Ephesians 1:13.
The Bible implies that God is timeless as well as within time. For a timeless God, the answer is all three: past, present, and future.
Chuck Swindoll has written an excellent Bible study booklet on salvation discussing these aspects.
Past foreknowledge and predestination aspects: Before time began, God, knew the end from the beginning and all our days (Psalm 139:16; Isaiah 44:7; Ephesians 1:4; Titus 1:2).
Present event aspects: When we heard the word of truth, and called upon the Lord (Romans 10:9-10), we have become a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17). Hebrews 4:2 and Acts 10:44 also show the present aspects.
Present continuing aspects: As we work out in our lives the salvation that is in us, God is in the process of transforming our lives (Philippians 2:12-13; 1 Peter 2:2; Hebrews 3:14; 4:11; 6:11).
Future hope aspects: We long for the completion of our salvation (Hebrews 9:15,28; Romans 8:23-25; 1 Peter 1:4-5,9,13; 1 Corinthians 15:50-53; 2 Corinthians 5:5).
See Hard Sayings of the Bible p.645-647 for more info.
Q: In 1 Jn 2:28 what does the word translated "confidence" really mean?
A: The Greek word here, parrhesian, is also used in Colossians 3:21; 5:14; and Hebrews 4:16; 10:19. The Expositor's Bible Commentary vol.12 p.328 says that confidence is not a very close translation, because it is too weak of a word compared to the Greek. Perhaps a better translation would be "certain confidence" or "confidence your life can depend on".
Q: In 1 Jn 2:28, what is the tense of the verb phrase "not be ashamed"?
A: Greek is usually very precise in its tenses, but in this particular the phrase can have one of two meanings.
Middle voice: It can mean "not be ashamed" or "unashamed, or
Passive voice: "not be put to shame"
But perhaps both are true. Some people can feel ashamed for what they did on earth. But other people even if they did not initially feel ashamed, God can put them to shame for what they did.
See The Expositor's Bible Commentary vol.12 p.328 for more info.
Q: In 1 Jn 2:28, what is special about the word "appears"?
A: This Greek word, parousia, is found only in this verse in the New Testament, but the Greeks were well familiar with this term. This was the term used to describe the festivities that accompanied a king making an official visit. See The Expositor's Bible Commentary vol.12 p.328 for more info.
Q: In 1 Jn 3:1, what exactly would it mean to be the son of somebody important in ancient times?
A: It would often mean at least five things.
a) It would mean an inheritance someday.
b) It would likely mean you would be well-taken care of now, with money, food, and a place to stay.
c) It often would mean Roman citizenship, and the privileges it bestowed on your and your descendants.
d) It would often mean a good education.
e) It might also entail an unpleasant aspect. Typically a well-educated slave would be assigned as your pedagogue, or instructor. He would teach you grammar, speaking, history, the classics, and other subjects. You would want to learn, because he would likely be given the authority to beat and punish you when you did not.
Q: Why does 1 Jn 3:1 indicate that we might feel we are not understood?
A: 1 John 3:1 says the world does not know or understand us, because it does not know God. The world often cannot fathom what makes us tick? Many years ago a co-worker asked me, "If you don't drink, take drugs, or fool around (immorally), what do you do for fun?" If you are not chasing the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, or the pride of life, then what is there worth chasing?
But we chase after God, and seek Him with all of our heart. We know, that ultimately, the joy we get from dwelling with God will be greater than all the pleasures we can have for a season on this earth.
Q: In 1 Jn 3:1-2, are female Christians called "sons of God", too?
A: Yes. Galatians 3:28 shows that there is no male or female in Christ but all are considered "sons of God" The reason for this concept, that females are "sons" of God too, might be due to two things.
1. In the Greek culture, daughters were not thought as important as sons.
2. As a carryover from the Hebrew language, there was no Hebrew word for "children", but the word "sons" including sons and daughters. This is according to an article in Christianity Today 10/27/1997 p.35.
See the discussion on Galatians 3:28 for more info.
Q: In 1 Jn 3:2, how will we be like Jesus?
A: We will Jesus as a reflection is like the original.
In character, we are called to be Christ-like. In heaven we will be sinless.
In love for God, we love because God first loved us
In love for others, we show forth God's love as ambassadors of Christ.
While we will never be worshipped or become God, we are children of God, and will inherit the glory and lavish riches God will bestow on His children.
Q: In 1 Jn 3:3, how do we purify ourselves, when God purifies us?
A: While God has the power, we have the responsibility of accessing that power. Saying God is pure and I am a sinner, so I am just going to have to remain in my sin, is just as unbiblical, and saying we can become sinless in this life. Saying that sanctification is all God, and we have nothing to do is just as unbiblical as saying we can purify ourselves without God. Paul shows this antinomy well in Philippians 2:12-13, "Wherefore, my beloved ones, as you always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, carry to its ultimate conclusion [likeness to the Lord Jesus] your own salvation with a wholesome, serious caution and trembling, for God is the One who is constantly putting forth His energy in you, both in the form of your being desirous of and of your doing His good pleasure." (Wuest's Expanded Translation)
We don't purify ourselves by trying to focus on "not sinning" or even trying to focus on obeying laws. We purify ourselves, and obey Christ's law, by focusing on Jesus.
Q: In 1 Jn 3:6, what is the difference between sin and lawlessness?
A: Actually sin is lawlessness. There was an old game, called Dungeons and Dragons, where a character could be good or evil, and lawful or lawless. So a character could be "lawless good" or "lawful evil". Teaching that people can be either of these is nonsensical in God's eyes. If you do not follow God's commands, you are not godly. Even if you do follow God's commands, but you don't follow His command to love your neighbor, then don't kid yourself; you are not godly either. It has been said that there is never any command to love your brother in all of Gnostic literature.
Q: In 1 Jn 3:4-6; 1 Jn 3:9, and 1 Jn 5:18, do we have to be sinless, or have no sin, to be saved?
A: No, otherwise, how would John write 1 John 1:8? While the KJV and NKJV translate these passages in 1 John as "...doth not commit sin..." and "...does not sin...", they do not convey the fact that the Greek word is in the continuous tense. The Wuest New Testament translates 1 John 3:9, "Everyone who has been born out of God with the present result that he is a born-one of God does not habitually commit sin...". The NIV translates 1 John 3:9, "No one who is born of God will continue to sin..." Williams Translates this "practices sin" and "makes a practice of sinning". The NASB and uNASB translate it, "No one who is born of God practices sin..." The NET Bible translates this, "Everyone who has been fathered by God does not practice sin." When Critics Ask p.539 translates this, "Whoever is born of God does not continually practice sin." Geisler and Howe explain the difference as follows: "If a pig and a lamb fall into the mud, the pig wants to stay there, but the lamb wants to get out. Both a believer and an unbeliever can fall into the same sin, but a believer cannot stay in it and feel comfortable." 2 Chronicles 6:36 also says that all sin. See 1001 Bible Questions Answered p.71-75 and Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.428-429 for more info.
Q: In 1 Jn 3:8, I thought Jesus came to earth to die for our sins, so why is it He came to destroy the devil's work?
A: Both are true. The devil is the prince of this world, and 1 John 5:19b says that the whole world is under the control of the evil one. Jesus came to this hostile world to destroy the devil's work by dying on the cross for us and rising from the dead. Jesus came that we might have life in John 10:10.
Q: Why does 1 Jn 3:9 say those born of God do not commit sin, since 2 Chr 6:36 shows that all are sinners? (The Muslim Ahmad Deedat brought this up.)
A: The tense of the Greek word 1 John 3:9 and other places in 1 John means "continue to sin." A person did not need to know Greek to figure this out though. 1 John 1:8 says that all sin. I do not know why Deedat brought up 2 Chronicles 6:36, to try to pit 1 John against 2 Chronicles, when 1 John itself teaches us plainly that everyone sins. 1 John 2:2,14 and 4:10 also show that we sin.
Q: In 1 Jn 3:10,14-18, 23-24, if a Christian hates or does not always love others, will he or she go to Hell?
A: There is a difference between not always loving someone as much as you should and hating the person. While we should hate evil (Psalm 45:7; Proverbs 15:27), hatred of another person should not be in the heart of any Christian.
