1 John 5:21 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

1 John 5:21, NIV: "Dear children, keep yourselves from idols."

1 John 5:21, ESV: "Little children, keep yourselves from idols."

1 John 5:21, KJV: "Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen."

1 John 5:21, NASB: "Little children, guard yourselves from idols."

1 John 5:21, NLT: "Dear children, keep away from anything that might take God's place in your hearts."

1 John 5:21, CSB: "Little children, guard yourselves from idols."

What does 1 John 5:21 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

This final verse appears odd, as a blunt and sudden conclusion. However, a closer look reveals these words as a fitting ending to John's letter. Once again, John uses the phrase "Little children," for the seventh time in this letter. John cared for his readers as his own spiritual children.

This mention of idols could refer to both physical idols people worshiped or to anything that came as higher priority than Christ. When writing to Gentile believers, Paul wrote, "For they themselves report concerning us the kind of reception we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God" (1 Thessalonians 1:9). Most Gentile believers of that day had previously served idols.

This final warning to stay away from idols is a reminder that only Christ was to be served. The false teachings they battled ultimately led back to the very gods they had left to follow Jesus. They were to keep themselves "from idols" and remain focused on Jesus as the Son of God.