Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament
1 John 4
Beloved (αγαπητοι agapētoi). Three times in this chapter (1 John 4:1, 1 John 4:7, 1 John 4:11) we have this tender address on love.Believe not every spirit (μη παντι πνευματι πιστευετε mē panti pneumati pisteuete). “Stop believing,” as some were clearly carried away by the spirits of error rampant among them, both Docetic and Cerinthian Gnostics. Credulity means gullibility and some believers fall easy victims to the latest fads in spiritualistic humbuggery. Prove the spirits (δοκιμαζετε τα πνευματα dokimazete ta pneumata). Put them to the acid test of truth as the metallurgist does his metals. If it stands the test like a coin, it is acceptable (δοκιμος dokimos 2 Corinthians 10:18), otherwise it is rejected (αδοκιμος adokimos 1 Corinthians 9:27; 2 Corinthians 13:5-7). Many false prophets (πολλοι πσευδοπροπηται polloi pseudoprophētai). Jesus had warned people against them (Matthew 7:15), even when they as false Christs work portents (Matthew 24:11, Matthew 24:24; Mark 13:22). It is an old story (Luke 6:26) and recurs again and again (Acts 13:6; Revelation 16:13; Revelation 19:20; Revelation 20:10) along with false teachers (2 Peter 2:1). Are gone out (εχεληλυτασιν exelēluthasin). Perfect active indicative of εχερχομαι exerchomai Cf. aorist in 1 John 2:19. They are abroad always.
Hereby know ye (εν τουτωι γινωσκετε en toutōi ginōskete). Either present active indicative or imperative. The test of “the Spirit of God” (το πνευμα του τεου to pneuma tou theou) here alone in this Epistle, save 1 John 4:13. With the clamour of voices then and now this is important. The test (εν τουτωι en toutōi as in 1 John 3:19) follows.That Jesus Christ is come in the flesh (Ιησουν Χριστον εν σαρκι εληλυτοτα Iēsoun Christon en sarki elēluthota). The correct text (perfect active participle predicate accusative), not the infinitive (εληλυτεναι elēluthenai B Vg). The predicate participle (see John 9:22 for predicate accusative with ομολογεω homologeō) describes Jesus as already come in the flesh (his actual humanity, not a phantom body as the Docetic Gnostics held). See this same idiom in 2 John 1:7 with ερχομενον erchomenon (coming). A like test is proposed by Paul for confessing the deity of Jesus Christ in 1 Corinthians 12:3 and for the Incarnation and Resurrection of Jesus in Romans 10:6-10.
Confesseth not (μη ομολογει mē homologei). Indefinite relative clause with the subjective negative μη mē rather than the usual objective negative ου ou (1 John 4:6). It is seen also in 2 Peter 1:9; Titus 1:11, a survival of the literary construction (Moulton, Prolegomena, p. 171). The Vulgate (along with Irenaeus, Tertullian, Augustine) reads solvit (λυει luei) instead of μη ομολογει mē homologei which means “separates Jesus,” apparently an allusion to the Cerinthian heresy (distinction between Jesus and Christ) as the clause before refers to the Docetic heresy. Many MSS. have here also εν σαρκι εληλυτοτα en sarki elēluthota repeated from preceding clause, but not A B Vg Cop. and not genuine.The spirit of the antichrist (το του αντιχριστου to tou antichristou). Πνευμα Pneuma (spirit) not expressed, but clearly implied by the neuter singular article to. It is a repetition of the point about antichrists made in 1 John 2:18-25. Whereof (ο ho). Accusative of person (grammatical neuter referring to πνευμα pneuma) with ακουω akouō along with accusative of the thing (οτι ερχεται hoti erchetai as in 1 John 2:18, futuristic present middle indicative). Here the perfect active indicative (ακηκοατε akēkoate), while in 1 John 2:18 the aorist (ηκουσατε ēkousate). And now already (και νυν ηδη kai nun ēdē). As in 1 John 2:18 also (many have come). “The prophecy had found fulfilment before the Church had looked for it” (Westcott). It is often so. For ηδη ēdē see John 4:35; John 9:27.
Have overcome them (νενικηκατε αυτους nenikēkate autous). Perfect active indicative of νικαω nikaō calm confidence of final victory as in 1 John 2:13; John 16:33. The reference in αυτους autous (them) is to the false prophets in 1 John 4:1.Because (οτι hoti). The reason for the victory lies in God, who abides in them (1 John 3:20, 1 John 3:24; John 14:20; John 15:4.). God is greater than Satan, “he that is in the world” (ο εν τωι κοσμωι ho en tōi kosmōi), the prince of this world (John 12:31; John 14:30), the god of this age (2 Corinthians 4:4), powerful as he seems.
