If sin had not entered this planet, then Jesus would have no need to utter the words, He did in Mark 2:17. “…They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”
When God created humans, He could have forced us to worship Him but He didn’t. He gave each of us free will to choose between right and wrong. It was this same free will that our fore parents exercised in the Garden of Eden when they chose to eat the forbidden fruit.
Through that single act of disobedience, sin entered the world and we are left to face the bitter consequence. In Genesis 2:17 God warned Adam and Eve, “for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die”.
It’s the plan of the enemy for each of us to face condemnation and die but God is compassionate, merciful, just, and forgiving. According to Romans 8:1, He came up with a plan to redeem us and rescue us from death. “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.”
“For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.” (John 3:17)
The Savior came to this world and died on a cross so that we don’t have to die for our sins. We have hope thanks to the love of God and the sacrifice of Christ. We are able to pray and ask the Lord for forgiveness.
As children of God, it is important for us to accept Christ as our Redeemer and confess our sins to escape the penalty of death but this is not enough. We should also pray for others so that their sins can also be forgiven and for them to receive life from the Lord.
Confession and repentance are key components to spiritual life. Intercession for the sins of a fellow believer is also important as highlighted in 1 John 5:16. Today we will do a deep dive commentary on this Bible verse to explore its real meaning.
Who wrote 1 John and when was it written?
As with the gospels, the author of first, second, and third John has been under much scrutiny. Despite the debates and various arguments, Christian tradition credits the authorship of first John to the apostle John.
It is believed that the disciple John who was the son of Zebedee or referred to as the beloved disciple is the same individual who wrote the first book of John. The writings of Polycarp, Papias, and Irenaeus has strong historical evidence that confirms the author of first John.
Many suggest that the book 1 John was written between 85-95 AD as a letter to encourage members of the early church.
What is the context of 1 John 5?
First John chapter five is an address to believers that highlights points such as the importance of believing in God, overcoming the world, eternal life, and praying.
The chapter starts by showing how to be born of God. “Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him.” 1 John 5:1
Verses two and three link love for God and keeping His commandments and show how this helps to foster love for others.
In verses four and five a connection is made to those who are born of God and how they gain victory by overcoming the world. “Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?” (1 John 5:5) Believing in Jesus not only helps us to love others and keep God’s commandments but it gives us victory.
Verses six and seven speaks about the three coeternal beings, that they bear record in heaven, and how the Holy Spirit bears witness to Jesus. “For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.” 1 John 5:7
The apostle looks at how important it is not just to believe what others say but to have true faith in God. Verse nine States that, “If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater: for this is the witness of God which he hath testified of his Son”. This is because not believing in God is the same as saying God is a liar.
Verse twelve shows how a true believer may have life and verse thirteen continues this point while also showing why the epistle was written. It states, “These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God”.
Verses fourteen through to sixteen speak about being confident in the Lord and exercising faith when we make our requests known to Him. The Lord hears our prayers and He will not hesitate to answer them according to His will. It is with this assurance that we are able to pray for the sins of others.
In verses seventeen to twenty the apostle looks at the connection between unrighteousness and sin then looks at why those who are born of God don’t sin. According to verse twenty, it is through Christ and the understanding that He provided for His followers that we know the true God and have everlasting life.
The chapter closes with a firm warning to keep away from idols.
What is the message of 1 John 5:16?
The King James Version of 1 John 5:16 may seem like a very difficult passage but if you read other translations, you may understand what the author is saying more clearly. Let’s take a look at the New Living Translation.
“If you see a fellow believer sinning in a way that does not lead to death, you should pray, and God will give that person life. But there is a sin that leads to death, and I am not saying you should pray for those who commit it.”
The message of 1 John 5:16 includes faith in God and His son Jesus, intercession for others, receiving forgiveness for sins, and gaining life from the Lord. There is also a somber message in this text that looks at a sin that leads to death.
The pathway of faith is not a life of solitude. As we travel the path, we should show love and be caring to others as they journey along. This means when fellow believers are doing well, we encourage them and when they falter, we show support by praying for their sins.
“And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.” (1 John 2:2)
Through Adam, sin and death entered the world. Through the sacrifice of Christ each of us has access to eternal life. In accessing life and escaping the condemnation of death we all need to have true faith in who Christ is and what He did for us.
“But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.”
When we petition the throne of grace for ourselves and on the behalf of others we should do so unwaveringly. We should have confidence that the Lord will grant us the desires of our hearts when we diligently seek Him in prayer.
If any man see his brother sin a sin which is not unto death meaning
To fully understand the meaning of this phrase it makes sense to look at verses fourteen and fifteen. The two preceding verses speak about having confidence that the Lord hears us and our prayers will be answered according to the will of God.
