1John 4:
1 Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for 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 from God,
3 and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already.
4 Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.
5 They are from the world; therefore they speak from the world, and the world listens to them.
6 We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us; whoever is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error.


John's letter deals with the heresies of the gnostics. In fact John mentored Polycarp, who mentored Iraeneus. Iraeneus wrote a collection of arguments dealing with the gnostic teachings, entitled "Against Heresies". The battle is a continuing one and God specifically calls those who fight it.
John is addressing the gnostic heresy throughout the letter.
This is the basis of the use of the term "antichrist" That term is used 4 times in the scriptures, and only in 1 John (3 times) and in 2 John (once). The term antichrist is never used in relation to the end times . Though chapter 2:18 speaks of the last hour, it is obvious to this day, the return of Christ has yet to happen. The scriptures mean the same thing now as they meant then, and John is not writing in ignorance. So we must take care to discern the correct interpretation. (the “end times” is another discussion altogether)

1 John is carefully laid out by the apostle. Chapters 1 and 2 are an outline, so to speak, for the entirety of the letter. He defines the truth and reality of God as man in Christ Jesus and in His finished work re: forgiveness of sins and eternal life.
He also defines the true saints. They walk in the light. Their sins are forgiven. They love God and the brothers, thus they do not depart from the fellowship.
They know the truth (have the anointing) and recognize the false teachers and prophets for what they are (those that do depart from the fellowship).
Chapters 3-4-5 expound on these themes. The saints walk in righteousness and do not practice sin .The saints know the truth. The saints abide in God and in His love. The saints obey His word. The saints pray according to His will, and have their prayers answered.

1 John 4:
1 Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for 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 from God,
3 and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already.

So we are to test the spirits, (plural), the word pneuma is used. Context determines the meaning, so here pneuma is referring to human spirits or souls.
Ephesians 4 tells us that there is only one Spirit, as well as one God, Father, Lord. faith, baptism, body, etc. Therefore the use of pneuma in the plural is an indicator that the spirits here are men who walk according to the Spirit of God. or who walk according to the spirit of antichrist. So test the spirits,,i.e of those who stay, and of those who depart, ”have gone out into the world”.


In verses 2 and 3 John uses the phrase “every spirit” (again a plural construct). Everyone who confesses the true Christ as John has presented in this letter and as Paul presents in his letters, is of God; and everyone who confesses another Jesus, another gospel, is not of God. (2 Cor11:3-15) They are antichrist, and that antichrist spirit is already loosed in the world, as the false prophets that have left the fellowship have gone out into the world.
1John 2:19 They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us.
The antichrist spirit and teachings are birthed in the church by false converts.
When they are exposed, they leave.
They are the ones who love the world, 1 John 2; 15.
This is the battle and it is found in the fellowship. (Jude 1:3-4; 2Peter2:1-3)

1John 4:
4 Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.
5 They are from the world; therefore they speak from the world, and the world listens to them.
6 We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us; whoever is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error.


“He that is in you” are those who stay in the fellowship, walking in truth and love.
“He that is in the world” are those who have left.

Greater (in number and in importance/pre-eminence; meizōn in the Greek ) are the saints who remain, than are those who have left. Greater are those who walk in the Spirit of God, that is the Spirit of Truth; than those who walk according to the spirit of antichrist, the spirit of error. Those who listen to the saints remain in the fellowship of truth and love. Those who refuse to hear the truth, depart. (Ephesians 4: 11-16)
In John’s second letter he sums it all up wonderfully.


2John 1:
1 The elder to the elect lady and her children, whom I love in truth, and not only I, but also all who know the truth,
2 because of the truth that abides in us and will be with us forever:
3 Grace, mercy, and peace will be with us, from God the Father and from Jesus Christ the Father's Son, in truth and love.
4 I rejoiced greatly to find some of your children walking in the truth, just as we were commanded by the Father.
5 And now I ask you, dear lady--not as though I were writing you a new commandment, but the one we have had from the beginning--that we love one another.
6 And this is love, that we walk according to his commandments; this is the commandment, just as you have heard from the beginning, so that you should walk in it.
7 For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not confess the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh. Such a one is the deceiver and the antichrist.
8 Watch yourselves, so that you may not lose what we have worked for, but may win a full reward.
9 Everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God. Whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son.
10 If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting,
11 for whoever greets him takes part in his wicked works.
12 Though I have much to write to you, I would rather not use paper and ink. Instead I hope to come to you and talk face to face, so that our joy may be complete.
13 The children of your elect sister greet you.

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