Faith in Jesus Christ Overcomes the World: An Exegesis on 1 John 5:1–5 -- By: Alan Hugh West

Journal: Faith and Mission
Volume: FM 16:3 (Summer 1999)
Article: Faith in Jesus Christ Overcomes the World: An Exegesis on 1 John 5:1–5
Author: Alan Hugh West

Faith in Jesus Christ Overcomes the World:
An Exegesis on 1 John 5:1–5

Alan Hugh West

M.Div. Student
Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary
Wake Forest, NC 27587

1999 Cowinner of the Baxter C. Phillips
and Wanda L. Phillips Greek Exposition Award
Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary
Wake Forest, North Carolina


The author of 1 John 5:1–5 focuses on the relationship of three fundamental elements that are extremely important concerning the knowledge of God: faith, love, and obedience.1 In these verses the writer identifies the believer’s victory over the world with the cruciality of faith in Jesus Christ.2 Eternal life depends upon every tenet of belief in God, of knowledge about Him, on the revelation, obedient confession, and commitment that Jesus is the eternal life Who was with the Father. Jesus is the Son of God.3 The purpose of this paper is to analyze these verses exegetically and theologically.

Historical and Contextual Background

The First Epistle of John is an intensely practical letter addressed to Christian readers.4 It warns against the dangers of false teachers and exhorts believers to lives of obedience to God and love for their brothers and sisters in Christ. Its controlling theme is fellowship with God the Father and with His Son, Jesus Christ.5 For the early Christians, heresy in the church posed the problem of distinguishing orthodoxy from heterodoxy; faithful ministers of the Word from false teachers.6 The Epistle of 1 John formulates several criteria—righteousness, love, and correct Christology—for testing the Christian profession of teachers and of oneself.7

The heresy of Gnosticism was growing in Christendom by the time John wrote.8 According to early tradition, John hurriedly left a public bath in Ephesus when he learned that the Gnostic leader Cerinthus had entered.9 Building on the notion that matter is inherently evil, Cerinthus distinguished between an immaterial, divine “Christ spirit” and a human Jesus with a physical body, and said that the “Christ spirit” had come on the human Jesus right after His b...

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