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Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

1 John 4:2

By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God;

Adam Clarke Commentary

Hereby know ye the Spirit of God - We know that the man who teaches that Jesus Christ is the promised Messiah, and that he is come in the flesh, is of God - is inspired by the Divine Spirit; for no man can call Jesus Lord but by the Holy Ghost.


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Bibliography
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on 1 John 4:2". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/1-john-4.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

Hereby - Greek, “By this;” that is, by the test which is immediately specified.

Know ye the Spirit of God - You may discern who are actuated by the Spirit of God.

Every spirit - Everyone professing to be under the influence of the Spirit of God. The apostle uses the word “spirit” here with reference to the person who made the claim, on the supposition that everyone professing to be a religious teacher was animated by some spirit or foreign influence, good or bad. If the Spirit of God influenced them, they would confess that Jesus Christ had come in the flesh; if some other spirit, the spirit of error and deceit, they would deny this.

That confesseth - That is, that makes a proper acknowledgment of this; that inculcates this doctrine, and that gives it a due place and prominence in his instructions. It cannot be supposed that a mere statement of this in words would show that they were of God in the sense that they were true Christians; but the sense is, that if this constituted one of the doctrines which they held and taught, it would show that they were advocates of truth, and not apostles of error. If they did not do this, 1 John 4:3, it would be decisive in regard to their character and claims.

That Jesus Christ is come in the flesh - Benson and some others propose to render this, “That Jesus, who came in the flesh, is the Christ.” But this is liable to serious objections.

(1)it is not the obvious interpretation.

(2)it is unusual to say that Jesus “had come in the flesh,” though the expression “the Son of God has come in the flesh,” or “God was manifested in the flesh,” would be in accordance with the usage of the New Testament.

(3)this would not, probably, meet the real point in the case. The thing denied does not appear to have been that Jesus was the Messiah, for their pretending to be Christian teachers at all implied that they admitted this; but that the Son of God was “really a man,” or that he actually assumed human nature in permanent union with the divine. The point of the remark made by the apostle is, that the acknowledgment was to be that Christ assumed human nature; that he was really a man as he appeared to be: or that there was a real incarnation, in opposition to the opinion that he came in appearance only, or that he merely seemed to be a man, and to suffer and die. That this opinion was held by many, see the Introduction, Section III. 2. It is quite probable that the apostle here refers to such sentiments as those which were held by the “Docetae;” and that he meant to teach that it was indispensable to proper evidence that anyone came from God, that he should maintain that Jesus was truly a man, or that there was a real incarnation of the Son of God. John always regarded this as a very important point, and often refers to it, John 19:34-35; John 20:25-27; 1 John 5:6. It is as important to be held now as it was then, for the fact that there was a real incarnation is essential to all just views of the atonement. If he was not truly a man, if he did not literally shed his blood on the cross, of course all that was done was in appearance only, and the whole system of redemption as revealed was merely a splendid illusion. There is little danger that this opinion will be held now, for those who depart from the doctrine laid down in the New Testament in regard to the person and work of Christ, are more disposed to embrace the opinion that he was a mere man; but still it is important that the truth that he was truly incarnate should be held up constantly before the mind, for in no other way can we obtain just views of the atonement.

Is of God - This does not necessarily mean that everyone who confessed this was personally a true Christian, for it is clear that a doctrine might be acknowledged to be true, and yet that the heart might not be changed; nor does it mean that the acknowledgment of this truth was all which it was essential to be believed in order that one might be recognised as a Christian; but it means that it was essential that this truth should be admitted by everyone who truly came from God. They who taught this held a truth which he had revealed, and which was essential to be held; and they thus showed that they did not belong to those to whom the name “antichrist” could be properly given. Still, whether they held this doctrine in such a sense, and in such connection with other doctrines, as to show that they were sincere Christians, was quite another question, for it is plain that a man may hold and teach the true doctrines of religion, and yet have no evidence that he is a child of God.


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Bibliography
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on 1 John 4:2". "Barnes' Notes on the New Testament". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/1-john-4.html. 1870.

Coffman's Commentaries on the Bible

Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God:

"The confession here is a Christian creed in brief compass."[8] Orr affirmed that a "better translation" of this verse is: "Every spirit which confesses Jesus as Christ come in the flesh is of God."[9] Whether or not that is the correct translation, it is, in any case, a proper understanding of what the passage means. This is evident, as Morris noted; since, "The reference to flesh puts emphasis on the Incarnation."[10] Smith also preferred the translation advocated by Orr, adding that, "It is an accurate definition of the doctrine denied by the Cerenthians,"[11] and thus a perfect refutation of it.

