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Galatians 5:16-23 teaches that at any moment we are either walking by the Holy Spirit or according to the sin nature. Walking by the Spirit, enjoying fellowship with God, walking in the light are virtually synonymous. During these times, the Holy Spirit is working in us to illuminate our minds to the truth of Scripture and to challenge us to apply what we learn. But when we sin, we begin to live based on the sin nature. Our works do not count for eternity. The only way to recover is to confess (admit, acknowledge) our sin to God the Father and we are instantly forgiven, cleansed, and recover our spiritual walk (1 John 1:9). Please make sure you are walking by the Spirit before you begin your Bible study, so it will be spiritually profitable.

1 John 5:4-8 by Robert Dean
Duration:1 hr 5 mins 47 secs

Overcomers; The KJV Debate; 1 John 5:4-8

1 John 5:4 NASB "For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. [5] Who is the one who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?"

Verse 5 says that the one who overcomes is the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God. If we start there it is easy to think that what verse 5 is talking about is salvation, that the way we are saved is to believe that Jesus is the Son of God. That is true, but faith in Christ is not something that is restricted to phase one justification. What the Scripture teaches is that Jesus is true deity; He is God; He is undiminished deity and He has all of the attributes of deity. The issue at salvation is to believe in Jesus Christ, that He died on the cross as a substitute for us; but the problem that John is dealing with is a post-salvation problem. He is talking about those who "went out from us but weren't of us." Many people want to take "us" as a general sense of believers and that these lived in the church, acted like they were Christians but they weren't really Christians. That is not what he is talking about. The "us" refers to the apostles. A principle of hermeneutics is that when there is a pronoun such as we have here, a first person plural pronoun, "us," if is starts off with a first person "we" or "us," if that refers to a certain group of people, unless there is clear evidence within the text of a shift, then that group referred to by the "we" or the "us" is the same all the way through. That means that the "us" referred to in that passage, "they went out from us but they weren't of us," means that they went out from the apostolic body but they weren't really of us. It is not an indication that they weren't saved but that they began to reject certain fundamental doctrines.

The believers who go on believing right doctrine continue in fellowship. This is exactly what John started off with in 1 John 1:2, 3. In other words, the enjoyment of fellowship as seen in v. 3 is not based on a lack of sin but it is based on doctrinal correctness regarding the person of Jesus Christ. That is the issue in v. 2. If we don't believe the testimony of the apostles, John says, then we can't have fellowship with them. Their testimony was related to Jesus whom they saw, felt, touched, and their witness of His life. So it is Christological heresy that leads to a loss of fellowship with the apostles and with God. So fellowship isn't just a matter of not sinning, it is also related to having accurate doctrine related to the person of the Lord Jesus Christ.

1 John 5:4 actually begins in the Greek: "All who are born from the source of God," i.e. all who are born again. It is a perfect passive participle: whoever has been born in the past with the result that they are still regenerate, overcomes the world. It looks at first glance as if that is saying that the regenerate person overcomes the world. But we have seen in the past that John uses this perfect tense in several verses to indicate the kind of behaviour that should be expected of the person who is a member of the royal family of God. He is not saying that every born-again person is going to overcome the world. For example 1 John 2:29 NASB "If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone also who practices righteousness is born of Him." He is not saying that everyone who is regenerate always practices righteousness, he is saying that righteousness can be practised only if one is born of Him. You can't flip it to the opposite and say that everyone who doesn't practice righteousness is not born of Him; that is not true. He is saying that everyone who practices righteousness is born of Him because you can't do righteousness unless you first have been regenerated. Therefore the implication is that only those who are regenerate can produce righteousness, but not all who are regenerate will produce righteousness. The same thing is true in 1 John 3:9 NASB "No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God." 1 John 4:7 is another example. 

The point that we have to understand in 1 John 5:4 is that to overcome the world we have to first be regenerate. If we are regenerate we have the potential to overcome the world but you may not overcome the world. There's the rub; there's the real interpretive problem in this verse, because there are those who say that overcoming is what every believer does and that he does it by virtue of the fact that he trusts Christ as saviour. The very reason that John writes this epistle to the believers is so that they will continue to believe that Jesus is the Son of God, so that they will continue to believe in the undiminished deity and true humanity of Jesus Christ; because it is in His hypostatic union that Jesus lays the precedent, the pattern for the spiritual life of the church age. To start messing with the hypostatic union and get it out of proportion then that damages the whole concept of the spiritual life that is pioneered by Jesus Christ at the first advent. 1st John is dealing with the spiritual life after salvation, not what you have to believe in order to be saved. That is evidenced by the fact that throughout this entire epistle it is dependent on the vocabulary that Jesus used in the Gospel in John 13-17 when He was teaching the disciples about the spiritual life of the church age. So the issue here is the spiritual life: continuing to believe correct doctrine about the person of Jesus Christ as a foundation for spiritual growth.

