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1 John 4

The Bible Study New TestamentBible Study NT

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Verse 1


Do not believe . . . but test. In 1 John 3:24 John mentions the evidence of the Spirit. Because the false teachers all claimed to be inspired and to have received their (false) message from the Holy Spirit, John reminds the messianic community that they have among them some who can tell the difference (1 Corinthians 12:10; 1 John 2:27) and identify those who are in fact inspired teachers. For many false prophets. His warning is still good today! See 1 Thessalonians 5:19-22.

Verse 2


This is how. “Even you who do not have this gift from the Spirit will be able to recognize which teachers do come from God.” Anyone who declares. Two things are here: (1) Anyone who would use the name Jesus Christ is by that identifying Jesus with the Logos. (2) To declare Jesus Christ came as a human being is to identify the Logos with Jesus. [See Introduction to this Letter.] Moffatt translates this: “Every spirit which confesses Jesus as the Christ incarnate comes from God.”

Verse 3


But anyone who denies this. “Anyone who says Jesus was human but not divine, or that says He was divine but not human, does not speak by means of God’s Spirit!” Enemy of Christ. MacKnight takes this as meaning The Devil, who is the ultimate source of all opposition to Christ. It was the Devil who motivated the false teachers to teach the things they taught. You heard that It would come. Paul spoke about this (2 Thessalonians 2:3). The Mysterious Wickedness was already at work when Paul wrote. John identifies the spirit from the Enemy of Christ as in the world already as he writes. Compare note on Revelation 13:11.

Verse 4


But you belong to God. “You belong to God and allow Him to teach you!” And have defeated. “You have discovered and defeated these false teachers, because you have God’s Truth!” Because the Spirit. “All false teachers have the spirit from the Enemy of Christ. You have the Holy Spirit from God!!! As God is INFINITELY more powerful than the Devil, so the Spirit of Truth is more powerful than the spirit from the Enemy of Christ!”

Verse 5


About matters of the world. Compare 1 John 3:12. “Do not be discouraged by the success of the false teachers. They tell the world what it wants to hear!” See 1 Timothy 4:14; 1 Timothy 6:3-5; 2 Timothy 3:1-7; 2 Timothy 4:3-4.

Verse 6


But we belong to God. “We have nothing to do with the world that follows the Enemy of Christ.” Whoever knows God. “The one who does in fact know God listens to what we apostles say, and teaches the same things which we teach. The one who does not know God rejects us and our message.” This is the way. We have in written form all that the apostles taught (the New Testament). Those who hear and do what they taught, follow the Spirit of truth. Those who reject what they taught, follow the spirit of error which comes from the Enemy of Christ. Compare John 8:42-47.

Verse 7


Because love comes from God. “The false teachers claim knowledge is all that is necessary to please God, and they do not love one another. Love grown cold is a sign of evil (Matthew 24:12). Therefore, because love comes from God, let us love one another!” Whoever loves. John uses a continuous form for ‘loves.’ “Love is God’s very nature, and those who love share the divine nature (2 Peter 1:4); and as they continue to love, they get to know God more and more!!!”

Verse 8


Whoever does not love. “One who is a stranger to love, is a stranger to God also!” Compare 1 Corinthians 2:9 and note.

Verse 9


This is how God. “God showed his love for us by ACTING IN HISTORY! See John 3:16.”

Verse 10


This is what love is. “This is the example for us to follow. God did not wait for us to love him first (1 John 4:19), but while we were still sinners ( Romans 5:8) God sent his Son to be the means (1 John 2:2) by which our sins are forgiven.”

Verse 11


If this is how. “If God could set such an example (1 John 4:10), then we who belong to God must imitate Him by loving one another!!!” Christian love is treating others as God has treated us through Christ.

Verse 12


No one has ever seen God. John 1:18. “Some may claim to have seen God in a vision or to have heard Him speak to them. But in fact, no one has ever seen God! But Jesus, the Son, has told us about Him. The only actual proof that God lives in us (Ephesians 2:22), or that his love is made perfect in us (1 John 2:5), is that we love one another!”

Verse 13


He has given us his Spirit. John may be thinking of the miraculous gifts from the Spirit, but what he has been saying about love connects this with Galatians 5:22-23. Every Christian is Spirit-filled (Acts 5:32). But one who does not love, shows he does not have the Spirit!

Verse 14


That the Father sent his Son. John speaks as an eye-witness! See John 15:27; 1 John 1:1-4.

Verse 15


Whoever declares. Compare 1 John 4:2. Such faith implies fellowship with God! Compare 1 Timothy 6:12; Matthew 16:16; Romans 10:9-10. “God lives in the one who declares his faith in Jesus as the Christ incarnate.”

Verse 16


And we ourselves know. The apostles saw Christ-on-the-cross! They believe (see note on James 2:19) God’s love! John’s language points to a knowledge and belief that began in the past and continues up to the present (and will continue in the future). Unless you believe that the Logos came as a human being to be the Savior of the world, you cannot understand God’s unique love!!!

Verse 17


The purpose. “Love is an official heavenly visitor who stays with us and claims our loyalty. Love has been ‘made perfect in us’ when we are facsimiles of Jesus – His visible portrait!” Compare Matthew 5:16; Galatians 2:20.

Verse 18


No fear in love. Note that John uses fear as the opposite of love. One type of person lost eternally is the coward (fearful), as we see in Revelation 21:8. [We fear God in the sense of reverence and respect.] “Fear of punishment never goes along with love; but perfect love to God and man drives out all fear of punishment from our mind! One who truly loves God and man will know that he has left death and come over into life (1 John 3:14), and will have no reason to fear punishment!” Love has not been made perfect. “The one who fears the Judgment has not been made perfect in love to God and man! For this he has no excuse!” Bengel says there are four possible conditions of a human soul: (1) without either fear or love; (2) with fear, without love; (3) with fear and love: (4) with love, without fear. This verse shows that only the fourth describes the true (mature) Christian!

Verse 19


Because God. God’s unique love for us in Christ, fills us with love for Him and for our fellowman!

Verse 20


But hates his brother. “Hating his brother shows he was a liar when he said, ‘I love God!’” Some thought it proper to show their love for God by hating and persecuting all who did not share their views in religious matters. See note on James 3:9. We limit our love for God, by our love for our brother!!!

Verse 21


Is the command. It is God’s will that he who loves the Father should love the children also! See John 13:34-35; John 15:12; 1 John 3:11. You cannot obey the command to love God without loving your brother!!!

Bibliographical Information
Ice, Rhoderick D. "Commentary on 1 John 4". "The Bible Study New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ice/1-john-4.html. College Press, Joplin, MO. 1974.
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