This verse is actually a thumbnail summary of Christian doctrine, a synecdoche standing for all of it, as was pointed out by Ryrie, "From this verse, we are not to suppose that this was the only test of orthodoxy; but it is a major one, and it was the most necessary one for the errors of John's day."[12]

The true teaching of this verse was paraphrased by Stott: "Far from coming upon Jesus at the baptism and leaving him before the cross, the Christ actually came in the flesh and never laid it aside."[13] This echoes the great confession by Peter in Matthew 16:13ff; and, properly understood, the great confession of the true identity of Jesus of Nazareth the Christ the Son of God includes the whole of Christianity. In this great fact, the entire Christian religion is unified and bound together. This is why the Lord Jesus Christ made this the dogmatic foundation of the church.

[8] R. W. Orr, op. cit., p. 617.

[9] Ibid.

[10] Leon Morris, The New Bible Commentary, Revised (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1970), p. 1267.

[11] David Smith, op. cit., p. 189.

[12] Charles C. Ryrie, op. cit., p. 1023.

[13] John R. W. Stott, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries, Vol. 19 (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1964), p. 154.


Copyright Statement
James Burton Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.

Bibliography
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on 1 John 4:2". "Coffman Commentaries on the Old and New Testament". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/1-john-4.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

Hereby know ye the Spirit of God,.... This is a rule by which believers may know whether a man professing to have the Spirit of God, and to be called and sent by him, and whether the, doctrine he preaches, is of him or not:

every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh,

is of God; or of the Spirit of God; that is, every doctrine which carries this truth in it; or every man that owns, and professes, and publishes this doctrine concerning Christ, is on the side of God and truth; and which contains several articles in it, respecting the person and office of Christ; as that he existed before he came in the flesh, not in the human nature, or as man, or as an angel, but as the Son of God, as a divine person, being truly and properly God; so that this confession takes in his divine sonship, and proper deity, and also his true and real humanity; that the Messiah was incarnate, against the Jews, and was God and man in one person; and that he was really man, and not in appearance only, against the heretics of those times: and it also includes his offices, as that Jesus of Nazareth was the Christ, the Messiah, which the Jews denied, and that he was the anointed prophet, priest, and King; and so is a confession or acknowledgment of all the doctrines of the Gospel, which came by him, as a prophet; and of his satisfaction, sacrifice, and intercession, as a priest; and of all his ordinances and commands as a King; and that he is the only Saviour and Redeemer of men. Now, whoever owns and declares this system of truth, "is of God"; not that everyone that assents unto this, or preaches it, is born of God; a man may believe, and confess all this, as the devils themselves do, and yet be destitute of the grace of God; but the spirit, or doctrine, which contains these things in it, is certainly of God, or comes from him; or whoever brings these truths with him, and preaches them, he is, so far as he does so, on the side of God and truth, and to be regarded.


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The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rightes Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855

Bibliography
Gill, John. "Commentary on 1 John 4:2". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/1-john-4.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

2 Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: b Every spirit that confesseth that c Jesus Christ is come in the d flesh is of God:

(2) He gives a certain and perpetual rule to know the doctrine of antichrist, that is, if either the divine or human nature of Christ, or the true uniting of them together is denied: or if the least jot that may be, be detracted from his office who is our only king, prophet and everlasting high priest.

(b) He speaks simply of the doctrine, and not of the person.

(c) The true Messiah.

(d) Is true man.


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Bibliography
Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on 1 John 4:2". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/1-john-4.html. 1599-1645.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

Hereby — “Herein.”

know … the Spirit of God — whether he be, or not, in those teachers professing to be moved by Him.

Every spirit — that is, Every teacher claiming inspiration by the HOLY SPIRIT.

confesseth — The truth is taken for granted as established. Man is required to confess it, that is, in his teaching to profess it openly.

