A Short Sermon of 1 John 5:1-5 by David Tank
Faith in Christ Jesus as the Son of God means adoption into the heavenly family and implies our sharing in Christ’s victory over the world. – What does this mean?
In the epistle, the Apostle John is writing to the Church, probably in Ephesus, to encourage them to hold fast to the faith which they received. In particular, false prophets shall come to lead the Church astray, and John will write two other letters in specific address of that issue, but primarily, 1 John is a warning and encouragement to the Church to remember their identity and unity in Jesus Christ as his Body.
1 John 5:1 begins by reinforcing the salvation of those who believe that Jesus is the Christ, stating that believers are begotten children of God. John states the evidence for this in that Believers will love God and love the ones whom he has begotten, for to live as a begotten child of God signifies spiritual adoption into the family of God through a new identity in Christ. This new identity replaces a person’s identity of sin and death with union to God and all those whom he also has adopted. Therefore, John the Elder continues in 5:2 by reminding that the fruit of a child of God is to love the children of God by practicing the commandments of God.
John completes his thought from verse 2 in 5:3 by saying that it is the purpose of God, that those he has begotten keep his commandments. For out of his loving intentions, God designed the community of the Church to participate with one another as it participates in him. Therefore, because the commandments of God are not burdensome (5:3b), God’s command for his children to keep his commandments so to love the whole family of God reveals Christ’s heart for relationship with the Church, his bride.
In the identity of Christ, the Church participates not only in the love of God’s family, but in Christ’s victory over the world. The Greek word for “world” in 5:4 may refer to anything and everything from the spatial universe to a particular collection of humanity, and in this understanding, John designates the “world” specifically as those who stand in opposition to Christ. For a child of God, their salvation began when Christ first transformed their life; however, the completion of this salvation will only come when Jesus returns in glory as the conquering King. For by participating in Christ’s victory, the children of God participate in Christ’s defeat of sin, death, the devil, and all evil in the world which has ever persecuted them for loving Jesus. This therefore, is our victory; our Faith identified in Christ Jesus as our hope for salvation and future glory.
In 5:5, John concludes these five verses by beginning what commentators understand as a completely new passage. However, 5:5 concludes this sermon passage well, for it brings this passage full circle. Therefore, referencing all which has been just been said, John the Elder re-asks, “Who is the one who has victory over the world?” To this, John reminds all of us who have faith that Jesus is the son of God, that we are united in Christ in the Church as one family, victorious over sin and death and possessors of a hope and a future.
Soli Deo Gloria.