What does 1 John 2:5 mean?
ESV: but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him:
NIV: But if anyone obeys his word, love for God is truly made complete in them. This is how we know we are in him:
NASB: but whoever follows His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him:
CSB: But whoever keeps his word, truly in him the love of God is made complete. This is how we know we are in him:
NLT: But those who obey God’s word truly show how completely they love him. That is how we know we are living in him.
KJV: But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him.
NKJV: But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him.
Verse Commentary:
In contrast to the "liars" of verse 4 are those who obey God's commandments. "Keeping" God's Word is another reference to obedience. According to John, God's love is perfected in those who obey the Word of God. The term "perfected" does not refer to 100 percent flawless living, but rather to maturity. No one is perfect (Romans 3:10), but all believers are called to growth and maturity; this is a process of perfection. While this is expected, it is not guaranteed.

As with verse 4, there are alternate interpretations of what verse 5 implies. Those who truly know Christ grow to live like Christ. Their actions give evidence of their relationship. Those who do not progress in their Christian walk fail to give positive evidence that they are saved. This should not, however, be mistaken as salvation based on works or good deeds. Only God knows the heart (Acts 15:8), but our lives can reveal whether our hearts have been changed by Christ or not. Nor are verses 5 and 6 meant to be a test of a person's salvation.

In the immediate context, John is speaking of a person's relationship and fellowship with God. This parallels John 15:1–8, where those who do not "abide" in Christ lose all ability to produce good fruit. This is not a loss of salvation—which is secure once obtained—but it certainly applies to the consequences of choosing sin over righteousness.

Regardless of interpretation, this verse points to a clear statement in verse 6: that believers "ought to walk" as Christ did. Whether or not we do is up to us.
Verse Context:
First John 2:1–6 both encourages and warns Christians about sin. John reassures his readers that when a saved believer sins, Christ will plead our case with God. Jesus is our substitute, taking the punishment for our sins. At the same time, John warns that those who claim to know Christ, yet disobey Him, are lying to themselves and others. Anyone who claims to have fellowship with Christ should live as if that is true.
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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