John next gives the underlying purpose of his letter and discusses prayer. (Read 1 John 5:13-15.) He has written “these things” so that it may be known ‘that we have life everlasting.’ This is our conviction as those putting faith in the “name” of God’s Son. (Compare 1 John 3:23.) And apostates, who are not of our sort, cannot destroy that faith.—1 John 2:18, 19.
Toward God we have “confidence,” or “outspokenness,” that no matter what we ask in prayer “according to his will, he hears us.” We rightly pray for such things as the sanctification of Jehovah’s name, his spirit, godly wisdom, and deliverance from the wicked one. (Matthew 6:9, 13; Luke 11:13; James 1:5-8) And “we know we are to have the things asked since we have asked them of him,” the “Hearer of prayer.”—Psalm 65:2.
John next speaks of prayer and two types of sin. (Read 1 John 5:16, 17.) “A sin that does not incur death” is not willful, and it would not be wrong to pray that the repentant wrongdoer be forgiven. (Acts 2:36-38; 3:19; James 5:13-18) But it would be wrong to pray concerning “a sin that does incur death” because this is willful sin against the holy spirit, for which forgiveness is impossible. (Matthew 12:22-32; Hebrews 6:4-6; 10:26-31) Such sinners go to Gehenna, experiencing eternal destruction in “the second death.” (Revelation 21:8; Matthew 23:15) So while Jehovah is the final Judge, we do not risk displeasing him by praying for a sinner when the evidence indicates that he is guilty of willful “sin that does incur death.”
Hence, “if anyone [especially a spirit-anointed elder] catches sight of his brother sinning a sin that does not incur death [“second death”], he will ask, and [God] will give life to [the sinner],” saving him from eternal destruction. Of course, “all unrighteousness is sin,” or a missing of the mark as far as God’s righteous standards are concerned. “Yet there is a sin that does not incur death” because it results from our imperfection, we are repentant, and the sin is covered by Christ’s sacrifice.