However, Christians do not love perfectly. Genuine Christians still sin, and some sin greatly. However, true Christians repent of their sin, which means they are sorry for their sin, they confess their sin to God, and decide not to commit it again.
Q: Does 1 Jn 3:10 contradict God saying He loved Jacob but hated Esau?
A: No, for two reasons.
1. Hypothetically speaking, even if God had absolutely no love at all for some one (which is false according to Psalm 145:8,13), God is not required to obey the commands He gives His creatures.
2. "Loving Jacob and hating Esau" was a Hebrew idiom showing that Jacob was loved more and received blessings Esau did not receive, as Now That's a Good Question p.570 says. See the discussion on Romans 9:13 for more info.
Q: In 1 Jn 3:10,15, is there anybody you really despise or hate? Is there anybody that, if they repented and believed in Christ, and then died and went to Heaven, you would be disappointed? If so, what could this verse be saying to you?
A: If you would be disappointed to find out that a particular person repented and got saved, that is a sign that you are the one lost, if the love of God is not in your heart. Any wrong that anybody did to us on earth, is not as great as our sin is before a perfectly holy God. But God forgave us our sins and we should see how, relatively speaking, how small the wrongs people do to us really are. I would rather people do a lot of wrong things to me and be saved, than have nobody do anything wrong to me and be lost.
Q: In 1 Jn 3:12, how did Cain belong to the evil one? Was it because he murdered his brother Abel?
A: It does not say Cain belonged to the evil one because he killed his brother. Rather, it says that Cain killed his brother because he was a child of the devil. Cain's actions showed that his heart was bad. But evil actions tend to solidify an evil heart.
Q: In 1 Jn 3:16-17, compared to the average person at work, or in organizations you belong too, would you be considered more loving or less loving? Why does it matter?
A: Some people may perceive all Christians to be judgmental, not matter what we do; and that does not matter here; they are outliers. But if most people do not perceive you as loving, then what kind of witness are you to God's love? For people who are not yet willing to go anywhere near a Christian fellowship, you may be the only love of Christ that they see. Hopefully what they see is good, pure, and attractive.
15. In 1 Jn 3:16-17, in the world today people might not even know what true love is. What is the difference between love and sentimentality? What ultimately is love?
A: Sentimentality is having nice, loving feelings towards God or someone else. While love often has that too, love is more than that. Love is doing something to express your love.
It is one thing to get together with someone to do something enjoyable together, like sports, but it is another thing to know they would come to you if it was not fun for them, but you needed help. When we were ungodly and unlovely, Christ died for us in Romans 5:6-8.
You will appear to have lots of friends if someone's association with you is financially profitable for them. But how many friends do you have who would share their material possession with you, to their own loss, as 1 John 3:17 says? But to have friends like this, you need to be a friend like this.
If your friend needed to hear something that was unpleasant, would you tell them, or just keep things pleasant. If something you say might jeopardize their friendship with you, but it is really important for them to hear it, then you need to decide: do you love the friendship more, or love the friend more. Sentimentality may look like love, but it separates from love here, because sentimentality goes with what is pleasant, and love goes with what is best for the other person.
Ultimately 1 John 3:18 says that Biblical love in an action verb, and it is based on truth.
Q: In 1 Jn 3:16-18, how do you express love?
A: There is a story of a young kid who for his Mom's birthday bought here a toy fire truck. Many adults give that way; giving others what they want. That is not loving the person, but projecting yourself on that person. Truly expressing your love is giving them what they need or want. Sometimes we have to search to see the best way to express our love. Sometimes what someone might most want from us is not a material present, but the gift of our time.
But is love always giving a person what they want, - especially if they are an alcoholic or a drug addict? Expressing you love is not only giving people the essentials that they need, but also giving them the good things that they want. Love can also be "tough love" in denying them things they want, even good things, when it is best for them not to have it at that time.
Q: In 1 Jn 3:16-18, we can see how to love in action, but what does it mean to love in truth? Can you love falsely, or have a relationship in pretense?
A: Loving in truth can mean not loving in pretense, not pretending to love someone because they are wealthy, or attractive, or has powerful connections. It can also mean not putting up a false front to others, but letting them love you, warts and all. You won't feel very loved if you know that someone else is only loving a false appearance of you that you project.
Loving in truth can also mean doing what is best for the person, and being truthful, even when it hurts, or you feel it might jeopardized the friendship.
Q: In 1 Jn 3:20, why does John feel the need to mention that God is greater than our hearts?
A: While everyone knows that in their head, sometimes people can feel that the guilt or shame in their hearts is too great for God to forgive. John reminds us that God is the Lord of the way we feel, and when He proclaims something, it is true regardless of how we feel.
Q: In 1 Jn 3:19-21 and 1 Jn 5:13, how do Christians derive confidence (or lack of confidence) towards God?
A: 2 Corinthians 13:5-6 says we have the responsibility to examine ourselves, as well as teachers like Paul, to see that we are in the faith. There are at least three complementary ways to examine ourselves.
Doctrine: 1 John 5:9-12 says that anyone who (truly) believes in the Son of God has the testimony of God's truth written in their hearts.
Love: 1 John 3:16-18 says that if we "get" that Jesus loved us to much to sacrifice his life for us, we can love others so much to lay down our lives them. If we are not willing to lay down our lives for others, then that can be a sign we don't really "get" what Christ did for us.
Obedience: John 14:515,23 and 1 John 3:4-7 shows that if we love God we obey Jesus' teaching. One could count this as a subset of love, but since some try to love without obeying, this merits its own distinct point.
Q: In 1 Jn 3:21, how do some people's hearts condemn them?
A: When we examine ourselves and see that we come up short, we can do one of three things. We can shrink back from God because of our feelings of guilt and shame, we can give up and try t get distracted by other things, or we can draw nearer to God for healing and sanctification. Let us draw near to God (Hebrews 10:22), regardless of how we feel after we examine ourselves.
Q: In 1 Jn 3:22-23 how does obeying God's commands relate to believing in the name of His Son, and loving one another?
A: We can ask in faith, without our hearts condemning us, and God will give us anything we ask, because we will ask for good things, because we obey God's commands and please Him. It does not say we feel like pleasing him, or have the intention of pleasing Him, but do what pleases Him.
Q: In 1 Jn 3:24, what does 1 John 3 tell us it means to live in God and God in us?
A: Part of the fruit of being in God and God in us is that we believe, obey, and love God, knowing how much God loves us and what Christ did for us. As God loves others, we are to love others too. The source of being in God and God in us is the Holy Spirit, which God gives to all believers.
Q: Does 1 Jn 4:1-3 refer to spirits or to people?
A: This verse is applicable to any source of teaching, whether it be a mystical message from a spirit, or a word from a person, whether spoken or written. If a person claims to speak by a spirit, then testing them is one and the same.
Q: In 1 Jn 4:1, since some people are trying to find God, why would God knowingly allow false prophets?
A: The way God has chosen to set up Creation and allow a fallen world, God permits many things that break His heart, as Matthew 23:37-39 shows. God did not make us to be robots, but gives us choices (both explicit and implicit) on folowing Him. For those who don't want to follow God, God allows Satan to set up counterfeits so that people will feel more comfortable with their choices. But God knows who are His, and God will ensure that His elect will either not fall away into one of these, or when they do fall into one of these coutnerfecits, they will come back. See also the three questions on Habakkuk 1:13.
Q: In 1 Jn 4:2, is every spirit or teacher from God if they say that Jesus came in the flesh?
A: No. As in 1 John 5:1, this is a necessary, but not a sufficient condition for godly instructors.
Q: In 1 Jn 4:2 if every spirit (meaning prophet) that confess Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God, what about Mohammed? (The Muslim Ahmad Deedat brought this up.)
A: Deedat adds that in the Qur'an Sura 3:45 and many other references called Jesus "Christ". First let's correct a few minor errors, and then the major point.
Minor point 1: The Qur'an calls Jesus Masih which translated is Messiah, which is equivalent to "Christ" in a couple of places. It is not actually many places.
