1 John, part 3

This is the final part of my “interpretive translation” of First John. You can read the first and second parts if you missed them. As usual, a couple of notes at the end.

The complete translation can be downloaded here, if you would like it (Word format).

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John with Mary at the Cross, Exeter Cathedral

John with Mary at the Cross, Exeter Cathedral

Beloved, do not just believe every spirit, but test them to ensure that they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. Here is how to tell the spirit is of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in a real, human body is from God, and any spirit that does not is not from God but is the spirit of antichrist, who, as you have heard, is coming and is already in the world. You belong to God, children, and so you have conquered them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. These false prophets belong to the world and so they speak about the world and the world listens to them. We belong to God so those who know God listen to us but those who do not belong to God do not listen to us. This, then, is how to differentiate between true spirits and false ones.

Beloved, we should love one another because love comes from God and everyone who loves has become a child of God and knows God. Anyone who doesn’t love doesn’t know God either, because God is love. God’s love for us is obvious, because God sent His unique Son into the world so that we could live through Him! This is what love is! It has nothing to do with our having loved god but everything to do with the fact that God sent His Son to make things right with regard to our sin. Beloved, if God loves us like that then we are surely obligated to love one another! No-one has ever seen God, but if we love one another then God remains in us and His love is made complete in us.

We know that we do, in fact, remain in Him and He in us because of the Spirit that He has given to us. We have seen for ourselves and are witnesses that the father sent the Son to be the saviour of the world. Anyone who confesses that Jesus is God’s Son has God inside him and he is also in God. We have come to understand and believe in God’s love for us.

God is love, and anyone who stays in love stays in God and God stays in him. Love has been brought to completeness in us in order that we might have boldness on the day of judgement, for in this world we are just like Jesus is. There is no fear in love; rather perfect love casts out fear because fear brings torment. Anyone who is afraid has not been perfected by love. We should love because He loved us first. If someone says “I love God” but hates his brother who he has seen, he is a liar. If he doesn’t love his brother who he has seen, he cannot love God who he hasn’t seen. This is the command He gave us: Whoever loves God should also love his brother.

Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has become God’s child, and everyone who loves a parent will also love his children—which is why we know that we should love God’s children, and when we love God and keep His commands. For loving God means keeping His commands and finding that they are not burdens. This is because every child of God conquers the world, and that victory is won by our faith. Who can conquer the world except the one who believes that Jesus is God’s Son?

Jesus Christ is the one who came by water and by blood—not by water (that is to say, by human birth) only, but by water and blood (the blood of His death). The Spirit is witness to this, for the Spirit is truth. So the witnesses are three in number: the Spirit, the water, and the blood, and these three all agree. If we accept people’s testimony, God’s testimony is better for His testimony that He has given us concerns His Son. The person who believes in the Son of God has this testimony inside himself, but the person who does not believe in God has made God into a liar because he does not believe God’s testimony about His Son. This is God’s testimony: He has given us eternal life and this life comes through His Son. The person who has the Son has life, the person who doesn’t have the Son doesn’t have life.

I have written all of this to you who believe in the name of the Son of God to make sure that you know that you have eternal life. We can be very bold when we come to God because He listens to us whenever we ask for anything according to His will. If we know that He listens then we also know that we have what we ask for.

Whoever sees his brother committing a sin that does not lead to death should ask God and God will give that brother life (that is, to anyone not sinning to death—there is a sin that leads to death and I am not saying that he should ask in that case). All unrighteousness is sin but not all sin leads to death.

We know that no child of God sins, rather, the child of God protects himself and the evil one cannot harm him.

We know that we are God’s but that the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.

We know that the Son of God came, and has given us understanding so that we might know the truth.

We are in the truth, in His Son, Jesus Christ.

He is the true God and eternal life.

Children, keep yourselves from idols.

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NOTES:

1) I freely admit that I do not know what John means by “the sin unto death”. Is he just saying that it is worthless to pray for someone who has died (true for those who die in the faith too, I think, but as he has just told people to pray for those who sin, maybe he felt the need to point out that it is too late if they are dead).

2) This is often seen as the last piece of the NT to have been written (despite there being a 2 and 3 John!). If it is, then the whole of God’s revelation ends with the last line: Children, keep yourselves from idols.

3) In conclusion, John’s message boils down to: We can have real confidence that we know Him and are His, and if we do then we should live by it and stay away from sin by the power He has given us. If we don’t live like that, or if we deny His promises, then we are none of His.

 

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