"For whatever is born of God overcomes the world…" what does he mean by this? If it is the normal operating method for every believer to overcome the world, which is the contention of Lordship salvation (if you are a true believer you will overcome the world), then we have a problem. In 1 John chapter 2 the context is that John has been addressing the three levels of spiritual growth in the congregation. In v. 12 he says: "I am writing to you, little children, because your sins have been forgiven you for His name's sake [13] I am writing to you, fathers, because you know Him who has been from the beginning. I am writing to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one. I have written to you, children, because you know the Father."

Then in v. 14, "I have written to you, fathers, because you know Him who has been from the beginning…" They have reached that stage where they know God: spiritual adulthood. "…I have written to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one." Overcoming the wicked one has to do with getting past that spiritual infancy when Satan is tempting the new believer to disregard doctrine. As a believer grows in the spiritual life he becomes a greater and greater testimony against Satan in the angelic conflict. Satan's assault pattern for the young believer is to distract him from the Word. In that sense they have overcome the wicked one. Then he says, still addressing young men, in v. 15 "Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him." They have overcome the wicked one but not the world. "Do not love the world" is the point of contention in spiritual adolescence. Spiritual infancy: are you going to make doctrine a priority? Spiritual adolescence: are you going to live today in light of eternity or are you going to live today on the basis of whatever makes you happy today? Over in James chapter four we are told that if we love the world we are an enemy of God. So a believer can obviously still love the world and he hasn't reached the point where he is loving the Father.

In 2:16 we read: "For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world." So loving the world means to be still in a stage of spiritual immaturity where a person is having major problems with his sin nature. He is still spending a lot of time in carnality and not that much time filled with the Spirit or walking by the Spirit because his priorities and his values are still being set by the cosmic system. John reminds them in v. 17, "The world [cosmic system] is passing away, and {also} its lusts …" In other words, it is temporary. Don't put your values and priorities on that which is temporary but on that which is eternal. "… but the one who does the will of God lives forever." This doesn't mean to have eternal life but that you will be in a status of abiding in Christ and having a closer fellowship with Christ in eternity.

We either love the world or we love God; one or the other. When we are in carnality we are loving the world; when we are filled with the Spirit, abiding in Christ that is when we are demonstrating love for God, and love for God is demonstrated by doing what God says. This is the point John makes in 1 John 2:3-5. Infant believers don't know God because they don't know His commandments yet and they don't keep His commandments. Only as we advance in our understanding of the Word do we come to know what those commandments are and obey His Word and apply those principles, and that indicates that we have come to know Him. 

1 John 5:4 NASB "… and this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith." This is not faith at salvation, this is the post-salvation faith, the faith-rest drill. It is trusting in the promises and provisions of God; it is learning about and implementing all of the assets that God gave us at the instant of salvation. 

1 John 5:6 takes us to a new section that goes down to verse 13. The key word in this section is the Word testimony or witness. It comes from the Greek martureo [marturew] from which we get our English word "martyr." It was a legal term meaning to testify, to give a testimony, to bear witness, to make an official record of something. It was first used in this epistle in 1 John 1:2 and the life was manifested, and we have seen and testify [bear witness to] …" They are bearing witness. This is an official legal term. We, the apostles, are legal witnesses to the reality of the hypostatic union during the first advent. Now in 5:6 John is going to return to the scene of the witness and expand upon that in this conclusion to 1 John. NASB "This is the One who came by water and blood, Jesus Christ; not with the water only, but with the water and with the blood. It is the Spirit who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth."

There are three views that are suggested for interpreting this phrase "water and blood." The first view which has little support and none from the text is the idea that water and blood represent the two ordinances in the church, water baptism and communion. The second view that is suggested is that water and the blood is a reference to what came out of Jesus' side. But that is not the idea that is being taught here. The main idea is the entirety of the ministry of Jesus Christ when He is teaching by word and deed about not only salvation but about the spiritual life. Water therefore refers to the inauguration of Christ's earthly ministry and the blood references the final episode in His life, and that is the death on the cross. But he goes beyond that. They key idea in these verses is testimony, the witness. There are two witnesses of God in relationship to who Jesus Christ is as the eternal Son of God, that he is undiminished deity united with true humanity. The first witness came at the baptism when John the Baptist immersed Jesus in water and heard the Father speak from heaven and saw the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove descend on Jesus. The second validation and testimony as to who Jesus was came after the crucifixion when Jesus Christ was raised from the dead. In that He is validated; His victory over death is the great validation of God's approval of Jesus Christ, an indication that He had conquered death and that he is God. Water and blood refers to the beginning and end of His life. In other words, the totality of His life indicated that he was undiminished deity and true humanity untied in one person forever. The very issue in this epistle is the person of Jesus Christ and His identity; that he through these evidences demonstrated Himself to be the Messiah and the one who provided not only salvation but set the precedent for the spiritual life of the church age. John emphasises water and blood, the inauguration and the crucifixion; He was physically crucified on the cross.