Of the world (εκ του κοσμου ek tou kosmou). As Jesus is not and as the disciples are not (John 17:14.).As of the world (εκ του κοσμου ek tou kosmou). No “as” (ως hōs), but that is the idea, for their talk proceeds from the world and wins a ready hearing. The false prophets and the world are in perfect unison.
We (ημεις hēmeis). In sharp contrast with the false prophets and the world. We are in tune with the Infinite God. Hence “he that knoweth God” (ο γινωσκων τον τεον ho ginōskōn ton theon present active articular participle, the one who keeps on getting acquainted with God, growing in his knowledge of God) “hears us” (ακουει ημων akouei hēmōn). This is one reason why sermons are dull (some actually are, others so to dull hearers) or inspiring. There is a touch of mysticism here, to be sure, but the heart of Christianity is mysticism (spiritual contact with God in Christ by the Holy Spirit). John states the same idea negatively by a relative clause parallel with the preceding articular participle, the negative with both clauses. John had felt the cold, indifferent, and hostile stare of the worldling as he preached Jesus.By this (εκ τουτου ek toutou). “From this,” deduction drawn from the preceding; only example in the Epistle for the common εν τουτωι en toutōi as in 1 John 4:2. The power of recognition (γινωσκομεν ginōskomen we know by personal experience) belongs to all believers (Westcott). There is no reason for Christians being duped by “the spirit of error” (το πνευμα της πλανης to pneuma tēs planēs), here alone in the N.T., though we have πνευμασιν πλανοις pneumasin planois (misleading spirits) in 1 Timothy 4:1. Rejection of the truth may be due also to our not speaking the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15).
Of God (εκ του τεου ek tou theou). Even human love comes from God, “a reflection of something in the Divine nature itself” (Brooke). John repeats the old commandment of 1 John 2:7. Persistence in loving (present tense αγαπωμεν agapōmen indicative and αγαπων agapōn participle) is proof that one “has been begotten of God” (εκ του τεου γεγεννηται ek tou theou gegennētai as in 1 John 2:29) and is acquainted with God. Otherwise mere claim to loving God accompanied by hating one‘s brother is a lie (1 John 2:9-11).
He that loveth not (ο μη αγαπων ho mē agapōn). Present active articular participle of αγαπαω agapaō “keeps on not loving.”Knoweth not God (ουκ εγνω τον τεον ouk egnō ton theon). Timeless aorist active indicative of γινωσκω ginōskō has no acquaintance with God, never did get acquainted with him. God is love (ο τεος αγαπη εστιν ho theos agapē estin). Anarthrous predicate, not η αγαπη hē agapē John does not say that love is God, but only that God is love. The two terms are not interchangeable. God is also light (1 John 1:5) and spirit (John 4:24).
Was manifested (επανερωτη ephanerōthē). First aorist passive indicative of πανεροω phaneroō The Incarnation as in 1 John 3:5. Subjective genitive as in 1 John 2:5.In us (εν ημιν en hēmin). In our case, not “among us” nor “to us.” Cf. Galatians 1:16. Hath sent (απεσταλκεν apestalken). Perfect active indicative of αποστελλω apostellō as again in 1 John 4:14, the permanent mission of the Son, though in 1 John 4:10 the aorist απεστειλεν apesteilen occurs for the single event. See John 3:16 for this great idea. His only-begotten Son (τον υιον αυτου τον μονογενη ton huion autou ton monogenē). “His Son the only-begotten” as in John 3:16. John applies μονογενης monogenēs to Jesus alone (John 1:14, John 1:18), but Luke (Luke 7:12; Luke 8:42; Luke 9:38) to others. Jesus alone completely reproduces the nature and character of God (Brooke). That we might live through him (ινα ζησωμεν δι αυτου hina zēsōmen di' autou). Purpose clause with ινα hina and the first aorist (ingressive, get life) active subjunctive of ζαω zaō “Through him” is through Christ, who is the life (John 14:6). Christ also lives in us (Galatians 2:20). This life begins here and now.
