1st John and assurance of salvation


#1

A standard argument by evangelicals for the assurance of salvation is 1st John 5:13

"I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life. "

Can anyone tell me the correct meaning of this passage in context, or any catholic resources for the background of this book? I thought 1st John was mainly a refutation of gnosticism. thanks


#2

Tim Staples wrote an article that talked about this verse. I’ve referred to it many times on this forum but now can’t find it! Aagh! I learned so much from it too!

I can’t remember the Greek word, but he basically explains that the word ‘know’ in this verse, in Greek, does not mean absolute 100% for certain knowledge. It means confidance. The analogy he uses is this: you’ve studied hard for a test and you tell someone you know you’re going to get an A on it. Well, you don’t really know…you have confidance you will and you feel assured you will, but you don’t really know. That is how this word should be understood according to the Greek. The English language is basically a poor theological language. Nuances - well, I guess they really aren’t nuances when you’re talking about salvation - are often lost.

I’ll hunt for the article again. If I can’t find my hardcopy to give you the Greek word, I’ll see if it’s still on-line. I can’t even remember the title of it, so it may take awhile. I hope this helps some.


#3

So much emphasis is put on the word “know” that the words “these things” are ignored.

st julie


#4

From the Catholic Answers tract Assurance Of Salvation?:

From the Radio Bible Class listeners can obtain a booklet called Can Anyone Really Know for Sure? The anonymous author says the “Lord Jesus wanted his followers to be so sure of their salvation that they would rejoice more in the expectation of heaven than in victories on earth. ‘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 (1 John 5:13).’”

Places where Scripture speaks of our ability to know that we are abiding in grace are important and must be taken seriously. But they do not promise that we will be protected from self-deception on this matter. Even the author of Can Anyone Really Know for Sure? admits that there is a false assurance: “The New Testament teaches us that genuine assurance is possible and desirable, but it also warns us that we can be deceived through a false assurance. Jesus declared: ‘Not everyone who says to me, “Lord, Lord” shall enter the kingdom of heaven’ (Matt. 7:21).”

To see the whole tract, go to the main Catholic Answers page and click “Salvation” over on the left hand side.


#5

[quote=dljl]I thought 1st John was mainly a refutation of gnosticism. thanks
[/quote]

1st John is a refutation against the Gnosticism of the Docetists. These heretics had their own peculiar form of the OSAS heresy. The Docetists believed that matter was evil, that Christians were only regenerated spiritually, and because of that, Christians were trapped inside the evil matter of their own bodies. (A belief not to different from what many Calvinists believe).

Some Docetists believed that one could commit sexual sin without affecting the inwardly regenerated man, since sexual sin was a sin committed in the flesh that trapped the spirit. John had to rebuke this nonsense, and that is why he writes: “Everyone who commits sin commits lawlessness, for sin is lawlessness. You know that he was revealed to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. No one who remains in him sins; no one who sins has seen him or known him. Children, let no one deceive you. The person who acts in righteousness is righteous, just as he is righteous. Whoever sins belongs to the devil, because the devil has sinned from the beginning. Indeed, the Son of God was revealed to destroy the works of the devil. No one who is begotten by God commits sin, because God’s seed remains in him; he cannot sin because he is begotten by God. (1John 3:4-9) Calvinists often misinterpret John when he writes that a Christian “cannot sin”. The Calvinists believe John is saying that the “true Christian” has had irresistible grace forced upon him, and irresistible grace makes a “true” Christian incapable of sinning (i.e. he cannot sin). But this is not what John is saying at all. John clearly understands that a Christian is capable of committing sin, and that is why he writes,“If we say, “We are without sin,” we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we acknowledge our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from every wrongdoing. If we say, “We have not sinned,” we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. (1John 1:8-10). When John says that the Christian cannot sin, he means that being a Christian does not give one a ticket to sin because he has some sort of “assurance of salvation” given to him by a legal contract with God. The Christian cannot sin (he is not permitted to sin), because sinning is fruit of the children of the devil.No one who is begotten by God commits sin, because God’s seed remains in him; he cannot sin because he is begotten by God. In this way, the children of God and the children of the devil are made plain; no one who fails to act in righteousness belongs to God, nor anyone who does not love his brother. (1John 3:9-10).The OSAS heresy of modern day Protestants is only a minor variation of the OSAS heresy of the Docetists. Christians have free will, and John clearly teaches that Christians can commit mortal sin: There is sin which is mortal … (1John 5:16)

A standard argument by evangelicals for the assurance of salvation is 1st John 5:13 :"I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life. "

A Christian does have eternal life as long as he is in a state of sanctifying grace, but OSAS Protestants don’t understand what John is talking about when he says a Christian has eternal life.

In the very first sentence of the First Epistle of John, John spells it out that Jesus Christ is eternal life. The Christian that has not committed mortal sin has Christ (eternal life) dwelling in his soul (abiding within). John teaches that hatred is a mortal sin, and that one who hates his brother is a murderer that has no eternal life abiding within his soul. He who does not love abides in death. Any one who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. (1John 3:14-15). The first Epistle of John is great source to refute the heresy of OSAS (“assurance of salvation”, “eternal security”, etc. ) OSAS believing Protestants are typically confused by what John is teaching in this epistle, and they must work very hard to twist the words of John to support the Protestant heresy of OSAS.


#6

Wow, very helpful, thank you all. After reverting from Evangelicalism, I’ve noticed a scarcity of Catholic study bibles available. I know Scott Hahn has done a few books (but not 1st John). Any recommendations? The weak proof texting (out of context) my well-intentioned evangelical friends come up with is driving me crazy.
thanks again.


#7

If you can find a parish that is offering Jeff Cavins’ ‘The Great Adventure Bible Study’ take it! It is an awesome Catholic Bible Study that gives you an overview of the **entire bible and salvation history. **


closed #8

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