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1 John 5:11-13 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
11 And this is the testimony, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12 The one who has the Son has the life; the one who does not have the Son of God does not have the life.
The Power of Prayer
13 These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, in order that you may know that you have eternal life.
THE SON OF LIFE, 1 JOHN 5:11–13
John is now beginning to summarize and sharpen the focus of his message: And this is the testimony (5:11). Here it is. All of his life and teaching, all of the sacrifice and the suffering, all of the inspiration and perspiration are about this: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. In a sense, verses 11–13 really conclude this epistle. They are the top of the grand staircase that John has helped us to ascend. After this astonishing paragraph, his comments seem like a postscript.
That passage is the heart of the gospel. There be may be no words of truth more magnificent in the Bible. They are the near equivalent of John 3:16 in terms of importance and centrality. They teach us several lessons.
Eternal Life Is a Gift from God
Eternal life is not available for purchase nor can it be earned. It is the gift of God to those who believe. What is eternal life? It has been a grand fascination of humankind in virtually every culture over the centuries. It is often thought of in terms of its duration or in terms of “forever.” Endless time, as we know time, is not the whole concern of eternal life.
It certainly must be more than simply existing forever. Such an existence, for some, would be considered a curse, not a gift. Since time and space are empty vessels, the real question is, what might eternal life be filled with to make it so desirable?
For one thing, when we think of eternity and heaven, we connect them with God. It would seem that God and His nature help describe eternal life. Think of every limitation and weakness of this life, and then think of the pure possibilities if all limitations vanished. Consider the goodness of achieving a great goal, the love of family, and the joy of being with loved ones. What are the pure imaginations of your mind as you consider the vast universe? What are the lingering mysteries? What about final justice and the injustice suffered here on earth? How will God resolve that in eternity?
After all of the wild imaginations of your mind have been exhausted, consider that you have not even scratched the surface of what awaits those who trust Christ for such life. And the good news is that we do not have to wait for it all to begin. The verb tenses in verse 11 indicate that God has already given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. Eternal life begins with Jesus and is not interrupted by death. God will take care of us even through death.
This Eternal Life Is in His Son, Jesus Christ
One of the good news/bad news messages the Bible presents is that eternal life is found only in Christ. He is the only way to life that God has provided. John writes He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life (5:12).
The good news is, of course, that there is eternal life in Christ, so if we are in Christ, we have that life. The bad news is the declaration that the one who does not have Christ does not have life. John does not suggest that if one misses the gift of life, that the alternative is automatically hell. He simply does not address that issue, so we need to go to other scriptures for teachings on the ultimate residence of those who do not receive the gift of eternal life.
What we are sure of is that nobody will receive eternal life apart from the provisions Christ has made for us all. His atonement was big enough and good enough to cover “the sins of the whole world” (2:2). We are called to respond by faith to His sufficient atonement (1 John 3:23) and then to be His witnesses.
Because it expresses John’s grand purpose for writing this letter, verse 13 is the third of three key verses: I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life (5:13).
John wants no one to be left behind. He wants every reader to have Christ and have eternal life. And He wants us to live with total confidence about the security of that relationship and the certainty of where we stand “in the Lord.”
This is the way to live.
 David A. Case and David W. Holdren, 1-2 Peter, 1-3 John, Jude: A Commentary for Bible Students (Indianapolis, IN: Wesleyan Publishing House, 2006), 312–313.