Don’t believe every spirit. Rather, test the spirits. Love one another. Be bold at the judgment seat of Jesus Christ. [UPDATED]
VERSE 1. Beloved, don’t believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.
don’t believe every spirit. Not all people are sincere. We should not be gullible. We should not accept their claims at face value.
many false prophets. The number of false prophets is “many.”
VERSE 2. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit who confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God,
come in the flesh. In those days, some people were saying that Jesus Christ was only an appearance. He was a ghost, and did not have a physical body. He only seemed to be human, and his human form was an illusion.
That is called docetism.
Docetism was condemned at the First Council of Nicaea in 325 AD.
VERSE 3. and every spirit who doesn’t confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God, and this is the spirit of the Antichrist, of whom you have heard that it comes. Now it is in the world already.
confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh. We can simply ask: “Do you believe Jesus Christ had an actual human body?”
If the answer is YES, then the person is probably a Christian.
If the answer is NO, then the person might be a docetist and not a Christian.
the spirit of the Antichrist. John the Evangelist sees the Docetists as being infested by the spirit of the Antichrist.
VERSE 4. You are of God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is he who is in you than he who is in the world.
greater is he who is in you. Inside the Christian believer is Jesus Christ. Within a world person is the devil.
Jesus Christ is infinitely greater than the devil. Thus a Christian has nothing to fear from the devil, since Jesus Christ is inside them.
VERSE 5. They are of the world. Therefore they speak of the world, and the world hears them.
VERSE 6. We are of God. He who knows God listens to us. He who is not of God doesn’t listen to us. By this we know the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error.
VERSE 7. Beloved, let’s love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves has been born of God, and knows God.
love one another. The Christian lifestyle can be distilled down to a very simple essence: love.
love is of God. If you love, you are of God. If you do not love, you are not of God.
VERSE 9. By this God’s love was revealed in us, that God has sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.
God’s love. The revelation of Jesus Christ is a revelation of divine love.
revealed in us. Most translations say “revealed TO us.”
VERSE 10. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son as the atoning sacrifice for our sins.
not that we loved God. Some people imagine to be a Christian means we must achieve impossible tasks, such as loving God perfectly.
However, the Christian faith has nothing to do with our own achievements.
he loved us. The Christian faith is all about what God has done for us, and not what we have done for God.
atoning sacrifice for our sins. The mission of the Redeemer was to be the sacrifice that takes away our sins.
VERSE 11. Beloved, if God loved us in this way, we also ought to love one another.
VERSE 12. No one has seen God at any time. If we love one another, God remains in us, and his love has been perfected in us.
If we love one another. Loving other people is the only evidence that we love God.
VERSE 13. By this we know that we remain in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit.
We have seen and testify. John the Evangelist is speaking not only for himself, but also for his readers.
VERSE 15. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God remains in him, and he in God.
VERSE 16. We know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and he who remains in love remains in God, and God remains in him.
God is love. Some people naively reverse this and say “love is God.”
VERSE 17. In this love has been made perfect among us, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment, because as he is, even so we are in this world.
VERSE 18. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear has punishment. He who fears is not made perfect in love.
perfect love casts out fear. God’s love relieves us of our fear of God’s judgment.
VERSE 19. We love him, because he first loved us.
VERSE 20. If a man says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who doesn’t love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?
hates his brother. In the heart of a Christian believer, there is no room for hatred.
he first loved us. Even though we love God, we have nothing to brag about.
Our love for God is simply our response to his love for us. His love for us came first, and it is infinitely greater than our love for him.
VERSE 21. This commandment we have from him, that he who loves God should also love his brother.
Unless otherwise noted, all Bible quotations on this page are from the World English Bible and the World Messianic Edition. These translations have no copyright restrictions. They are in the Public Domain.