1 John 5:1 ‘Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is begotten of God.’

November 19, 2017 by David Farmer 0 comments

Posted in: Weekly Commentary

This rather simple statement by the apostle John toward the conclusion of his first epistle is full of Gospel reality. It is interesting to note that this particular phrase, ‘whosoever believeth,’ of this verse is found in only four other places of the Word of God. Paul has made use of it in his epistle to the church at Rome, but each of the remaining three usages are to be found from the pen of the writer of this epistle in our focus this week. Thus we have three occasions in the gospel narrative of John and once more in his first epistle. It is further noteworthy that of these four usages in John’s writings, two are attributed immediately to Jesus Christ, and two attributed to John himself. The two first are found in the third chapter of his Gospel narrative which brings before us a perennial question about this particular narrative. Whosoever believeth is contained in both verse 15 and 16 of chapter three. The question concerns the immediate speaker of these verses, whether Jesus himself, or the narrator, John, as commentator. Where is the line to be drawn? Where do the words of Jesus cease and the subsequent remarks of John begin? It may be worthwhile to consider the explanation offered by D. A. Carson as he says:

“In two passages in this Gospel, both in this chapter (3:15 and 3:31-36), the words of a speaker (Jesus and John the Baptist respectively) are succeeded by the explanatory reflections of the Evangelist. Because the ancient texts did not use quotation marks or other orthographical equivalents, the exact point of transition is disputed. In the first incident, Nicholson (p. 89) thinks the dialogue ends at v. 10, with all of vv. 11-21 being the comment of the Evangelist. This is unlikely: the title ‘Son of Man’ is so characteristically reserved for Jesus’ lips as a form of self-identification that it is unthinkable that he ended before v. 15. The same problem attends the view of Beasley-Murray (p. 46), and others before him, that makes 3:12-21 structurally parallel to 3:31-36. Some argue that Jesus’ monologue extends to the end of v. 21. But vv. 16-21 read more plausibly as the Evangelist’s meditation. For instance, the expression ‘one and only’ (monogenes) is a word used by the Evangelist (1:14, 18; cf. 1 Jn. 4:9), and is not elsewhere placed on the lips of Jesus or of anyone else in this Gospel. Nor does Jesus normally refer to God as ho theos (‘God’)”

This all to point out that the first occasion of the phrase Whosoever believeth came from the lips of our Savior (John 3:15), and the second from the Evangelist (3:16). Interestingly, the next utterance of these words were again spoken by Christ (12:46); Whosoever believeth on me may not abide in the darkness; with the fourth occasion coming again from the Evangelist in our focus passage from his first epistle. The only other instance comes from Paul in Romans 10:11; Whosoever believeth on him shall not be put to shame.

But we began with the asseveration that 1 John 5:1, Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is begotten of God is full of Gospel reality. This passage speaks of certain individuals denominated as the Whosoevers. These Whosoevers are set apart by some distinctions; they believe something; that something is that Jesus is the Christ. This demonstrates that these Whosoevers belong, additionally, to yet another category; that is, those begotten of God. So, who is Jesus? And what is the Christ? Well, Jesus, we are told in the Gospels, is the son of Joseph, a carpenter, and Mary, his wife. Joseph was told by an angel in Matthew 1:21 that he should call the child that was to be born to them, Jesus—in the Hebrew, Jehoshua, or, Joshua. So these folk, the Whosoevers, are to believe that this Jesus, this son of a carpenter, is the Christ. And what is it to believe that Jesus is the Christ? What is the Christ? Is it not He of whom Daniel spoke (Daniel 9:25-26) referring to Him as ‘the anointed’? We read also in John 1:41 when Andrew found his brother, Simon, and announced to him, We have found the Messiah (which is, being interpreted, the Christ). Again in John 4:25 when Jesus conversed with the woman of Samaria at Jacob’s well, this woman said to Jesus, I know that Messiah cometh (he that is called Christ), and Jesus said to her I that speak unto thee am he. Amen, Jesus is the Christ, the Anointed One of God. Simon Peter confirmed this as recorded in Matthew 16 when Jesus asked him, but who do you say that I am? Peter responded unhesitatingly, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.

Peter believed that Jesus is the Christ. Jesus responded, Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-Jonah: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father who is in heaven. Flesh and blood, no other man, no other person, has revealed this blessed truth to you, Peter, but my Father in heaven. He revealed it unto thee. And how did He reveal this truth about Jesus to Peter? Has not the apostle Paul informed us in 1 Corinthians 12:3 that no man can say, Jesus is Lord, but in the Holy Spirit? And has not John made known to us in our focus verse that Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ [read Messiah; Anointed One] is begotten [read born again; born from above; born anew] of God? Jesus said, Except one be born anew, he cannot see the kingdom of God [read, He cannot see the King; the Lord; the Christ].

David Farmer, elder

Fellowship Bible Church

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