What does 1 John 5:14 mean?
ESV: And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us.
NIV: This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.
NASB: This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.
CSB: This is the confidence we have before him: If we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.
NLT: And we are confident that he hears us whenever we ask for anything that pleases him.
KJV: And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us:
After emphasizing confidence in eternal life, John comments on confidence in prayer. The believer can know he or she has eternal life and know God hears their prayers. However, this verse specifies that getting a positive answer to prayer is based on asking "according to his will." This phrase is used only two other times in the New Testament. In Luke 12:47, a parable is told about a servant who did not act "according to his [master's] will" and received judgment. In Hebrews 2:4, the author mentions gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed "according to his will."
Verses such as this clear up the common misconception that God promises to give us "absolutely anything" we ask for, no matter what. God is not a vending machine, or a robot. He acts according to His ways, not ours. He hears our prayers, but it should come as no surprise that He responds to those prayers according to His will.
First John 5:13–21 closes out the letter by focusing on assurance of salvation. The goal of John's letter is to provide believers with a means to know, for sure, that they have eternal life. Those who have put their faith in Jesus Christ can be absolutely sure that they are saved. Despite our failures and sins, God is forgiving. And, through Christ, we have the power to overcome the world's temptations to sin.
Chapter 5 concludes the book of 1 John, once again emphasizing the supremacy of love in the Christian experience. Those who put their faith in Christ can know, for sure, that they have eternal life. This assurance comes by trusting what we know of the life of Jesus Christ, as well as the evidence of the Holy Spirit within us. Following God's commands, particularly love, results in confidence of our salvation, as well as strength against the temptations of the world.
First John 5 completes the letter by summarizing how Christians can know that they have eternal life. Prior chapters have explained the various signs of ''abiding'' with God, but the key measurement is love. In this final passage, love is once again used as the supreme measurement. In light of the rest of the letter, love for God and love for others is shown to be both a source of confidence and a sign of faith.
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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