1 John 5:13
These things have I written to you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may believe on the name of the Son of God.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
[4.The Conclusion (1John 5:13-21).

(1)FRESH STATEMENT OF THE PURPOSE OF WRITING, equivalent to that at the beginning of the Epistle, but differing from it (1John 5:13).

(2)WHAT CAN BE DONE FOR THOSE WHO DO NOT COME UP TO THE STANDARD ASSUMED THROUGHOUT THE EPISTLE (1John 5:14-17).

(3)SOME PRACTICAL POINTS RECAPITULATED (1John 5:18-20).

(a)God’s sons do not sin (1John 5:18);

(b)Personal assurance that we are God’s sons (1John 5:19);

(c)Personal assurance that Christ is come, of the gift of the spiritual sense, and of abiding in the God of Truth through His Son (1John 5:20).

(4) LAST WARNING (1John 5:21).]

St. John, thinking perhaps of the close of his Gospel, where he states the same purpose (John 20:31), and reminded by 1John 5:11 of the supreme importance of having eternal life, and of the necessity of finding this in the Son, sums up the object of his Letter in these two ideas. He tells his friends again that he writes to them because they believe on the name of the Son of God, and explains his wish to be that, by the thoughts which he has put before them, they may feel certain that the eternal life which ought to be theirs is theirs already, and that their belief may not cease, but may be really vital. Thinking then of those who would be deceiving themselves if they pretended to any such hopeful assurance, he reminds the faithful of the power of prayer. Beginning with the general statement that confidence in God means that He hears us, he goes on to show that hearing must imply that our petitions are granted; and next, that it would be a petition quite in accordance with God’s will, and therefore likely to be heard, if a believer were to pray for a sinning brother. At the same time it must be recollected that there is such a state of wilful, hard-hearted rebellion that it is past praying for. Meantime they must remember again that as far as they were born of God they could not wilfully sin; that if they were what St. John thought them they had ample proofs that they were of God, and must not forget that the whole world was corrupted; and that there could not be any doubt that the Son of God was come, and had given them the spiritual sense necessary to discerning the true God. In that true God they were, through His Son. The God of whom the Son had spoken was that true God, and to know Him as such in His Son was eternal life. The last request was, that they should strictly guard themselves against any appearance or tendency whatsoever which might claim their sympathy or allegiance apart from God.

(1) FRESH STATEMENT OF PURPOSE (1John 5:13).

(13) Comp. John 20:31. The expression here is more positive than in the Gospel: there, “that ye might believe, and that believing ye might have life;” here, “that ye may know that ye have.” He wishes to produce in them a good hope. The specific object at the beginning of the Epistle was the communication of joy through fellowship with the Apostles the knowledge of possessing eternal life and the continuance of their faith would be precisely that joy.

(2) WHAT CAN BE DONE FOR THOSE WHO DO NOT COME UP TO THE STANDARD ASSUMED (1John 5:14-17).

(14) And this is the confidence.—The assurance intended in 1John 5:13 implies confidence, and confidence means the conviction that God is not deaf to our prayers. But these must not be contrary to His will. The Lord’s Prayer reminds us that the Person referred to here is the Father.

(15) That we have the petitions.—The goodness of God as Light and Love is so fully established that if our petitions are according to His will it follows necessarily that He grants them.

(16) If any man see his brother sin a sin which is not unto death.—Here are meant such stumblings as do not imply any distinct, wilful, deliberate severance from the faith of Christ. To divide sins, on the authority of this passage, into venial and mortal is to misunderstand the whole argument of the Epistle and to seduce the conscience. St. John only means that though prayer can do much for an erring brother, there is a wilfulness against which it would be powerless: for even prayer is not stronger than freewill. (Comp. 1John 2:1; Luke 22:31-32; John 17:9; Hebrews 7:25.)

And he shall give.—The interceding Christian is regarded as gaining life for the erring brother and handing it on to him.

There is a sin unto death.—The limit of intercession is now given: such conscious and determined sin as shows a loss of all hold on Christ. Such a state would be a sign of spiritual death. Hardened obstinacy would be invincible; and as it would not be according to the will of God that prayers, by the nature of the case in vain, should be offered to Him, St. John thinks that intercession ought to stop here. At the same time, he is careful not categorically to forbid it; he only says that in such cases he does not recommend intercessory prayer. (Comp. Matthew 12:31-32; Mark 3:29; Hebrews 6:4; Hebrews 6:6; Hebrews 10:26-27.) “His brother” is here, of course, a nominal Christian.