It is with the assurance the Lord will grant our petitions that we should not only pray for ourselves but also for fellow Christian. ‘If any man see his brother sin a sin which is not unto death’ means that we should not hesitate to pray for the sins of others. This phrase is a reminder that each child of God should have the best interest of others at heart.
“For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 6:23)
When a Christian brother or sister sins he or she should pay the penalty and face death. However, our heavenly Father is merciful, forgiving, and He is willing to offer eternal life to a sinning brother or sister. This is why it’s important to pray for our friends.
“He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him.” (1 John 2:10)
Praying for the sins of other believers is a genuine expression of love. It is through unity and looking out for the interest of others that believers will stay on the pathway and walk in the light of the Lord. It’s very comforting to know that even if you fall others will be there to lift you up in prayer.
“But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.” (1 John 1:7)
Not everyone believes in the Lord and accepts Christ as the Messiah. This is why the world may be a harsh place for believers. However, with strong fellowship and a Christian community of believers we can pray for others and depend on them to pray for us.
“Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.”
This verse captures the essence of a sin that does not lead to death. There is hope knowing that the Lord will welcome us with outstretched arms when we repent. He is ready to blot out our sins, make them white as wool, and give us life.
He shall ask meaning
There is nothing wrong with asking God for something. This is because He will not withhold anything good from us.
James 1:17 is a reminder of this. “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.”
“Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16)
This is another verse that tells believers to ask and also gives reasons why they should do so. There is no need to be timid when you approach the Lord for mercy and grace.
Psalms 51:10-12 gives an illustration of how to ask for forgiveness. It states, “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. ¹¹Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me. ¹²Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit”.
“Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:” (Matthew 7:7)
When we approach the throne of mercy with our request, we are claiming a promise that Jesus made while He was here on earth. ‘He shall ask’ is a reminder to ask, seek, and knock. When we ask, the Lord answers. When we seek Him with all of our being we will find Him. When we knock at His door He will open “the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing”. Malachi 3:10
“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”
When the weight of transgression becomes too heavy to bear there is hope knowing that the Lord will ease our burden. He calls us saying, come unto me… and I will give you rest. ‘he shall ask’ simply means going to the Lord to free yourself of the burdens that you carry.
“Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” (James 5:16)
Confession and intercession are key to receiving forgiveness. This passage not only highlights the power of prayer but shows how important it is to pray for others.
“Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;” (Ephesians 6:18)
Intercessory prayer should be a constant in the life of each follower of Christ. It is through such prayer that empowerment is received. Through our asking we are fortified by the Spirit of God to endure and persevere the difficulties that we face.
And He shall give him life for them that sin not unto death meaning
Them and he are two pronouns mentioned in this phrase. Understanding who these two pronouns refer to help to identify who is the giver and what the receiver will get.
The NKJV of this text makes it so much easier to understand because it uses capital letters for pronouns that refer to God. He is written with a capital letter, so there is no doubt about who will give life. The ESV went a step further by replacing the pronoun and using the word God.
“Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6)
When John the Baptist was at the river Jordan, he acknowledged that Jesus was the lamb of God and that He takes away the sins of the world. John 1:29 states, “The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world”. It is through believing that Jesus is the Son of God and accepting Him as an atoning sacrifice that we have access to eternal life.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)
In the Old Testament sanctuary system, the blood of animals was used for the remission of sins. When Jesus came to earth, He replaced animal sacrifice by being the lamb and spilling His blood on Calvary’s cross.
In the sanctuary system, atonement would not take place without a sacrifice. Jesus is our atoning sacrifice and if we don’t believe in Him, we will not be able to access life. It is through His righteousness that we are able to pray and ask for our sins to be forgiven.
“For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.” (Matthew 7:8)
The word of God says that we are to ask, seek, and knock. Ask for forgiveness, seek the Lord in prayer, and have faith that He will be true to His promises. You will receive forgiveness, you will find hope, and the door that leads to new life will open.
“The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” (John 10:10)
The enemy of our souls wants us to turn away from the Creator. He wants to destroy the relationship that we have with God and he wants to take us down a path that leads to death and destruction.
Satan was thrown out of heaven because he rebelled against God. He tempted Adam and Eve and made them subjects of death, and he is doing everything to trap God’s children with physical death and spiritual death. The entire mission of Jesus is to rescue us from death. He came to offer all who believe in Him life.
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)
This verse is a reminder of why we should constantly pray for ourselves and for others. It is also an excellent way to explain the real meaning of ‘and he shall give him life for them that sin not unto death’. God is not a liar; He genuinely wants us to confess our sins. He is a just God and He will forgive, cleanse us from all unrighteousness, and offer us life.
“My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:” (1 John 2:1)
This text is a reminder that there is still hope in this world. Receiving life points to a future where death, pain, and suffering will not affect the followers of God. We are encouraged not to sin however if we have moments of weakness, we can depend on our advocate Jesus Christ the righteous one.