Jesus Christ is come in the flesh — a twofold truth confessed, that Jesus is the Christ, and that He is come (the Greek perfect tense implies not a mere past historical fact, as the aorist would, but also the present continuance of the fact and its blessed effects) in the flesh (“clothed with flesh”: not with a mere seeming humanity, as the Docetae afterwards taught: He therefore was, previously, something far above flesh). His flesh implies His death for us, for only by assuming flesh could He die (for as God He could not), Hebrews 2:9, Hebrews 2:10, Hebrews 2:14, Hebrews 2:16; and His death implies His LOVE for us (John 15:13). To deny the reality of His flesh is to deny His love, and so cast away the root which produces all true love on the believer‘s part (1 John 4:9-11, 1 John 4:19). Rome, by the doctrine of the immaculate conception of the Virgin Mary, denies Christ‘s proper humanity.


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These files are a derivative of an electronic edition prepared from text scanned by Woodside Bible Fellowship.
This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.

Bibliography
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on 1 John 4:2". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/1-john-4.html. 1871-8.

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament

Hereby know ye (εν τουτωι γινωσκετεen toutōi ginōskete). Either present active indicative or imperative. The test of “the Spirit of God” (το πνευμα του τεουto 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 τουτωιen toutōi as in 1 John 3:19) follows.

That Jesus Christ is come in the flesh (Ιησουν Χριστον εν σαρκι εληλυτοταIēsoun Christon en sarki elēluthota). The correct text (perfect active participle predicate accusative), not the infinitive (εληλυτεναιelēluthenai B Vg). The predicate participle (see John 9:22 for predicate accusative with ομολογεωhomologeō) 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 ερχομενονerchomenon (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.


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The Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament. Copyright Broadman Press 1932,33, Renewal 1960. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman Press (Southern Baptist Sunday School Board)

Bibliography
Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on 1 John 4:2". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rwp/1-john-4.html. Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.

Vincent's Word Studies

Hereby ( ἐν τούτῳ )

See on 1 John 2:3.

Know ye ( γινῶσκετε )

Perceive. See on John 2:24.

Confesseth ( ὁμολογεῖ )

See on Matthew 7:23; see on Matthew 10:32.

That Jesus Christ is come in the flesh ( Ἱησοῦν Χριστὸν ἐν σαρκὶ ἐληλυθότα )

Lit., Jesus Christ having come, etc. The whole phrase forms the direct object of the verb confesseth.

Of God

Compare 1 Corinthians 12:3.


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Bibliography
Vincent, Marvin R. DD. "Commentary on 1 John 4:2". "Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/vnt/1-john-4.html. Charles Schribner's Sons. New York, USA. 1887.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God:

Every spirit — Or teacher.

Which confesseth — Both with heart and voice.

Jesus Christ, who is come in the flesh, is of God — This his coming presupposes, contains, and draws after it, the whole doctrine of Christ.


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These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.

Bibliography
Wesley, John. "Commentary on 1 John 4:2". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/1-john-4.html. 1765.

Abbott's Illustrated New Testament

Is of God; is true; teaches the truth.


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Bibliography
Abbott, John S. C. & Abbott, Jacob. "Commentary on 1 John 4:2". "Abbott's Illustrated New Testament". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ain/1-john-4.html. 1878.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

2Hereby, or by this, know ye He lays down a special mark by which they might more easily distinguish between true and false prophets. Yet he only repeats here what we have met with before, that as Christ is the object at which faith aims, so he is the stone at which all heretics stumble. As long then as we abide in Christ, there is safety; but when we depart from him, faith is lost, and all truth is rendered void. (82)

But let us consider what this confession includes; for when the Apostle says that Christ came, we hence conclude that he was before with the Father; by which his eternal divinity is proved. By saying that he came in the flesh, he means that by putting on flesh, he became a real man, of the same nature with us, that he might become our brother, except that he was free from every sin and corruption. And lastly, by saying that he came, the cause of his coming must be noticed, for he was not sent by the Father for nothing. Hence on this depend the office and merits of Christ.

As, then, the ancient heretics departed from the faith, in one instance, by denying the divine, and in another by denying the human nature of Christ; so do the Papists at this day: though they confess Christ to be God and man, yet they by no means retain the confession which the Apostle requires, because they rob Christ of his own merit; for where freewill, merits of works, fictitious modes of worship, satisfactions, the advocacy of saints, are set up, how very little remains for Christ!

The Apostle then meant this, that since the knowledge of Christ includes the sum and substance of the doctrine respecting true religion, our eyes ought to be directed to and fixed on that, so that we may not be deceived. And doubtless Christ is the end of the law and the prophets; nor do we learn anything else from the gospel but his power and grace.

