corner graphic

Bible Commentaries

E.M. Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament

1 John 4



Other Authors

Questions For First John Chapter Four

1.State the warning about spirits.

2.What is meant by trying them?

3.State who had gone out into the world?

4.By what rule are we to try the spirits?

5.How would this rule work today?

6.Is acknowledging Jesus as a good man sufficient?

"I.Was his existence as a man ever denied by anyone?

8.What did they deny concerning him?

9.Is denial of virgin birth today similar error?

l0.Are those guilty considered not of God?

11.Howald is such a doctrine?

12.Of whom are these children?

13.Who is antecedent of "them" verse four?

14.By what were they overcome?

15.Of what are these characters?

16.Is the same true of such today?

17.Why does the world hear them?

18.What class will hear the apostles?

19.Refusing to hear makes persons what?

20.What spirit is opposite to truth?

21.State most prominent idea in John"s teaching.

22.From whom does he claim it originates?

23.What fact does he offer as proof?

24.For what purpO!!ll did God send hi. Son?

25.State the great reBiOIl we ahould love each other.

26.Must we see God to love him?

27.In what way will he dwell in us?

28.What confession does this call for?

29.Describe the mutual indwelling shown here.

30.What will this perfect love give us?

31.When will we need this poasession most?

32.Like whom should we be while in this world?

33.Why should we be like him now f See3: 1 , 2.

34.Does verse18 contradict 1 Peter 2:17?

35.Give the two meanings of the word fear.

36.Which kind is banished by love?

37.Show why love will rid us of this fear.

38.Why do we love Him?

39.If Song of Solomon , what were we when he first loved us?

40.Why did he love us?

41.Does he love any besides his disciples now?

42.What charge does John repeat here?

43.Show reason for thinking such a one a liar.

44.Why are we expected to love One unseen?

45.By what kind of eyes may we see him?

46.How may these eyes become blinded? 2 Peter 1:9.

47.Would such eyes help us love our brother?

48.Could they see excellencies invisible to others?

49.Could they also see invisible defects?

50.How often should our eyes he examined?

Verse 1

The spirits means those men who profess to be speaking by inspiration, such as John mentions in the closing verse of the preceding chapter. The false teachers used that claim to obtain attention from the uninformed. The brethren are warned not to believe every man who makes such a claim, but first try them which means to test and examine them by the rule that is given in the next verse.

Verse 2

Nobody denied that a person lived on earth by the name of Jesus Christ, but some denied that He was divine in a body of flesh. That was equivalent to saying that He was not the divine Son of God. That would also mean that Christ had no authority or saving virtue. It was generally known that a person was predicted to come into the world to fulfill the law and the prophets, and to effect a plan of salvation on the merits of His blood. But it was denied by some that the person known as Jesus Christ was the expected one. Hence if a man acknowledged the divinity of Christ it was evidence that he was inspired by the Holy Spirit. Paul teaches this also in 1 Corinthians 12:3 where he says, "No man can say Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost" or Spirit.

Verse 3

This verse merely sets forth the opposite of the preceding one, and completes the rule by which the brethren may try the spirits, thus avoiding the misfortune of being misled by the antichrists and other false teachers.

Verse 4

The disciples had overcome them (the antichrists) because they were the children of God. He will care for those who trust in Him, and that will insure them the victory over the enemy because God who is in them is greater than the "wise men" of the world who were trying to seduce them.

Verse 5

They (the antichrists) are of the world, which means they are interested in worldly practices. That is why they are opposing Christ because he condemns their evil ways. But the people of the world will hear their false teaching because it encourages their unrighteous life.

Verse 6

We has special reference to John and the other apostles because they had been inspired to write the truth. To know God means to have come into close fellowship with Him by obedience to the word that was given by the Spirit. All such persons would logically be inclined to hear the apostles. The conflict between truth and error still is the concern of the apostle. That conflict is determined by whether a man is of God or of the world.

Verse 7

The apostle again comes to the subject of love which seems to have been very near to him. He has a sound reason for such interest in that subject, namely, love and God are inseparable. For that reason if a man is born (begotten) of God he is sure to exhibit love also since it is the family trait of God"s children.

Verse 8

On the basis of the affirmative as shown in the preceding verse, if a man does not have love as a predominant factor in his life, it is proof that he has not yet become acquainted with God.

Verse 9

This verse corresponds with John 3:16.

Verse 10

The example of love was set by the Father and not by man. That is why we have the-brief but comprehensive statement in 1 John 4:19.

Verse 11

If God was willing to love us first even when we were in sin, we ought to love each other since no one of us is any more worthy than another.

Verse 12

No man hath seen God literally, but we may exhibit evidences of spiritual knowledge of Him by having love for the brethren. If we do so it will cause God to cl-well in us or in our midst spiritually. His love is perfected or made complete in us when we follow His example of loving the children of God.

Verse 13

This is the same in thought as 1 John 3:24; see the comments there.

Verse 14

John and the other apostles could testify, because they had seen the evidences that the Father has sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world.

Verse 15

See the comments at verses1-3.

Verse 16

Known. and bclieved. There is no conflict between these words as might be concluded because of the difference technically between them. The things that were known were the evidences, and what they be-lieved was based on those evidences, namely, that God had a great love for man. The latter part of the verse has been explained in a number of the preceding verses.

Verse 17

Lore made perfect means it is complete, and God made it possible for man to have that perfect (or complete) love, to give them boldness in view of the judgment day. As ls Hebrews -, Isaiah , so are we. To be confident with reference to the judgment, we must be on good terms with God in this world. That can be accomplished only by manifesting that unselfish love that was first shown by the Lord for us.

Verse 18

The Bible does not contradict itself, and when it appears that it does there is always an explanation for it. We know we are commanded to fear God ( 1 Peter 2:17), but our present verse says that perfect love will cast out fear. The explanation is very simple which depends on the meanings of the original Greek word-phohos. Thayer gives us two definitions of the word as follows: "1. fear, dread, terror," and "2. reverence, respect." As we have seen frequently before, the particular meaning of any word must be determined by the connection in which it is used. The connection here shows John is using it in its bad sense which would made it read, "There is no dread or terror in love." If we love God and manifest it by loving our brother, we will not have any dread at the thought of meeting God in the judgment.

Verse 19

This is commented on at 1 John 4:10.

Verse 20

John has previously made this same charge, but he adds a logical reason for it here, It certainly is as easy to love a brother who is with us and whose fellowship we can enjoy, as it is to love God whom we cannot see now and must love on the basis of faith.

Verse 21

On the basis of the reasoning in the preceding verse. John commands the disciples not to attempt loving God it they will not love the brethren also, for their profession of love will be rejected.


Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Zerr, E.M. "Commentary on 1 John 4:4". E.M. Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament. 1952.

Commentary Navigator
Search This Commentary
Enter query in the box below
To report dead links, typos, or html errors or suggestions about making these resources more useful use our convenient contact form
Powered by Lightspeed Technology