The Epistles of John Bible Study 1 John Chapter 4 Part 1

1 John 4:1-9

One of the primary purposes why we are in the world at this time, rather than in the Kingdom of heaven, is for us to serve G-d and to do the things that He expects us to do -walking in His sacrificial love for others.

In this chapter, John speaks about the antichrist, unclean spirits and those things which are in opposition to the will of G-d. G-d wants us to know the truth so that we are liberated from sin in order to do His will. Freedom and liberty in the Bible are always given for the will of G-d to be accomplished. Liberation from the influence of sin in our lives frees us up so that we can do the purposes of G-d in our lives. When we are fulfilling the purposes of G-d we are going to experience joy and intimacy with G-d which is going to lead to peace.  

v1: Beloved: Those who have received the gospel message are beloved by G-d.

  • Do not believe every spirit: Do not think that every supernatural thing that happens is of G-d. There is that which is of G-d, but there is also that which is of the enemy – unclean spirits which are demonic in origin. As believers we need to have spiritual discernment. We will only have spiritual discernment if we are committed to the things of G-d. 
  • But: Rather
  • Test: The Greek word used here is a word where we get the English word “to document” from. It means that it needs to be proven, and is a word that is related to discernment. Spiritual growth does not just happen. It comes about because of a commitment to the truth/Word of G-d.  
  • False prophets: In this verse John has linked unclean spirits, of satanic origin, with false teachers. False prophets or teachers twist Scriptures and take it out of context. They will use the Word of G-d to deceive others and not to build up or edify people. 

v2: By this you know: John is going to reveal to us how we can know whether something is of G-d or not. 

  • Yeshua Messiah has come: Messiah has indeed come into the world. If someone says they are still waiting for Him to come (as they do not believe that He has ever come) then that person is not of G-d. Intrinsically related to this is also an understanding of what the Biblical Messiah has done. For example: In Islam they believe that Yeshua has come, but they do not have a Scriptural understanding of who He is or what He has done (Matt 24:5, Matt 24:24). 

v3: Has come: This speaks about what He has done, what He is doing, and what He will do. This phrase implies an understanding of the work of Messiah. 

  • Already in the world: The antichrist (his spirit of lawlessness) is already in this world, but it does not mean that the final Antichrist has been revealed yet. He has not done anything yet that would allow us to know who he is. We are going to see more and more of the antichrist’s activity as we get closer to the end of the age. 

v4: Children: Once again affirming G-d’s love for those who are part of His family. This is a form of encouragement. 

  • Overcome: Written in the perfect. This means we have overcome them in the past, we are overcoming them right now and we will continue to overcome them into the future. It speaks about an ultimate total victory – which is achieved through Messiah.
  • Them: The unclean spirits, demonic manifestations etc
  • He who is in you: G-d Himself, through the person of the Holy Spirit.

v5: Speak as of the world: Those who are part of the world are going to speak the world’s language – i.e. the world’s desires, what the world likes, what the world agrees with, the

perspective of the world etc

v6: We are of G-d: We have a totally different origin or foundation. We are established in a different way – we are established through G-d giving us life.

  • Hears us: Those in the world listen to and embrace those who are false prophets, those who are of unclean spirits. But we, and those who belong to G-d, are going to listen to us.
  • Does not hear us: Do not be disheartened when people reject the truth that you give them. They belong to the world and are not seeking truth, nor are they interested in G-d as they have not been born of G-d. 
  • Spirit of truth and the spirit of error/deception: Although there are many different spirits we can put them into two categories – the spirit that belongs to truth (i.e. a manifestation from the Holy Spirit – John 16:13) and those that belong to deceit. 

v7: Love one another: Gal 5:14 – loving one another is a Torah manifestation. 

  • (The) love: John is talking about a specific love, a true love – not what the world thinks of as love. 
  • Everyone who loves: All those who demonstrate love to others. 
  • Born of G-d: When we are born from G-d the Holy Spirit is going to assist us in demonstrating the love of G-d in our lives. 

v8: Does not know G-d: This implies that he has never known anything about G-d. He may know that He exists, but he has not personally experienced G-d, or been in a covenantal relationship with Him. We will know if someone has been born again or not because the love of G-d will either be manifested through them or it will not be. 

Note: There can be great deception around this word ‘love’. People often define it in their own terms and in how they think love should be manifested, but there is a big difference between the love of G-d and the world’s definition of love. The only way that we can discern the love of G-d is through the commandments of G-d (John 14:21). We need to know and study the commandments of G-d in order to arrive at an accurate definition of love. 

v9: The love of G-d was manifested toward us: We are called to manifest G-d’s love to others. 

  • Only begotten Son: The world does not understand the uniqueness of the Son of G-d. Yeshua demonstrated love for His Father by never sinning, by embracing truth etc. If Yeshua had sinned (violated the law), it would have disqualified Him from being the Messiah. He perfectly expressed the righteousness of the law when He was in the flesh – He loved perfectly. The antichrist is called the lawless one (2 Thess 2:8-10) – he is against the law and does not express the character of the Torah. 
  • We might live through Him: By means of Him, because of Him. This is telling us that G-d is commanding us, and desires us, to live in a very specific way. This is a way that expresses His love, His commandments, His expectations etc. When we live in this way we have discernment. 

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