Bible Verse Explanations and Resources


1 John 5:4

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

Whatsoever is born of God - Παν το γεγεννημενον· Whatsoever (the neuter for the masculine) is begotten of God: overcometh the world. "I understand by this," says Schoettgen, "the Jewish Church, or Judaism, which is often termed הזה עולם olam hazzeh, this world. The reasons which induce me to think so are,

  1. Because this κοσμος, world, denied that the Messiah was come; but the Gentiles did not oppose this principle.
  • Because he proves the truth of the Christian religion against the Jews, reasoning according to the Jewish manner; whence it is evident that he contends, not against the Gentiles, but against the Jews. The sense therefore is, he who possesses the true Christian faith can easily convict the Jewish religion of falsity."
  • That is, He can show the vanity of their expectations, and the falsity of their glosses and prejudices. Suppose we understand by the world the evil principles and practices which are among men, and in the human heart; then the influence of God in the soul may be properly said to overcome this; and by faith in the Son of God a man is able to overcome all that is in the world, viz., the desire of the flesh, the desire of the eye, and the pride of life.

    Albert Barnes
    Notes on the Whole Bible

    For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world - The world, in its maxims, and precepts, and customs, does not rule him, but he is a freeman. The idea is, that there is a conflict between religion and the world, and that in the heart of every true Christian religion secures the victory, or triumphs. In John 16:33, the Saviour says, “Be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” See the notes at that verse. He obtained a complete triumph over him “who rules the darkness of the world,” and laid the foundation for a victory by his people over all vice, error, and sin. John makes this affirmation of all who are born of God. “Whatsoever,” or, as the Greek is, “Everything which is begotten of God,” ( πᾶν τὸ γεγενημένον pan to gegenēmenonmeaning to affirm, undoubtedly, that “in every instance” where one is truly regenerated, there is this victory over the world. See the James 4:4 note; 1 John 2:15-16 note. It is one of the settled maxims of religion, that every man who is a true Christian gains a victory over the world; and consequently a maxim as settled, that where the spirit of the world reigns supremely in the heart, there is no true religion. But, if this be a true principle, how many professed Christians are there who are strangers to all claims of piety - for how many are there who are wholly governed by the spirit of this world!

    And this is the victory - This is the source or means of the victory which is thus achieved.

    Even our faith - Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, 1 John 5:5. He overcame the world, John 16:33, and it is by that faith which makes us one with him, and that imbues us with his Spirit, that we are able to do it also.

    Matthew Henry
    Concise Bible Commentary
    True love for the people of God, may be distinguished from natural kindness or party attachments, by its being united with the love of God, and obedience to his commands. The same Holy Spirit that taught the love, will have taught obedience also; and that man cannot truly love the children of God, who, by habit, commits sin or neglects known duty. As God's commands are holy, just, and good rules of liberty and happiness, so those who are born of God and love him, do not count them grievous, but lament that they cannot serve him more perfectly. Self-denial is required, but true Christians have a principle which carries them above all hinderances. Though the conflict often is sharp, and the regenerate may be cast down, yet he will rise up and renew his combat with resolution. But all, except believers in Christ, are enslaved in some respect or other, to the customs, opinions, or interests of the world. Faith is the cause of victory, the means, the instrument, the spiritual armour by which we overcome. In and by faith we cleave to Christ, in contempt of, and in opposition to the world. Faith sanctifies the heart, and purifies it from those sensual lusts by which the world obtains sway and dominion over souls. It has the indwelling Spirit of grace, which is greater than he who dwells in the world. The real Christian overcomes the world by faith; he sees, in and by the life and conduct of the Lord Jesus on earth, that this world is to be renounced and overcome. He cannot be satisfied with this world, but looks beyond it, and is still tending, striving, and pressing toward heaven. We must all, after Christ's example, overcome the world, or it will overcome us to our ruin.
    Ellen G. White
    Counsels on Health, 592

    It is not God's will that we should seclude ourselves from the world. But while in the world we should sanctify ourselves to God. We should not pattern after the world. We are to be in the world as a corrective influence, as salt that retains its savor. Among an unholy, impure, idolatrous generation, we are to be pure and holy, showing that the grace of Christ has power to restore in man the divine likeness. We are to exert a saving influence upon the world. CH 592.1

    “This is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.” 1 John 5:4. The world has become a lazar house of sin, a mass of corruption. It knows not the children of God because it knows Him not. We are not to practice its ways or follow its customs. Continually we are to resist its lax principles. Christ said to His followers, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” Matthew 5:16. It is the duty of physicians and nurses to shine as lights amid the corrupting influences of the world. They are to cherish principles which the world cannot tarnish. CH 592.2

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    Ellen G. White
    Counsels to Parents, Teachers, and Students, 182

    Help them also to appreciate its wonderful beauty. Many books of no value, books that are exciting and unhealthful, are recommended, or at least permitted to be used, because of their supposed literary value. Why should we direct our children to drink of these polluted streams, when they may have free access to the pure fountains of the word of God? The Bible has a fullness, a strength, a depth of meaning, that is inexhaustible. Encourage the children and youth to seek out its treasures, both of thought and of expression. CT 182.1

    As the beauty of these precious things attracts their minds, a softening, subduing power will touch their hearts. They will be drawn to Him who has thus revealed Himself to them. And there are few who will not desire to know more of His works and ways. CT 182.2

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    Ellen G. White
    The Faith I Live By, 126.1

    For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. 1 John 5:4. FLB 126.1

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    Ellen G. White
    Gospel Workers 1915, 259

    The greatest victories gained for the cause of God are not the result of labored argument, ample facilities, wide influence, or abundance of means; they are gained in the audience chamber with God, when with earnest, agonizing faith men lay hold upon the mighty arm of power. GW 259.1

    True faith and true prayer—how strong they are! They are as two arms by which the human suppliant lays hold upon the power of Infinite Love. Faith is trusting in God,—believing that He loves us, and knows what is for our best good. Thus, instead of our own way, it leads us to choose His way. In place of our ignorance, it accepts His wisdom; in place of our weakness, His strength; in place of our sinfulness, His righteousness. Our lives, ourselves, are already His; faith acknowledges His ownership, and accepts its blessings. Truth, uprightness, purity, are pointed out as secrets of life's success. It is faith that puts us in possession of these. Every good impulse or aspiration is the gift of God; faith receives from God the life that alone can produce true growth and efficiency. GW 259.2

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