Not that (ουχ οτι ouch hoti) - but that (αλλ οτι all' hoti). Sharp contrast as in John 7:22; 2 Corinthians 7:9; Philemon 4:17.We loved (ηγαπησαμεν ēgapēsamen). First aorist active indicative, but B reads ηγαπηκαμεν ēgapēkamen (perfect active, we have loved). He (αυτος autos). Emphatic nominative (God). To be the propitiation (ιλασμον hilasmon). Merely predicate accusative in apposition with υιον huion (Son). For the word see 1 John 2:2; Romans 3:25 for ιλαστηριον hilastērion and for περι peri see also 1 John 2:2.
If God so loved us (ει ουτως ο τεος ηγαπησεν ημας ei houtōs ho theos ēgapēsen hēmas). Condition of first class with ει ei and the first aorist active indicative. As in John 3:16, so here ουτως houtōs emphasises the manifestation of God‘s love both in its manner and in its extent (Romans 8:32).Ought (οπειλομεν opheilomen). As in 1 John 2:6. Noblesse oblige. “Keep on loving,” (αγαπαιν agapāin) as in 1 John 3:11.
No one hath beheld God at any time (τεον ουδεις πωποτε τετεαται theon oudeis pōpote tetheātai). Perfect middle indicative of τεαομαι theaomai (John 1:14). Almost the very words of John 1:18 τεον ουδεις πωποτε εωρακεν theon oudeis pōpote heōraken (instead of τετεαται tetheātai).If we love one another (εαν αγαπωμεν αλληλους ean agapōmen allēlous). Third-class condition with εαν ean and the present active subjunctive, “if we keep on loving one another.” God abideth in us (ο τεος εν ημιν μενει ho theos en hēmin menei). Else we cannot go on loving one another. His love (η αγαπη αυτου hē agapē autou). More than merely subjective or objective (1 John 2:5; 1 John 4:9). “Mutual love is a sign of the indwelling of God in men” (Brooke). Is perfected (τετελειωμενη εστιν teteleiōmenē estin). Periphrastic (see usual form τετελειωται teteleiōtai in 1 John 2:5; 1 John 4:17) perfect passive indicative of τελειοω teleioō (cf. 1 John 1:4). See 1 John 4:18 for “perfect love.”
Hereby know we (εν τουτωι γινωσκομεν en toutōi ginōskomen). The Christian‘s consciousness of the fact of God dwelling in him is due to the Spirit of God whom God has given (δεδωκεν dedōken perfect active indicative here, though the aorist εδωκεν edōken in 1 John 3:24). This gift of God is proof of our fellowship with God.
We have beheld (τετεαμετα tetheāmetha). Perfect middle of τεαομαι theaomai as in 1 John 4:12, though the aorist in 1 John 1:1; John 1:14 (ετεασαμετα etheāsametha). John is qualified to bear witness (μαρτυρουμεν marturoumen as in 1 John 1:2) as Jesus had charged the disciples to do (Acts 1:8).Hath sent (απεσταλκεν apestalken). As in 1 John 4:9, though απεστειλεν apesteilen in 1 John 4:10. To be the Saviour of the world (σωτηρα του κοσμου sōtēra tou kosmou). Predicate accusative of σωτηρ sōtēr (Saviour), like ιλασμον hilasmon in 1 John 4:10. This very phrase occurs elsewhere only in John 4:42 as the confession of the Samaritans, but the idea is in John 3:17.
Whosoever shall confess (ος εαν ομολογησηι hos ean homologēsēi). Indefinite relative clause with modal εαν ean (= an) and the first aorist active subjunctive, “whoever confesses.” See 1 John 2:23; 1 John 4:2. for ομολογεω homologeō (οτι hoti). Object clause (indirect assertion) after ομολογεω homologeō This confession of the deity of Jesus Christ implies surrender and obedience also, not mere lip service (cf. 1 Corinthians 12:3; Romans 10:6-12). This confession is proof (if genuine) of the fellowship with God (1 John 1:3.; 1 John 3:24).
We know (εγνωκαμεν egnōkamen). Perfect active indicative, “we have come to know and still know” as in John 6:9, only there order is changed (πεπιστευκαμεν pepisteukamen coming before εγνωκαμεν egnōkamen). Confession (ομολογεω homologeō) follows experimental knowledge (γινωσκω ginōskō) and confident trust (πιστευω pisteuō). Believers are the sphere (εν ημιν en hēmin in our case) in which the love of God operates (Westcott). See John 13:35 for “having love.”God is love (ο τεος αγαπη εστιν ho theos agapē estin). Repeated from 1 John 4:8. So he gathers up the whole argument that one who is abiding in love is abiding in God and shows that God is abiding in him. Thoroughly Johannine style.