2. “By this know ye the teacher of God; every teacher who confesses Jesus Christ as having come in the flesh, is from God; and

3. every teacher who does not confess Jesus Christ as having come in the flesh, is not from God; and this is the teacher of Antichrist, (or, the Anti Christian teacher,) of whom ye have heard that he is coming, and he is now already in the world.” — Ed


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Bibliography
Calvin, John. "Commentary on 1 John 4:2". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/1-john-4.html. 1840-57.

James Nisbet's Church Pulpit Commentary

THE INCARNATION AND THE INNER LIFE

‘Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God.’

1 John 4:2

Only too commonly the Incarnation is regarded as a doctrine which faith must accept, but which, except in its issues and results, has no immediate connection with the tenor of daily life. Yet it is plain enough from the text that to confess the Incarnation, in all its blessed fulness and reality of meaning, is to afford a proof of being a very son of God, and a recipient in the fullest measure of the inworking power of the Spirit.

I. Who is He of Whose Incarnation we are speaking?—The immediate and instinctively given answer that each one of us would return would probably be the one word—God. True, most true, most blessedly true, but yet not the suggestive and instructive answer which the Apostle who wrote the words on which we are meditating has enabled us to make. What St. John, under the guidance of the Holy Ghost, plainly reveals to us is this, that He Who was incarnate was He Who was in the beginning, ever with God, and Himself God. And the name that he gives to Him is the Word.

II. Why was this love manifested in a form so startling in its lowliness as that which is revealed to us in the gospel narrative?—Could not the Word have become flesh—could not the Incarnation have been a true and real entry into our humanity and a veritable assumption of our nature, without the humble birth, the slow, silent years of growth, and the gradual increase of wisdom and experience? Though such questions will arise in the soul, there is a kind of presumption in entertaining them, and, to some extent, in endeavouring to answer them. This, however, may with all reverence be said, that, had it been otherwise, the conviction that the Son of God had verily and truly taken our nature upon Him would never have been felt with completeness and fulness in the human heart.

III. Does not the Incarnation with all its attendant circumstances bring home to us the vital truth that if such was the form and manner of the Lord’s assumption of our humanity, communion with Him here and hereafter must be a blessed reality on which the loving and believing soul may rely with the most unchanging confidence. If the dear Lord while here on earth verily did live in blessed union and communion with His chosen ones, as some of that holy number tell us plainly that He did live—if the Incarnation bore with it that boundless blessing to disciples and Apostles, what is there to lead us to doubt that to those that love Him and pray for His abiding presence with them, the Incarnation bears the selfsame privilege and blessing now?

IV. Our dear Lord’s Incarnation was not merely a holy mystery which faith must apprehend, but it carries to the soul convictions of the personal love of Christ toward each fellow-man which make it, what it seems now becoming more and more to us all, the, so to speak, practical doctrine of our own mysteriously moving and eventful times. The Fatherhood of God and the Brotherhood of man are the two great truths which, year by year, modern religious thought seems more distinctly apprehending and realising; and that each of these great principles rests upon, as its basis, the Incarnation may be regarded as an almost self-evident truth. The revelation of God as our Father was made to us through the Son of His love. Our revelation of the Brotherhood of man can only come through the beloved One, Who made Himself our Elder Brother that He might die for us, and make us His brethren and His own for evermore.

—Bishop Ellicott.


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Bibliography
Nisbet, James. "Commentary on 1 John 4:2". Church Pulpit Commentary. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cpc/1-john-4.html. 1876.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

2 Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God:

Ver. 2. Hereby know ye the spirit] Bring it to this test. Gold may be rubbed or melted, it remains orient; so doth truth. Whereas error, as glass (bright, but brittle), cannot endure the hammer of fire.

That confesseth] That preacheth Christ crucified.


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Bibliography
Trapp, John. "Commentary on 1 John 4:2". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/1-john-4.html. 1865-1868.

Expository Notes with Practical Observations on the New Testament

In these words our apostle lays down a plain mark and rule of trial, how they might know a teacher that was acted and inspired by the Spirit of God, from one that was not; such a one as durst truly and openly in the face of danger own and profess, teach and preach, Jesus Christ in his person, nature, and offices, as the incarnate Word, or Son of God, sent from heaven ascribing virtue and efficacy to the sacrifice of his death, and attributing to him alone the whole glory of a perfect Saviour: this doctrine is of the Spirit, and this spirit is of God. But such teachers as will not hazard themselves, but for fear of sufferings and persecution, will deny either the Godhead or manhood of Christ, and disown either his incarnation, death, or resurrection: such teachers and such doctrines are not of God, but are the very spirit of antichrist, which, says he, you have been foretold should come, and is now already in the world.

