1 JOHN 4:1-6 Antichrist?
Bible Background: We’ve jumped over most of 1 John chapter 2, and all of chapter 3. The writer reinforces Jesus’ commandment to ‘love one another’ (2:7-10); writes some beautiful notes to “fathers, children, young people” about how they do abide in God’s love (2:12-14); issues some warnings about loving the world and its ways (2:15-16), and about antichrist; and assures them that they are indeed “beloved children of God” (3:1-4).
Digging Deeper: 1. Chapter 3 has finished with contrasting those who are of the truth, with those who are not. Those who walk in the truth (of Jesus) belong to God; believe in the name of God’s Son; and follow his commandment to love one another. This is 1 John’s definition of true faith and the Christian life. He finishes chapter 3 on this note: “We know it by the Spirit he gave us.”
2. Up to now, 1 John hasn’t said much about the Holy Spirit. Quickly he pivots to a more general idea of spirits: “Test the spirits to see whether they are from God”. In John’s time, there were various forms of spirituality, including some which denied that God really came to live among us in the body and person of Jesus. (The ‘Incarnation’ means ‘God in the flesh’.) Christians have always claimed that God became incarnate in Jesus. John is warning readers not to listen to those other voices. He’s saying: “If that religious teacher or teaching celebrates how God took on human form in Jesus-then it’s from God. If it doesn’t, do NOT listen to it!”
3. The only places in scripture where antichrist is mentioned is in 1 & 2 John. These are not references to any power equal and opposite to God. Antichrist is simply whoever or whatever denies the humanity of Jesus.
4. The emphasis here is really to identify some ‘benchmarks’ for a Christian understanding of Jesus; and the relationship between the Father and the Son; and what it means to put that belief into practice in our lives. It’s not overly complicated. 1 John, though at times makes it clear, and at times not.
5. In verse 4, the writer reassures those who are seeking to keep the faith and walk in the light of Christ: “Little children, you are from God….the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.” This is partly a way of saying that no, the world won’t always understand you Christians, love you disciples of Jesus, or agree with you, but that’s ok. You have the love and knowledge and strength of God in you!!!
Next week’s reading is much more palatable! 1 John 4:7-12