1 John 5:11 Commentary

1 John 5:11 And the testimony is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son:

Greek - kai aute estin (3SPAI) e marturia hoti zoen aionion edoken (3SAAI) hemin o theos kai aute e zoe en to huio autou estin (3SPAI):

Wuest - which testimony is on record, with the result that he is in a settled state of unbelief. And this is the testimony, that life eternal God gave us.

NLT And this is what God has testified: He has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.

  • this: 1Jn 5:7,10 Joh 1:19,32-34 8:13,14 19:35 3Jn 1:12 Rev 1:2
  • God: 1Jn 5:13 2:25 Mt 25:46 Joh 3:15,16,36 4:4,36 6:40,47,68 10:28 12:50 Joh 17:2,3 Ro 5:21 6:23 1Ti 1:16 Tit 1:2 Jude 1:21
  • this: 1Jn 5:12,20 1Jn 1:1-3 1Jn 4:9 John 1:4 Jn 5:21,26 Jn 11:25,26 Jn 14:6 Col 3:3-4 Rev 22:1
  • 1 John 5 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries


As Jackman rightly remarks 1Jn 5:11 and 1Jn 5:12 "must stand as among the most magnificent in the whole of the New Testament. The consequences of believing God’s truth or denying it could hardly be more important or far-reaching. John is not merely concerned about academic disagreements over theological niceties. Eternal destinies are at stake. (The Message of John's Letters)

Kruse - Up to this point the author has emphasized God’s witness concerning the person (came in the flesh) and work (came by water and blood) of the historical Jesus, but here he emphasises God’s testimony concerning the benefit made available to believers through him. (Pillar NT Commentary) (Bolding added)

And (kai) - John, in the previous verse, just told us how serious the matter of receiving the testimony of God is. Now he will tell us what this testimony is. The testimony is crucial because in the receipt or rejection of it hangs the reception or failure to receive eternal life. The testimony of God to His Son comes with a life-changing offer.

Hiebert - The opening “and” (kai) of 1Jn 5:11 points to a further matter connected with the response made to God’s witness. Involved is the matter of eternal life. In verse 11 John states what the witness of God involves whereas 1Jn 5:12 states the contrasting results of these opposite reactions to the Son of God.

Testimony (3141)(marturia/martyria related to martureo = to witness <> martus/martys = a witness) is that which furnishes evidence or proof. "According to the Jewish law threefold testimony was valid." (Smith) "The conditions for a legally valid witness are laid down in Dt. 19:15 (cf. Mt. 18:16; Jn 8:17-18.; 10:25; 2Co 13:1)." (Robertson)

A testimony is a solemn declaration or affirmation made for the purpose of establishing or proving some fact. As an aside the frequent cost of such a "witness" is pointed up by the fact that we derive our English word "martyr" from this Greek word.

Kistemaker - John comes to the concluding thought of his discourse on the Son of God. He specifically states the content of God’s testimony and eliminates any misunderstanding about God’s Son. What is the content of God’s testimony? “God has given us eternal life.” Notice that John is addressing believers when he uses the first person pronoun us. He does not say that eternal life will be given (future tense) but that God has given it (past tense) to us. We have this life now in principle (John 3:17), and when we enter the presence of God in glory, we will have it fully. (Baker NT Commentary)

Steven Cole - Eternal life is God’s gift, not something we gain through our good works or efforts. It does not require some special secret knowledge, as the heretics taught. Like any gift, you must know about it (in this case, God has testified about it) and you must receive it (cp Jn 1:11-13). If you have to earn it, it’s not a gift (cp Ro 4:1-5-note). (1 John 5:5-13 Is Christianity Merely Psychological?)

Guzik - This is God’s essential message to man; that eternal life is a gift from God, received in Jesus Christ.

