1 John 5:18 MEANING

1 John 5:18

(a)God's sons do not sin (1 John 5:18).

St. John refers back to "that ye may know" in 1 John 5:13, and sums up three points from former portions of the Epistle, describing the true consciousness of the Christian. Each begins with "We know."

(18) Sinneth not.--There is no reason to supply "unto death." (Comp. the Note on 1 John 3:9.) St. John means strongly to insist, in this the solemn close of his Letter, that the true ideal Christian frame is the absence of wilful sin. Stumbles there may be, even such as need the prayers of friends, but intentional lawlessness there cannot be.

But he that is begotten of God keepeth himself.--Rather, he that is begotten of God keepeth him: that is, the Son of God preserves him. (Comp. John 6:39; John 10:28; John 17:12; John 17:15.)

And that wicked one toucheth him not.--The last mention of the devil was in 1 John 3:10. The devil and his angels attack, but cannot influence so long as the Christian abides in Christ. (Comp. 1 Peter 5:8; Ephesians 6:11; Revelation 3:10.)

(3 b.) Personal assurance that we are God's sons (1 John 5:19).

Next after the cardinal point that righteousness is the characteristic of the new birth comes the necessity that the Christian should make up his mind that he has been, or is being, born again, and is really different from the world. The proofs would be seen in 1 John 1:6; 1 John 2:3; 1 John 2:5; 1 John 2:29; 1 John 3:9; 1 John 3:14; 1 John 3:19; 1 John 3:24; 1 John 4:7; 1 John 4:13; 1 John 4:15; 1 John 5:1; 1 John 5:10.

(19) The whole world lieth in wickedness.--Rather, the wicked one. There is a constant danger lest Christians should forget this. (Comp. Galatians 1:4.)

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

The series ends with a climax: the Son is indeed come; He gave us the faculty of seeing the true God; and in that Almighty Being we actually are. through the Son. The greatest fact of all to St. John's mind is that his Friend and Master of sixty years ago was the very Word made flesh. (Comp. 1 John 1:1-2; 1 John 2:13; 1 John 2:22-23; 1 John 3:5; 1 John 3:8; 1 John 3:16; 1 John 3:23; 1 John 4:2; 1 John 4:9-10; 1 John 5:1; 1 John 5:5; 1 John 5:9; 1 John 5:11.)

(20) And hath given us an understanding.--Comp. Acts 26:18; 1 Corinthians 2:12-15; Ephesians 1:18. This spiritual faculty of discernment was one of the gifts of that Spirit which Christ was to send. (Comp. 1 John 2:20; 1 John 2:27; John 14:26; John 16:13.)

Him that is true.--The personality of God. Amid all the deceptions and fluctuations of the world, St. John felt, with the most absolute and penetrating and thankful conviction, that the followers of Christ were rooted and grounded in perfect, unshakable, unassailable truth. This could not be unless they were resting on the living Son and holding fast to Him.

This is the true God, and eternal life.--A most solemn and emphatic crown to the whole Epistle. "This God, as seen in His Son, is the true God." If the Word had not been God, God could not have been seen in Him. "And God, seen in His Son, is eternal life." This is only another way of putting John 17:3. (Comp. 1 John 5:11-13.) To make "this is the true God" refer only to the Son is equally admissible by grammar, but hardly suits the argument so well.

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

(21) Little children, keep yourselves from idols.--This parting word is suggested by the thought of "the true God." Every scheme of thought, every object of affection, which is not of Him, is a rival of His empire, a false god, a delusive appearance only, without solidity or truth. We cannot conclude better than in the words of Ebrard: "This idea is a general and very comprehensive one: it embraces all things and everything which may be opposed to the God revealed in Christ and to His worship in spirit and in truth. Pre-eminently, therefore, it embraces the delusive and vain idols of the Corinthian Gnosticism, whether ancient or modern; but it includes also the idols and false mediators of superstition, to whom the confidence is transferred which is due only to God in Christ--be their name Madonna, or saints, or Pope, or priesthood, or good works, or pictures, or office, or church, or sacraments. The One Being in whom we have 'the life eternal' is Christ. . . . And this Christ we possess through the Spirit of God, whose marks and tokens are not priestly vestments, but faith and love. In this meaning, the Apostle's cry sounds forth through all the ages, in the ears of all Christians, 'LITTLE CHILDREN, KEEP YOURSELVES FROM IDOLS!' The holiest things may become a snare if their letter is regarded and not their spirit. Every Christian Church has a tendency to worship its own brazen serpents. Happy are they who have a Hezekiah to call them Nehushtan!"

