What does 1 John 5:7 mean?
ESV: For there are three that testify:
NIV: For there are three that testify:
NASB: For there are three that testify:
CSB: For there are three that testify:
NLT: So we have these three witnesses —
KJV: For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.
This short verse simply emphasizes John's claim that there is evidence proving Jesus is the Son of God. In verse 6, these were defined as the water, the blood, and the Spirit. These refer to God's voice at Jesus' baptism, His crucifixion and resurrection, and the witness of the Holy Spirit. In verse 8, John will note that these three agree. In verse 9, John points out that the testimony of God is greater than that of men, making his a powerful and convincing argument that Jesus is the Son of God.
Some have suggested that water and blood refer to the Father and Son to make the case that all three Persons of the Trinity are involved in the testimony. While possible, this is unlikely since John is providing testimony that Jesus is God's Son. He would not use Jesus as testimony since He would be testifying for Himself (John 5:31). This would explain why John uses the concepts of water and blood as the two others who testify that Jesus is God's Son.
The transition between this verse and verse 8 is sometimes the subject of controversy. The source material of the King James Version, the Textus Receptus, adds a reference to "the Father, the Word and the Holy Ghost." This phrase is not found in any of the earliest manuscripts, and wasn't even in the earliest produced copies of the Textus Receptus. A likely explanation is that the passage was harmonized for use in liturgy. Over time, this harmonization found its way into manuscript copies. Once included in the Latin Vulgate, it became widespread.
First John 5:6–12 explains some of the evidence that Jesus Christ is, in fact, the Son of God. God's voice at Jesus' baptism, the events of Jesus' death and resurrection, and the internal witness of the Holy Spirit are all described. Because of this multi-part testimony, Christians can have confidence in what they have been taught. Those who reject these facts, in effect, accuse God of lying.
Chapter 5 concludes the book of 1 John, once again emphasizing the supremacy of love in the Christian experience. Those who put their faith in Christ can know, for sure, that they have eternal life. This assurance comes by trusting what we know of the life of Jesus Christ, as well as the evidence of the Holy Spirit within us. Following God's commands, particularly love, results in confidence of our salvation, as well as strength against the temptations of the world.
First John 5 completes the letter by summarizing how Christians can know that they have eternal life. Prior chapters have explained the various signs of ''abiding'' with God, but the key measurement is love. In this final passage, love is once again used as the supreme measurement. In light of the rest of the letter, love for God and love for others is shown to be both a source of confidence and a sign of faith.
First John seems to assume that the reader is familiar with the gospel. Rather than re-state these facts, John is concerned with building confidence in Christian believers. At the same time, his words encourage believers to examine their own lives for signs of their relationship with Christ. This letter also challenges false teachers and their incorrect claims about Jesus. Many themes are shared with the Gospel of John.
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