What does 1 John 2:17 mean?
ESV: And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.
NIV: The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.
NASB: The world is passing away and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God continues to live forever.
CSB: And the world with its lust is passing away, but the one who does the will of God remains forever.
NLT: And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave. But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever.
KJV: And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.
NKJV: And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.
Verse Commentary:
Verse 17 concludes John's condemnation of worldly thinking. John notes that this world is temporary. The world is temporary for each person, since every person dies. The physical earth is also temporary, since God will make a new earth in the end (Revelation 21—22). As a result, the desires of this world are also temporary. Believers are to resist evil desires, following the example of Jesus (Matthew 4:1–11).

This is the only place where the apostle John mentions the "will of God." However, this phrase has a rich usage in the New Testament. Jesus stated, "For whoever does the will of God, he is my brother and sister and mother" (Mark 3:35). Romans 8:27 notes, "the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God." Romans 12:2 adds, "be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God." Doing God's will or desires is to be the goal of the believer.

Doing God's will cannot save us, of course—no good works can overcome our sin. We are saved by Christ's sacrifice, when we put our trusting faith in Him (Ephesians 2:8–9). However, a natural outcome of salvation is a desire to do God's will (Ephesians 2:10). This is a hallmark of the believer, and only the believer will live with God forever. More immediately, John is explaining that a life lived in fellowship with God will go on forever, while earthly things will someday be gone.
Verse Context:
First John 2:15–17 is a warning from John about un-Christian attitudes. Other portions of this chapter discuss how behavior provides evidence of fellowship with God. Here, John explains that thoughts and desires do the same thing. Since these are temptations, it is possible for a true Christian to stumble into them. However, habitually displaying these is a cause for concern. Loving “the world” is defined here as physical lusts, lusts in one’s thoughts, and arrogant pride.
Chapter Summary:
Chapter 2 explains the fellowship Christians have with God. Christ is our advocate, even when we sin. Christians are not to love things of the world, or to love the world. Instead, we are to live, love, and act like Christ. False teachers, and those who deny Jesus are called ''liars.'' Those who demonstrate a Christ-like behavior are ''born of'' God.
Chapter Context:
Chapter 1 introduced the primary themes of John’s letter. Chapters 2 and 3 lay out a detailed description of how Christian conduct is meant to be marked by obedience to the truth. Christians are called to live like Christ. Therefore, those who do not (live that way) do not have ''the truth'' in them. Later chapters of this letter will fill in how Christian love and conduct give us confidence in our daily lives.
Book Summary:
First John seems to assume that the reader is familiar with the gospel. Rather than re-state these facts, John is concerned with building confidence in Christian believers. At the same time, his words encourage believers to examine their own lives for signs of their relationship with Christ. This letter also challenges false teachers and their incorrect claims about Jesus. Many themes are shared with the Gospel of John.
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