1 John 5:1-12
Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ* has been born of God, and everyone who loves the parent loves the child. 2By this 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 obey his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome, 4for whatever is born of God conquers the world. And this is the victory that conquers the world, our faith. 5Who is it that conquers the world but the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?
6 This is the one who came by water and blood, Jesus Christ, not with the water only but with the water and the blood. And the Spirit is the one that testifies, for the Spirit is the truth. 7There are three that testify:* 8the Spirit and the water and the blood, and these three agree. 9If we receive human testimony, the testimony of God is greater; for this is the testimony of God that he has testified to his Son. 10Those who believe in the Son of God have the testimony in their hearts. Those who do not believe in God* have made him a liar by not believing in the testimony that God has given concerning his Son. 11And this is the testimony: God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.
The author continues his instruction about loving one another – perhaps there was some dissension within the church community to whom he writes? Perhaps those who had left had created a division within the church before doing so? Those things still happen today – people take sides on some issue, and soon there is anger between groups, and some leave the church, and everyone forgets to love one another. We must remember to work out our differences in a loving way, hearing one another, and sometimes, living with compromise. I suspect this was the sort of situation the author was addressing here, given his emphasis on loving one another.
Now he says that if people believe that Jesus is the Son of God, then they must love all the children of God – that we show our love for God by obeying his commandments, and he has commanded that we love one another. This is not a burden, for God conquers the world, through faith. Thus – those who believe in Christ can conquer the world!
Christ, he says, was born of water and the blood. This is to say that Christ is identified as God’s Son at his baptism, and at his crucifixion – taking this deeper still, we might say that water connects to human birth, while crucifixion (blood) and resurrection connects to the divine. The Spirit testifies that Christ is indeed God’s Son.
A Jewish trial required three witnesses; the author now says that three testify: The Spirit, the water (the dove and the voice from heaven at Jesus’ baptism testified to who he is), and the blood (crucifixion and resurrection). These three witnesses agree, and they are the testimony of God. If we believe in Jesus, we have this testimony of God in our hearts. And the testimony is that through Christ Jesus, God gave us eternal life. If we have the Son we have life. Again the contrast: light and dark, love and hate, life and death. These themes move throughout this letter. The author is saying to his readers: Choose love, choose light, choose life!