Minor point 2: Another Muslim apologist I have corresponded with (Fareed) rejected that Jesus is the Messiah. However, he was not only disagreeing with Deedat, he was contradicting the Qur'an. So you cannot always go by what a Muslim apologist says.
Minor point 3: Many Muslims put stock in a book written in the Middle Ages called the Gospel of Barnabas. But it too denies that Jesus is the Messiah, again contradicting both the Bible and the Qur'an.
Major point: It does not good to call Jesus the Christ/Messiah/Masih, if you redefine the term. The Old Testament showed that the Messiah was the Promised, Anointed One, who would save us from our sins. The Qur'an does not claim Jesus saved anyone from anything. Mohammed himself taught that Jesus would not even intercede for us, but would excuse Himself because of His faults. Only Mohammed would be the one interceding for the people. This is found in the hadiths in Sahih Muslim vol.1 book 1 no.378 p.129 and Ibn-i-Majah vol.5 book 37 no.4312 p.528-530
Q: Does 1 Jn 4:2-3 talking about Jesus having flesh before or after His resurrection, or both?
A: Both. According to When Cultists Ask p.298 and When Critics Ask p.539-540, John uses the perfect tense ("has come") in Greek. The perfect tense means past and continuing action or state. In 2 John 7, John says that deceivers deny "Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh" using the present tense.
Luke 24:39; John 2:19-22; 20:26-27; and Acts 2:30-31 also demonstrate Jesus had a physical body after His resurrection.
Q: In 1 Jn 4:4, who is the "them" that Christians overcome?
A: This does not refer to impersonal struggles or sins; this is personal. This not only refers to the false prophets, but but primarily this refers to the spirits behind the false teachers. We are to recognize and overcome believing in these false spirits, just as we are to overcome other temptations.
Q: In 1 Jn 4:5 what is the viewpoint of the world?
A: The world has multiple conflicting views, but in general whatever smoenoe thinks is right in his own eyes, he or she can do it. A variant of this is they can do it as long as it does not overtly hurt others. A second view is "YOLO" you only live once, so take all the pleasure you can right now. A third view is that you should not be judgmental of any other view, - that is, except for Christianity.
Q: In 1 Jn 4:5, why does the world listen to false teachers more than Christians here?
A: They listen because they are deceived, or else self-deceived in three ways: mind, emotions, and will.
Mind: Given their assumptions and beliefs, it can make more sense to live for know. Some non-Christians are very skeptical; they want to belief that nothing is close to certain, so they live their life "hedging their bets". As one t-shirt said, "life is uncertain, so eat dessert first." Other non-Christians are different; they are extremely believing, in things they should not be believing. If something was false, then their belief system would come crashing down, so for that reason, they don't want it to be false.
Emotions: Certain things are more pleasant to believe than other things. If two things are considered equally true, then some people would firmly believe the more pleasant one, just because it is more pleasant.
Will: Some people willfully choose to believe something or be a part of something. There were some Mormons in Utah who did not believe Mormonism was true. But they were still Mormon because if they left, their wife would leave them, and take the kids. If someone leaves Mormonism, their Mormon boss could fire them, or they might not make so many sales to Mormon clients. In Islam, according to Sharia law, when a man leaves Islam he is to be killed if he won't return. Some Muslims think the same for women, and others say that no, she should just be locked up indefinitely.
Q: In 1 Jn 4:7, since God is love, doesn't that mean that love is God and everything done for love is automatically done for God as Christian liberals claim?
A: No. As one Christian put it, Our culture has taken the truth that God is love, and turned it around to make love their god. Something done for the love of money is not done for God, as Matthew 6:24 shows. One example of it being evil to love people more than God is Matthew 10:37, where Jesus says, "Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me".
Q: In 1 Jn 4:9 how do we live through Jesus?
A: There are at least four ways this is true.
Now on earth we will live knowing we are heaven-bound. We will stop doing the things that displease God, stop saying things He would not want us to say, and want to live to please Him. It is not just that we obey Him, but we will also love Him. We cannot do this on our own, but we live through Jesus by the Holy Spirit living inside us.
After death, we have no right or merit of our own to go to heaven. But Jesus paid the ransom for us, and through Him we have the right to live eternally with Him, co-seated with Christ (Ephesians 2:6).
Our past is wiped clean. We can live without guilt for the past things we have done. If what you have done is not as evil as what Saul of Tarsus did (before he became Paul), then you too can experience the freedom from guilt that Paul had.
Others should see our obedient love for God, even in times when we are not sharing the gospel. We should also accept other believers, just as Christ accepted us (Romans 15:7) and not regard anyone from a wordly point of view (2 Corinthians 5:16)
In humility we see that we are holding the eternal treasures in jars of clay (2 Corinthians 4:7). We have nothing to boast of for what we have done (Philippians 3:4-7) but we can only boast of what Christ has done through the cross (Galatians 6:14).
Q: In 1 Jn 4:10, do we need to be concerned about loving God, since God has the initiative?
A: 1 John 4:10 cannot mean we do not need to love God, because that would be contrary to 1 John 4:19-21. Also, both Calvinists and non-Calvinists agree that predestination in Ephesians 1:5 and other places does not mean believers do not love God, contrary to scripture.
Rather, both 1 John 4:10 and 4:19 show the order and initiative, in two complementary ways. When mankind was lost, ignorant, and unloving toward God, God loved us and sent Jesus to die for us. When we individually were disinterested in God or even active enemies of God, God still loved us first. The idea God loves those who love Him first, because of their love for Him, is turned on its head by 1 John 4:10,19.
Q: In 1 Jn 4:12, how has no one seen God apart from Jesus, since Isaiah saw the Lord in Isaiah 6:1?
A: In 1 John 4:12, no one has seen God in the flesh, a part from Jesus manifesting Himself on earth. In Isaiah 6, this is understood as a vision. Even in this vision though, Isaiah felt ruined because of the closeness to the holiness of God and his sinful nature.
Q: In 1 Jn 4:13-15, how do we live in God and God in us?
A: They are parallel phrases here.
We live in God: Our life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ appears, we will appear too. (Colossians 3:3-4) For those who have given their lives to God, God shares His life with them.
God lives in us: God lives inside of us through the Holy Spirit, who is also called the Spirit of Christ. We are like His hands on earth, and the expression of Christ ot others. God lives in us, and can see things as we experience them.
Q: In 1 Jn 4:13-15, why do you think God made us, since He already had the angels and animals?
A: Unlike angels and animals, only men and women are said to be made in the image of God. We can reflect, in a finite way,some of God's attributes, such as love. God can live in us, such that He could to a degree experience what we experience, and see the world through our eyes.
For His glory: God created His children for His glory. Isaiah 43:7; 61:34.
People to love: God greatly loves us. Psalm 145:9,17; 1 John 3:1.
To be His children: 1 John 3:1-2; Galatians 3:28, Romans 8:15-17
To live in us: 1 John 4:12-16; Romans 8:9-11
God desires that none perish. Ezekiel 18:23,32; 33:11; 2 Peter 3:9. Yet, God feels no regret about creating those who, given the opportunity, freely choose to reject Him. God foreknew that they would sin, and still chose not to interfere with their choice or "uncreate" them.
Perhaps part of the reason God chose to create beings who would be in His image is similar to the reason parents choose to have children. Yes, the children will be expensive, with diapers and food, and yes the children will cause heartache by their ills, hurts, and disobedience, but through it all, the love makes it worthwhile.
Q: In 1 Jn 4:17 how is there "incomplete love" vs. love made complete or perfected in us?
A: Love can be incomplete in knowledge, or incomplete in commitment, but the two often go together.
Knowledge helps complete love: A person's love for God can grow when they know more about God, His care for them, and His precious promises. As you love God more you will want to express your love more by your commitment to pleasing Him.
Commitment helps complete love: If a person is committed to loving a person, then they will act accordingly. Usually then the feelings will folllow.
Unconditional love: We can love God and others conditionally. Some have left the faith because they wanted to follow God, - as long as their circumstances went OK for them. It is a good thing Job was not that way. Some would follow God as long as God did not take their spouse from them. It is a good thing Ezekiel and Hudson Taylor were not that way. Some would follow God as long as God would protect their family from evil men. It is a good thing Corie ten Boom was not that way. We may come to realize that we don't have it in us to have either uncodntional love for God, or unconditional love for others, including those who have done us wrong. We may come to realize that we are not able to love unconditionally, without God loving through us.
