Without actually breaking from the preceding line of thought, John moves into the concluding remarks of the epistle. In the closing verses, John essentially calls on his audience to be confident in the Gospel they previously received. John states clearly that he writes to a group of people who have already professed faith in Christ. As such, John seeks to provide them with a bulwark against the idolatry and false teaching attacking them from all sides.
Verse 13: Faith Instills Confidence
“13I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life” (v. 13 ESV). John wants there to be no question among those in the church or churches receiving his letter about the fact of their salvation and eternal life. The Greek verb εἰδῆτε translated here “you may know” is rich in meaning. An article of οἶδα, which means “to know”, also translates experience, learn, know how; be acquainted with, recognize, acknowledge; remember; and pay proper respect to.
As John is writing, he is conveying in no uncertain terms that those who believe in Christ can have an assurance, an absolute knowledge that they have eternal salvation through their faith in Jesus Christ. It is important to keep in mind who John is writing this letter to. These are people who have endured what may have been a rather hurtful split in their congregation. Those who left may have been members of families that remained causing great anguish over both the split itself and the circumstances themselves. To have received a letter from an eye witness of the life and ministry of Christ was likely a great source of comfort for those who were trying to stand strong in the faith they had previously received.
Another key phrase found in this passage of Scripture is John’s use of ἔχετε. Here John drives the point home to his readers that they have eternal life using a word that also means to hold or possess. The last apostle is writing to these people reinforcing the faith they have already proclaimed that they may be confident, beyond any possible doubt, that they have salvation unto eternal life and that they too will see Jesus. This group of believers should have the confidence that faith in the living God provides, assured of their salvation because of their belief in Christ (cf. 2:3; 3:14).