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Friday, September 29th, 2023
the Week of Proper 20 / Ordinary 25
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Bible Commentaries
1 John 4

Edwards' Family Bible New TestamentFamily Bible NT

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Verse 1

Every spirit ; speaking to you through one who claims to be a prophet.

Try the spirits ; the "discerning of spirits" was one of the special and temporary spiritual gifts, 1 Corinthians 12:10 ; but here the apostle proposes such tests as all might employ, verses 1 John 4:2-3 . The doctrines and practice of all religious teachers should be tried by the word of God. If they agree with this they should be received, and if not should be rejected. Hence the right and the duty of all men to be acquainted with the word of God, that they may rightly judge and act in this matter.

Verse 2

Confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh ; or confesseth Jesus Christ as having come in the flesh. Many think that the apostle refers to a very ancient form of error which denied our Lord’s humanity by maintaining that his body was a delusive show, existing only in vision; whence it would follow that his expiation for sin on the cross with his own blood was not real, but a vain show also. In all such passages as the present, the confession is to be understood as sincere, and as accompanied by a corresponding obedient reception of Christ in his proper character as he is revealed in the gospel.

Verse 3

Is that spirit of antichrist ; it is one of the forms in which the spirit of antichrist is manifested. Religious teachers who do not confess that Christ took upon him human nature, and became the propitiation for the sins of men, are not of God. 1 John 2:2 .

Verse 4

Overcome them ; the false prophets, through whom the spirit of antichrist works, seeking to seduce you from the truth.

He that is in you ; God, who dwells in you by the Holy Spirit, enlightening, sanctifying, and strengthening you, and thus preserving you from the wiles of these false teachers.

Verse 5

They ; the false teachers.

Are of the world ; belong in their spirit to the world, and are governed by its principles.

Speak they of the world-the world heareth them ; their doctrine proceeds from a worldly spirit and is worldly in its character. For this reason it is agreeable to worldly men.

Verse 6

We are of God ; the apostles and those who taught like them had the Spirit of God and proclaimed the truth of God. This they proved by their works, God working with them by miracles and gifts of the Holy Ghost. Mark 16:20 ; John 21:24 .

He that knoweth God ; the true Christian.

Hereby ; by their believing and obeying the truths taught by the apostles, or disbelieving and rejecting them. False teachers proclaim doctrines which are more agreeable to worldly men than the doctrines of the Bible, and flatter them with hopes of heaven though they live in sin. For this reason those who love their sins follow them, while those who hate their sins embrace the doctrines and follow the precepts of the Bible.

Verse 7

Love is of God ; he is its author, and those who exercise it are his children, spiritually born of him.

Verse 8

Knoweth not God ; has no true acquaintance and fellowship with him.

God is love ; this is the sum of his moral nature. To have communion with God we must be like him in love.

Verse 11

The most wondrous exhibition of the love of God was the gift of his Son, to be the propitiation for the sins of the world; and the right apprehension and cordial reception of this truth is the most powerful means of leading men to love God, and to manifest it in love to men.

Verse 12

Is perfected ; by producing in us its proper fruits, and is thus shown to be genuine, complete.

Verse 13

Because he hath given us of his Spirit ; see note to chap 1 John 3:24 .

Verse 14

We have seen ; John 1:14 .

Verse 15

Confess that Jesus is the Son of God ; truly, sincerely, heartily; receiving him as the Son of God.

Verse 16

Loving God and good men unites the soul to him in a most intimate, endearing, elevated, ennobling, and blissful union; the joy of which, even in its foretaste on earth, is often unspeakable and full of glory. 1 Peter 1:8 .

Verse 17

Herein ; according to some, this word refers backward to the preceding verse. The meaning will then be, that by our dwelling in love, and thus in God and he in us, our love is made perfect; and the words following, "that we may have boldness," etc., will express the end towards which that love is directed. According to others, the reference is forward, precisely as in John 15:8 , "Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit." The meaning will then be, that the perfection of our love consists in its giving us boldness in the day of judgment; and consequently now, in anticipation of that day.

Because ; the ground of this boldness.

As he is ; as Christ is, in respect to love. He does not say, as Christ was, because Christ’s love is not changed by his removal to heaven.

So are we in this world ; we manifest in the world the same love which Christ manifested on earth, and now has in heaven.

Verse 18

Fear hath torment ; literally, fear hath punishment. It is this towards which fear looks, and the dread of it fills the soul with misery.

Verse 19

Because he first loved us ; his love to us opened the way for and was the procuring cause of our love to him. The gift of the Saviour and the way of life which he has opened, the gift of the Holy Spirit, the preaching of the gospel and all the means of grace, the regeneration of men, their sanctification and hope of glory, their perseverance in holiness, and their eternal life, are all the fruit and manifestation of the infinite and eternal love of God, and will call forth from all the redeemed the most exalted praises to God and the Lamb for ever. Revelation 5:8-14 .

Bibliographical Information
Edwards, Justin. "Commentary on 1 John 4". "Edwards' Family Bible New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/fam/1-john-4.html. American Tract Society. 1851.
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