Herein (εν τουτωι en toutōi). It is not clear whether the ινα hina clause (sub-final use) is in apposition with εν τουτωι en toutōi as in John 15:8 or the οτι hoti clause (because) with the ινα hina clause as parenthesis. Either makes sense. Westcott argues for the latter idea, which is reinforced by the preceding sentence.With us (μετ ημων meth' hēmōn). Construed with the verb τετελειωται teteleiōtai (is perfected). In contrast to εν ημιν en hēmin (1 John 4:12, 1 John 4:16), emphasising cooperation. “God works with man” (Westcott). For boldness (παρρησιαν parrēsian) in the day of judgment (only here with both articles, but often with no articles as in 2 Peter 2:9) see 1 John 2:28. As he is (κατως εκεινος εστιν kathōs ekeinos estin). That is Christ as in 1 John 2:6; 1 John 3:3, 1 John 3:5, 1 John 3:7, 1 John 3:16. Same tense (present) as in 1 John 3:7. “Love is a heavenly visitant” (David Smith). We are in this world to manifest Christ.
Fear (ποβος phobos). Like a bond-slave (Romans 8:15), not the reverence of a son (ευλαβεια eulabeia Hebrews 5:7.) or the obedience to a father (εν ποβωι en phobōi 1 Peter 1:17). This kind of dread is the opposite of παρρησια parrēsia (boldness).Perfect love (η τελεια αγαπη hē teleia agapē). There is such a thing, perfect because it has been perfected (1 John 4:12, 1 John 4:17). Cf. James 1:4. Casteth out fear (εχω βαλλει τον ποβον exō ballei ton phobon). “Drives fear out” so that it does not exist in real love. See εκβαλλω εχω ekballō exō in John 6:37; John 9:34.; John 12:31; John 15:6 to turn out-of-doors, a powerful metaphor. Perfect love harbours no suspicion and no dread (1 Corinthians 13:1-13). Hath punishment (κολασιν εχει kolasin echei). Old word, in N.T. only here and Matthew 25:46. Τιμωρια Timōria has only the idea of penalty, κολασις kolasis has also that of discipline, while παιδεια paideia has that of chastisement (Hebrews 12:7). The one who still dreads (ποβουμενος phoboumenos) has not been made perfect in love (ου τετελειωται ou teteleiōtai). Bengel graphically describes different types of men: “sine timore et amore; cum timore sine amore; cum timore et amore; sine timore cum amore ”
He first (αυτος πρωτος autos prōtos). Note πρωτος prōtos (nominative), not πρωτον prōton as in John 20:4, John 20:8. God loved us before we loved him (John 3:16). Our love is in response to his love for us. Αγαπωμεν Agapōmen is indicative (we love), not subjunctive (let us love) of the same form. There is no object expressed here.
If a man say (εαν τις ειπηι ean tis eipēi). Condition of third class with εαν ean and second aorist active subjunctive. Suppose one say. Cf. 1 John 1:6.I love God (Αγαπω τον τεον Agapō ton theon). Quoting an imaginary disputant as in 1 John 2:4. And hateth (και μισει kai misei). Continuation of the same condition with εαν ean and the present active subjunctive, “and keep on hating.” See 1 John 2:9; 1 John 3:15 for use of μισεω miseō (hate) with αδελπος adelphos (brother). A liar (πσευστης pseustēs). Blunt and to the point as in 1 John 1:10; 1 John 2:4. That loveth not (ο μη αγαπων ho mē agapōn). “The one who does not keep on loving” (present active negative articular participle). Hath seen (εωρακεν heōraken). Perfect active indicative of οραω horaō the form in John 1:18 used of seeing God. Cannot love (ου δυναται αγαπαιν ou dunatai agapāin). “Is not able to go on loving,” with which compare 1 John 2:9, ου δυναται αμαρτανειν ou dunatai hamartanein (is not able to go on sinning). The best MSS. do not have πως pōs (how) here.
That (ινα hina). Sub-final object clause in apposition with εντολην entolēn as in John 13:34; John 15:13.From him (απ αυτου ap' autou). Either God or Christ. See Mark 12:29-31 for this old commandment (1 John 2:7.).
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Joshus & Judges, Basic Bible Commentary, Volume 4
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