“If we receive the testimony of men, the testimony of God is greater, for this is the testimony of God that he has borne concerning his Son.” (1 John 5:9)
As we wrap up our series in the First Epistle of John, we find ourselves back where we started – chapter 5. In these final words, John emphasizes the purpose of the book – that those who believe on the Son of God may know they have eternal life (1 John 5:13). We have therefore concluded, along with a multitude of commentators and preachers, that the primary intention of John’s first epistle is to provide believers with assurance.
Recall that we have emphasized that this assurance is based on faith in Christ. The more closely we walk with Jesus, the more we will be granted a blessed confidence that we are his. To bolster our faith, God graciously gives us witnesses – trustworthy sources that point us back to Christ. In the scriptures, we learn that creation is a witness to the handiwork and attributes of God. The prophets and apostles were witnesses to God’s power. Believers are witnesses of God’s working in their lives and are called to testify to one another. The greatest of all witnesses, however, is God himself.
John says in 5:9, “if we receive the testimony of men, the testimony of God is greater.” God himself is the ultimate witness giving the ultimate testimony. In God there is no deceit, no ulterior motive, no collusion, no reason for suspicion – he is the only pure witness. Called to testify, he points us to his Son.
The main point of 1 John 5:6-15 is that believers should have confidence because God has given us his testimony, which is greater than man’s testimony, that God has given us eternal life in his Son (v11). Now, how does God testify? Verses 6-8 contain some statements that have been more difficult to understand. We are told in verse 6 that Jesus came by water and blood. Many see this phrase as referring to his baptism and death. We will dive more deeply into the meaning behind these terms on Sunday.
God has given us his testimony, and this testimony points us to Christ. Now, given the assurance that comes with receiving God’s testimony, what do we do? One of the blessings of this confidence is that we can go to God in prayer more boldly. John applies this message by concluding the section with, “And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us.” May we find greater assurance in God’s testimony of his Son.