|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
5:9-12 Nothing can be more absurd than the conduct of those who doubt as to the truth of Christianity, while in the common affairs of life they do not hesitate to proceed on human testimony, and would deem any one out of his senses who declined to do so. The real Christian has seen his guilt and misery, and his need of such a Saviour. He has seen the suitableness of such a Saviour to all his spiritual wants and circumstances. He has found and felt the power of the word and doctrine of Christ, humbling, healing, quickening, and comforting his soul. He has a new disposition, and new delights, and is not the man that he formerly was. Yet he finds still a conflict with himself, with sin, with the flesh, the world, and wicked powers. But he finds such strength from faith in Christ, that he can overcome the world, and travel on towards a better. Such assurance has the gospel believer: he has a witness in himself, which puts the matter out of doubt with him, except in hours of darkness or conflict; but he cannot be argued out of his belief in the leading truths of the gospel. Here is what makes the unbeliever's sin so awful; the sin of unbelief. He gives God the lie; because he believes not the record that God gave of his Son. It is in vain for a man to plead that he believes the testimony of God in other things, while he rejects it in this. He that refuses to trust and honour Christ as the Son of God, who disdains to submit to his teaching as Prophet, to rely on his atonement and intercession as High Priest, or to obey him as King, is dead in sin, under condemnation; nor will any outward morality, learning, forms, notions, or confidences avail him.
Verse 11. - "And the substance of the internal testimony is this - we are conscious of the Divine gift of eternal life, and this we have in the Son of God." St. John's ζωὴ αἰώνιος is not "everlasting life:" the idea of endlessness may be included in it, but it is not the main one. The distinction between eternity and time is one which the human mind feels to be real and necessary. But we are apt to lose ourselves when we try to think of eternity. We admit that it is not time, that it is the very antithesis of time, and yet we attempt to measure it while we declare it to be immeasurable. We make it simply a very long time. The main idea of "eternal life" in St. John's writings has no direct reference to time. Eternal life is possessed already by believers; it is not a thing of the future (John 3:36; John 5:24; John 6:47, 54; John 17:3). It is that life in God which includes all blessedness, and which is not broken by physical death (John 11:25). Its opposite is exclusion from God.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And this is the record,.... The sum and substance of it, with respect to the person of Christ, and the security of salvation in him, who is the true God, and eternal life:
that God hath given to us eternal life; which is a life of glory and happiness hereafter; in the present state is unseen, but will in the world to come be a life of vision, free from all the sorrows and imperfections of this; and will be of the utmost perfection and pleasure, and for ever. This is a pure free grace gift of God the Father, proceeding from his sovereigns good will and pleasure, and which he gives to all his chosen ones, for they are ordained unto eternal life; to as many as he has given to his Son; to all that are redeemed by his blood, and are brought to believe in him: to these he gave it in his Son before the world began; and to the same in time he gives the right unto it, the meetness for it, and the pledge and earnest of it; and will hereafter give them the thing itself, the whole of it, to be possessed and enjoyed by them in person, to all eternity.
And this life is in his Son: not only the purpose and promise of it, but that itself; Christ asked it of his Father in the covenant of peace, and he gave it to him, that he might have it in himself for all his people; and here it is safe and secure, it is hid with Christ in God, it is bound up in the bundle of life with him; and because he lives, this life will never be lost, or they come short of it.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
11. hath given—Greek, aorist: "gave" once for all. Not only "promised" it.
life is in his Son—essentially (Joh 1:4; 11:25; 14:6); bodily (Col 2:9); operatively (2Ti 1:10) [Lange in Alford]. It is in the second Adam, the Son of God, that this life is secured to us, which, if left to depend on us, we should lose, like the first Adam.
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