1 John 5:1 Commentary - The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges
1 12. Faith is the Source of Love, the Victory over the World and the Possession of Life
1. Whosoever believeth ] Or, Every one that believeth: the construction is identical with that in 1Jn 2:29 , 1Jn 3:3-4, 1Jn 4:2-3; 1Jn 4:7, and in the second half of this verse. See concluding note on 1Jn 3:4. The verb ‘believe’, which occurs only 3 times in the rest of the Epistle, occurs 6 times in these first 13 verses. After the third verse the word ‘love’, which has been the keyword of the last two chapters, ceases to appear. With the first sentence comp. Joh 1:12.
The verse is a couple of syllogisms condensed into an irregular Sorites.
Every one who believes the Incarnation is a child of God.
Every child of God loves its Father.
… Every believer in the Incarnation loves God.
Every believer in the Incarnation loves God.
Every one who loves God loves the children of God.
… Every believer in the Incarnation loves the children of God.
To believe that Jesus is the Christ is to believe that One who was known as a man fulfilled a known and Divine commission; that He who was born and was crucified is the Anointed, the Messiah of Israel, the Saviour of the world. To believe this is to accept both the Old and the New Testaments; it is to believe that Jesus is what He claimed to be, One who is equal with the Father, and as such demands of every believer the absolute surrender of self to Him. Belief without love is, as S. Augustine remarks, the belief of a demon (Jas 2:19).
is born of God ] Better, in order to be uniform with what follows, is begotten of God: see on 1Jn 5:18.
him also that is begotten of him ] Any believer. Here again the verb ( ἀγαπᾷ ) may be either the indicative or the hortative subjunctive: as in 1Jn 4:19, the indicative is preferable; ‘loveth’, not ‘let him love’.
This verse shews that 1Jn 4:20 ought not to be interpreted to mean that through love of the visible brother we ascend to the love of the invisible God. On the contrary the love of the Father is the source of love of His children. “That is the natural order; that, we may say it confidently, is the universal order” (Maurice).
There seems to be no serious break in the Epistle from this point onwards until we reach the concluding verses which form a sort of summary (1Jn 5:13-21). The key-word ‘love’ is distributed, and not very unevenly, over the whole, from 1Jn 3:1 to 1Jn 5:3. Subdivisions, however, exist and will be pointed out as they occur. The next two subdivisions may be marked thus; The Children of God and the Children of the Devil (1Jn 2:29 to 1Jn 3:12); Love and Hate (1Jn 3:13-24). The two, as we shall find, are closely linked together, and might be placed under one heading, thus; The Righteousness of the Children of God in their relation to the Hate of the World.
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The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges
The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges is a biblical commentary set published in parts by Cambridge University Press from 1882 onwards. Anglican bishop John Perowne was the general editor. The first section published was written by theologian Thomas Kelly Cheyne and covered the Book of Micah.
Perowne exercised limited editorial control over the writers of individual commentaries: his aim was "to leave each contributor to the unfettered exercise of his own judgment".