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The Epistles of John (Part 44): 1 John 5:1

by Stephen Hebert on Saturday - 25 July 2009

in Biblical Studies, New Testament

This is the 44th part in an ongoing series on the epistles of John.

English Standard Version Nestle-Aland 27
Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him. Πᾶς ὁ πιστεύων ὅτι Ἰησοῦς ἐστιν ὁ Χριστὸς, ἐκ τοῦ θεοῦ γεγέννηται, καὶ πᾶς ὁ ἀγαπῶν τὸν γεννήσαντα ἀγαπᾷ [καὶ] τὸν γεγεννημένον ἐξ αὐτοῦ.

Chapter 5 begins with a great deal of repetition about the one who loves God and loves his commandments. We won’t get to the stuff about commandments until the we look at the next few verses. Before doing that, before taking a larger chunk of this repetition, I wanted to start with this single verse/sentence.

The author here is interested in community and in community he sees family. When we confess that Jesus is Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One, King, Liberator, Savior, etc.) we are “born of God.” This is a powerful statement. God is taking us under his wing, so to speak. By being born of him, two things are happening:

  • Spiritual rebirth
  • Adoption into God’s family

Spiritual Rebirth

We have all heard of someone claiming to be a “born again Christian.” George W. Bush is a rather famous example of someone who is fond of this phrase. Unfortunately, it’s gained some rather negative connotations in certain corners of American culture. I say this is “unfortunate” because the idea is a good one. When we call on the name of Jesus, we are allowing his crucifixion to work on us to break the bondage that we are in — bondage to slavery (see Romans 6). By doing this, we are making a transaction, allowing Christ’s blood to buy us out of that slavery and put us into service/slavery of him. (Yes, I do mean slavery.)

The born again spirit lives in this new service. However, it also lives in the fact that our sins have been forgiven. In effect, the slate has been wiped clean. We have become a new person; we have sloughed off that old self and exchanged it for a new one that seeks to serve Christ.

I think this is the notion that the author is getting at with “born of God.” We are now entering into a new kind of life with a new kind of family as a new kind of person.

Adoption into God’s Family

Being born of God means that we are now part of the family — we can rightfully claim to be God’s children. Because of this new status, we are now heirs to the Kingdom of Heaven. Frequently throughout the New Testament several different authors (Matthew, Mark, Luke, Paul, the author of Hebrews) speak of inheritance1 — inheritance of eternal life, the kingdom of heaven, salvation, etc. Being born of the Father means that we are now part of that tradition, part of that pedigree.

Additionally, there is a command that goes along with this: love your brothers and sisters. Those who have been born of the Father are now family — we should treat them as such!

Again, the idea is κοινωνία (“fellowship”) — community.

What would it look like to call your fellow Christians “brother” or “sister” and really mean it?

What does it mean to be heirs to the Kingdom of Heaven?

Article Series - The Epistles of John

  1. The Epistles of John (Part 1): 1 John 1:1–4
  2. The Epistles of John (Part 2): 1 John 1:5
  3. The Epistles of John (Part 3): 1 John 1:6–7
  4. The Epistles of John (Part 4): 1 John 1:8–10
  5. The Epistles of John (Part 5): 1 John 2:1
  6. The Epistles of John (Part 6): 1 John 2:2
  7. The Epistles of John (Part 7): 1 John 2:3–6
  8. The Epistles of John (Part 8): 1 John 2:7–8
  9. The Epistles of John (Part 9): 1 John 2:9–11
  10. The Epistles of John (Part 10): 1 John 2:12
  11. The Epistles of John (Part 11): 1 John 2:13
  12. The Epistles of John (Part 12): 1 John 2:14
  13. The Epistles of John (Part 13): 1 John 2:15
  14. The Epistles of John (Part 14): 1 John 2:16
  15. The Epistles of John (Part 15): 1 John 2:17
  16. The Epistles of John (Part 16): 1 John 2:18
  17. The Epistles of John (Part 17): 1 John 2:19
  18. The Epistles of John (Part 18): 1 John 2:20
  19. The Epistles of John (Part 19): 1 John 2:21
  20. The Epistles of John (Part 20): 1 John 2:22
  21. The Epistles of John (Part 21): 1 John 2:23–25
  22. The Epistles of John (Part 22): 1 John 2:26–27
  23. The Epistles of John (Part 23): 1 John 2:28
  24. The Epistles of John (Part 24): 1 John 2:29
  25. The Epistles of John (Part 25): 1 John 3:1–3
  26. The Epistles of John (Part 26): 1 John 3:4–6
  27. The Epistles of John (Part 27): 1 John 3:7–10
  28. The Epistles of John (Part 28): 1 John 3:11–12
  29. The Epistles of John (Part 29): 1 John 3:13
  30. The Epistles of John (Part 30): 1 John 3:14-18
  31. The Epistles of John (Part 31): 1 John 3:19–22
  32. The Epistles of John (Part 32): 1 John 3:23–24
  33. The Epistles of John (Part 33): 1 John 4:1–3
  34. The Epistles of John (Part 34): 1 John 4:4–6
  35. The Epistles of John (Part 35): 1 John 4:7-8
  36. The Epistles of John (Part 36): 1 John 4:9
  37. The Epistles of John (Part 37): 1 John 4:10
  38. The Epistles of John (Part 38): 1 John 4:11-12
  39. The Epistles of John (Part 39): 1 John 4:13–14
  40. The Epistles of John (Part 40): 1 John 4:15
  41. The Epistles of John (Part 41): 1 John 4:16–17
  42. The Epistles of John (Part 42): 1 John 4:18–19
  43. The Epistles of John (Part 43): 1 John 4:20–21
  44. The Epistles of John (Part 44): 1 John 5:1
  45. The Epistles of John (Part 45): 1 John 5:2-3

Footnotes

  1. It should not go unnoticed that this doesn’t appear to be a popular theme in the Johannine tradition.

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