Bible Question:

In my discussion about the plan of salvation with a Church of Christ minister, we came across 1 John 5:13. I believe this verse teaches that if you believe on Christ for salvation that you can KNOW that you have eternal life. But he said: if John has written to them the same 1st letter! They know this fact through John's letter, not through their faith!!! Grammar grammar grammar and context! Is there any truth at all to what this COC minister is claiming? Is he trying to add to salvation through faith?

Bible Answer:

1 John 5:13 describes the purpose of the book of 1 John. Each chapter in the book describes a series of evidences of signs that will exist for a true believer in Christ.

These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life.  1 John 5:13 (NASB)

I Have Written

The Greek for “have written” comes from the Greek word grapho. The word is in the aorist tense. John is referring to the epistle of 1 John that he is writing. If John was referring to a letter that he had previously written, it is more likely that John would have used another tense, such as the Greek perfect tense. That would have referred to something that had already been written in the past and had continuing effect. But John did not do that. The aorist refers to all of the words contained in the 96 verses that he had already written in 1 John. It is important to notice that he only wrote 8 more verses after verse 13. John 5:13 describes the purpose of this letter or book.

You May Know  . . .

Throughout the letter of 1 John, the apostle John gives us a list of tests that we can apply to ourselves to determine if we are truly believers of Jesus Christ who have their sins forgiven and are going to heaven. A person does not have to wait until after death when he or she stands before God to discover if he or she is going to hell or heaven. The apostle John said, “. . . I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life.”

Do you know if you have eternal life? The apostle provided a series of tests to help you determine if you are a believer. Therefore, you are encouraged to read a previous question, “How can I know that I will go to heaven when I die?” It provides the list of the tests that are included in 1 John. You may also be interested in another series of tests at “Are You A Christian? — Looking For Evidence.” This series of tests features many of the points that john has mentioned in 1 John.


True believers will act as believers and never leave the faith. They may stray for a period of time but they will always come back. That is, true believers do not leave the faith. They will persevere to the end.

Suggested Links:

Will I go to heaven?
Are You A Christian? — Looking For Evidence
Saved Only Once