1 John 5:5
Who is he that overcomes the world, but he that believes that Jesus is the Son of God?
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
1 John 5:5. Who is he that overcometh the world — That is superior to all earthly care, desire, fear? Who is the man, and where is he to be found? Surely none have gained, or will gain, this important victory, but they who believe that Jesus is the Son of God — “The great principles,” says Doddridge, “peculiar to our divine religion, a sense of redeeming love, and the prospect of such a sublime and perpetual happiness as the gospel opens upon us, can alone be sufficient to teach us to triumph over these transitory vanities, and to establish a uniform character, superior to the variety of temptations with which we may be assaulted: while the boasted triumphs of others, upon meaner principles, have been very partial and imperfect, and they have evidently been seduced by one vanity, while they have gloried in despising another.” “That the Jews,” says Macknight, “universally believed their Messiah, or Christ, was to be the Son of God, appears from many passages of the New Testament, especially from the following: Peter answered, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God, Matthew 16:16. Devils also came out of many, crying out, Thou art Christ, the Son of God, Luke 4:41. These things are written that you might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, John 20:31. And that the Jews universally believed the Son of God to be God, appears from the following passages: Jesus answered, My Father worketh hitherto, and I work. Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he not only had broken the sabbath, but said also that God was his Father, making himself equal with God, John 5:17-18. The Jews answered, For a good work we stone thee not, but for blasphemy, because thou, being a man, makest thyself God, John 10:33. The high-priest said, I adjure thee, &c., that thou tell us whether thou be the Christ, the Son of God. Jesus saith to him, Thou hast said. Then the high-priest rent his clothes, saying, He hath spoken blasphemy: what think ye? they answered, He is guilty of death, Matthew 26:63. “The high-priest and council, composed of men of the highest learning and rank among the Jews, equally with the common people, believed that the Messiah was to be the Son of God, and that the Son of God is himself God, otherwise they could not have reckoned Jesus a blasphemer for calling himself Christ, the Son of God. From these indisputable facts it is evident that the modern Socinians contradict the gospel history in two of its essential articles, when they affirm that the first Jewish Christians, before their conversion, had no idea that their Messiah was to come down from heaven, having never been taught to expect any other than a man like themselves. Next, since John hath so frequently declared, and, in what followeth the verse under consideration, hath proved that Jesus is the Christ and the Son of God, the same Socinians must be mistaken when they affirm, that in this epistle John is silent concerning the divinity of Christ, and hath not in any part of it censured those who deny it.”5:1-5 True love for the people of God, may be distinguished from natural kindness or party attachments, by its being united with the love of God, and obedience to his commands. The same Holy Spirit that taught the love, will have taught obedience also; and that man cannot truly love the children of God, who, by habit, commits sin or neglects known duty. As God's commands are holy, just, and good rules of liberty and happiness, so those who are born of God and love him, do not count them grievous, but lament that they cannot serve him more perfectly. Self-denial is required, but true Christians have a principle which carries them above all hinderances. Though the conflict often is sharp, and the regenerate may be cast down, yet he will rise up and renew his combat with resolution. But all, except believers in Christ, are enslaved in some respect or other, to the customs, opinions, or interests of the world. Faith is the cause of victory, the means, the instrument, the spiritual armour by which we overcome. In and by faith we cleave to Christ, in contempt of, and in opposition to the world. Faith sanctifies the heart, and purifies it from those sensual lusts by which the world obtains sway and dominion over souls. It has the indwelling Spirit of grace, which is greater than he who dwells in the world. The real Christian overcomes the world by faith; he sees, in and by the life and conduct of the Lord Jesus on earth, that this world is to be renounced and overcome. He cannot be satisfied with this world, but looks beyond it, and is still tending, striving, and pressing toward heaven. We must all, after Christ's example, overcome the world, or it will overcome us to our ruin.Who is he ... - Where is there one who can pretend to have obtained a victory over the world, except he who believes in the Saviour? All else are worldly, and are governed by worldly aims and principles. It is true that a man may gain a victory over one worldly passion; he may subdue some one evil propensity; he may abandon the "happy" circle, may break away from habits of profaneness, may leave the company of the unprincipled and polluted; but still, unless he has faith in the Son of God, the spirit of the world will reign supreme in his soul in some form. The appeal which John so confidently made in his time may be as confidently made now. we may ask, as he did, where is there one who shows that he has obtained a complete victory over the world, except the true Christian? Where is there one whose end and aim is not the present life? Where is there one who shows that all his purposes in regard to this world are made subordinate to the world to come?

There are those now, as there were then, who break away from one form of sin, and from one circle of sinful companions; there are those who change the ardent passions of youth for the soberness of middle or advanced life there are those who see the folly of profaneness, and of gaiety, and intemperance; there are those who are disappointed in some scheme of ambition, and who withdraw from political conflicts; there are those who are satiated with pageantry, and who, oppressed with the cares of state, as Diocletian and Charles V were, retire from public life; and there are those whose hearts are crushed and broken by losses, and by the death, or what is worse than death, by the ingratitude of their children, and who cease to cherish the fond hope that their family will be honored, and their name perpetuated in those whom they tenderly loved - but still there is no victory over the world. Their deep dejection, their sadness, their brokenness of spirit, their lamentations, and their want of cheerfulness, all show that the spirit of the world still reigns in their hearts.