There is a sin unto death meaning
To get a better understanding of what this phrase means it makes sense to look at the word death from a biblical perspective.
Death is the penalty for sin as declared in Genesis 2:17. It is considered to be an unconscious state or a sleep as mentioned in Psalm 146:4 and Psalm 13:3. On the other hand death is the damnation of those who refuse to believe in God and keep His commandments.
‘There is a sin unto death’ is not referring to those who die in Christ and are merely in an unconscious sleep as they await the second return of Christ.
This is talking about a sin that leads to eternal death. If Christ died for us, what kind of sin could possibly lead to death? The answer to this question may be found in two popular New Testament stories.
The story of Jesus telling the crippled man that he is forgiven and the stoning of Stephen illustrate the seriousness that was placed on blasphemy. It is considered to be an unpardonable sin and those who were found guilty were met with contempt and harsh treatment.
“Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men. ³²And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come.” (Matthew 12:31-32)
There is no doubt that there is a sin that leads to death and Jesus spoke about this sin clearly. Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit perfectly explains the true essence of what ‘there is a sin unto death’ really means.
Confession and repentance for speaking against the Messiah or any other sin may lead to forgiveness however speaking against the Spirit of truth has detrimental consequences.
The Message translation of this text explains the unforgivable sin and adds light to the meaning of ‘there is a sin unto death’. Here is what it says.
There’s nothing done or said that can’t be forgiven. But if you deliberately persist in your slanders against God’s Spirit, you are repudiating the very One who forgives. If you reject the Son of Man out of some misunderstanding, the Holy Spirit can forgive you, but when you reject the Holy Spirit, you’re sawing off the branch on which you’re sitting, severing by your own perversity all connection with the One who forgives.
I do not say that he shall pray for it meaning
The first part of 1 John 5:16 tells believers what should be done and the last part of the text tells what not to do. To better understand what this section of the text means it is important to know what the apostle was speaking about before this phrase was made.
In the first part of the verse, he was talking about praying for the sins of others then mention was made of a particular sin that leads to death. After mentioning the sin that leads to death then comes the advice, ‘I do not say that he shall pray for it’.
‘I do not say’, adds clarity to what was not being said and what should not be done. According to the New Living Translation this section of the verse says, ‘and I am not saying you should pray for those who commit it’. This means it is important to focus on certain kinds of sin that will benefit believers and secure eternal life for them.
What is the difference in biblical translations (NKJV, KJV, NIV & ESV)?
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. NKJV
If any man see his brother sin a sin which is not unto death, he shall ask, and he shall give him life for them that sin not unto death. There is a sin unto death: I do not say that he shall pray for it. KJV
If you see any brother or sister commit a sin that does not lead to death, you should pray and God will give them life. I refer to those whose sin does not lead to death. There is a sin that leads to death. I am not saying that you should pray about that. NIV
If anyone sees his brother committing a sin not leading to death, he shall ask, and God will give him life—to those who commit sins that do not lead to death. There is sin that leads to death; I do not say that one should pray for that. ESV
When comparing the NKJV, KJV, NIV, and ESV there is no significant difference in translation. The New King James Version and English Standard Version use the phrase if anyone to start the text. The King James Version uses the term if any man and the New International Version uses if you see.
The NIV also includes the word sister and uses the word pray instead of ask. The NKJV uses an uppercase h to indicate that the word He is referring to God. The NIV uses the word God instead of he to show who will give life. Apart from a few slight changes in wording these four translations are almost the same and convey the same meaning.
How do I apply 1 John 5:16 to my life?
Applying 1 John 5:16 to your life is not very difficult. It requires you to take interest in the life of others and pray for them to receive forgiveness and life from the Lord. In applying this text to your life, you will also need to know how to identify the sin that leads to death and what it is.
What is a 1 John 5:16 prayer?
Righteous and Eternal Father,
We thank you for all that You have done for us. We thank You for Your son Christ Jesus who died on Calvary’s cross. Help us to be true Christians who take keen interest in the spiritual well-being of our brothers and sisters. Let us not grow weary in well-doing but come boldly before your throne of grace as we intercede for the sins of others.
Lord, help us to wholly believe in You, to respond to the nudging of the Holy Spirit, and to accept Christ as our atoning sacrifice. Wash us with the blood of Christ, may our sins of scarlet be made white as snow, and free us from death and condemnation.
Hear us now we pray, grant our requests according to your will for our lives, and save us in your kingdom we pray in Jesus’ name. Amen
As true Christians we should not hesitate to seek the Lord in prayer and ask for forgiveness. The word of God says that we should ask, seek, and knock and the door will be open to us.
We should go boldly before the throne of grace as we make requests for our brothers and sisters. When we do so, the Lord will answer our prayers and grant them life.