Has given (1325)(didomi) means to give and in context is based on decision of will of Giver and no merit of the recipients. Didomi is aorist tense which marks the historic fact that God gave us the gift of eternal life in His Son and we possess it now in time but forever in eternity. In 1Jn 3:24 didomi is used by John of the Holy Spirit "Whom He has given (didomi) us." The only thing men have to do is to receive God's bountiful gift of Christ's payment for our sins. And notice that John uses the plural pronoun "us" thus including himself in those blessed with God's gift.

John uses didomi in the perfect tense in 1Jn 3:1 = See how great a love the Father has bestowed upon us, that we should be called children of God; and [such] we are. For this reason the world does not know us, because it did not know Him." The perfect tense of the gift emphasizes the abiding presence of God’s love! We will have His love forever and ever, amen!

Vincent on the aorist tense of have given - The reference is to the historic fact of the gift. So 1 John 3:23: “We should love one another as He gave us commandment.” 1Jn 3:24: “We know that He abideth in us by the Spirit which He gave us.” On the other hand, 1John 3:1: “Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed (dedoken) upon us.” The gift of love abides in the fact that we are now children of God (1Jn 3:2).

Brooke - The gift of life is a witness only where it has been received.

Westcott notes that has given refers "to the historic facts by which this life was communicated to humanity. That which before Christ’s coming was a great hope, by His coming was realized and given. The gift, as far as St John here regards it, was made to Christians, who appropriate it."


God has give us eternal life - This great phrase occurs 41x in the NAS, most often (21x) in the writings of John - Matt 19:16, 29; 25:46; Mark 10:17, 30; Luke 10:25; 18:18, 30; John 3:15-16, 36; 4:14; 5:24, 39; 6:27, 40, 47, 54, 68; 10:28; 12:50; 17:2-3; Acts 13:46, 48; Ro 2:7; 5:21; 6:22f; Gal 6:8; 1Ti 1:16; 6:12; Titus 1:2; 3:7; 1John 1:2; 2:25; 3:15; 5:11, 13, 20; Jude 1:21

Note that the Greek order is emphatic: eternal life God has given to us.

Westcott - The Mission of His Son, which He attested, was the gift of life (John 10:10, 10:28; 17:2), of life in His Son (John 20:31).

Steven Cole - God’s gift is eternal life. Nothing could be a greater gift! Because of our sins, we were spiritually dead (Eph 2:1-3-note), alienated from the life of God (Col 1:21-note, Ro 5:10-note). God gives us as our present possession, not only unending life, but also His very life (Col 3:4-note). He is the Author of life (cp Acts 3:15NIV, Heb 2:10-note, Heb 5:9-note, Heb 12:2-note). Jesus promised that if we believe in Him, we shall live even if we die, and that everyone who lives and believes in Him will never die (John 11:25-26). In other words, physical death will not rob us of this eternal life with God.. (1 John 5:5-13 Is Christianity Merely Psychological?)

Eternal life (zoen aionion) is "a person's new and redeemed existence in Jesus Christ that is granted by God as a gift to all believers. Eternal life refers to the quality or character of our new existence in Christ as well as the unending character of that life." (Nelson's New Illustrated Bible Dictionary).

The only life that can be classified as the blessed life, the joyful life, the meaningful life is eternal life. Dear reader, dare I asked "Do you possess this life? It is found only in God's Son!"

Keathley - "Eternal life is a life with eternal ramifications that are not only future, but is to so encompass our daily existence that it becomes a controlling and directing force… Our need is to take hold of our eternal life and live in the light of its significance and meaning both for time and eternity."

Vincent - “Your new spiritual life is no longer in the sphere of the earthly and sensual, but is with the life of the risen Christ, who is unseen with God.”

John Stott - Three important truths are taught in these verses about eternal life. First, it is not a prize which we have earned or could earn but an undeserved gift. Secondly, it is found in Christ, so that, in order to give us life, God both gave and gives us his Son. Thirdly, this gift of life in Christ is a present possession. True, it is further described as eternal, aiōnios, which means literally ‘belonging to the age’, i.e. the age to come. But since the age to come has broken into this present age, the life of the age to come, namely ‘eternal life’, can be received and enjoyed here and now.