Learn hence, That such a teacher as disowns either of the natures of Christ, or denies any of the offices of Christ; that either denies the divinity of his person, or the meritoriousness of his satisfaction, is not of God, he is antichrist, against Christ, and shall find Christ against him in the day that he appears before him.


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Bibliography
Burkitt, William. "Commentary on 1 John 4:2". Expository Notes with Practical Observations on the New Testament. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wbc/1-john-4.html. 1700-1703.

Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament

1 John 4:2. Statement of the token by which the πνεῦμα τοῦ θεοῦ is to be recognised.

ἐν τούτῳ refers to the following sentence: πᾶν πνεῦμα κ. τ. λ.

γινώσκετε is imperative, comp. πιστεύετε, δοκιμάζετε, 1 John 4:1.

πᾶν πνεῦμα ὁμολογεῖ ἰησοῦν χριστὸν ἐν σαρκὶ ἐληλυθότα] It is arbitrary not only to change the participle ἐληλυθότα into the infinitive ἐληλυθέναι, but also to change ἐν into εἰς (so Luther, Calvin, Piscator, Sander); by ἐν σαρκί the flesh, i.e. the earthly human nature, is stated as the form of being in which Christ appeared. The form of the object is explained by the polemic against Docetism; it is to be translated either:Jesus Christ as come in the flesh” (Lücke, de Wette, Düsterdieck, Ebrard, etc.); or: “Jesus, as Christ come in the flesh;” the last interpretation has this advantage, that it not only brings out more clearly the reference to the Cerinthian Docetism,(254) but it makes it more easy to explain how the apostle in 1 John 4:3 can designate the object simply by τὸν ἰησοῦν. It might, however, be still more suitable to take ἰησοῦν ἐληλυθότα as one object = “the Jesus Christ who came in the flesh,” so that in this expression the individual elements on which John here relied in opposition to Docetism have been gathered into one; so perhaps Braune, when he says: “the form is that of a substantive objective sentence,” and “in ἐν σ. ἐλ. it is not a predicate, but an attributive clause that is added.” That the apostle has in view not only the Cerinthian, but also the later Docetism, which attributed to the Saviour only a seeming body, cannot be proved from the form of expression used here. The commentators who deny the reference of the apostle to Docetism find themselves driven to artificial explanations; thus Socinus, who expands the participle by quamvis, and Grotius, according to whom ἐν σαρκί refers to the status humilis in which Christ appeared, in contrast to the regia pompa in which the Jews expected the Messiah.(255) To exact unbelievers there can here be no reference, as, according to chap. 1 John 2:2, the false prophets had previously belonged to the Church itself.(256) That John brings out as the token of the Spirit, that is, of God, just the confession of this particular truth, has its ground in the circumstances that have been mentioned; while it is also so very much the fundamental truth, that, as Lücke on ch. 1 John 2:22 with justice says: “every ψεῦδος is contained in this and amounts to this, the denial of that truth in any sense.”(257)


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Bibliography
Meyer, Heinrich. "Commentary on 1 John 4:2". Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hmc/1-john-4.html. 1832.

Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament

1 John 4:2. γινώσκετε,(13) ye know) Respecting the heresies of that age there are recent and easily accessible writings: the Apostolic Church of Buddeus, and the Disputations of Lange, etc.— πᾶν, every) The discourse is respecting the spirits of that time: for at other times false prophets also impugned other heads of doctrine respecting Jesus Christ.— πᾶν πνεῦμα, every spirit) The Spirit of God is one only: but from Him every true teacher has his own peculiar inspiration, which is called πνεῦμα, spirit.— ὁμολογεῖ, confesses) with the assent of the heart and mouth. By this word the doctrine is presupposed as already ratified and confirmed.— ἐν σαρκὶ, in the flesh) He Himself, therefore, is something more than flesh. The heresies, which deny the truth of the flesh of Jesus Christ, presuppose, and by this very thing confirm, His Deity, since they were not able to reconcile with this His flesh, as worthy of it.— ἐληλυθότα, who is come) On this advent the whole doctrine respecting Christ depends; for that advent partly presupposes, partly embraces, and partly draws after it, this doctrine: 1 John 4:15, note.

