1 John | 1 | 2:1-14 | 2:15-29 | 3:1-10 | 3:11-24 | 4 | 5:1-10 | 5:11-21 | PDF |

These small group studies of 1 John contain outlines, cross-references, Bible study discussion questions, and applications.  Visit our library of inductive Bible studies for more in depth inductive studies on this and other books of the Bible you can use in your small group.

1 John 5:11-21 Inductive Bible Study Guide


I. We have eternal life in Christ (11-13)
II. If we pray in God’s will, He will answer our prayers (14-15)
III. The sin not leading to death (16-17)
IV. God’s power protects us from the evil one (18-21)

I. We have eternal life in Christ (11-13)

Discussion Questions

  • If someone asked you to explain eternal life, what would you say?
  • When do we get this eternal life?
  • How does having eternal life affect your life now?
  • What is the way to get this eternal life?
  • Why did John repeat these simple/basic truths?
  • What does it mean to have assurance and why is this important? (From the book of 1 John, how can you know for sure that you are saved?)


John 17:3 – Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.

Romans 2:6-8 – God “will repay each person according to what they have done.” To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger.

John 3:36 – Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them.

John 11:25 – Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die.

Verse by Verse Commentary

1. God gives eternal life. Jesus makes this gift possible. Our belief allows us to receive it. This is indeed the essence of the gospel. We can never achieve eternal life through our own efforts, unlike what every other religion on earth teaches. Jesus Himself claimed to be the life (John 11:25). The only way to receive this life is to believe in Christ, to abide in Christ. There are no shortcuts. There are no other roads. There is one road. It is simple. Yet it requires humility. It requires repentance. It requires faith.

2. Anyone who doesn’t have Christ, does not have this life. This is the only possible logical destination that the previous verse can take us. Many would say this is exclusive and narrow-minded. They would be right. Truth is exclusive. In many movies the star will propose some course of action and say “it is the only way.” Many times when I see that I think, “Actually that is not the only way.” But in this case, Christ is the only way. This should be motivation for us to share Christ with more people so they can also receive eternal life.

3. Most of us are already familiar with this basic gospel message. But what affect does that have on our life now? How does having eternal life influence your life today?

Skeptics might say that it would make Christians “so heavenly minded they are no earthly good.” I believe that the exact opposite is true. If evolution is true or if there is no God, then there is nothing after death. What you see is what you get. Therefore the philosophy of “eat, drink, and be merry” would be an excellent one. Knowing that there is a life after death, means that our lives now are infinitely more important. What we do now can have an impact on others’ eternal destiny. It can have an impact on our own eternal destiny.

Think about it. The humans with the greatest achievements ever (inventing the wheel or light bulb, etc.) only have an impact as long as this earth is here. But this earth is not eternal. Their accomplishments will one day fade. For the vast majority of people, our accomplishments fade very soon after death. And for many more, our accomplishments don’t mean anything even while we are alive. For a Christian, sharing the gospel with others can enable them to have eternal life and be saved from an eternity in hell.

1 Corinthians 3:12 tells about the rewarding believers for meaningful good deeds.

1 Corinthians 3:12 Bible Verse

It’s also true that not everything in heaven is equal. While all believers will be happy and joyful many Scriptures teach that some will have a higher position and more authority/responsibility/rewards than others who wasted more opportunities. Instead of spending our lives trying to get enough money to buy a bigger car, we can spend our lives getting treasure in heaven to get a bigger mansion (said slightly tongue in cheek, but nonetheless accurate.)

4. John is a big proponent of the assurance of salvation. In verse 13 we see the phrase “so that you may know that you have eternal life.” John wants EVERY believer to know without a shadow of a doubt where he stands. This verse could summarize the chapter actually. We see throughout the book many spiritual self-exams John prescribes.

These ultimately are not meant to discourage us or make us give up our faith. Ultimately John wants us to pass all of these exams so that we can be sure of our own standing with God. At the same time, if perhaps we have a false assurance, God wants us to see that and truly repent so that we can be secure (not false security) in him. If you haven’t yet, probably the best application you can get from this book is to exam yourself with John’s tests and repent if you fall short.

II. If we pray in God’s will, He will answer our prayers (14-15)

Discussion Questions

  • How or when can we be confident that God will answer our prayers?
  • What would you say if someone says to you, “This means that God just answers your prayers if He is going to do it anyway. What is the point of praying then?”
  • How can we know if we are praying according to God’s will?
  • What do these verses teach us about our attitude in prayer?
  • What do these verses teach us about God?
  • How is your prayer life?
  • How can you improve your prayer life?


Psalms 145:18 – The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.

Ephesians 6:18 – And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.

Matthew 21:22 – If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.

Mark 11:24 – Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.

John 15:7 – If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.

Matthew 6:7 – And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words.

Hebrews 4:16 – Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

Verse by Verse Commentary

1. Following in this same line of being confident spiritually (a good counter to the argument of unbelievers who say that Christians are weaklings and use faith as a crutch), John tells believers that we can be confident in our prayers. Any of you ever wonder if God is really listening? Ever wonder if He really answers prayers? Ever wonder if He really cares about such a small thing as you are requesting? Well, these verses have the “magic formula, satisfaction guaranteed, can’t miss” solution for having our prayers answered. It is not complicated. Simply pray in God’s will. That means pray what God wants. To pray what God wants, we need to want what God wants.

Psalm 37:4 Bible Verse

Want to get whatever you want? Want what God wants and it will happen.

2. Maybe this makes you feel disappointed. You thought that prayer was a way to get things. You thought that if you believed in God, God would make you rich or give you a promotion, or help you pass an exam or give you a beautiful wife or handsome husband. However, this is not, and never has been the purpose of prayer. Prayer is a way for believers to be involved in God’s work on earth. Prayer is a way for us to align ourselves, our hearts, and our attitudes with God. We should come to prayer with an open heart, open hands, and an open mind. We should come with a teachable spirit and a flexible will. We come to God in prayer to learn His will and change our plans if need be to fit into His will.

3. As we align with God, we will start to feel happy and excited when we see God’s will come to pass. We will truly be delighted when we see God accomplishing great works in our lives.

4. There is even more good news. Yes, God does His will. He is sovereign. AND, He loves us. He wants what is good for us. So when we pray for God’s will, we are really in the end praying for what is good for us. For example, that beautiful wife or handsome husband may not be the one for us. It might be torture to be married to that person. If we are willing to adjust to God’s will (and pray for God to show us the right person), then we will have a happy marriage we can enjoy for the rest of our lives. When you doubt what is God is doing or why He didn’t answer how we expected, just remember that God always has your best interests at heart. (Jeremiah 29:11)

III. The sin not leading to death (16-17)

Discussion Questions

  • What specific prayer request does John mention?
  • Explain what he means by “sin leading to death” and “sin not leading to death.”
  • What is he referring to?
  • Does God every cause physical death for someone who keeps sinning?
  • What are some examples in the Bible of this?
  • What should a Christian’s response to those cases be?
  • What does this example teach us about prayer?
  • What does it teach us about God?


James 5:16 – Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.

1 Corinthians 11:30 – That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep.

Verse by Verse Commentary

1. Here John gives a specific example of what kind of prayer is good, and what kind of prayer is not.

A. The kind of prayer that is good is in God’s will. Praying for God’s forgiveness and mercy to be given to a person who commits a sin not leading to death.

B. The kind of prayer that is not good – Praying for God to spare the life of someone who has committed a sin leading to death.

2. So to fully understand what John is saying we need to understand what he means by these two phrases. A “sin leading to death” probably refers to someone who is unrepentant a