Eternal Life
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…

Eternal life is not in the Scriptures limited to God as an incommunicable attribute or essence, nor to the angels even as a possession shut up within the walls of heaven; but is spoken of as something that may be conveyed to and shared with men. Eternal life is the life of the spiritual nature, the life of sentiment and affection, of moral and religious principle. Indeed, in the New Testament, many phrases might equally well be translated either eternal or spiritual life; as, for example, "No murderer hath eternal life," hath spiritual, holy, religious, divine life, "abiding in him." Moreover, that eternal life is not simply enduring, or literally and only everlasting life, is plain, because we never speak of the devil and his angels as having eternal life, though it is supposed in our theology they have a life that endures through all the future, contemporaneously with that of Divinity and seraph. The bad surely do not live the eternal life, though they have before them the same unbounded prospect of existence with the good. Theirs is a state of eternal or spiritual death. Eternal life in God is the life of absolute goodness, purity, rectitude, and truth. Eternal life in man is the life of justice and love, of fidelity in all his relations. It is a right, holy, and becoming life. When we are elevated above selfish and trifling cares into noble thought and generous feeling, our life, so far from having the character of a life that simply endures or is to endure for a long succession of time, seems no longer concerned with time at all, but to have risen above it. Days and weeks are no longer the terms of our existence; but thoughts, emotions, dictates of conscience, impulses of kindness, and aspirations of worship — these make the eternal life, because we feel there is something really fixed and impregnable in them, which neither time can alter, nor age wrinkle, nor the revolutions of the world waste, nor the grave bury, but the eternity of God alone embrace and preserve. It is true, that in that life, as in the absolute and perfect Spirit of God, is involved also the quality of permanence. The pure, loving, righteous, and devoted heart feels its own imperishableness. Its immortality is secretly whispered to it in a great assurance. The Spirit bears witness with it to its incorruptible nature. Even here, rising above the earth, "nor feeling its idle whirl," it shall vindicate its superiority to all that is material, as it drops the flesh, and takes the celestial body. But the heavenly and indissoluble life begins in this world. Jesus Christ had it here. For who thinks of Him as any more immortal after His resurrection and ascension than before? Jesus Christ, the only perfect possessor on earth, is accordingly the great and incomparable communicator of this eternal life. To Him, especially and above all, we are to go for it. Shall this spiritual or eternal life become at length universal throughout the intelligent and moral creation? The theme is perhaps too great for the comprehension of the human mind, nor is it even by the light of inspiration so cleared up that we can hope for an entire agreement respecting it among equally wise and good men. Better is it that we should, by all the motives and sanctions, hopes and fears, of the gospel, try to awaken the moral and spiritual nature in our own and in others' hearts, than that we should exercise the fancy with predicting the fortunes to arise in the coming ages.

(C. A. Bartol.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: 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.

WEB: These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.

Top of Page
Top of Page