(17) All unrighteousness is sin.—Here St. John reminds them that all Christians might, at one time or another, stand in need of intercessory prayer, even those who, on the whole, might be considered as “sinning not” (because their permanent will was against sin, and for holiness), because every declension from the perfect righteousness of God is error or sin. Nothing that was not hopelessly deliberate need be considered a sign of absolute spiritual death. (Comp. 1John 3:4.)

1 John 5:13. These things have I written unto you — The things contained in the former part of this chapter concerning the fruits of regenerating faith, and the water and the blood, and the witnesses in heaven and on earth, and especially concerning the things which they have witnessed, mentioned in the two last verses; to you that believe on the name of the Son of God — With a faith grounded on a saving knowledge of him, and productive of the fruits spoken of 1 John 5:1-4; that ye may know — On the testimony of all the evangelists and apostles, and of Christ himself; that ye have eternal life — That ye are heirs of it, notwithstanding your past sins and present infirmities, and the imperfection of your knowledge and holiness, and the various defects of your love and obedience; and that you may believe — That is, may persevere in believing; on the name of the Son of God — May continue in the faith grounded and settled, and not be moved away from the hope of the gospel; knowing that the just man shall live by faith, but if he draw back, God’s soul will have no pleasure in him. See John 15:6, and Romans 11:22.5:13-17 Upon all this evidence, it is but right that we believe on the name of the Son of God. Believers have eternal life in the covenant of the gospel. Then let us thankfully receive the record of Scripture. Always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that our labour is not in vain in the Lord. The Lord Christ invites us to come to him in all circumstances, with our supplications and requests, notwithstanding the sin that besets us. Our prayers must always be offered in submission to the will of God. In some things they are speedily answered; in others they are granted in the best manner, though not as requested. We ought to pray for others, as well as for ourselves. There are sins that war against spiritual life in the soul, and the life above. We cannot pray that the sins of the impenitent and unbelieving should, while they are such, be forgiven them; or that mercy, which supposes the forgiveness of sins, should be granted to them, while they wilfully continue such. But we may pray for their repentance, for their being enriched with faith in Christ, and thereupon for all other saving mercies. We should pray for others, as well as for ourselves, beseeching the Lord to pardon and recover the fallen, as well as to relieve the tempted and afflicted. And let us be truly thankful that no sin, of which any one truly repents, is unto death.These things have I written unto you - The things in this Epistle respecting the testimony borne to the Lord Jesus.

That believe on the name of the Son of God - To believe on his name, is to believe on himself - the word "name" often being used to denote the person. See the notes at Matthew 28:19.

That ye may know that ye have eternal life - That you may see the evidence that eternal life has been provided, and that you may be able, by self-examination, to determine whether you possess it. Compare the notes at John 20:31.

And that ye may believe ... - That you may continue to believe, or may persevere in believing. He was assured that they actually did believe on him then; but he was desirous of so setting before them the nature of religion, that they would continue to exercise faith in him. It is often one of the most important duties of ministers of the gospel, to present to real Christians such views of the nature, the claims, the evidences, and the hopes of religion, as shall be adapted to secure their perseverance in the faith. In the human heart, even when converted, there is such a proneness to unbelief; the religious affections so easily become cold; there are so many cares pertaining to the world that are suited to distract the mind; there are so many allurements of sin to draw the affections away from the Saviour; that there is need of being constantly reminded of the nature of religion, in order that the heart may not be wholly estranged from the Saviour. No small part of preaching, therefore, must consist of the re-statement of arguments with which the mind has been before fully convinced; of motives whose force has been once felt and acknowledged; and of the grounds of hope and peace and joy which have already, on former occasions, diffused comfort through the soul. It is not less important to keep the soul, than it is to "convert" it; to save it from coldness, and deadness, and formality, than it was to impart to it the elements of spiritual life at first. It may be as important to trim a vine, if one would have grapes, as it is to set it out; to keep a garden from being overrun with weeds in the summer, as it was to plant it in the spring.

13. The oldest manuscripts and versions read, "These things have I written unto you [omitting 'that believe on the name of the Son of God'] that ye may know that ye have eternal life (compare 1Jo 5:11), THOSE (of you I mean) WHO believe (not as English Version reads, 'and that ye may believe') on the name of the Son of God." English Version, in the latter clause, will mean, "that ye may continue to believe," &c. (compare 1Jo 5:12).