Q: In 1 Jn 4:18, since "love casts out all fear", why are we to fear God in 2 Cor 5:11?
A: There are two kinds of fear.
We are to fear God, with a fear that is compatible with love. Christians should fear God in the sense of standing in awe of Him and respecting His justice, knowledge, and power. Our fear should be the kind that results in us praising God in Psalm 22:23. Because there is no way to have eternal life apart from God's grace, God has a far even greater power over everyone than just over physical life and death.
Some verses that emphasize the proper way to fear God are Job 28:28; Ps 15:4; 34:11; 40:1-3; Proverbs 1:7; 2:4. Some verses that show it is wrong not to fear God are Ps 55:19; Proverbs 1:29; 9:10; 10:27; 15:33; and Jeremiah 2:19.
We are not to fear anyone else. David did not fear his enemies in Psalm 3:6 Psalm 23:4 says we are to fear no evil, and Psalm 27:1-3 says we are not to fear others. Other verses are Ps 46:2; 49:5; Proverbs 29:25.
See When Critics Ask p.540 for more info.
Q: In 1 Jn 4:19-20, why is it impossible to genuinely say you love God when you hate your brother?
A: Scripture does not explicitly say, but there might be a couple of reasons for this.
Comparative difficulty: If we are not able to love our Christian brothers and sisters, whom we can see, touch, and talk with directly, it would be more difficult to love God, whom we cannot (yet) set, touch and talk face-to-face.
What is inside us: If God Spirit gives us love toward others, and we do not have that love towards others, that would appear that we do not have God's Spirit in us, and we are not saved.
Q: In 1 Jn 4:20-21, how are we supposed to love others?
A: We are supposed to love others in almost every way. We are to love in actions, not just words (James 2:14-16), sacrificially, and as God loves us (1 John 4:19). Love is the most important of Christian virtues (1 Corinthians 13, especially verses 1-3, 13).
The only way we are not supposed to love, is to love anyone, even our own family greater than we love God. If our alleged love for someone causes us to disobey God, then that is misguided or wrong love.
Q: Does 1 Jn 5:1 mean that everyone who believes that Jesus is the Messiah is going to Heaven?
A: No. As in 1 Jn 4:2, this is a necessary, but not a sufficient condition to be a believer. It is interesting that the Greek language has not one but two word for believing. One word is used in the Bible for a life-trusting dependence, and the other word is used in the Bible for mere intellectual assent.
Q: In 1 Jn 5:1b, does the "child" here refer to Jesus or other believers?
A: While it is true that those who love the Father should love Jesus as well, that is not what this verse is says. This refers to other believers for three reasons.
1 John 4:20 contrasts loving God with hating your brother
1 John 4:21 commands all who love God to love their brother.
1 John 5:2 says we are to love the children (plural) of God.
So 1 John 5:1b, sandwiched between the end of chapter 4 and 1 John 5:2 is discussing the same topic as the other verses. Commentators seem unanimous in saying this refers to other believers.
Q: In 1 Jn 5:1b, how does everyone who loves the Father love the child as well?
A: The Father loves us, and if you love the Father, you will love those whom He loves. Jesus commands us to love our brothers and sisters.
We are to be one (John 14:20). We are to be brought to complete unity (John 17:23) so that the world will know that the Father sent Jesus. We are not to try to create unity, but rather to preserve the unit of the Spirit (Ephesians 4:3). Finally, practically speaking, if you are going to spend eternity in heaven with all of your brothers and sisters in Christ, you had better learn to start both liking and loving them now!
Q: In 1 Jn 5:3-4 why are loving God and obeying His commands linked to closely here?
A: John is only echoing what Jesus said in John 14:21,23-24. If you desire to not express your love, then one could question if you have love in the first place. One of the main ways we express our love to God is by obeying His commands. If someone says we live under grace, and as such do not have to obey anything we don't want to, tell them they need to read John 14 again.
A corollary to this is the Old Testament laws. We can look at many laws and see wisdom in them for hygiene, preserving their identity as a people, etc. But we must not let those things blind us to the fact that some laws and rituals served no natural purpose benefitting the people. Rather, it was what God gave so that they could express their love for Him through their obedience. Now we don't let the sides of men's hair grow long, and celebrate new moons and animal sacrifices today, but we still express our love by obeying the commands God has given us now.
Q: In 1 Jn 5:4-5, what is our victory that overcomes the world?
A: Our victory has three parts: the winning of victory, the declaration of victory, and the achieving of victory. Christ won the victory of His people over sin by His resurrection. We likewise declare our victory when we accept Christ, and show the world through the declaration of our baptism. We achive that victory, in this life, by our triumphant struggle over sin.
Q: In 1 Jn 5:6, what is the water and blood by which Jesus came?
A: Before answering this question, let's first discuss how to answer this question. We don't need to look for some symbolism that would have been lost on first and second century believers; it would be symbolism they would understand. Second, we can look for similar symbolism in John's writings, such as we must be born of water and the Spirit in John 3:5, and Jesus giving living water in John 4:10. Third, we might consider who John is speaking against in the rest of the book, proto-Gnostics who denied Jesus Christ coming in the flesh (1 John 4:2).
The answer is that Jesus came by blood, in the flesh, and that flesh was baptized with water. Cerinthus wanted to separate the human Jesus from the divine Christ, but John is emphasize that is was not just Jesus, not just Christ, but Jesus Christ with no separation in John 5:6. Tertullian (198-220 A.D.) was the first known to teach this.
As for other views, Augustine of Hippo said this referred to the blod and water from Jesus' side in John 19:34. Calvin and Luther thought it referred to our water baptism and our taking of the Lord's Supper. Plummer and Candlish said this related to the Old Testament blood sacrifices and water for purification. See The Expositor's Bible Commentary vol.12 p.350 for more info. On p.353 it adds that regardless of what it means in 1 John 5:6, in 1 John 5:6 water and blood refer to baptism and the Lord's Supper.
Q: Was 1 Jn 5:7-8 added to the Bible?
A: This was an addition that was not in the original manuscripts. As the General Introduction to the Bible p.484 says, "In fact, the acceptance of the longer rendering as a genuine part of the text of 1 John violates almost every major canon of textual criticism." However, Christians who prefer the King James Version generally accept this passage, and here are the arguments for both sides.
Added Later view: We will look first at the manuscripts that have 1 John and do not have it, and then at the Church writers who do not refer to it.
Bible Manuscripts and manuscript families that have 1 John 5:6-9 but do not have this addition.
Vaticanus [B] 325-350 A.D.
Sinaiticus [Si] 340-350 A.D.
Bohairic Coptic [Boh] 3rd/4th century
Alexandrinus [A] c.450 A.D.
Sahidic Coptic [Sah] 3rd/4rth century
Some Armenian [Arm] from 5th century
Ethiopic [Eth] from c.500 A.D.
Georgian [Geo] from 5th century
Byzantine Lectionary (K, L, P)
048 original, 33, 81, 322, 323, 436, 945, 1067, 1175, 1241, 1243, 1292, 1409, 1505, 1611, 1735, 1739, 1846, 1881, 2138, 2298, 2344, 2464,
Psi, 1844, 1852 have a slightly different grammatical ending for witnessing.
L833 has "baptism" for "water"
The following church writers quote from 1 John or discuss the Trinity, and never mention this addition.
Irenaeus (182-188 A.D.) refers to 6 verses in 1 John
Tertullian (198-220 A.D.)
Clement of Alexandria (193-217/220 A.D.)
Hippolytus (222-235/6 A.D.)
Origen (225-254 A.D.)
Cyprian of Carthage (c.246-258 A.D.) However, The Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers Second Series vol.7 footnote gamma p.323 is interesting. It says in part, "They [the additional words] have been thought to be cited by S[aint] Cyprian in his work on the Unity of the Church; and this citation, if a fact, would be a most important one, as it would throw back their reception to an early date. But Ticschendorf (Gk. Test., Ed., viii, ad. Loc.) gives reasons for believing that the quotation is only apparent, and is really of the last clause of verse 8."