Eternal (166)(aionios) is an adjective which means existing at all times, perpetual, pertaining to an unlimited duration of time. Without end, never to cease, everlasting. (Ro 1:20 - God's power, Mt 18:8 - God's place of judgment, Ro 16:26 - God's attribute) Mounce observes that "This adjective typically functions in three settings: the eternity of God and the divine realm; the blessings of salvation; and everlasting conditions that have neither beginning nor end."

Life (2222)(zoe) in Scripture is used (1) to refer to physical life (Ro 8:38-note, 1Co 3:22, Php 1:20-note, Jas 4:14, etc) but more often to (2) to supernatural life in contrast to a life subject to eternal death (Jn 3:36, see all 43 uses of "eternal life" below). This quality of life speaks of fullness of life which alone belongs to God the Giver of life and is available to His children now (Ro 6:4-note,, Ep 4:18-note) as well as in eternity future (Mk 10:30, Titus 1:2-note on Eternal Life).

Zoe in the present context describes the absolute fullness of life, both essential and ethical, which alone belongs to God the Giver of life. Truly meaningful life, life on the "highest plane", life that really is worthwhile is found only in "the promise of life in Christ Jesus". (2Ti 1:1-note) Who came so that we might have life and might have it abundantly (Jn 10:10). Eternal life then is the life of the Lord Jesus Himself. It is a life that is capable of enjoying the things of God down here, but especially the only life that will be suitable to enter and enjoy the grace of God in heaven.

"Life" in 1John - 1 John 1:1, 1:2, 2:16, 2:25, 3:14, 15, 16, 5:11, 12, 13, 16, 20

Other Resources on Eternal Life:

Eternal Life - Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology
Eternal Life - Holman Bible Dictionary
Eternal Life - Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament
Eternal Life - Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature

Eternal Life - Easton's Bible Dictionary
Life - Nave's Topical Bible

Jackman observes that eternal life "means literally the life of eternity, the life of the world to come. Yet this is something which God has already given to those who believe in Jesus. It is the present possession of every Christian believer… Supremely, the life of eternity is life that has overcome the grave, and that life can be found in Christ alone who triumphed over death by his glorious resurrection. This life is in his Son." (The Message of John's Letters) (Bolding added) One wonders if we more fully grasped the profundity of the truth that we even now possess eternal life, would that realization not significantly impact how we live in time?

Vincent on eternal life - Compare the phrase ten zoen ten aionion - the life, the eternal life (1Jn 1:2), and e aionios zoe = the eternal life (John 17:3). For the distinction between the phrases see note on 1Jn 1:2 (Note on 1Jn 1:2 = The Word Himself who is the Life. Compare John 14:6; 5:26; 1Jn 5:11, 12. Life expresses the nature of the Word John 1:4). The phrase, the Life, besides being equivalent to the Word, also indicates, like the Truth and the Light, an aspect of His being.). The phrase here, without either article, merely defines the character of the life. (I would add it speaks not of the quantity but of the quality of life. Some might refer to it as "Abundant Life" (Jn 10:10a), the "Christ life" or the "Exchanged Life." In any event, it is life as God intended it to be lived, for our good and His glory. Amen.)

Smalley on eternal life - it is the highest kind of spiritual and moral life, irrespective of time, which God enables the believer to share in relationship with Jesus.

