I John: The Purpose of the Epistle.

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. (I John 5:13)

Each book of the Bible has a particular purpose or theme. It may be joy (Philippians), the church (Ephesians) or forgiveness and reconciliation between fellow believers (Philemon).

The Apostle John clearly sets forth the Holy Spirit inspired theme of his first epistle. John writes, “I write these things to you.” This refers us to everything he has thus far stated. Even though he has more to say, he did not want the church to forget what he had previously written.

When He wrote, ““I write these things to you,” the apostle clarified who exactly the “you” he had in mind. His intended audience then, and now were those, “who believe in the name of the Son of God.” They are those who have placed their personal trust in, commitment to, dependence upon and worship and honor in Jesus Christ solely as Savior and Lord.

What does John want these believers to know? The purpose clause is stated at the conclusion of the sentence. “That you may know that you have eternal life.

 Again, the personal pronoun “you” are believers in Christ. To know (εἰδῆτε; eidete) means to not just possess knowledge about eternal life, but also to understand, to remember and to honor the Savior who provides the eternal life the believer possesses. This knowledge began at the point of conversion and has a continuing impact in the believer.

To have (ἔχετε; echete) means to presently and actively possess and to hold on to eternal life in Jesus Christ. Eternal life in Christ is not something the believer has to grasp as if just out of reach, but rather to possess as a gracious gift given by God which can never be lost or stolen.

Dr. John MacArthur writes, “Assurance of eternal life constitutes the first Christian certainty. While John wrote his Gospel to bring unbelievers to faith (John 20:31), he wrote the epistle to give believers confidence that they possessed eternal life. The false brethren’s departure left John’s congregations shaken (1 John 2:19). He assured those who remained that since they adhered to the fundamentals of the faith (a proper view of Christ, obedience, love), their salvation was sure. Eternal life does not refer primarily to a period of time but a person (5:20John 17:3). Eternal life is a relationship with the person of Jesus Christ and possessing his nature (as in 1 John 5:11–12).”

Meditate upon these wonderful words by the lyricist Fanny Crosby.

Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine
O what a foretaste of glory divine
Heir of salvation, purchase of God
Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood.

Perfect submission, all is at rest
I in my Savior am happy and blessed
Watching and waiting, looking above
Filled with His goodness, lost in His love.

This is my story, this is my song
Praising my Savior all the day long
This is my story, this is my song
Praising my Savior all the day long.

May the Lord’s truth and grace be found here.

Sol deo Gloria!


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