These things—This Epistle. He, towards the close of his Gospel (Joh 20:30, 31), wrote similarly, stating his purpose in having written. In 1Jo 1:4 he states the object of his writing this Epistle to be, "that your joy may be full." To "know that we have eternal life" is the sure way to "joy in God."

That, discerning their own faith, they might be in no doubt concerning their title to eternal life, and might be thereby encouraged to persevere in the same faith. These things have I written unto you,.... Which are contained in the epistle in general, and particularly what is written in the context, concerning the victory of the world, being ascribed to him who believes that Christ is the Son of God; and concerning the six witnesses of his sonship, and the record bore by God, that the gift of eternal life is in him: and which are especially written to them,

that believe on the name of the Son of God; who not only believed that Christ is the Son of God, which this six fold testimony would confirm them in, but also believed in his name for righteousness, life, and salvation; in which name there is all this, and in no other; and who also professed their faith in him, and were baptized in his name, and continued believing in him, and holding fast their profession of him. The end of writing these things to them was,

that ye may know that ye have eternal life; that there is such a thing as eternal life; that this is in Christ; that believers have it in him, and the beginning of it in themselves; and that they have a right unto it, and meetness for it, and shall certainly enjoy it; the knowledge of which is had by faith, under the testimony of the Spirit of God, and particularly what is above written concerning eternal life, being a free grace gift of God; and this being in Christ, and the assurance of it, that such who have him, or believe in him, have that which might serve to communicate, cultivate, and increase such knowledge:

and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God; which they had done already, and still did; the sense is, the above things were written to them concerning the Son of God, that they might be encouraged to continue believing in him, as such; to hold fast the faith of him and go on believing in him to the end; and that their faith in him might be increased; for faith is imperfect and is capable of increasing, and growing exceedingly: and nothing more tends unto, or is a more proper means of it, than the sacred writings, the reading and hearing them explained, and especially that part of them which respects the person, office, and grace of Christ. The Alexandrian copy, and one of Beza's manuscripts, the Vulgate Latin, Syriac, and Ethiopic versions, read, "these things have I written unto you, that ye may know that ye have eternal life, who believe in the name of the Son of God".

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

(13) The conclusion of the epistle, in which he shows first of all, that even they who already believe, need this doctrine, that they may grow more and more in faith: that is to say, that they may be daily more and more certain of their salvation in Christ, through faith.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
1 John 5:13. Many commentators (Lorinus, Spener, Bengel, Rickli, Baumgarten-Crusius, Lücke, Sander, Düsterdieck, Braune) make the conclusion of the Epistle begin with this verse (“a sort of concluding section,” Ebrard), referring ταῦτα to the whole Epistle. This, however, is incorrect. That this verse also belongs to the last leading section beginning at 1 John 3:23, is shown not only by the idea ζωὴν αἰώνιον, which refers to what immediately precedes, but also by the idea πιστεύειν εἰς τὸ ὄνομα τοῦ υἱοῦ τοῦ Θεοῦ, which refers back to 1 John 3:23; besides, it is to be observed that the following sentences, 1 John 5:14-15, correspond to the thought with which the preceding leading section ended; comp. 1 John 3:21-22. Accordingly, ταῦτα is not to be referred to the whole Epistle, but to the last section, 1 John 5:6-12 (Brückner), which reaches its climax in the thought: ὁ ἔχων τὸν υἱὸν ἔχει τὴν ζωήν; comp. 1 John 2:1; 1 John 2:21; 1 John 2:26. In the words: ἵνα εἰδῆτε, ὅτι ζωὴν ἔχετε αἰώνιον, John states the object for which he wrote that which is contained in the foregoing. The certainty of the life which is bestowed on him is so much the more necessary to the Christian’s mind, as this is sometimes hidden from him in the struggles of life—the life is there, but at times like a hidden treasure. That the possession of this life, however, is conditioned by faith, the apostle brings out especially by an additional clause, which indeed runs differently in the different codices (see the critical remarks), but in its different forms expresses essentially the same thought; according to the probable reading, it is connected with ὑμῖν; according to A, however, with ἔχετε. The second clause in the Rec: καὶ ἵνα πιστεύητε εἰς τὸ ὄνομα τοῦ υἱοῦ τοῦ Θεοῦ, indicates as the second object the adherence to faith; with the phrase: πιστεύειν εἰς τὸ ὄνομα, comp. chap. 1 John 3:23.1 John 5:13-21. The Epistle is finished, and the Apostle now speaks his closing words. “These things I wrote to you that ye may know that ye have eternal life, even to you that believe in the name of the Son of God. And this is the boldness which we have toward Him, that if we request anything according to His will, He hearkenetn to us. And if we know that He hearkeneth to us whatever we request, we know that we have the requests which we have made from Him. If any one see his brother sinning a sin not unto death, he shall make request, and he will give to him life, even to them that are sinning not unto death. There is a sin unto death; not concerning that do I say that he should ask. Every sort of unrighteousness is sin, and there is a sin not unto death. We know that every one that hath been begotten of God doth not keep sinning, but the Begotten of God observeth him, and the Evil One doth not lay hold on him. We know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in the Evil One. And we know that the Son of God hath come, and hath given us understanding that we may get to know the True One; and we are in the True One, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the True God and Life Eternal. Little children, guard yourselves from the idols.”13. These things have I written unto you] ‘These things’ will cover the whole Epistle, and such is probably the meaning, as in 1 John 1:4, where S. John states the purpose of his Epistle in words which are explained by what he says here: there is nothing there or here, as there is in 1 John 2:26, to limit ‘these things’ to what immediately precedes. As in 1 John 2:21; 1 John 2:26, ‘I have written’ is literally, ‘I wrote’: it is the epistolary aorist, which may be represented in English either by the present or the perfect.