Robert W. Yarbrough on eternal life - The divinely bestowed gift of blessedness in God's presence that endures without end. This relates especially to the quality of life in this age, and to both the quality and duration of life in the age to come. (See lengthy article on Eternal Life - Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology)

John MacArthur - The essence of eternal life is the believer’s participation in the blessed everlasting life of Christ (cf. Jn 1:4) through his or her union with Him (Ro 5:21; 6:4, 11, 23; 1Co 15:22; 2Co 5:17; Gal 2:20; Col 3:3-4; 2Ti 1:1, 10; Jude 1:21). Jesus defined it in His High Priestly Prayer to the Father: “This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent” (Jn 17:3). It is the life of the age to come (Eph 2:6-7), which believers will most fully experience in the perfect, unending glory, holiness, and joy of heaven (Ro 8:19-23, 29; 1Co 15:49; Phil 3:20–21; 1Jn 3:2). The eternal life promised by God in the Old Testament (e.g., 2Sa 12:23; Ps 16:8-10; 133:3; Da 12:2) and sought by the Jews of Jesus’ day (Lk 10:25; Jn 5:39) comes only to those who believe God’s testimony and place their faith in His Son. (1-3 John- MacArthur New Testament Commentary)

This life is in His Son - compare this thought with Paul's phrase In Christ. The only way to obtain this life is by believing in His Son.

Indeed Jesus is eternal life (1Jn 5:20); the eternal life that was with the Father from the beginning (1Jn 1:2).

Boice explains why life in His Son is so crucial - “It is as impossible to have life without having Christ as it is impossible to have Christ without at the same time possessing eternal life.”

Yes, in me, in me He dwelleth;
I in Him, and He in me!
And my empty soul He filleth,
Here and through eternity.
—Horatius Bonar

Wuest explains that "eternal life which is given to the believing sinner is not a mere abstraction, not some spiritual energy or dynamic, but a Person, the Lord Jesus. Paul speaks of “Christ, our life” (Col 3:4-note). John speaks of “the Word of the life” (1Jn 1:1). The life here is eternal life." (Wuest's Word Studies from the Greek New Testament)

Since we as believers have eternal life by the work of the Holy Spirit in us, let us live out the new life by the power of the same Spirit not by trying to keep a set of rules of do's and don'ts. The Law never could give life, and was never intended to be the Christian’s rule of life.

Jackman on life in His Son - this is a theme developed very extensively in John’s Gospel (Ed: See verses below), which underlines that only in Jesus can such life be known and experienced. So to the unbelieving Jews who were trying to kill him because ‘he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God’ (Jn. 5:18), Jesus unambiguously declared, ‘Just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son gives life to whom he is pleased to give it’ (Jn. 5:21). And again, ‘As the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son to have life in himself’ (Jn. 5:26). He concludes, ‘Yet you refuse to come to me to have life’ (Jn. 5:40). Later, to the crowds still marveling at the feeding of the five thousand, Jesus declares himself to be the bread of life, for which they are craving, and continues, ‘For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day’ (Jn. 6:40). Speaking of his sheep, as the good shepherd, Jesus promises, ‘I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no-one can snatch them out of my hand’ (Jn. 10:28). Then, in the very face of death itself, with Lazarus four days in the tomb, he declares to Martha, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die’ (Jn. 11:25–26). With this dominant theme running through John’s gospel, we are not surprised to find that it recurs in the most intimate chapter of all, chapter 17. Here the Son is reviewing in prayer all that has happened in his ministry before committing himself, his disciples and the future church to the Father. The work he is now about to complete is seen in terms of eternal life. ‘For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him. Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent’ (Jn. 17:2–3). (The Message of John's Letters)

This life is in His Son - a few cross references to ponder our life in Jesus…

1Jn 5:12 He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life.

1Jn 5:20-note And we know that the Son of God has come, and has given us understanding, in order that we might 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.

1Jn 4:9-note By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him.

John 1:4 In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.

John 5:21; 26 “For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son also gives life to whom He wishes. 26 “For just as the Father has life in Himself, even so He gave to the Son also to have life in Himself;

John 11:25-26 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me shall live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?”

John 14:6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me.

Jn 20:31 but these have been written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His Name.

Colossians 3:3-4-note For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory (cp 1Jn 3:3-note).

1 John 5:10 Commentary <> 1 John 5:12 Commentary