Verses 18-21. - With three solemn asseverations and one equally solemn charge the Epistle is brought to a close. "Can we be certain of any principles in ethics? St. John declares that we can. He says that he has not been making probable guesses about the grounds of human actions, the relations of man to God, the nature of God himself. These are firings that he knows. Nay, he is not content with claiming this knowledge himself. He uses the plural pronoun; he declares that his disciples, his little children, know that which he knows" (Maurice). Verse 18. - We know; οἴδαμεν, as in 1 John 3:2, 14, and John 21:24, which should be compared with this passage. These expressions of Christian certitude explain the undialectical character of St. John's Epistles as compared with those of St. Paul. What need to argue and prove when both he and his readers already knew and believed? We must have "begotten" in both clauses, as in the Revised Version, not "born" in one and "begotten" in the other, as in the Authorized Version. In the Greek there is a change of tense ὁ γεγεννημένος and ὁ γεννηθείς, but no change of verb. The whole should run, "We know that whosoever is begotten of God sinneth not, but the Begotten of God keepeth him." For the perfect participle, comp. 1 John 3:9; 1 John 5:1, 4; 1 John 3:6, 8: it expresses him who has come to be, and still continues to be, a son of God. The aorist participle occurs nowhere else in St. John: it expresses him who, without relation to time past or present, is the Son of God. The reading αὐτόν is preferable to ἑαυτόν. The Vulgate has conservat eum, not conserver seipsum, which Calvin adopts. The eternal Son of the Father preserves the frail children of the Father from the common foe, so that the evil one toucheth them not. The verb for "touch ἅπτεσθαι is the same as in "Touch me not" (John 20:17). In both cases "touch" is somewhat too weak a rendering; the meaning is rather, "lay hold of," "hold fast." The Magdalene wished, not merely to touch, but to hold the Lord fast, so as to have his bodily presence continually. And here the meaning is that, though the evil one may attack the children of God, yet he cannot get them into his power.

5:18-21 All mankind are divided into two parties or dominions; that which belongs to God, and that which belongs to the wicked one. True believers belong to God: they are of God, and from him, and to him, and for him; while the rest, by far the greater number, are in the power of the wicked one; they do his works, and support his cause. This general declaration includes all unbelievers, whatever their profession, station, or situation, or by whatever name they may be called. The Son leads believers to the Father, and they are in the love and favour of both; in union with both, by the indwelling and working of the Holy Spirit. Happy are those to whom it is given to know that the Son of God is come, and to have a heart to trust in and rely on him that is true! May this be our privilege; we shall thus be kept from all idols and false doctrines, and from the idolatrous love of worldly objects, and be kept by the power of God, through faith, unto eternal salvation. To this living and true God, be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.We know that whosoever is born of God,.... Who is regenerated by his Spirit and grace, and quickened by his power; who has Christ formed in him, and is made a partaker of the divine nature, and has every grace implanted in him:

sinneth not; the sin unto death; nor does he live in sin, or is under the power and dominion of it, though he does not live without it; See Gill on 1 John 3:9;

but he that is begotten of God; the Vulgate Latin version reads, "the generation of God keeps or preserves him"; that is, that which is born in him, the new man, the principle of grace, or seed of God in him, keeps him from notorious crimes, particularly from sinning the sin unto death, and from the governing power of all other sins; but all other versions, as well as copies, read as we do, and as follows:

keepeth himself; not that any man can keep himself by his own power and strength; otherwise what mean the petitions of the saints to God that he would keep them, and even of Christ himself to God for them on the same account? God only is the keeper of his people, and they are only kept in safety whom he keeps, and it is by his power they are kept; but the sense is, that a believer defends himself by taking to him the whole armour of God, and especially the shield of faith, against the corruptions of his own heart, the snares of the world, and particularly the temptations of Satan:

and that wicked one toucheth him not; he cannot come at him so as to wound him to the heart, or destroy that principle of life that is in him, or so as to overcome and devour him; he may tempt him, and sift him, and buffet him, and greatly afflict and grieve him, but he can not touch his life, or hurt him with the second death; nay, sometimes the believer is so enabled to wield the shield of faith, or to hold up Christ the shield by faith, and turn it every way in such a manner, that Satan, who is here meant by the wicked one, because he is notoriously so, cannot come near him, nor in with him; cannot work upon him at all with his temptations, nor in the least hurt his peace, joy, and comfort: the saints know their perseverance from the promises of God and declarations of Christ; Psalm 125:1.

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