If the calamities which have come upon them could be withdrawn; if the days of prosperity could be restored, they would show as much of the spirit of the world as ever they did, and would pursue its follies and its vanities as greedily as they had done before. Not many years or months elapse before the worldly mother who has followed one daughter to the grave, will introduce another into the frivolous world with all the brilliancy which fashion prescribes; not long will a worldly father mourn over the death of a son before, in the whirl of business and the exciting scenes of ambition, he will show that his heart is as much wedded to the world as it ever was. If such sorrows and disappointments conduct to the Saviour, as they sometimes do; if they lead the troubled mind to seek peace in his blood, and support in the hope of heaven, then a real victory is obtained over the world; and then, when the hand of affliction is withdrawn, it is seen that there has been a work of grace in the soul that has effectually changed all its feelings, and secured a triumph that shall be eternal.

5. Who—"Who" else "but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God:" "the Christ" (1Jo 5:1)? Confirming, by a triumphant question defying all contradiction, as an undeniable fact, 1Jo 5:4, that the victory which overcomes the world is faith. For it is by believing: that we are made one with Jesus the Son of God, so that we partake of His victory over the world, and have dwelling in us One greater than he who is in the world (1Jo 4:4). "Survey the whole world, and show me even one of whom it can be affirmed with truth that he overcomes the world, who is not a Christian, and endowed with this faith" [Episcopius in Alford]. For that faith, viz. that Jesus is the Son of God, ( or the Christ, as 1Jo 5:1), fills the soul with so great things concerning him, and the design of his coming among us, and what we are to expect thereupon, as easily turn this world into a contemptible shadow, and deprive it of all its former power over us. Who is he that overcometh the world,.... This question carries in it a strong affirmation, that no other person is the conqueror of the world:

but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God? and this points out what that faith is which obtains the victory over the world; and shows that it is not that trust and confidence which has a man's self, or any mere creature, thing, or person, for its object, but only Jesus Christ, and that as he is the Son of God; and which is not a mere assent to such a proposition, to which devils and unregenerate persons may assent, and do; but it is a seeing of the Son in the glory, fulness, and suitableness of his person, office, and grace; a going to him, being drawn by the Father; and a living upon him as the Son of God, and trusting in him for life, righteousness, and salvation: and this shows, that the victory over the world is not owing to faith itself, but to its object Christ, who has overcome it, and makes true believers in him more than conquerors over it.

{7} Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?

(7) Moreover he declares two things, the one, what true faith is, that is, that which rests on Jesus Christ the Son of God alone: on which follows the other, that is, that this strength is not proper to faith, but by faith as an instrument is drawn from Jesus Christ the Son of God.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
1 John 5:5. Confirmation of the preceding thought by an appeal to the experience of the readers (Lücke).

τίς ἐστιν ὁ νικῶν κ.τ.λ.] The same form of speech as in chap. 1 John 2:22. The thought is: “Credens omnis et solus vincit” (Bengel). With ὅτι Ἰησοῦς ἐστὶν κ.τ.λ. comp. 1 John 5:1, chap. 1 John 2:22, 1 John 3:23.

The believer is victorious because he is born of God; 1 John 5:1; 1 John 5:4 (Düsterdieck).1 John 5:5. St. John says: “Everything that hath been begotten of God conquereth the world”. But he has already said: “Every one that hath faith that Jesus is the Christ hath been begotten of God” (1 John 5:1). So now he asks: “Who is he that conquereth the world but he that hath faith that Jesus is the Son of God?” (“Son of God” being synonymous with “Christ,” i.e., “Messiah”. Cf. John 11:27; John 20:31). His doctrine therefore is that faith in the Incarnation, believing apprehension of the wonder and glory of it, makes easy the commandments of God, i.e., love to God and love to one another. The remembrance and contemplation of that amazing manifestation drive out the affection of the world and inflame the heart with heavenly love. “What else can the consideration of a compassion so great and undeserved, of a love so free and in such wise proved, of a condescension so unexpected, of a gentleness so unconquerable, of a sweetness so amazing—what, I say, can the diligent consideration of these things do but deliver utterly from every evil passion the soul of him that considers them and hale it unto them in sorrow, exceedingly affect it, and make it despise in comparison with them whatsoever can be desired only in their despite?” (Bern. De Dilig. Deo). “There is no book so efficacious towards the instructing of a man in all all virtue and in abhorrence of all sin as the Passion of the Son of God” (Juan de Avila). “Fix your eyes on your Crucified Lord, and everything will seem easy to you” (Santa Teresa).5. Who is he that overcometh] Here the present tense is right. The Apostle appeals to the daily experience of every victorious Christian.

that Jesus is the Son of God] The faith that conquers is no mere vague belief in the existence of God, but a definite belief in the Incarnation: comp. 1 John 5:1, 1 John 2:22, 1 John 3:23, 1 John 4:2-3. For the form of question comp. 1 John 2:22 : this verse shews that ‘the liar’ (ὁ ψεύστης) there does not mean ‘the supreme liar’, for ‘he that overcometh’ (ὁ νικῶν) cannot mean ‘the supreme conqueror’. The one sole Victor, who is such in the highest and unique sense, is Christ. Comp. ‘Thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ’ (1 Corinthians 15:57). Belief in Christ is at once belief in God and in man. It lays a foundation for love and trust towards our fellow men. Thus the instinctive distrust and selfishness, which reign supreme in the world, are overcome.1 John 5:5. Τίς ἐστιν, who is he?) Every one that believeth, and none but he, overcomes. He esteems nothing in comparison with the Son of God.Verse 5. - What other way is there of conquering the world? And how can he who believes fail? Belief in Christ unites us to him, and gives us a share in his victories; and he has overcome the world (John 16:33). He that overcometh (ὁ νικῶν)

The article with the participle denoting what is habitual; one who leads a life of victory over the world.

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