In the remainder of the verse the divergences of reading are very considerable, and authorities are much divided. The original text seems to be that represented by א1 B, which has been adopted in R. V. These things have I written unto you, that ye may know that ye have eternal life,—unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God. The awkwardness of the explanatory clause added at the end has led to various expedients for making the whole run more smoothly. Comp. the similarly added explanation in 1 John 5:16;—‘them that sin not unto death.’

that ye may know that ye have eternal life] At the opening of the Epistle S. John said ‘These things we write that our joy may be fulfilled’ (1 John 1:4). The context there shews what constitutes this joy. It is the consciousness of fellowship with God and His Son and His saints; in other words it is the conscious possession of eternal life (John 17:3). Thus the Introduction and Conclusion of the Epistle mutually explain one another. This verse should also be compared with its parallel in the Gospel (John 20:31), a passage which has probably influenced some of the various readings here. We see at once the similar yet not identical purposes of Gospel and Epistle. S. John writes his Gospel, ‘that ye may have life’; he writes his Epistle ‘that ye may know that ye have life.’ The one leads to the obtaining of the boon; the other to the joy of knowing that the boon has been obtained. The one is to produce faith; the other is to make clear the fruits of faith.

believe on the name] See on 1 John 5:10 and on 1 John 3:23.

13–17. Intercessory Love the Fruit of Faith and of the Possession of Life

13–17. Eternal life, faith, and brotherly love shewing boldness in intercession, are the leading ideas of this section. We have had most of these topics before, and the section is more or less of a recapitulation. But S. John “cannot even recapitulate without the introduction of new and most important thoughts” (F. W. Farrar); and the combination of the idea of boldness in prayer (1 John 3:21-22) with that of love of the brethren leads to very fruitful results.

13–21. Conclusion and Summary

Some modern writers consider that 1 John 5:13 constitutes the conclusion of the Epistle, the remainder (14–21) being a postscript or appendix, analogous to chap. 21. of the Gospel, and possibly by another hand. Some go so far as to conjecture that the same person added chap. 21 to the Gospel and the last nine verses to the Epistle after the Apostle’s death.

Not much can be urged in favour of these views. No MS. or version seems to exist in which these concluding verses are wanting. Tertullian quotes 1 John 5:16-18 (De Pudicitia xix.) and 1 John 5:21 (De Corona x.): Clement of Alexandria quotes 1 John 5:16-17 (Strom, II. xv.); and both these writers in quoting mention S. John by name. This shews that at the end of the second century these verses were an integral part of the Epistle. Against such evidence as this, arbitrary statements that the division of sins into sins unto death and sins not unto death, the sternness of 1 John 5:19, and the warning against idolatry, are unlike S. John, will not have much weight. The diction is S. John’s throughout, and some of the fundamental ideas of the Epistle reappear in these concluding verses. Moreover, the connexion with the first half of the chapter is so close, that there is no reason for supposing that, while unquestionably by S. John himself, yet it is, like chap. 21. of the Gospel, a subsequent addition to the original work. Indeed so close is the connexion with what precedes that some commentators consider only the last four verses, or even only the last verse, to be the proper Conclusion of the Epistle.

