Saturday 21 January 2017

Bible Book:
1 John

“The love of God is this, that we obey his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.” (v. 3)

1 John 5:1-21 Saturday 21 January 2017

Psalm: Psalm 90


Today's chapter must rank among the most difficult in the NewTestament, and scholars are widely divided over its interpretation.The basic reason is that we know nothing about those the writer isarguing against except the hints we are given in what he says.Also, the writer's style, moving on from one idea to another andback again, gives the impression of going in circles. Neverthelessthere is plenty of food for thought.

Verses 1 to 4 summarise points made earlier in the letter. Thosewho believe that Jesus is the Messiah (Christ) sent from God becomechildren of God. If this is a reality it will express itself in ourloving fellow-believers, and not in a merely sentimental way, butin a practical way, by keeping God's commandments.

Verses 5 to 12 offer evidence that Jesus is the Son of God: thewater, the blood and the Spirit. It is not clear what the writerhad in mind. The most attractive interpretation would point toJesus' Baptism in the river Jordan, when God declared him to beGod's Son (Mark 1:10-11), to his death on the cross (Colossians 1:20), and to the Holy Spirit atwork in our hearts (John 15:26). Some older English Bibles have alonger version of verses 7 to 8, referring to witnesses in heavenand witnesses on earth, but this has been shown to be a lateraddition, and more recent translations omit it or relegate it to afootnote.

Many readers will find verses 16 and 17 equally difficult. Whatis the distinction between mortal and other sins? Perhaps it is thesame distinction as in Luke12:10, where Jesus declares that blasphemy against the HolySpirit is unforgivable. Is that because there is an attitude ofmind which refuses to recognise right from wrong and thereforeneither desires nor is capable of receiving forgiveness?

To Ponder

  • What do you understand by 'eternal life'?
  • Is anything unforgivable, even if we repent?
  • Does God always answer prayer (verses 14-15)?
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