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Read Introduction to 1 John


“And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us an understanding, that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life.”


And we know that the Son of God has come

This is the third and last certainty expressed by the word “know” in this section (5:18-21).  Christians know with certainty that the Son of God came in the incarnation.  This penetrates the point of difference with the false teaching John addresses throughout 1 John.  It is impossible to fellowship with God apart from Jesus Christ. 

The phrase “the Son of God” occurs eight times in 1 John.  Six of the eight occur in this last chapter.  This is an expression of His eternal relationship with the Father, His deity

The Greek word for “come” includes the ideas of arrival and personal presence.  This word denotes a state of presence.  The Son of God came in personal presence in the incarnation. 

Jn 10:10, “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.”

1 Ti 1:15, “This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief.”

and has given us an understanding,

Christians have spiritual understanding through the Holy Spirit (2:20).  Gnostics taught that salvation came through speculative knowledge, but not through believing in the incarnate Christ. 

“Understanding” is the power or capacity of knowing, the faculty of understanding.  Christians received the capacity to know the incarnation Christ at the point of regeneration. 

that we may know Him who is true;

Believers can know God in intimate fellowship.  “Know” here is knowledge held with assurance, not by the process of acquisition of knowledge. 

Notice the three uses of the word “true” in this verse.  “True” means real as opposed to false.  Jesus called Himself real or genuine.  Jesus’ person and work line up with truth.  Everything He is and does is in accordance with truth.  He not only resembles the truth, but He corresponds by His very nature to what is genuine about God.  There is nothing fictitious, imaginary, or counterfeit about Him.  God did not simulate Him.  There is no semblance of pretension in Him. 

Jn 6:32, “Then Jesus said to them, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, Moses did not give you the bread from heaven, but My Father gives you the true bread from heaven.’”

Jn 15:1, “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser.”

Jn 17:3, “And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.”


The Christian life is life at its best. 


The truth of Christianity rests upon Jesus Christ as the Son of God.  It does not rest on relative thinking or pluralistic thinking but upon an eternal person.  This truth transcends finite, human truth.  No matter how brilliant a person may be, if he has never come to know God personally, he cannot understand the Word of God or its Author.  God requires that we be introduced to the Author before we can comprehend His writing. 

1 Co 2:14, “But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”

Lu 24:45, “And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures.”

Who wants to know anything about God these days?  We want to know how to become a success.  We are interested in the stock market and investments.  We take an interest in political issues. But few of us have a vibrant interest in eternal things.  People relegate God to the outer edges of the universe. 

Those who embrace the incarnation have an entirely different take on God.  They not only want to know about Him, but they want to fellowship with Him.  They cannot get enough of Him.