5

1 John 4:1-6 (NIV):

Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2 This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, 3 but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world.

4 You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. 5 They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them. 6 We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we recognize the Spirit[a] of truth and the spirit of falsehood.

What spirit is being referred to here? Is this the collective spirit of the world vs. the spirit of God? Is this a reference to demons vs. angelic messengers of truth? Or is this the spirit of man vs. true prophets?

Which scriptures can be compared in the proper context to show the accurate meaning of this passage?

  • In which verse? It looks like it's talking about different things in different verses... – curiousdannii Jan 17 '15 at 7:47
  • @curiousdannii I think the original must have used the word "spirit" with the same word, indicating that the original passage may have used the word "spirit" to talk about the same theme in the subject. – Double U Jan 17 '15 at 16:54
  • 1
    @DoubleU Or it is contrasting different spirits... – curiousdannii Jan 17 '15 at 22:47
1

Of the Apostles, John was possibly the most concerned with the Spiritual aspects of the Kingdom of God. Most of Johns writings (John, 1st, 2nd, and 3rd John) are all primarily dedicated to exposing the Deity of Jesus and that The Kingdom of God is totally Spiritual. And with this in mind let us analyze Some Scripture starting with the Scriptures you quote.

All Scripture is quoted from the New King James version, unless otherwise noted.

1st. John 4:1 through 3: 1 Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2 By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, 3 and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world.

John had on more than one occasion seen Jesus evict evil Spirits which were controlling the person they inhabited one example:

Luke 8:27 through 30 And when He stepped out on the land, there met Him a certain man from the city who had demons for a long time. And he wore no clothes, nor did he live in a house but in the tombs. 28 When he saw Jesus, he cried out, fell down before Him, and with a loud voice said, "What have I to do with You, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg You, do not torment me!" 29 For He had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. For it had often seized him, and he was kept under guard, bound with chains and shackles; and he broke the bonds and was driven by the demon into the wilderness. 30 Jesus asked him, saying, "What is your name?" And he said, "Legion," because many demons had entered him.

So John was well aware that people could be taken over by evil spirits. John was also present at Pentecost and was well aware that The Holy Spirit, inhabited people in the same manner.

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world.

By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God. and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world.

Jesus himself warned us that we would be attacked by evil Spirits.

Matthew 24:4 and 5 And Jesus answered and said to them: "Take heed that no one deceives you. 5 For many will come in My name, saying, 'I am the Christ,' and will deceive many.

Other than Jesus no one has taught more about The Kingdom of God being a Spiritual entity than John.

2

In verses 1–3, John speaks first of the "spirit of God VS the "spirit of antichrist". In verses 4–6 he speaks of the "spirit of truth" VS the "spirit of falsehood" ("error" in KJV). These are the same two spirits; the restating of same concept in different terms is common in OT and NT. So the spirit of God is the spirit of truth, and the spirit of antichrist is the spirit of falsehood. In other places, the devil/Lucifer is referred to as the father of lies: John 8:44 Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.

So yes, you could say that the devil (and his demons, if you believe in such) have the spirit of lies.

1

Bible Gateway has an electronic copy of the Mounce Concise Greek-English Dictionary of the New Testament. Here, you can find the meaning of Greek words used in various contexts of the Bible.

The word, "spirit", used here is πνεῦμα (pneuma). Throughout the Bible, this word may refer to the Holy Spirit, a spiritual being, a foul spirit, spirit as a vital principle, but in 1 John 4, it means:

a professedly divine communication, or, a professed possessor of a spiritual communication

Hence, the spirit, a professed possessor of a spiritual communication, can be good or bad. The passage is basically warning the audience to not listen to the bad spirits in the world, because the bad spirits do not come from God. All spirits from God - the possessor of spiritual communication from God - are good, because God is good.

  • You could consider adding a teaching using the word "Pneumonia" and its similarities to the word "Pneuma" and you can teach the difference between the good breath and the bad. And about its connection to the thorny mind found in the Parable of the Sower, and how we say what we think. Is there room in the mind to hear? and how the teaching refers to perceiving another's state of mind. – Decrypted Jan 18 '15 at 20:53
  • You could add the Greek word for soul ψυχή (psuché) and how it is a root word for the word Psychology. And how '1 John 4' helps to notice if a person has a clean psychology or a Dense, Thick, or Confused (Stoney, Thorny, Wayside) mind. – Decrypted Jan 18 '15 at 21:07
  • How do you know which sense is intended in that chapter? And why do you think only one spirit is referred to? – curiousdannii Jan 18 '15 at 22:42
  • Also "a professed possessor of a spiritual communication" is rather a mouthful, but that's not your fault ;) – curiousdannii Jan 18 '15 at 22:42

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy