John 5:17-20 – The Deity Of Christ

John 5:17-20 – The Deity Of Christ

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Key verse of consideration.

1 John 5:20 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

20 And we know that the Son of God has come, and has given us understanding so 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.

Study Text

John 5:17-20 New King James Version (NKJV)

17 But Jesus answered them, “My Father has been working until now, and I have been working.”
18 Therefore the Jews sought all the more to kill Him, because He not only broke the Sabbath, but also said that God was His Father, making Himself equal with God. 19 Then Jesus answered and said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner. 20 For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself does; and He will show Him greater works than these, that you may marvel.

Consider the MacArthur Study Bible notes on the above scripture.

5:17 Jesus’ point is that whether He broke the Sabbath or not, God was working continuously and, since Jesus Himself worked continuously, He also must be God. Furthermore, God does not need a day of rest for He never wearies (Is. 40:28). For Jesus’ self-defense to be valid, the same factors that apply to God must also apply to Him. Jesus is Lord of the Sabbath (Matt. 12:8)! Interestingly, even the rabbis admitted that God’s work had not ceased after the Sabbath because He sustains the universe.
5:18 This verse confirms that the Jews instantly grasped the implications of His remarks that He was God (see notes on v. 17).
5:19 Most assuredly. Cf. vv. 24, 25; 1:51. This is an emphatic way of saying “I’m telling you the truth.” In response to Jewish hostility at the implications of His assertions of equality with God, Jesus became even more fearless, forceful, and emphatic. Jesus essentially tied His activities of healing on the Sabbath directly to the Father. The Son never took independent action that set Him against the Father because the Son only did those things that were coincident with and co-extensive with all that the Father does. Jesus thus implied that the only One who could do what the Father does must be as great as the Father.

Consider the following supportive verse of scripture that relates to the Deity Of Christ.

1 John 5:20 New King James Version (NKJV)

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.

Consider the MacArthur Study Bible note on the above verse.

5:20 true. The word means “genuine” as opposed to what is false (cf. v. 21). God and eternal life. That Jesus Christ is the true God is the fifth Christian certainty. This verse constitutes the summation of John’s whole letter. The greatest certainty of all, the Incarnation, guarantees the certainty of the rest. This is the doctrinal foundation, out of which comes love and obedience.

Consider the following text that relates to 1 John 5:20, that is provided by Dr. W. Hall Harris, III.

W. Hall Harris III is Professor of New Testament Studies at Dallas Theological Seminary and is also the Project Director and Managing Editor for the NET Bible (New English Translation).

For over thirty years Hall has taught courses at Dallas Seminary in intermediate level Greek grammar and syntax, exegetical method, and various courses in the Gospel and Epistles of John. He received a Th.M. from Dallas Seminary and a Ph.D. from the University of Sheffield, England.

The text can also be seen by clicking onto the follow link.
Exegetical Details

The force of the i{na (Jina) in 5:20. The Jina introduces a purpose clause which gives the purpose of the preceding affirmation: “we know that the Son of God has come and has given us insight in order that we might know him who is true….” Because “in order that” here is somewhat awkward and pedantic in terms of contemporary English style, the NET Bible has translated the purpose clause by an English infinitive, “insight to know him who is true.”

The meaning of the preposition ejn (en, “in”) and the referent of toVn ajlhqinovn (ton alhqinon, “him who is true”) in 5:20. This phrase is used as a description of God the Father by Jesus in his prayer in John 17:3 (“the only true God”). The following clause in 1 John 5:20, which mentions “his Son Jesus Christ,” confirms that the same referent is in view here, making it clear that the phrase toVn ajlhqinovn (ton alhqinon, “him who is true”) in 1 John 5:20 refers to God the Father. With the use of the preposition ejn (en, “in”) the author, for the last time in the letter, makes a significant statement of indwelling. As in John 17:3, eternal life is to be found in the knowledge of the one true God, and in Jesus Christ whom he sent. This is life “in” the Son (1 John 5:11). Malatesta suggested that the author used the verb ei\nai (einai, “to be”) rather than mevnein (menein, “to reside, to remain”) here to emphasize that “to be in God and in Jesus is the condition, the way of being, to which the Christian community is called.”743

The referent of ouJtov (Joutos, “this one”) in 5:20. The pronoun is personified (“this one”), but it is far from clear whether it should be understood as a reference to God the Father or Jesus Christ.744 R. Brown comments, “I John, which began with an example of stunning grammatical obscurity in the Prologue, continues to the end to offer us examples of unclear grammar.”745

The immediately preceding words are “Jesus Christ,” so proximity alone would suggest that as the preferred antecedent, but on some occasions when “Jesus Christ” is the closer antecedent, the pronoun still refers to God.746 The first predicate following ouJtov ejstin (Joutos estin, “this one is”) in 5:20, oJ ajlhqinoV qeov (Jo alhqinos qeos, “the true God”), is a description of God the Father used by Jesus in John 17:3, and was used in the preceding clause of the present verse to refer to God the Father.747 Yet the second predicate of ouJtov (Joutos) in 5:20, zwhV aijwvnio (zwh aiwnios, “eternal life”), appears to refer to Jesus, because although the Father possesses “life” (John 5:26, 6:57) just as Jesus does (John 1:4, 6:57; 1 John 5:11), “life” is never predicated of the Father elsewhere in the Johannine writings, while it is predicated of Jesus in John 11:25 and 14:6 (the latter a self-predication by Jesus). Furthermore, the reader was introduced to the expression “the eternal life that was with the Father and was revealed to us in 1 John 1:2, so if we understand ouJtov (Joutos) in 5:20 as referring to Jesus, it forms an inclusion with the prologue.748 Taking all this into consideration, it appears best to understand the pronoun ouJtov (Joutos) in 5:20 as a reference to Jesus Christ. The christological affirmation which results is striking, but certainly not beyond the capabilities of the author (cf. John 1:1 and 20:31): “This one [= Jesus Christ] is the true God and eternal life.”

The following audio link by Dr. John MacArthur has a sermon on 1 John 5:18-20.

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The scripture text was taken from

The translation of the text is from The New King James Version.

Scripture notes were taken from The MacArthur Study Bible notes that are contained in

Everyone should own a MacArthur Study Bible.

Author: Eternity

Things are discussed in this website that relate to God's creation, from "eternity to eternity," and all that is addressed within those parameters. Consider Isaiah 43:13, "Even from eternity I am He, And there is no one who can rescue from My hand; I act, and who can reverse it?” The Moody Study Bible adds a comment: "God is the ruler of all, and there is nothing that can stand against Him. His will is irresistible. The Bible Knowledge Commentary adds this thought: "No one can reverse what God puts into action or thwart His plans." The articles that are found in this site may relate to anything that is found in the Bible, from Genesis 1:1 to Revelation 22.21, as well as anything that may relate to the Bible.

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