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1 John 5:13-21: Final Charge

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.

1 John 5:13

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After recapping his message in the first half of chapter 5, John now lays his cards on the table and gives the final charge in this letter to the churches in Ephesus.

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No surprise given his straightforward, black-and-white approach to writing, John lays his cards on the table in both his gospel and this letter, revealing why he is writing. In John 20:31 he clearly tells the reader, “These are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” He might as well have just said, “I took the time to write all this down so you would read it and have an eternity-altering change of belief about the godman Jesus Christ. Hope you liked it. Now believe!” In 1 John, he writes to those who already profess faith in Jesus Christ. So his purpose changes slightly as he states, “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life.” The emphasis shifts from belief to assurance of belief. John, the apostle, pastor, friend, and shepherd, wants believers to place their confidence and trust in their eternal standing with Jesus Christ.

A book like 1 John, with all its straightforward claims—such as that Christians should love at all times and avoid sin at all times—might cause some discomfort or fear for those who are struggling to love and struggling to abstain from temptation. Take solace in John’s closing words. These words are meant to comfort, not condemn. They are meant to provide assurance, not doubt. They are meant to be a litmus test for true faith, not a set of impossible measures. If you have placed your faith in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, you have already crossed over from death to life. Your life is hidden in Christ (Colossians 3:3), and no one can take it away.

No Idols

John ends his letter abruptly by giving the final charge to stay away from idols. Although it might seem out of place, this ending fits perfectly with all John communicates throughout the letter. Over and over again, John reminds us that God is love, that God loves us, and that we are to love each other. If you already have a God who loves you, why would you make another god? Profound but simple, the last verse catapults us forward to love and worship the God we have and stay away from any other false gods.

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