04 September, 2009

Explanation of the meaning of 1 John 5:5-8

"gerilyn 45" asks for an explanation of 1 John 5:5-8

1Jn 5:5 Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?

1Jn 5:6 This is he that came by water and blood, Jesus Christ: not by water only but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit which testifieth that Christ is the truth.

1Jn 5:7 And there are Three who give testimony in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost. And these three are one.

1Jn 5:8 And there are three that give testimony on earth: the spirit and the water and the blood. And these three are one.

Verse five is clear that those who believe that Jesus is the Son of God are the inheritors of eternal life.

Verse six explains that our redemption is by both water and by blood. Jesus commanded all believers to be baptized by water but it is the water of Baptism and the blood of Calvary that washes away our sins. The Holy Spirit is not identified as such in this verse but in the next verse it is clearly the Holy Spirit or the third person of the Trinity. So, it refers to the soul of Christ rather than the Holy Spirit. In committing to the hands of the Father it gives witness to the humanity of our Lord which is a testimony against the heretics that did not believe in Jesus’ humanity. Another explanation by some is that Spirit referred to is a spirit of grace which comes to the faithful. St. Paul referred to this same spirit in the following:

Rom 8:16 For the Spirit himself giveth testimony to our spirit that we are the sons of God.

Verse seven reminds us that the Father, Son (Word) and the Holy Spirit are one in testimony as well as nature, substance and Divinity. It reminds us of the teaching of St. John who said: Joh 10:30 I and the Father are one.
Some of the early Greek manuscripts omit this verse and some critics claim that it is an addition but most scholars agree that it is canonical but the reason some doubt that it belongs is because it is so similar to the next verse beginning and ending in the same words which probably invited transcription errors. Transcribers probably omitted it in error. The most convincing proof of this verse being authentic is that it is cited by Tertullian and St. Cyprian before the Arian controversy settled at the Council of Nicaea. While the criticism is supported by the fact that St. Athanasius did not use this verse against the Arians only lends support to the possibility of transcription errors at this time or that the Arians had altered the texts in use. This verse was used to argue against the Arians by St. Fulgentius contemporary to this time.

Verse eight adds to the previous verse that all three are one which means that they are all witness to the same truth which is that the Father, Son (Word) and Holy Spirit all are witnesses to Christ’s divine nature. The Spirit which Christ gave up when He cried out from the cross reveals His divinity while the water and the blood from His side are witness to Christ’s humanity in Trinitarian agreement.

God bless!

In Christ
Fr. Joseph

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