γινώσκεται is read by Vulg. and Syr. of the oldest authorities; but γινώσκετε, by ABC Memph. Theb. later Syr. Iren. and Lucifer, the weightest authorities.—E.


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Bibliography
Bengel, Johann Albrecht. "Commentary on 1 John 4:2". Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jab/1-john-4.html. 1897.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

He here gives them the general rule, both affirmative and negative, which would suffice them to judge by in their present case; this being the great controversy of that time with the Jews: Whether Jesus were the Messiah? And whether the Messiah were as yet come or no? And with the Gnostics: Whether he were really come in the flesh, in true human nature? Or were not, as to that appearance, a mere phantasm? And he affirms: They that confessed him so come, were of God; i.e. thus far they were in the right, this truth was of God. Of the two litigating parties, this was of God, the other not of God; this took his side, that was against him. Yea, and they that not only made this true confession, but did also truly confess him, i.e. sincerely, cordially, practically, so as accordingly to trust in him, subject and devote themselves to him, were born of God, his very children, acted and influenced hereunto by his own Holy Spirit, as 1 John 5:1,5 Mt 16:16,17 1 Corinthians 12:3.


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Bibliography
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on 1 John 4:2". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/1-john-4.html. 1685.

Justin Edwards' Family Bible New Testament

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.


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Bibliography
Edwards, Justin. "Commentary on 1 John 4:2". "Family Bible New Testament". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/fam/1-john-4.html. American Tract Society. 1851.

Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges

2. ἐν τούτῳ γινώσκετε. Once more we have a verb which may be either indicative or imperative (1 John 2:27; 1 John 2:29). The indicative is to be preferred in spite of the imperative in 1 John 4:1. The passage is closely analogous to 1 John 3:16; 1 John 3:19; 1 John 3:24, which must be indicative. In all four cases the Apostle appeals to the progressive experience of Christians. Ἐν τούτῳ refers to what follows: see on 1 John 3:19. Nowhere else in the Epistle is ἐν τούτῳ joined to an imperative.

πᾶν πν. δ ὁμολογεῖ. This idea of ‘confessing’ one’s belief is specially frequent in S. John: John 2:23; John 4:15; 2 John 1:7; John 9:22; John 12:42; comp. Romans 10:9.

Ἰησ. Χρ. ἐν σαρκὶ ἐληλύθοτα. See on 2 John 1:7. This is the crucial test, and one which would at once expose ‘the spirits’ of Cerinthian and Docetic teachers. We are not to suppose that all other articles of faith are unimportant; or that to deny this truth is the worst of all denials (see on 1 John 2:22); or that such denial involves every kind of doctrinal error. But against the errors prevalent in that age this was the great safeguard. The confession must of course be not with the tongue only but in truth, and in deed as well as in word (1 John 3:18): non lingua sed factis, non sonando sed amando (Bede).

The sentence may be taken in more ways than one: [1] as both A.V. and R.V.; [2] more accurately and with some difference of meaning, confesseth Jesus Christ as come in the flesh; [3] confesseth that Jesus is the Christ come in the flesh. Remark that S. John does not say ‘come into the flesh,’ but ‘in the flesh’: Christ did not descend (as Cerinthus said) into an already existing man, but He came in human nature; He ‘became flesh.’ Moreover he does not say that the confession is to be of a Christ who came (ἐλθόντα), but of a Christ who is come (ἐληλυθότα). This ‘coming’ is not an exhausted fact: He is come and abides in the flesh. Some Latin writers have in carnem venisse for in carne venisse; but this is bad Latin rather than bad doctrine. The translator has not been able to mark the difference between εἰς σάρκα and ἐν σαρκί.

S. Paul gives almost exactly the same test: ‘I give you to understand that no man speaking in the Spirit of God saith, Jesus is anathema; and no man can say, Jesus is Lord, but in the Holy Spirit’ (1 Corinthians 12:3).

ἐκ τοῦ Θεοῦ ἐστίν. Proceeds from Him as its source. Comp. 1 John 4:3; 1 John 4:6-7; 1 John 2:16; 1 John 3:10; 3 John 1:11; John 7:17; John 8:47. Outside S. John’s writings the expression is not common: comp. Acts 5:38; 1 Corinthians 11:12. It is closely akin to the idea of Divine birth (1 John 2:29; 1 John 3:9) and being children of God (1 John 3:1-2; 1 John 3:10). “To confess that Jesus the anointed is come in the flesh, is to confess that there is a medium of spiritual communications between the visible and the invisible world, between earth and heaven. It is to confess that there is one Mediator for all men” (Maurice).


