John began his letter with a strong affirmation of the real deity of Jesus Christ. Now, with the exception of a brief final command, he concludes his letter with an even stronger affirmation of Jesus Christ.

He says ‘We know ...’

‘The Son of God has come and has given us understanding ...’
When Jesus came, he came not only to die for our sins, but as ‘the light’ and ‘the truth’ he revealed God to us. As we have seen in earlier studies, if we know Jesus Christ we know God the Father, because Jesus, the Son of God, has made him known.

So John says ‘we know’.

This is not only true. It also stands in stark contrast to the gnostic beliefs of the false teachers, which exalted the quest for knowledge, and taught that there was more to know than what was revealed by Jesus Christ. But, John affirms, ‘we know ... the Son of God ... has given us understanding’. We do not need any further knowledge, in fact any additional knowledge, beyond Jesus Christ, would be a lie, and would come from the evil one. Jesus, the truth, the light, has given us understanding.

‘... so that we may know him who is true...’
As a result of the coming of the Son of God, we actually know the true God. In contrast to all the gods of the world, those who know Jesus Christ, those who have learned from Jesus Christ, know the true God. We no longer need to seek for God. We no longer need to wonder what the true God is like. We no longer have to move from one ‘god’ to another ever seeking ‘god’, but never being sure we have found him. Because of Jesus Christ ‘we know him who is true’.

‘we are in him who is true – even in his Son Jesus Christ’
The knowledge of the true God that is revealed by Jesus Christ is not a remote, distant knowledge. To know this God is to be embraced by the Father and the Son. To know this God is to be given life that is inseparable from him – to derive our (spiritual, eternal) life and existence from the Father and from the Son. To know this God is to be united to the Father and to the Son. John has repeatedly referred to a mutual indwelling – the Father and the Son living in us and we living in God the Father and God the Son.

It is no wonder that John has just said ‘the evil one cannot harm us’. As Paul taught the Colossians, struggling against a similar heresy to John’s readers, ‘Your life is hidden with Christ in God’ (3:3). So safe. So secure. So close.

‘He is the true God and eternal life’
John has just mentioned ‘his Son Jesus Christ’, and adds this one last affirmation of (1) the full deity of Jesus Christ, and (2) Jesus Christ as the sole source of eternal life.

Jesus Christ is ‘the true God’. We need seek no further. If we have found Jesus Christ, we have found God. We need no further revelation.

As the writer to the Hebrews stated: God ‘in these last days ... has spoken to us by his Son’ (Hebrews 1:2).

And as Paul stated in Colossians ‘in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form’ (Colossians 2:9).

Any supposed revelation or truth beyond Jesus is simply not true; it does not reveal the true God.

Because Jesus is the true God, he is also the only source of ‘eternal life’. As John has said: ‘He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life’ – 5:12.

The gospel of Jesus Christ is very exclusive. But it is also very clear, very direct. It does not leave any room, any leeway, for other possible truths, for other possible gods, for another possible source of life beyond physical death, of rescue from spiritual death, of eternal life with God.

According to the New Testament, Jesus Christ stands alone as the true source of knowledge of the one true God, and as the only source of eternal life.

© Rosemary Bardsley 2022