Eternal Life in I John

Surely as we would see Eternal Life in I John, we would also see the Security of the Believer in I John; and in doing so it would become apparent from the Word of God itself the relationship between the Security of the Believer, Faith, and Faith Contending.  Why is Faith Contending necessary?  Because some who claim to be Christians are liars, and the truth is not in them, not in their spirits.

eternal life

  1. Eternal Life in I John 2:13.

Note where this is approximately half way in the epistle of I John as if to divide it in two parts, and that helps to stress another interesting aspect of I John in that unlike Paul’s epistles those addressed are mentioned shortly before this beginning of an eternal life emphasis, in I John 2:12-14- “I write unto you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for his name’s sake. I write unto you, fathers, because ye have known him that is from the beginning.  I write unto you, young men, because ye have overcome the wicked one.  I write unto you, little children, because ye have known the Father.  I have written unto you fathers, because ye have known him that is from the beginning.  I have written unto you, young men, because ye are strong, and the word of God abideth in you, and ye have overcome the wicked one.”  (I John 2:12-14  KJV) * 

Little children have two characteristics:  (1) Their sins are forgiven in the name of Jesus; and (2) They have known the Father.  Young men addressed have three characteristics:  (1) They have overcome the wicked One, Satan, mentioned twice; (2) They are strong; and (3) The Word of God abides in them.  Fathers, the elders, have the single characteristic repeated twice that they have “known him that is from the beginning”.  We naturally take that to mean that these are first Christians that knew Jesus Himself.

So there is little doubt as to who the epistle of I John is addressed to:  (1) It is addressed to many Christians who knew Jesus at the same time that the Apostles knew Jesus; (2) It is addressed to their young men that have the Word of God abiding in themselves, being strong in the Lord and having overcome Satan; and (3) It is addressed to little children below the age of youth who have reached the age of accountability having come to know God the Father personally and having been forgiven of their sins.

Now with this background of who John wants to feel secure about their salvation of eternal life, we come to the first usage in I John of Eternal Life-“Let that therefore abide in you which ye have heard from the beginning.  If that which ye have heard from the beginning shall remain in you, ye also shall continue in the Son, and in the Father.  And this is the promise that he hath promised us, even eternal life.  “ (I John 2:24,13  KJV)

Also the point is made here by the Apostle John has been emphasized previously from the epistles of Paul:  that is, that eternal life is conditional.  Notice the conditional “if”, “if that which ye have heard from the beginning shall remain in you…”  See that, it must remain!  What you heard from the beginning, and this is especially to those Fathers who heard Jesus for themselves, must remain in you, and that is when you receive security and eternal life.

  1. Eternal Life in I John 3:1-3. Here the words “eternal life” are not found; but the substance as first we find the assurance of being “sons of God” (I John 3:1) and then those who have this hope, which also reminds us of the Apostle Paul’s “Christ in you, the hope of glory”. Look at it closely and then a few comments will be made about it—“Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God:  therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not.  Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be:  but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.”  (I John 3:1-3  KJV)   

You can see how I John comes behind the Gospel of John where the Apostle has made it clear that “as many as received him to them gave He power to become sons of God”.

*  The Hope assured us by Christ being inside us is the assurance that at the Second Coming we shall be like Him for we will see Him as He is.  The internal image of Christ in us becomes also an external image at the Second Coming.

*  Again a conditional statement about those who are secure in this hope are also those that purify themselves.  They purify themselves because Jesus is pure, and if the image is to reflect the pure Jesus, it must also be pure.

  1. Eternal Life in I John 3:14. Here while only the word “life” is used instead of “eternal life”, we know it is eternal life since this life is the opposite of death— “We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death.”  (I John 3:14  KJV)
  2. Eternal Life in I John 3:15. Eternal life is negative here, letting us know that faith contending is also involved as certain practitioners of contentious faith are eliminated from the security of the believer by being murderers in that they hate Christian brothers— “Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer; and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.” (I John 3:15  KJV) *  This theme of lack of respect for other Christians, the same as hate or the lack of love for Christian brothers, is not only in I John, but is an echo of what the Apostle James writes in the book of James— “But if ye  have respect to persons, ye commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors.”  (James 2:9  KJV) *  It is also significant that the words before I John 3:15, and introduction to murder and to I John 3:15 is a reference to Cain and Able, also a characteristic of those of contentious faith condensed with in the prime book on faith contending, Jude and Jude 11. “Woe unto them!  for they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Core.”    (Jude 11  KJV) *  This is a good one verse summary of practitioners of contentious faith:  (1) They commit murder by hate because of lack of love of other Christian brothers; (2) They work greedily for personal gain in the ministry like Balaam; and (3) They like Core strive to identify themselves and their group as the real people of God.
  3. Eternal Life in I John 3:24. Once again this is the concept but not the words “eternal life” itself, or perhaps we should say this is the Security of the Believer again— “And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, be the Spirit which he hath given us.”  (I John 3:24  KJV) *  Notice “pneuma” for “Spirit” is capitalized here since it refers to the Holy Spirit. *  It provides the background for the spirits to be tested in the next verse which are human spirits and spirits of those who falsely claim to be Prophets and Apostles.
  4. Eternal Life in I John 5:11-13.

Three times eternal life is mentioned in these three verses as if having started on eternal life in the second chapter, it increases in intensity, and comes to a climax in this fifth chapter— “And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life, and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.  These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God;  that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye  may believe on the name of the Son of God.” (I John 5:11-13  KJV)


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