"It is the Spirit who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth." So how does the Holy Spirit witness? He does it through the ongoing revelation of His Word to the apostles. The word "truth" there is a genitive in the Greek and that qualifies the role or ministry of the Holy Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit who will communicate truth; that is His realm of operation. He is the one who reveals doctrine, reveals Scripture, and He is the one who is the agent of inspiration. 

1 John 5:7 NASB "For there are three that testify [bear witness]: [8] the Spirit and the water and the blood; and the three are in agreement." In the NKJV or KJV the words that follow testify in v. 7 are "in heaven: the Father, the Word and the Holy Spirit; and these three are one. And there are three that bear witness on earth …" That latter translation is found only in the KJV and NKJV and so it brings up a very interesting subject.

The issue of the King James version debate

"King James only" people are those who believe that the King James version is inerrant, that it is the only version that should be used, and that all of these modern translations are actually heretical, all wrong, and if you use them you'll probably never learn any truth because only the KJV is true—and not only was the Greek text inspired but the KJV translators were inspired, so the KJV is the only authorised version that should be used. So we have to ask the question: Is there a legitimate stand for saying that the KJV is the only authorised version and that we should only use it? One place that we see this difference is that in most of the modern versions there is not included the extra text in these two verses. There is not the ending in Mark that is in the KJV, and there are some other verses that are in the KJV that are not in many modern translations. What causes this? Have the translators left some of the Bible out? Have they ignored some of the revelation of God? If so that is a serious claim.

1.  The KJV and the NKJV are based on a collection of Greek MSS called the Textus Receptus [TR]. That is the Latin for "received text." The TR contains the second half of verse 7 and the first half of verse 8. King James only advocates claim that the modern versions are deliberately less Trinitarian. This is a great verse to support the Trinity: "the Father, the Word and the Holy Spirit; and these three are one." The issue here is not an issue of the inspiration of the text, the issue has to do with the transmission and the copying of the text, not its origination.

2.   The TR refers to the 1633 version of the Greek text published by Erasmus. He published the first edition in 1516. Erasmus was a Roman Catholic priest and a humanist who desired to reform the Roman Catholic church at the same time as Martin Luther and the early reformers. However, he was not a believer and he really wanted a moral reformation of the church, not a theological reformation of the Roman Catholic church. Erasmus was not a great believer but he was a great linguist and a great student of MSS and ancient texts. But Erasmus had the problem a lot of modern writers have with publishers and that was to get the manuscript in so that it could be published. He had to come up with a Greek New Testament in seven months and he had to do it the old fashioned way writing on leather with a quill pen. He based his New Testament on only seven MSS that were available to him at the time. So the TR is based on seven Greek MSS, and that's it. It has been described by scholars as being thrown together rather than edited. Of the seven MSS not one of them contained the entirety of the New Testament. Furthermore, all of these MSS dated from between the 11th century and the 15th century—from roughly 1050 AD up to about 1480 AD, about 1000 years after the New Testament was written. So these were very late MSS and a lot of errors had crept into them.

3.  Scholars note that by comparing these seven MSS with Erasmus' final edition (there are still copies of that) and the one the printer published several inferences can be made. First, Erasmus primarily used two MSS and compared the others with these and wrote in his changes on those two primary MSS. The seven MSS differed in as many as six to ten times per chapter. They are not considered even today some of the better MSS. Furthermore, the publisher didn't accept all of Erasmus's corrections so the publisher went in and added some of his own. The result was that a number of major errors entered into that text that Erasmus edited. In fact, many words entered in that aren't found in any Greek MSS anywhere. So we don't know what they mean or where they came from.

4.  One bad example of this comes from the last six verses of Revelation. None of the MSS that Erasmus used contain those last six verses in Revelation, so the only thing he could do to come up with those last six verses was go to the Latin Vulgate, translated by Jerome in the 3rd century, and back-translated from the Latin. As a result of that there are at least twenty errors in the TR in the last six verses that have no support of any Greek MSS and they are still in the TR today. Another example is Acts 9:6 where Erasmus added the words "and he trembling and astonished, said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him." These words came from the Latin Vulgate but are not found in any Greek MS anywhere.

