Little children, guard yourselves from idols. -NAS
I have always thought that this sentence felt out of place in the letter. I mean, Jonah ends on a more satisfying note. It’s seems like the last thing John does is introduce a new topic, and then stop before he develops it at all. It most certainly doesn’t seem like an ending to a letter.
But it is not nearly as out of place as it may seem. I John overall is about Christian living, especially on what marks one as Christian as opposed to one of the world. This final instruction can be seen in that light: obstain from the gods of the world.
It is also important to follow the thoughts starting in verse 18. As a quick review, here again is the flow of John’s final argument:
- We know we are protected
- We know that the world is dominated by evil
- But we also know that Jesus is here now