William Barclay's Daily Study Bible

The Essence Of The Faith (1 John 5:11-13)

5:11-13 And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life and that that life is in his Son. He who has the Son has life; he who has not the Son has not life. I have written these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life.

With this paragraph the letter proper comes to an end. What follows is in the nature of a postscript. The end is a statement that the essence of the Christian life is eternal life.

The word for eternal is aionios ( Greek #166 ). It means far more than simply lasting for ever. A life which lasted for ever might well be a curse and not a blessing, an intolerable burden and not a shining gift. There is only one person to whom aionios may properly be applied and that is God. In the real sense of the term it is God alone who possesses and inhabits eternity. Eternal life is, therefore, nothing other than the life of God himself. What we are promised is that here and now there can be given us a share in the very life of God.

In God there is peace and, therefore, eternal life means serenity. It means a life liberated from the fears which haunt the human situation. In God there is power and, therefore, eternal life means the defeat of frustration. It means a life filled with the power of God and, therefore, victorious over circumstance. In God there is holiness and, therefore, eternal life means the defeat of sin. It means a life clad with the purity of God and armed against the soiling infections of the world. In God there is love and, therefore, eternal life means the end of bitterness and hatred. It means a life which has the love of God in its heart and the undefeatable love of man in all its feelings and in all its action. In God there is life and, therefore eternal life means the defeat of death. It means a life which is indestructible because it has in it the indestructibility of God himself.

It is John's conviction that such a life comes through Jesus Christ and in no other way. Why should that be? If eternal life is the life of God, it means that we can possess that life only when we know God and are enabled to approach him and rest in him. We can do these two things only in Jesus Christ. The Son alone fully knows the Father and, therefore, only he can fully reveal to us what God is like. As John had it in his gospel: "No one has ever seen God; the only Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he has made him known" ( John 1:18 ). And Jesus Christ alone can bring us to God. It is in him that there is open to us the new and living way into the presence of God ( Hebrews 10:19-23 ). We may take a simple analogy. If we wish to meet someone whom we do not know and who moves in a completely different circle from our own, we can achieve that meeting only by finding someone who knows him and is willing to introduce us to him. That is what Jesus does for us in regard to God. Eternal life is the life of God and we can find that life only through Jesus Christ.

- William Barclay's Daily Study Bible