Dionysius of Alexandria (246-265 A.D.)
Jerome (373-420 A.D.)
Gregory Nanzianzen (330-391 A.D.) in proving the Trinity refers to this verse but does not have the addition. "What about John then, when in his Catholic Epistle he says that there are Three that bear witness, the Spirit and the Water and the Blood?" On The Holy Spirit ch.19 p.323-324 (The Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers Second Series vol.7) Gregory could have naturally quoted the addition, if he had been aware of it in his scripture.
Ambrose of Milan (340-397 A.D.) also quoted 1 John 5:6 in discussing the Holy Spirit and the Trinity, and he did not quote 1 John 5:7. The only reasonable explanation is because it was not there.
Augustine of Hippo also refers to 1 John without these verses.
Quodvultdeus (c.453 A.D.)
Therefore, it was added in the King James Version, the Vulgate, and in religious writings starting about 380 A.D.
Today's Handbook for Solving Bible Difficulties p.50-52 mentions that it was only in 8 Greek manuscripts. Most importantly, in four of the eight it was in the margin, not in the text. In other words, it was a note somebody added in their margin, like Christians make notes today. Eventually, somebody copied the margin note into the text. Also, while the church writers quoting 1 John extensively, and wrote much defending the Trinity, not a single one of them quoted 1 John 5:7-8 to defend the Trinity. The passage is also absent in Syriac, Coptic, Armenian, Ethiopic, Arabic, Slavonic, and apparently everything except Latin. However, it is not even in the early form of Old Latin/Italic or the Vulgate as issued by Jerome, according to A Textual Commentary on the New Testament 2nd edition p.648.
Both When Critics Ask p.540-541 and The Complete Book of Bible Answers p.73-74 add that the only reason it is any late Greek manuscripts at all is that Erasmus was pressured to include it in his third edition of the Greek New Testament of 1522. Erasmus himself omitted it in his Fourth and Fifth editions 3/1/1516 and 1519. (See the New International Dictionary of the Bible p.225 for more info on this.) Erasmus said he would include it if and only if a single Greek manuscript could be found that had it. After Erasmus made his second edition, one was found. It is called Codex Gregory 61, copied by a Franciscan friar named Froy (or Roy) written in 1520 (note the date). Since Erasmus did not know of the source, he added it in his third edition in 1522 because the Catholic Church wanted it added. A printer, Fayerabend, added it to Luther's Bible in 1574.
Greek scholar Bruce Metzger in Textual Commentary Second edition p.715-716 has a more extensive discussion.
Summary of added later view: The General Introduction to the Bible p.484 says, "In fact, the acceptance of the longer rendering as a genuine part of the text of 1 John violates almost every major canon of textual criticism."
Original view: It must be admitted that the three earliest Greek manuscripts that have 1 John 5:7-8 are dated the 10th and 12th and 14th centuries, it was not in the Byzantine manuscript family, and it was not even in the original Latin Vulgate. It is in the following miniscules:
61 - codex Montfortianus, early 16th century (61 and 629 have a slightly different reading than the others.)
88variant - 14th century manuscript, and 1 John 5:7-8 was added later in 16th century handwriting at Naples
221variant - Variant reading added to a manuscript originally from the 10th century now at Oxford
429variant - a variant added to a 16th century manuscript in Wolfenbuttel
629 - in the text, not a variant reading
636variant - a variant added to a 16th century manuscript in Naples
918 - 16th century manuscript in Escorial, Spain. In the text, not a variant reading
2318 - 18th century manuscript in Bucharest, Rumania. In the text, not a variant reading
In four of the preceding manuscripts it was in the margin as a later addition, not in the main text. With the possible exception of 626, it was not in a single known Greek manuscript prior to the time of Erasmus.
Some Armenian [Arm] from 5th century
Codex Gregory 61 (1520 A.D.) Written after Erasmus said he would not put this in his Bible unless they produced a Greek manuscript that had it in.
The second earliest place it is found is in the work Liber Apologeticus, written by either the Spanish heretic Priscillian or his follower Bishop Instantius around 385 A.D..
It is also in the writings of Varimadum (380 A.D.)
Anonymous Treatise On Rebaptism (250/4-256/7 A.D.) ch.18 Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.5 p.677 refers to 1 John 5:8. However the footnote say that it quotes the Latin formula, not the Greek.
In the writings of Speculum (5th century).
John Cassian, the father of the semi-Pelagian error (435 A.D.).
It is in various Italic versions and in the Clementine version of the Latin vulgate. "testimony/witness on earth, spirit, water and blood, and the three are one in Christ Jesus. And the three bear testimony/witness in heaven, the father, word, and spirit."
Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.375 says it was in the Old Latin/Italic as early as the fifth century, and in the very late miniscule 635 in the margin.
It was in the Latin Bible in the Middle Ages, and in the King James version, and it was accepted by Catholic Church for over 900 years. But it was never accepted in the Greek or Eastern Churches.
Q: Does 1 Jn 5:6-8 mean that since the Holy spirit is a witness along with water and blood, the Holy Spirit is not a living being?
A: No. A witness can be a living being as well as an inanimate object. A common mistake of cults is that since the Holy Spirit has many attributes a human being does not have, therefore (by some stretch of logic) the Holy Spirit cannot have personality. 1 John 5:6-8 shows there are three witnesses to the fact that Jesus had a physical body. The blood refers to His crucifixion, and the Spirit is an inward testimony to Christians. The water refers either to Jesus' baptism by John, or possibly the water surrounding a baby at birth.
Following are various facts the Bible teaches us about the personality of the Holy Spirit.
Parakletos (the comforter, the one along side us). John 14:16,26, John 15:26
Can know the innermost thoughts of God 1 Corinthians 2:10-11
Speaks to us. Acts 13:2, Hebrews 3:7
Reminds us. John 14:26
Like a parent, so we will not be orphans (orphanos in Greek). John 14:18
Guides us. John 16:13
Teaches us. John 14:26 1 Corinthians 2:13
Lives in us. 1 Cor 3:16, 2 Timothy 1:14, Romans 8:9,11, Ephesians 2:22
In our hearts. 2 Corinthians 1:22 Galatians 4:6
He intercedes for us (inanimate objects do not pray or intercede). Romans 8:26-27
Can be insulted. Hebrews 10:29
Testifies of Christ. John 15:26
Has a mind. Romans 8:27
Can be grieved. Isaiah 63:10, Ephesians 4:30
Makes choices. 1 Corinthians 12:11
Possesses love. Romans 15:30
Can think things are good. Acts 15:28
Searches deep things of God. 1 Corinthians 2:9-10
Groans (and thus cares) for us. Romans 8:26
See When Cultists Ask p.299 and Jehovah's Witnesses Answered Verse by Verse p.21-22 for more info.
Q: In 1 Jn 5:7-8, does the NIV not believe the Trinity because it does not have these words?
A: No, that is a slanderous lie.
One topic of discussion is whether 1 John 5:7-8 should be in our Bibles or not. A second topic of discussion is whether of not the NIV denies the Trinity.
Unfortunately it is a falsehood for you to say the NIV does not believe in the trinity for two reasons.
1) If someone printed a Bible saying where 1 John 5:7-8 said, "printed Bibles are OK", and you [correctly] said that should not be in the Bible because early New Testament manuscripts did not have it, does that mean you are against printed Bibles? Whether or not you believe a statement is different from whether that statement was in the Bible in a particular place.
2) The NIV translators were all Trinitarians who believed the Bible is the Word of God. (By the way, many of the translators of the RSV were questionable.)
3) I hope you don't think that 1 John 5:7-8 is the ONLY evidence on the Trinity in the entire Bible. Other verses that teach the aspects of the Trinity, (One inseparable God, three distinct persons, equal in honor, nature, but having different roles, etc.) are taught in many places, and the NIV has those.
4) 1 John 5:7-8 is in no early New Testament manuscript. It is in only 8 Greek manuscripts total (including
Medieval ones), and four of those it is not in the text but in the margin.