The Conclusion, as here arranged, falls into three parts. In the first, three main thoughts are retouched; faith in the Son of God, eternal life, and love of the brethren shewing itself in intercession (13–17). In the second, three great facts of which believers have certain knowledge are restated (1 John 5:18-20). In the third, a farewell practical warning is given (1 John 5:21).1 John 5:13. Ταῦτα, these things) which are contained in this Epistle. The verb, I write, used in the exordium, ch. 1 John 1:4, now in the conclusion becomes the preterite, I have written.—τοῖς[24] τιστεύουσιν εἰς τὸ ὄνομα τοῦ Υἱοῦ τοῦ Θεοῦ, unto you who believe in the name of the Son of God) The sum of verses 5–10.—ἵνα εἰδῆτε ὅτι ζωὴν ἔχετε αἰώνιον, that ye may know that ye may have eternal eternal life) This is derived from 1 John 5:11.—καὶ ἵνα πιστεύητε, and that ye may believe) namely, under the nearer hope of life. This is derived from 1 John 5:12. We ought altogether to be in the faith.

[24] This order of the words rests on the decision of the larger Ed.: the different order which occurs in the Germ. Vers. follows the decision of Ed. 2.—E. B.

The words after ὑμῖν, viz. τοῖς πιστεύουσιν down to τοῦ Θεοῦ, are omitted by AB Vulg. Memph. Theb. and both Syr. Versions. Rec. Text adds them after ὑμῖν, without any of the oldest authorities. Lower down Rec. Text has καὶ ἵνα πιστεύητε, with more recent authorities. But A Vulg. and almost all other Versions have οἱ πιστεύοντες. B has τοῖς πιστεύουσι.—E.Verses 13-21. - 4. CONCLUSION OF EPISTLE; without, however, any marked break between this section and the last On the contrary, the prominent thought of eternal life through faith in the Son of God is continued for final development. This topic is the main idea alike of the Gospel (John 20:31) and of the Epistle, with this difference - in the Gospel the purpose is that we may have eternal life; in the Epistle, that we may know that we have eternal life. Verse 13. - These things I have written to you sums up the Epistle as a whole. At the outset the apostle said, "These things we write, that our joy [yours as well as mine] may be fulfilled;" and now, as he draws to a close, he says the same thing in other words. Their joy is the knowledge that they have eternal life through belief in the Son of God. There is considerable variety of reading in this verse, but that of the T.R., represented by the Authorized Version, is a manifest simplification. That represented by the Revised Version is probably right. The awkwardness of the last clause produced various alterations with a view to greater smoothness. The verse, both as regards construction and meaning, should be carefully compared with John 1:12. In both we have the epexegetic addition at the end. In both we have St. John's favourite πιστεύειν εἰς, expressing the very strongest belief; motion to and repose upon the object of belief. In both we have the remarkable expression, "believe on his Name." This is no mere periphrasis for "believe on him." Names in Jewish history were so often significant, being sometimes given by God himself, that they served not merely to distinguish one man from another, but to indicate his character. So also with the Divine Name: it suggests the Divine attributes. "To believe on the Name of the Son of God" is to give entire adhesion to him as having the qualities of the Divine Son. Have I written (ἔγραψα)

Lit., I wrote. John speaks as looking back over his Epistle and recalling the aim with which he wrote. See on 1 John 2:13.

May know (εἰδῆτε)

Not perceive (γινώσκειν), but know with settled and absolute knowledge. See on John 2:24.

Ye have eternal life (ζωὴν ἔχετε αἰώνιον)

The Greek order is peculiar, "ye may know that life ye have eternal." The adjective eternal is added as an after-thought. So Westcott: "that ye have life - yes, eternal life."

Unto you that believe

In the A.V., these words follow have I written. The Rev. follows the Greek order. The words, like eternal, above, are added as an after-thought, defining the character of the persons addressed.

On the name (εἰς τὸ ὄνομα)

See on John 2:23; see on John 1:12.

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