Faith is Victory over the World. 1* Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is begotten by God, and everyone who loves the father loves [also] the one begotten by him.a 2In this way we know that we love the children of God when we love God and obey his commandments. 3For the love of God is this, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome,b 4for whoever is begotten by God conquers the world. And the victory that conquers the world is our faith.c 5Who [indeed] is the victor over the world but the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?d
6This is the one who came through water and blood,* Jesus Christ, not by water alone, but by water and blood. The Spirit is the one that testifies, and the Spirit is truth.e 7So there are three that testify, 8the Spirit, the water, and the blood, and the three are of one accord.f 9If we accept human testimony, the testimony of God is surely greater. Now the testimony of God is this, that he has testified on behalf of his Son.g 10Whoever believes in the Son of God has this testimony within himself. Whoever does not believe God has made him a liar by not believing the testimony God has given about his Son.h 11And this is the testimony: God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.i 12Whoever possesses the Son has life; whoever does not possess the Son of God does not have life.
Prayer for Sinners. 13I write these things to you so that you may know that you have eternal life, you who believe in the name of the Son of God.j 14And we have this confidence in him, that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.k 15And if we know that he hears us in regard to whatever we ask, we know that what we have asked him for is ours. 16If anyone sees his brother sinning, if the sin is not deadly, he should pray to God and he will give him life. This is only for those whose sin is not deadly. There is such a thing as deadly sin, about which I do not say that you should pray.l 17All wrongdoing is sin, but there is sin that is not deadly.
18We know that no one begotten by God sins; but the one begotten by God he protects, and the evil one cannot touch him. 19We know that we belong to God, and the whole world is under the power of the evil one. 20We also know that the Son of God has come and has given us discernment to know the one who is true. And we are in the one who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life.m 21Children, be on your guard against idols.
* [5:1–5] Children of God are identified not only by their love for others (1 Jn 4:7–9) and for God (1 Jn 5:1–2) but by their belief in the divine sonship of Jesus Christ. Faith, the acceptance of Jesus in his true character and the obedience in love to God’s commands (1 Jn 5:3), is the source of the Christian’s power in the world and conquers the world of evil (1 Jn 5:4–5), even as Christ overcame the world (Jn 16:33).
* [5:6–12] Water and blood (1 Jn 5:6) refers to Christ’s baptism (Mt 3:16–17) and to the shedding of his blood on the cross (Jn 19:34). The Spirit was present at the baptism (Mt 3:16; Mk 1:10; Lk 3:22; Jn 1:32, 34). The testimony to Christ as the Son of God is confirmed by divine witness (1 Jn 5:7–9), greater by far than the two legally required human witnesses (Dt 17:6). To deny this is to deny God’s truth; cf. Jn 8:17–18. The gist of the divine witness or testimony is that eternal life (1 Jn 5:11–12) is given in Christ and nowhere else. To possess the Son is not acceptance of a doctrine but of a person who lives now and provides life.
* [5:13–21] As children of God we have confidence in prayer because of our intimate relationship with him (1 Jn 5:14–15). In love, we pray (1 Jn 5:16–17) for those who are in sin, but not in deadly sin (literally, “sin unto death”), probably referring to apostasy or activities brought on under the antichrist; cf. Mk 3:29; Heb 6:4–6; 10:26–31. Even in the latter case, however, prayer, while not enjoined, is not forbidden. The letter concludes with a summary of the themes of the letter (1 Jn 5:18–20). There is a sharp antithesis between the children of God and those belonging to the world and to the evil one. The Son reveals the God of truth; Christians dwell in the true God, in his Son, and have eternal life. The final verse (1 Jn 5:21) voices a perennial warning about idols, any type of rival to God.
d. [5:5] 1 Cor 15:57.
i. [5:11] 1:2; Jn 1:4; 5:21, 26; 17:3.
k. [5:14] 3:21–22; Mt 7:7; Jn 14:13–14.