5) 1 John 5:7-8 is not in the Byzantine Lectionary (K, L, P), so I hope you don't think the Byzantine Lectionary denies the Trinity also. In fact, besides those 4, no Greek, Armenian, Syriac, Ethiopic, Coptic or even early Vulgate manuscript has this, so are all of these manuscripts not believing in the Trinity?
6) Finally, many early church writers wrote on the Trinity, and they used pretty much every single verse you could find to support the Trinity. But none of them used 1 John 5:7-8. Church writers who proved the Trinity from scripture (without of course using 1 John 5:7-8); apparently Tertullian, Novatian, Clement of Alexandria, Athanasius, Hilary, and later Augustine, and all the others were not aware of those words. Early church writers referred to 1 John, but did not mention 1 John 5:7-8, include Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, Hippolytus, Origen, Dionysius of Alexandria, Jerome, Gregory Nanzianzen, Ambrose of Milan, Augustine of Hippo, Quodvultdeus.
On the other side, there is an apparent reference from Cyprian of Carthage (c.246-258 A.D.) However, The Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers Second Series vol.7 footnote gamma p.323 is interesting. It says in part, "They [the additional words] have been thought to be cited by S[aint] Cyprian in his work on the Unity of the Church; and this citation, if a fact, would be a most important one, as it would throw back their reception to an early date. But Ticschendorf (Gk. Test., Ed., viii, ad. Loc.) gives reasons for believing that the quotation is only apparent, and is really of the last clause of verse 8."
Regardless though, it would be ridiculous to claim all of these early church writers, many of whom wrote on the Trinity, denied the Trinity because did not refer to 1 John 5:7-8.
So based on those six reasons, in the future if you hear anyone else says the lie that the NIV denies the Trinity, I hope you will correct them. If you say this to others, and if you are an honest Christian, Then I would assume, based on the previous information, that you would stop saying this.
I you agree with that, we can discuss the first topic, or the other verses if you want. If you don't agree, then I think it would be more profitable to talk about what the Bible teaches about honesty and slander first.
Q: In 1 Jn 5:7,8, how could God let a sentence get added to the Bible?
A: 1 John 5:7,8 was likely an added sentence. We know this because we have the testimony of Greek manuscripts. Whether this sentence is in or out, does not change Christian doctrine.
According to Aland et al, it is in the "A" category that this sentence was not in the original manuscript. In other words, the "A" category is "virtually certain" that the 25 disputed words in 1 John 5:7-8 are a later addition.
Muslims in particular should not have much problem with this particular issue. We do not have such corresponding testimony of 'Uthman's changes in the Qur'an because he burned the copies of the Qur'an that others could use to cross-check him. A few survive today, in a Museum in Cairo, and they do show changes.
As an example, 'Ubai bin Ka'b, one of Mohammed's secretaries, has extra suras, and omits about 12 suras in the Qur'an today (The Fihrist p.61 footnotes 43-48). Abu Musa, of Basra, also had a text that was the same as 'Ubai's. (Suyuti, Itqan I, p. 65; Ibn Abi Dawud, Masahif, pp. 180-181, also Noeldeke, Geschichte des Quran's, pp. 33-38.)
Q: In 1 Jn 5:13, how can know we have eternal life, since the hell-bound people in Matthew 7:21-23 thought they knew they had eternal life? In other words, assurance of salvation does not mean much if we can never know if we have false assurance.
A: Three points to consider in the answer.
We can have genuine assurance based on God's grace, not us:
Believers can be confident of their eternal life. 1 John 4:17; 5:11-19; 3:24;4:13; Ephesians 3:12
God not only saves us, He also seals and preserves us. Ephesians 1:13-14; Jude 24; 1 Timothy 1:14
Never forget we were bought at a price, Jesus' blood. 1 Corinthians 6:20; 7:23; 2 Peter 2:1; Acts 20:28
We must believe and confess that Jesus is Lord to be saved. Romans 10:9-13; 1 Peter 1:23
We must call on the Lord to be saved. Acts 2:21; 22:16; Joel 2:32; 1 Corinthians 1:2; Zephaniah 3:9
It is a gift of grace, not earned by works. No merit on our part can save us. Ephesians 2:8-9; 2 Timothy 1:9; Titus 3:5; Acts 26:20; Romans 3:23-24; 4:5; 6:14-15; 9:32; 11:5-6; Galatians 3:2,3,10-14
Real faith bears fruit, because faith without works is dead. James 2:14-26
All true believers work to obey God and express love for God and people. 1 John 3:14-15
People can have a false assurance and counterfeit conversion:
We must examine ourselves, for counterfeit Christians can be deceived. 2 Corinthians 13:5
Believers must be diligent to the very end in order to make their hope sure. Hebrews 6:11
Some can have a false assurance of salvation Jeremiah 17:10, even if they:
Have the form of godliness; know the scriptures. 2 Timothy 3:5; John 5:39-47
Believe (in an intellectual, not a saving sense), are baptized. Acts 8:13,20; James 2:19
At least themselves believed they prophesied in Jesus' name, drove out demons, and performed many mighty miracles. Matthew 7:21-23; 2 Thessalonians 2:9-10
Once escaped the world's corruption by knowing our Lord and Savior.2 Peter 2:17-22
We can and should test our assurance by seeing if our life, experience, and doctrine match what the Bible says.
We are responsible to watch our life and doctrine closely. 2 Timothy 1:14; Colossians 1:23; Proverbs 22:5
Not to follow wisdom of this world. Colossians 2:8-9; James 3:15; 1 Corinthians 1:17-27; 2:6,8,14; 2 Corinthians 1:12
Persevere. Hebrews 10:23,36; Hebrews 12:1,12-13; 1 John 2:24; 1 Corinthians 13:7; Romans 5:3-4; James 1:3-4,12; James 5:11; 2 Peter 1
Q: In 1 Jn 5:14-15, how come we do not always get what we pray for?
A: 1 John 5:14 qualifies this by sayign what we ask "accordng to his will". James 4:3 discusses us not getting what we ask for because it is for our will, but not God's. Also see the discussion on Matthew 7:7-11; 1 Corinthians 12:7, and 1 Corinthians 12:8 (Paul's thorn) for more on the answer.
Q:. In 1 Jn 5:16-17 what is "sin that leads not to death" versus "sin that leads to death"?
A: There are a few different views:
Physical death: Some disobedience is severe enough for God to take the believer home early, as with Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5:1-11, and some Corinthians in 1 Corinthians 11:29-30. When Critics Ask p.541 says that Paul also may have meant this when he wrote 1 Corinthians 5:5 to turn a believer over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh that his spirit may be saved. See also The Complete Book of Bible Answers p.70-72 for more on this view.
X Murder: If a person murders another, some believe we are not at liberty to pray that they be relived from the death penalty. However, this would appear to go against he scriptural example of Saul of Tarsus who after his conversion became Paul. The Believer's Bible Commentary p.2325 mentions this unusual view, without endorsing it.
Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit: Some think this could refer to final spiritual death from blasphemy against he Holy Spirit. The Believer's Bible Commentary p.2325 also mentions this view, without endorsing it.
Spiritual death: Some Christians interpret this as a believer can disobey God for so long that they can lose their salvation. Since John is talking about spiritual, not physical life and death everywhere else, he is probably talking about that here. See Hard Sayings of the Bible p.742-744 for more on this view. Augustine in his Homily 10 on 1 John says, "The 'sin' therefore, of a brother, 'unto death', I suppose to be when, after the acknowledging of God through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, one fights against the brotherhood, and is set on by the fire-brands of hatred against the very grace through which he was reconciled to God." Augustine said this perhaps relates to one of the brethren blaspheming the Holy Spirit. Augustine affirms that this sin is for a Christian to forsake the faith until death. See Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers First Series vol.7 p.527 for this quote.
Apostasy: Some believe this refers to someone abandoning the faith, similar to Hebrews 6. If they die in that state, then ultimately then, they were never chosen as one of God's elect. The Believer's Bible Commentary p.2325 endorses this view. However, there are some people who have abandoned the Christian faith, and then after a period of time returned. It would seem that those people, while they have left, should still be prayed for that they return.
Conclusion: Regardless of whatother meaning some might think this has, it would certainly refer to physical death also.