5.  But the most incredible problem is what is known as the Johannine Sentence. That is, that there is the last part of 1 John 5:7 and the first part of verse 8 aren't included in any of the important Greek MSS.

6.  These verses appear in only eight Greek MSS, none of which can be dated earlier than the 10th century. Furthermore, it is clear from the way from the word order is in the Greek that it was translated from the Lain and not from the Greek. But in four of these eight MSS it is not in the text, it is in the margin as a marginal note as an explanation of what is in the text. What would happen is that a later scribe would come along and include that note into the main MS and it would find its way in as part of the text. If these verses were genuine, because there is such a clear statement of the Trinity, they would have been cited and referred to in the great debates defining the Trinity that occurred at the Council of Nicea in 325 and the Council of Chalcedon in 451. No scholar, no early church father, ever cites these verses. They don't appear until after the great Trinitarian controversy of the 4th and 5th century.

7.  How did they get here? They got there because Erasmus was bullied into putting it into the Bible. When Erasmus first published his addition, his Greek text, in 1516 there was an English scholar by the name of Leigh who constantly criticised Erasmus, and after several years of being criticised by Leigh, Erasmus wrote the following reply: "If a single MS should come into my hands that had those verses I would have used it to fill in what was missing in the other MSS I had. But because that did not happen I have taken the only course permissible and left it out." Later Leigh continued to badger Erasmus that he was negligent and that he had just left it out, so finally Erasmus said: "If you just come up with a single MS that shows this then I'll put it into my Greek New Testament." Leigh finally produced a MS that possessed that particular quotation and so Erasmus included the extra text in his 3rd edition of his New Testament. But in later editions he took it out. Then later in the 1600s those additional words were reinserted by later editors and became part of TR. That shows how inadvertently an extra verse or two came to be inserted into the New Testament. But it is in TR and in every KJV, so if the KJV only people say the KJV is right and is always right then they are basing their view on a text that has major errors.  

8.  Is the Johannine sentence Scripture? No, the evidence seems to suggest it is not. Is it true? Yes. Is it sound theology? Yes, but it is not attested in any of the MSS that have any serious reliability. It was forced into the text by the bullying manoeuvrers of the Roman Catholic church as represented by the scholar E. Leigh.

9.  This is one of only numerous examples of problems with the text underlying the King James version. In fact, hundreds of additions and revisions were made to the KJV between 1611 and 1781. The KJV of 1611 had over eight thousand notes in the margin with alternate readings and translation suggestions. In that edition some of those suggestions are exactly the translations that followed in some modern translations. The KJV had so many errors that it was revised in 1612, 1613, 1616, 1629, and 1638. In fact, by 1659 a tract was written by William Kilburn called "Dangerous Errors" in several late-printed Bibles to the great scandal and corruption of sound and true religion," and he claimed that 20,000 different errors had crept into six different editions of the KJV. Most modern versions are based on Benjamin Blaney's edition in 1769 which differs from the 1611 translation by over 75,000 details. Which "King James only" are we talking about? The original KJV also contained the Apocrypha. It was not first excluded until 1629 and it was not generally omitted from the KJV until the 19th century. Furthermore, there have been numerous changes to the KJV. For example, originally Deuteronomy 26:1 read: "the LORD," and now it reads "the LORD thy God." Jeremiah 49:1 originally read "inherit God," and it was changed to "inherit Gad." Mark 10:18 originally read, "there is no man good but one," now it reads "there is none good but one." 1 Corinthians 4:9 originally read "approved unto death," now it reads "appointed unto death."

10.  There are over 1838 differences between the TR and the Majority Text. The TR was based on seven MSS, none older than the tenth century, whereas the Majority Text is based on over 4000 MSS and the oldest goes back to the 4th century AD. The TR represents what is called the Byzantine text type, which is the text type of the Majority Text. So the Majority Text is a superior text and a superior basis for translation.

Only the original autographs in the Greek and Hebrew were inspired by God. All translations have errors because of the nature of translation. Theology often enters in as do other problems.

1 John 5:6 NASB "This is the One who came by water and blood, Jesus Christ; not with the water only, but with the water and with the blood. It is the Spirit who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth." The Old Testament Law said that we need to confirm anything by at least two witnesses. So the Holy Spirit testified as to who Jesus Christ was through the revelation of the Word to the apostles. The water and the blood give evidence as to who Jesus was from the testimony of God the Father and the baptism and His resurrection after the crucifixion. These three all agree as one that Jesus is undiminished deity and true humanity.