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Bibliography
"Commentary on 1 John 4:2". "Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cgt/1-john-4.html. 1896.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

2. HerebyFirst test of a true spirit. This test is aimed at the Docetist, who denied the flesh and body of Christ, and made him a phantom.

Every spirit… of God—The apostle’s language is seemingly sweeping. Is the spirit that confesses Jesus come in the flesh, and yet denies other truths, truly of God? Or, as Augustine (quoted by Wordsworth) asks: “Arius, and Eunomius, and Macedonius, and Nestorius, own that Jesus came in the flesh; are not they, therefore, of God?” To this Augustine answers: “Those heresiarchs did not, in fact, confess Christ come in the flesh, because, whatever they might do in words, they in their works denied him. (Titus 1:16.) They have not charity because they have not unity;” that is, unity with the Church. Wordsworth gives a different answer, which is in effect, that to confess Christ come in the flesh is to confess him as Messiah, with all that embraces; namely, his divine atonement for our sins.

Compare our notes on 1 John 4:15 and 1 John 5:1. Perhaps the apostle would say, that whatever error Arius or other heretic believed, he derived from a false spirit; but whatever truth he held, as the incarnation of Christ, came from a good spirit and was of God. The spirit, here, is not wholly the man, but the inspiration from good or evil in the man. But our own view is that the apostle is deciding between two claimants to being of God, the one denying and the other affirming that Jesus is come in the flesh; and he pronounces for the latter. So that of the two sides he that confesseth is of God.


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Bibliography
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on 1 John 4:2". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/1-john-4.html. 1874-1909.

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

1 John 4:2. Hereby — By the following plain mark; know ye the Spirit of God — In a teacher. Every spirit — Of a teacher; that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh, is of God — Doddridge, with many other commentators, reads this clause, Every spirit that confesseth Jesus Christ, who is come in the flesh, is of God: that is, that confesseth him to be the Messiah, the Son of God, the Saviour of the world, and that both with heart and voice, sincerely believing him to be such, and behaving to him and confessing him as such, though this might expose them to the loss of all things, even of their property, liberty, and lives. This must be acknowledged to be a perfectly Scriptural and very proper mark of trial, proving those in whom it was found to be possessed of the Spirit of God and of Christ. Nevertheless, it must be acknowledged, though the original words, ο ομολογει ιησουν χριστον εν σαρκι εληλυθοτα, might bear this rendering, they much more favour the sense given them in our translation, signifying, literally and exactly, that confesseth Jesus Christ hath come in the flesh. This imports two things: 1st, That Jesus is the Christ, whose coming was foretold by the Jewish prophets, in opposition to the unbelieving Jews; a truth which those who confessed, whether in Judea or in the Gentile countries, exposed themselves to the danger of having their goods spoiled, and their bodies imprisoned, if not also tortured and put to death. So that those who voluntarily made this confession, manifested that they preferred Christ and his gospel to all other things whatever. The clause imports, 2d, That this great personage, the Messiah, the Son of God, had really come in the flesh, and had a real human nature, in opposition to a sect which arose very early in the Christian Church, called the Docetæ, who would not allow that Christ had a real body, and that he really suffered, died, and rose again. This sect St. John seems to have had in his eye throughout this epistle. Hence, in the very beginning of it, he speaks of seeing, hearing, and handling Christ; and here, to the fundamental article of Jesus’s being the Messiah, he adds, that he came in the flesh; with which doctrine his atoning for sin by the sacrifice of himself, and his rising from the dead, the first-fruits of them that sleep, were closely and necessarily connected, and therefore the acknowledgment of it was a point of the greatest importance.