Q: Does 1 Jn 5:16-17 refer to the Catholic concept of "mortal sins" vs. "venial sins"?
A: No. The Catholic doctrine said that a believer would go to Hell if they committed a mortal sin and died before receiving forgiveness and/or absolution for the sin. They would still go to Heaven, though with a longer stay in purgatory, for non-mortal, or venial sins.
The Bible teaches that Jesus completely saved us from all our sins in Hebrews 7:25. While genuine believers will want to repent from all their sins, it is God's grace, not our actions, that bring us to Heaven.
Q: In 1 Jn 5:18, is Satan unable to "touch us", or can Satan "sift" us as wheat in Lk 22:31?
A: Satan can do nothing without God's allowing it. As the book of Job shows, Satan had to ask permission to externally affect Job's circumstances and body.
However, perhaps Satan's greatest power lies in deceit and temptation. To a certain extent, Satan's influence over a Christian is only to the degree that the Christian "gives an ear" to listen to Satan.
See When Critics Ask p.541-542 and Haley's Alleged Discrepancies of the Bible p.179 for more info.
Q: In 1 Jn 5:19, how is the whole world under the "control" or "influence" of the evil one?
A: See the discussion on Romans 8:19-22 and Ephesians 2:2 for the answer.
Q:. In 1 Jn 5:21, what exactly would it mean to keep yourself from idols?
A: The Greek word for Guard/ keep from is philasate, the imperative of phulasso (Strong's 5442). It can mean to watch out for, preserve from, beware, or avoid. While this includes "don't leave Jesus and wroship idols instead", it actually means much more than that. Greeks and Romans tended to be syncretistic, and there ight be a temptation to idols or other gods in addition to Jesus. Later the Hermite Gnostics did exactly what John warned against, in the most literal way possible. They combined believe in the power of Jesus with the power of Hermes, Zeus, Hercules, and others.
Sometiems Satan tempts Christains to abandon Christainity, especially in the face of torture or other preseuction, and many times Satan is more subtle than that. Sometimes we want to hold on to some sin in addition to following Christ. When we do so, that particular sin is an idol for us. While we might try to hold on to that and Christ too, we cannot have whole-hearted devotion to Christ until we take up our cross and put down that idol-sin.
Q: In 1 Jn 5:21, is it OK to have statues of idols in your house if you do not worship them?
A: No. Even if you have no inclination whatsoever to worship the idols, it is still wrong for three reasons.
1. The creation and worship of idols is an affront to God. Sacrificing to idols is sacrificing to demons, as 1 Corinthians 10:19-21 and Deuteronomy 32:17 show. Appreciating the artistic qualities of a well-made idol is like appreciating the positive qualities of something made and used by Satan to keep people in spiritual blindness. Tongue-in-cheek, if I did keep idols in my house, I would keep them next to my artistically made Satanic ritual objects. However, since I do not have or want any Satanic ritual objects in my home, I would not have any place for the idols, either.
2. Idols could cause others to stumble. Even if the other person is not tempted to worship your idol, you are still setting a bad example, showing that idolatry is not to be taken too seriously.
3. It seems much more difficult to have a strong witness to idolatrous people (Hindus, Buddhists, and others), if you tell them they must turn from idols and serve the Living God to go to Heaven, but you still have idols in your home.
Q: How do we know that 1 Jn was really written by John?
A: There are two main reasons.
1. The Early church recognized it as from the Apostle John. In particular Cyprian's Epistle 69 (c.246-258 A.D.) quotes 1 John 2:18-19 and says this is by the apostle John. He also quotes the "epistle of John" in Treatise 12 the third book 2.
2. Tertullian (c.213 A.D.) while referring to 1 John 2:33; 4:2-3; and 5:1 says that John said all of these. (Against Praxeas 28). In de Corona (198-220 A.D.) ch.10 says that "John says, 'My little children, keep yourselves from idols,' (1 John 5:21)
3. Later Augustine (c.400 A.D.) in his first homily on 1 John, says it was written by the John who wrote the Gospel.
4. It has a similar style as 2 and 3 John and the Gospel of John.
In the highly unlikely event that we were wrong, and the early church was totally mistaken on the authorship of 1 John, if God still intended for 1 John to be scripture, what difference would it make if it were by John or not?
Q: In 1 Jn, how do we know if what we have today is a reliable preservation of what was originally written?
A: There are at least three reasons.
1. God promised to preserve His word in Isaiah 55:10-11; Isaiah 59:21; Isaiah 40:6-8; 1 Peter 1:24-25; and Matthew 24:35.
2. Evidence of the early church. Here are the writers who referred to verses in 1 John.
Ignatius (c.110-117 A.D.) quotes half of 1 John 3:7a and alludes to 1 John 3:10 in Ignatius' Letter to the Ephesians ch.14 p.55
Polycarp (100-155 A.D.) quotes half of 1 John 4:3a,c (13 out of 34 Greek words, with gaps) Polycarp's Letter to the Philippians ch.7 p.34
Justin Martyr (135-165 A.D.) refers to 1 John 3:1b according to The Greek New Testament 4th revised edition by Aland et al. p.318. However, I have not been able to confirm this in the writings of Justin that I have.
Irenaeus (182-188 A.D.) quotes 1 John 4:1,2 and 1 John 5:1 as by "his disciple in his epistle". He also quotes from John as from his disciple in the gospel. Irenaeus Against Heresies book 3 ch.16.8 p.443
The Muratorian Canon (170-210 A.D.) ANF vol.5 p.603 canon 4 mentions the Letter of 1 John. It also quotes 1 John 1:1 as by John in his epistles in canon 1.
Clement of Alexandria (193-217/220 A.D.) says 1 John 4:16 is by John. Clement of Alexandria Fragment 3 p.575
Tertullian (198-220 A.D.) quotes part of 1 John 1:1 as a "Testimony of John" in A Treatise on the Soul ch.17 p.197
Tertullian (198-220 A.D.) quotes 1 John 4:18 as by John. Scorpiace ch.12 p.645-646
Origen (225-254 A.D.) quotes 1 John 1:5 as John writes in his Epistle. Origen's de Principiis book 1 ch.1.1 p.242
Origen (240 A.D.) quotes half of 1 John 1:1 in Commentary on the Song of Songs book 1 ch.4 p.26.
Origen (225-254 A.D.) quotes 1 John 1:5 as from the Epistle of John. Origen's de Principiis book 1 ch.1.1 p.242
Origen (225-254 A.D.) quotes that God is light from "the Catholic Epistle of John" (1 John 1:5) Origen's Commentary on John book 2 ch.18 p.336
Origen (240 A.D.) quotes 1 John 2:12-14 in Commentary on the Song of Songs Prologue p.26.
Origen (235 A.D.) quotes 1 John 2:15-17 in Exhortation of Martyrdom ch.38 p.182-183.
Origen (240 A.D.) quotes 1 John 1:19 as by John in his epistle in Commentary on the Song of Songs book 3 ch.4 p.178
Origen (235 A.D.) paraphrases 1 John 3:16 in Exhortation of Martyrdom ch.41 p.185.
Origen (240 A.D.) quotes 1 John 4:7 in Commentary on the Song of Songs Prologue p.32. He also alludes to 1 John 4:7 in the same work book 2 ch.4 p.123
Origen (240 A.D.) quotes half of 1 John 4:16 as "Scripture" in Commentary on the Song of Songs Prologue p.32-33.
Novatian (250-257 A.D.) quotes half of 1 John 4:12 as by John. Treatise on the Trinity ch.18 p.627
Anonymous Treatise Against Novatian (254-256 A.D.)
Anonymous Treatise on Rebaptism (c.250-258 A.D.) ch.13 p.677 quotes 1 John 4:7,8 as by John the evangelist. It also refers to 1 John 5:6,7-8
Cyprian of Carthage (c.246-258 A.D.) mentions "the Epistle of John and then quotes 1 John 2:21,22 in Treatises of Cyprian - Testimonies ch.79 p.552.
Cyprian of Carthage (c.246-258 A.D.) quotes 1 John 1:8,9 and saying "In his epistle, John lays down...". Treatises of Cyprian Treatise 8 ch.3 p.476.
