Nature of God

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Jesus is deity but not part of a Trinity:

Who the true God is in 1 John 5

by Bill Wong

 

 

 

Many Trinitarians believe that the Lord Jesus is the one that is called the true God in 1 John 5:20, but this is not the case.

 

1 John 5:

20    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.        (NKJV)

 

 

People read over this verse quickly without giving it a thought as to what it is truly saying. It is God – the father of the Lord Jesus Christ, who is being called the true God. The context of the entire chapter reveals this to us. We must look at it more closely starting from the beginning of the chapter. It is God, the father of the Lord Jesus Christ, who is the main subject of the chapter:

 

 

1 John 5:

1  Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God,

        and everyone who loves Him who begot also loves him who is begotten of Him.

2  By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments.

3  For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome.

4  For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world --- our faith.

 

          Comment: Verses 1-4 makes two things clear. The first is that God is equated with the Father. The second

                  is that the Father is the main subject, because everything is referred from Him: ‘born of God’; whoever

                  loves the Father’; ‘born of Him’ (verse 1); ‘children of God’; ‘love God’; ‘His commandments’ (verse 

                  2); ‘love of God’; ‘His commandments are not burdensome’ (verse3); ‘born of God’ (verse 4).

 

 

5  Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?

6  This is He who came by water and blood --- Jesus Christ; not only by water, but by water and blood.

      And it is the Spirit who bears witness, because the Spirit is truth.

 

          Comment: Verses 5-6 tell us our faith is in the Lord Jesus, the son of God.

 

 

7    For there are three that bear witness in heaven: the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit; and these three are one.

8    And there are three that bear witness on earth: the Spirit, the water, and the blood; and these three agree as one.

9    If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater; for this is the witness of God which He has testified of His Son.

10  He who believes in the Son of God has the witness in himself; he who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed the testimony that God has given of His Son.

11  And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son.

 

          Comment: These verses continue the theme that the focus is the Father. It is His testimony about His

                  son.  If we do not believe, we would be calling God a liar. It is God who gives us eternal life and it is by

                  His son.

 

 

12    He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.

13    These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.

 

          Comment: Faith in Jesus, the son of God, is what will give us eternal life.

 

 

14    Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.

15    And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.

16     If anyone sees his brother sinning a sin which does not lead to death, he will ask, and He will give him life for those who commit sin not leading to death. There is sin leading to death. I do not say that he should pray about that.

 

          Comment: All our prayers and requests according to God's will goes to God through Jesus (Romans 1:8;

                  Colossians 3:17; 1 Peter 2:5).

 

 

17    All unrighteousness is sin, and there is sin not leading to death.

18    We know that whoever is born of God does not sin; but he who has been born of God keeps himself, and the wicked one does not touch him.

19    We know that we are of God, and the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one.

 

          Comment: The person who is born of God is kept from the evil one and will not sin.

 

 

20   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.     (NKJV)

 

Comment/Dissecting verse 20:

 

  ‘And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us an understanding, that we may know Him who is true;’

 

---   The Bible says that the Lord Jesus came to give us understanding about the one who is true. The one who is true is His father, God. We also see this in the context of the entire chapter which focuses on God, and the verses immediately preceding, which state all our requests must go to God (verses 14-16) and how if we are of God, we will not sin (verses 17-19).  God is the subject and is the one who is true that Jesus came to tell us about.

 

and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life.’  

 

---   It is confirmed the one who is true is the father, because it refers to the Lord Jesus as ‘His’ son. Whose son? Jesus is the son of ‘Him who is true’, the one who Jesus came to give us understanding about. The presence of the words ‘His son’ indicates that it is talking about God and He is the true God and eternal life. If the Lord Jesus was meant to be called ‘the true God’, then the verse should read:  ‘And we are in Him who is true, in Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life.’  But the Bible does not say this; it tells us when we are in ‘Him who is true’ – God, we will also be in ‘His’ son Jesus. We must always remember verse 11: And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son.’  It is God who gives us eternal life, and this life is in His son according to God’s will.  God is the main subject all through out; everything points back to God.

 

 

Verse 20 testifies to the fact that the entire chapter is talking about God, our Heavenly Father. It talks about: loving God, we are born of Him, His commandments, His son, His testimony, calling Him a liar, God gives us eternal life in His son which is why we must believe in His son’s name, all our prayers/requests go to Him, the one born of God will not sin. So when it mentions that the Lord Jesus comes to give us understanding about the one who is true, it is the Father and He is the true God and eternal life.

 

All Christians know why the Lord Jesus has come: to declare to everyone His father. So there should be no misunderstanding who is the true God.

 

Also, if 1 John 5:20 means the Lord Jesus is being called the true God, then verse 20 would contradict itself and make absolutely no sense at all, because the verse tells us two times the one who is true is the Father, but then supposedly does not call Him (the father) the true God, but instead calls someone else the true God.

 

Therefore, the true God being referred to is the one who is true, who is the Father. It is God, the father of the Lord Jesus Christ, who is ‘the true God and eternal life’.

 

 

 

The Bible explains the Bible

 

When we read the Bible, it is extremely important to know that the Bible explains the Bible, and we must “allow” it to do so. We must not approach the Bible with preconceived ideas, but let it speak for itself. This is the only way we can get to the Bible truth and not be misled by false doctrine. The Word of God does not contradict itself.

 

This is exactly the case with 1 John 5:20. Other parts of the Bible help us understand who is really being spoken of as the true God. 1 John 5:20 is similar to and supported by John 17:3, which also declares that the Lord came to give us understanding about His father who is the only true God:

 

John 17:

3     And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.  (NKJV)

 

The two verses agree with one another: the Lord came to reveal His father to us so we may know Him and worship Him in spirit and truth, and His father is called the one who is true and the only true God.   The Lord Jesus is mentioned both times, because God gives us eternal life and this is in His son. However, as we see in both cases, He is not the true God, but came to give us understanding of the true God – His father.

 

The Bible would contradict itself if 1 John 5:20 really meant to call the Lord Jesus the true God, because John 17:3 clearly calls the Father the only true God which is an exclusive term which can therefore only be used for the Father.

 

 

Another example of God, our Heavenly Father, being called the true God and the Lord Jesus referenced as ‘His son’ (which especially parallels 1 John 5:20), can be found in the apostle Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians.

 

1 Thessalonians 1:

9     For they themselves declare concerning us what manner of entry we had to you,

     and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God,

10   and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.  

     (NKJV)

 

 

Paul also calls our Heavenly Father the only wise God which is a variation of ‘the only true God’. He shows again that it is the Father who is the main focus and there is again a distinction between God and His son, the one whom He sends and works through as our mediator:

 

Romans 16:

25   Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery kept secret since the world began

26   but now made manifest, and by the prophetic Scriptures made known to all nations, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, for obedience to the faith ---

27   to God, alone wise, be glory through Jesus Christ forever. Amen.   (NKJV)

 

 

Another example of the Lord giving understanding to us about His father is in:

 

Matthew 11:

27    All things have been delivered to Me by My Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father. Nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and the one to whom the Son wills to reveal Him.   (NKJV)

 

 

So the meaning of all these verses is that the Lord Jesus came to give us understanding about His father. His father is the one who is true, the only true God.