The Socinians indeed contend, that to confess Jesus Christ hath come in the flesh, means simply to confess that he was a mere man: and from this they infer that he had no existence before he was conceived of his mother. In proof of their sense of the clause, they cite Hebrews 2:14, where the writer says he partook of our flesh and blood. Now, though it may be true that these words import nothing more than that Christ was a man, like other men, St. John’s words, hath come in the flesh, have evidently a more extensive meaning. For, as Bishop Horsley observes, the sense of a proposition ariseth, not from the meaning of a single word contained in it, but from the union of the whole into one sentence, especially if that union suggests any circumstance by which the sense of the proposition is modified. This is the case of the clause, hath come in the flesh; words which, while they specify the manner of his coming, imply that he might have come in a different manner if he had pleased. Accordingly the apostle hath used the verb to come in that sense 1 John 5:6. This is he who came by water and blood, even Jesus Christ; not by water only, but by the water and the blood. For his meaning plainly is, that Jesus came attested as the Christ by water and blood jointly, although he might have come attested by either of these separately; and that Jesus existed as the Christ before he came attested by the water and the blood. Thus the clause, hath come in the flesh, implies that he might have come in another manner than in the flesh, namely, in the form of God, as mentioned Philippians 2:6-7. It implies that he existed before he came in the flesh, and chose to come in that manner, rather than in any other; consequently that he is more than a mere man. That Jesus Christ might have come in another manner, was the opinion of Clemens Romanus, one of the apostolical fathers mentioned Philippians 4:3 : for in his epistle to the Corinthians, he saith, “The sceptre of the majesty of God, our Lord Jesus Christ, came not in the pride of pomp and arrogance, although he had it in his power; but in humility, as the Holy Spirit spake concerning him.” See Macknight, and Bishop Horsley’s 5th letter to Priestley.


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Bibliography
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on 1 John 4:2". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/1-john-4.html. 1857.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

===============================

[BIBLIOGRAPHY]

Qui solvit Jesum. Greek: Kataluei is read in some manuscripts and must have been the reading which the Latin interpreter followed. We read the same in St. Irenæus, lib. 3. chap. xviii. p. 197. Ed. Feuardentii; in Tertullian, lib. 5. cont. Marcion. chap. xvi. p. 481. Ed. Rigaltii; in St. Augustine in his commentary on these words, trac. 6, p. 871.


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Bibliography
Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on 1 John 4:2". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/1-john-4.html. 1859.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

Hereby. See 1 John 3:16.

know. App-132.

Spirit. App-101.

spirit. App-101.

that. Omit.

Jesus Christ. App-98.

is come = to have come.

the. Omit.


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Bibliography
Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on 1 John 4:2". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/1-john-4.html. 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God:

Hereby know ... Spirit of God - whether He be or not in those professing to be moved by Him Hereby know ... Spirit of God - whether He be, or not, in those professing to be moved by Him.

Every spirit - i:e., Every teacher claiming inspiration by THE HOLY SPIRIT.

Confesseth - the truth is taken for granted. Man is required to confess it openly, as in teaching.

Jesus Christ is come in the flesh - a twofold truth confessed: that Jesus is the Christ; and that He is come [ eleeluthota (Greek #2064), perfect; not a mere past historical fact, but present, and continuing in its blessed effects] in the flesh ('invested with flesh;' not with a seeming humanity, as the Docetae afterward taught). He therefore was previously something far above flesh. His flesh implies His death for us; for only by assuming flesh could He die (as God He could not, Hebrews 2:9; Hebrews 2:16), and His death implies His LOVE for us (John 15:13). To deny the reality of His flesh is to deny His love, and so cast away the root which produces true love on the believer's part (1 John 4:9-11; 1 John 4:19). Rome, by the doctrine of the Virgin's immaculate conception, denies Christ's proper humanity.


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Bibliography
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on 1 John 4:2". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/1-john-4.html. 1871-8.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God:
Every
5:1; John 16:13-15; 1 Corinthians 12:3
come
3; John 1:14; 1 Timothy 3:16

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Bibliography
Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on 1 John 4:2". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/1-john-4.html.

The Bible Study New Testament

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."


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Bibliography
Ice, Rhoderick D. "Commentary on 1 John 4:2". "The Bible Study New Testament". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ice/1-john-4.html. College Press, Joplin, MO. 1974.

E.M. Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament

Nobody denied that a person lived on earth by the name of Jesus Christ, but some denied that He was divine in a body of flesh. That was equivalent to saying that He was not the divine Son of God. That would also mean that Christ had no authority or saving virtue. It was generally known that a person was predicted to come into the world to fulfill the law and the prophets, and to effect a plan of salvation on the merits of His blood. But it was denied by some that the person known as Jesus Christ was the expected one. Hence if a man acknowledged the divinity of Christ it was evidence that he was inspired by the Holy Spirit. Paul teaches this also in 1 Corinthians 12:3 where he says, "No man can say Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost" or Spirit.


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Bibliography
Zerr, E.M. "Commentary on 1 John 4:2". E.M. Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/znt/1-john-4.html. 1952.


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