Dionysius of Alexandria (246-265 A.D.)
Methodius (270-311/312 A.D.) refers to 1 John 3:21 according to Aland et al. 4th revised edition p.815. However, I have not been able to confirm this in the writings of Methodius that I have.
Phileas of Thmuis (beheaded 307 A.D.) quotes ¼ of 1 John 4:18 in Letter to the people of Thmuis ANF vol.6 p.162
Peter of Alexandria (306,285-311 A.D.) quotes 1 John 2:1 in The Canonical Epistle canon 11 p.276.
Eusebius of Caesarea (323-326 A.D.) Eusebius' Ecclesiastical History
Hilary of Poitiers (355-367/368 A.D.)
Athanasius (367 A.D.) does not refer to any specific verses in 1,2,3 John, but he lists the books of the New Testament in Festal Letter 39 p.552
Faustinus (4th century)
Philo of Carpasia (4th century)
Zeno (4th century) refers to 1 John 4:20
Synopsis Scripturae Sacrae (350-370 A.D. or 5th century) lists Hebrews (by Paul), James, 1 and 2 Peter, 1, 2, 3, John, Jude as scripture. It quotes all of 1 John 1:1.
Cheltenham Canon (=Mommson Catalogue) (c.360-370 A.D.)
Basil of Cappadocia (357-378/379 A.D.) quotes 1 John 3:23 as "John too writes". On the Spirit ch.5.9 p.7
Synod of Laodicea (in Phrygia) (343-381, 363 A.D.)
Cyril of Jerusalem (c.349-386 A.D.) quotes 1 John 2:22 as by the Apostle in Lecture 10.14 p.61
Cyril of Jerusalem (c.349-386 A.D.) (implied) mentions the seven epistles of James, Peter, John, and Jude. Catechetical Lectures Lecture 4 ch.36 p.27-28
Ambrose of Milan (370-390 A.D.)
Gregory Nazianzen (330-391 A.D.)
Pacian of Barcelona (342-379/392 A.D.) quotes 1 John 5:16 (sins leading to death) as by John. On Penitents ch.4.3 p.75
Gregory of Nyssa (c.356-397 A.D.) says "John in one of his Catholic Epistles" and quotes 1 John 2:1. This indicates there were other epistles too. Against Eunomius book 2 ch.14 p.128
Didymus the blind (398 A.D.) refers to 1 John 2:20; 3:13,21; 5:21
The schismatic Lucifer of Cagliari, Sardinia (361-c.399 A.D.) refers to 1 John 2:18; 3:13; 4:3,20; 5:2
Epiphanius of Salamis (360-403 A.D.)
Maximus of Turin (4th/5th century) refers to 1 John 2:6
Pope Innocent I of Rome (ca.405 A.D.)
Maximinus (4th/5th century) refers to 1 John 5:1
Rufinus (374-406 A.D.)
John Chrysostom (-407 A.D.) quotes from 1 Peter and 1 John vol.14
Chromatius (407 A.D.) refers to 1 John 5:18
Orosius/Hosius of Braga (414-418 A.D.)
Council of Carthage (218 bishops) (393-419 A.D.)
Jerome (373-420 A.D.) discusses the books of the New Testament. He specifically each of the four gospels, Paul writings to the seven churches, Hebrews, Paul wirting to Timothy , Titus, and Philemon. Jerome then discusses the Acts of the Apostles. Then he discusses the seven epistles of James, Peter, John, and Jude. Finally he discusses the Apocalypse of John. Letter 53 ch.9 p.101-102.
Jerome (373-420 A.D.) refers to 1 John 3:21
Augustine of Hippo (388-430 A.D.) mentions the Apostle John and refers to 1 John 4:7 in The City of God book 17 ch.5 p.342
Sozomen (370/380-425 A.D.) refers to 1 John 5:16 as "Scriptures". Sozomen's Ecclesiastical History book1 ch.22 p.256
John Cassian (419-430 A.D.) quotes 1 John 1:1-2 as by the Apostle John in Seven Books book 5.6 p.584
Marcus of Eremita (after 430 A.D.) refers to 1 John 4:3
Paulinus of Nola (431 A.D.) refers to 1 John 3:13
Socrates' Ecclesiastical History (c.400-439 A.D.) alludes to 1 John
Cyril of Alexandria (444 A.D.) refers to 1 John 4:3
Hesychius of Jerusalem (after 450 A.D.) refers to 1 John 3:21
Speculum (5th century)
Council of Chalcedon (451 A.D.)
Quodvultdeus (c.453 A.D.) refers to 1 John 5:7-8,20
Leo I of Rome (440-461 A.D.) says 1 John 4:2,3 is by the evangelist John Letter 28.3 p.42. Also 1 John 1:7 by the apostle John in Letter 28.3 p.42
Leo I of Rome (422-461 A.D.) quotes 1 John 4:2,3 about the Antichrist as by the Apostle John. Sermon 34.5 p.149
Theodoret of Cyrrhus (c.466 A.D.) refers to 1 John 4:3
Prosper of Acquitaine (426-455 A.D.)
Varimadum (445/480 A.D.) refers to 1 John 5:7-8,10,20
Vigilius (484 A.D.) refers to 1 John 5:1,18
John of Damascus (706-749 A.D.) "...seven Catholic epistles, viz. one of James, two of Peter, three of John, one of Jude..." Exposition of the Orthodox Faith book 4 ch.17 p.90
3. Evidence of heretics and other writers
Pseudo-Hippolytus (222-235/6 A.D.) refers to 1 John 2:18 as by John. Fragment 10 p.244
The heretic Priscillian (385 A.D.) refers to 1 John 4:3; 5:7-8
The heretic Pelagius (416-418 A.D.) refers to 1 John 2:6
The Donatist Tyconius (after 390 A.D.) refers to 1 John 2:18; 3:14; 4:3
4. Earliest manuscripts we have of 1 John show there are manuscript variations, but no theologically significant errors.
p9 (=papyrus Oxyrhynchus 402) 1 John 4:11-12,14-17 third century. The Complete Text of the Earliest New Testament Manuscripts p.70 has a picture of this manuscript, and it says the handwriting was not by a trained scribe, it was written carelessly, and some of the spellings are unintelligible.
3rd century - 1968 - The Text of the New Testament
3rd century - 1998 - Aland et al. fourth revised edition
p74 (=Bodmer 17) Acts 1:2-5,7-11,13-15,18-19,22-25; 2:2-4; 2:6-3:26; 4:2-6,8-27; 4:29-27:25; 27:27-28:31; James 1:1-6,8-19,21-23,25,27; 2:1-3,5-15; 18-22, 25-26; 3:1,5-6,10-12,14,17-18; 4:8,11-14; 5:1-3,7-9,12-14,19-20; 1 Peter 1:1-2,7-8,13,19-20,25; 2:6-7,11-12,18,24; 3:4-5; 2 Peter 2:21; 3:4,11,16; 1 John 1:1,6; 2:1-2,7,13-14,18-19,25-26; 3:1-2,8,14,19-20; 4:1,6-7,12,16-17;5:3-4,9-10,17; 2 John 1,6-7,13; 3 John 6,12; Jude 3,7,12,18,24 (7th century)
7th century - 1968 - The Text of the New Testament has James 2:4 and 1 Peter 1:12
7th century - 1975 - Aland et al. third edition
6th century - 1998 - Aland et al. fourth revised edition
Vaticanus [B] (325-350 A.D.), Sinaiticus [Si] (340-350 A.D.), and Alexandrinus [A] (c.450 A.D) have all of 1 John.
Bohairic Coptic [Boh] 3rd/4th century
Sahidic Coptic [Sah] 3rd/4rth century
Peshitta Syriac [Syr P] 375-400 A.D.
Ephraemi Rescriptus [C] 5th century
Armenian [Arm] from 5th century
Georgian [Geo] from 5th century
Ethiopic [Eth] from c.500 A.D.
It should be mentioned 1 John 5:7-8 is one of the three or four most notable manuscript variations in the Bible. However, even this is not theologically significant, as these verses do not teach anything about the Trinity that is not found elsewhere.
See www.BibleQuery.org/1jnMss.html for more on early manuscripts of 1 John.
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