1 John 4:1
Parallel Verses
New International Version
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.

New Living Translation
Dear friends, do not believe everyone who claims to speak by the Spirit. You must test them to see if the spirit they have comes from God. For there are many false prophets in the world.

English Standard Version
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.

New American Standard Bible
Beloved, 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.

King James Bible
Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.

Holman Christian Standard Bible
Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to determine if they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.

International Standard Version
Dear friends, stop believing every spirit. Instead, test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.

NET Bible
Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to determine if they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.

Aramaic Bible in Plain English
Beloved, do not believe all spirits, but be distinguishing between the spirits whether they are from God, because many false Prophets have gone out into the world.

GOD'S WORD® Translation
Dear friends, don't believe all people who say that they have the Spirit. Instead, test them. See whether the spirit they have is from God, because there are many false prophets in the world.

Jubilee Bible 2000
Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God because many false prophets are gone out into the world.

King James 2000 Bible
Beloved, believe not every spirit, but test the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.

American King James Version
Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.

American Standard Version
Beloved, believe not every spirit, but prove the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets are gone out into the world.

Douay-Rheims Bible
Dearly beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits if they be of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.

Darby Bible Translation
Beloved, believe not every spirit, but prove the spirits, if they are of God; because many false prophets are gone out into the world.

English Revised Version
Beloved, believe not every spirit, but prove the spirits, whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.

Webster's Bible Translation
Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets have gone out into the world.

Weymouth New Testament
Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but put the spirits to the test to see whether they are from God; for many false teachers have gone out into the world.

World English Bible
Beloved, don't believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.

Young's Literal Translation
Beloved, every spirit believe not, but prove the spirits, if of God they are, because many false prophets have gone forth to the world;
Parallel Commentaries
Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary

4:1-6 Christians who are well acquainted with the Scriptures, may, in humble dependence on Divine teaching, discern those who set forth doctrines according to the apostles, and those who contradict them. The sum of revealed religion is in the doctrine concerning Christ, his person and office. The false teachers spake of the world according to its maxims and tastes, so as not to offend carnal men. The world approved them, they made rapid progress, and had many followers such as themselves; the world will love its own, and its own will love it. The true doctrine as to the Saviour's person, as leading men from the world to God, is a mark of the spirit of truth in opposition to the spirit of error. The more pure and holy any doctrine is, the more likely to be of God; nor can we by any other rules try the spirits whether they are of God or not. And what wonder is it, that people of a worldly spirit should cleave to those who are like themselves, and suit their schemes and discourses to their corrupt taste?

Pulpit Commentary

Verse 1-1 John 5:12. - (2) The source of son-ship. Possession of the Spirit. Verses 1-6. - Confession of the Incarnation is the assurance that the Spirit of God, who is the Spirit of truth, is working in us, and not the spirit of error. The passage seems clearly to teach that there are two rival influences contending for power over the spirits of men. We must test men's spirits to see whether they are organs of the Spirit of truth or of the spirit of error. Verse 1. - Beloved (as in 1 John 2:28 and 1 John 3:18, the apostle again breaks out with a personal appeal into an earnest exhortation suggested by the statement just made), prove the spirits δοκιμάζετε τὰ πνεύματα. "The spirits" are principles and tendencies in religion: these need to be tested, for earnestness and fervour are no guarantee of truth. And to test these principles is the duty of the individual Christian as well as of the Church in its official capacity. Just as every Athenian was subjected to an examination δοκιμασία as to his origin and character before he could hold office, so the spirit of every religious teacher must be examined before his teaching can be accepted. This is no useless precaution; because, as Christ has come forth ἐξελήλυθε from God (John 16:28; comp. John 8:42; John 13:3; John 16:27), ninny false prophets have come forth ἐζεληύθασι from the spirit of error. But perhaps "have gone forth into the world" means no more than " have displayed themselves" in publicum prodierunt. There is probably no reference to the false teachers having "gone forth from us" (1 John 2:19). Besides Cerinthus and other Gnostics, there were the Nicolaitanes, astrologers, professors of magic, and dealers in charms, some of which seem to have had their origin in Ephesus, for they were known as "Ephesian letters." Apollonius of Tyana was eagerly welcomed at Ephesus, and it is not impossible that his visit took place during St. John's lifetime.

Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible

Beloved, believe not every spirit,.... The apostle having mentioned the word "spirit" in the latter part of the preceding chapter, takes an occasion from thence to return to what he had been suggesting in the "second" chapter, concerning the many antichrists that then were, and whom he points out, and here cautions against. By "every spirit" he means, either every doctrine that is pretended to come from the Spirit of God, or every teacher, who professes to be qualified and sent by him, and to have his light, knowledge, and doctrine from him. Every true minister of the Gospel has the Spirit, and the gifts of the Spirit, more or less, to qualify him for his work; he is separated, and called to it by him, and receives his spiritual light find knowledge from him; it is he that teaches him sound doctrine, and leads him into all truth, as it is in Jesus, and brings every necessary truth to his remembrance; and who succeeds his ministrations to the good of souls: but there are some who call themselves the ministers of the Gospel, who, though they may have some natural abilities, and a share of human learning, and a notional knowledge of things, yet have never received either grace or gifts from the Spirit; nor have they been ever called by him; nor are their ministrations according to that divine word which is inspired by him, nor attended with his demonstration and power; wherefore, though some professing to have the Spirit of Christ are to be believed, yet not everyone; and though the Spirit is not to be quenched in any, nor prophesying to be despised, yet care should be taken what is heard and received: some persons are so obstinate and incredulous as not to believe anything that is declared, be the evidence what it will; as the Jews would not believe Christ and his apostles, though what they said agreed with Moses and the prophets, and was confirmed by miracles; and others are too credulous; at once receive every teacher, and embrace every upstart doctrine: this they should not do,

but try the spirits whether they are of God; not by human reason, especially as carnal and unsanctified; for though the doctrines of the Gospel are not contrary to true reason, they are above it, and not to be judged of by it, and are disapproved of and rejected by carnal reason; but by the word of God, which is the standard of all doctrine; and whatever agrees with that is to be received, and what does not should be rejected. And so to do is very commendable, as appears from the instance of the Beraeans, who on this account are said to be more noble than those of Thessalonica, Acts 17:11; and from the commendation of the church at Ephesus, Revelation 2:2. And this is what every believer, every private Christian should do; to them it belongs to read and search the Scriptures, and prove all things, and judge for themselves of the truth of doctrine; and to such a probation or trial of the spirits, spiritual light, knowledge, judgment, sense, experience, and divine guidance are necessary, which should be asked of God, and an increase thereof; and all such diligent searchers, and humble inquirers, are capable of making judgment of persons and doctrines, whether they are from the Spirit of God or not, for the Spirit of God never speaks contrary to his word: and the reason why such a trial should be made is,

because many false prophets are gone out into the world: such who pretended either to a revelation of future things, and to foretell things to come; or rather to a gift of prophesying, or preaching in Christ's name, to be "prophets" and spiritual men, and ministers of the word, but were "false" ones; who either predicted what did not come to pass, or rather preached false doctrine, by corrupting the word, and handling it deceitfully, and so imposed upon and ruined the souls of others, as well as deceived their own: and there were not only one, or two, or a few of these, but "many", as our Lord had foretold, Matthew 24:11; and which makes the reason the stronger for not believing every spirit, but trying them; and the rather, since they were not sent of God, hot called out by his churches, but were "gone out" of themselves; of their own heads, and without any mission from God or man: and "into the world" too; they were in every part of it, and especially where there were any churches of Christ; into which they first crept in privily, and at unawares, but afterwards became public preachers of the word, and then separating from them, set up openly in the world for themselves.

Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary

CHAPTER 4

1Jo 4:1-21. Tests of False Prophets. Love, the Test of Birth from God, and the Necessary Fruit of Knowing His Great Love in Christ to Us.

1. Beloved—the affectionate address wherewith he calls their attention, as to an important subject.

every spirit—which presents itself in the person of a prophet. The Spirit of truth, and the spirit of error, speak by men's spirits as their organs. There is but one Spirit of truth, and one spirit of Antichrist.

try—by the tests (1Jo 4:2, 3). All believers are to do so: not merely ecclesiastics. Even an angel's message should be tested by the word of God: much more men's teachings, however holy the teachers may seem.

because, &c.—the reason why we must "try," or test the spirits.

many false prophets—not "prophets" in the sense "foretellers," but organs of the spirit that inspires them, teaching accordingly either truth or error: "many Antichrists."

are gone out—as if from God.

into the world—said alike of good and bad prophets (2Jo 7). The world is easily seduced (1Jo 4:4, 5).

1 John 4:1 Additional Commentaries
Context
Testing the Spirits
1Beloved, 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. 2By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God;…
Cross References
1 Kings 13:18
The old prophet answered, "I too am a prophet, as you are. And an angel said to me by the word of the LORD: 'Bring him back with you to your house so that he may eat bread and drink water.'" (But he was lying to him.)

Jeremiah 14:14
Then the LORD said to me, "The prophets are prophesying lies in my name. I have not sent them or appointed them or spoken to them. They are prophesying to you false visions, divinations, idolatries and the delusions of their own minds.

Jeremiah 23:16
This is what the LORD Almighty says: "Do not listen to what the prophets are prophesying to you; they fill you with false hopes. They speak visions from their own minds, not from the mouth of the LORD.

Jeremiah 29:8
Yes, this is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says: "Do not let the prophets and diviners among you deceive you. Do not listen to the dreams you encourage them to have.

Matthew 7:15
"Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.

1 Corinthians 12:10
to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues.

1 Thessalonians 5:20
Do not treat prophecies with contempt

1 Thessalonians 5:21
but test them all; hold on to what is good,

2 Thessalonians 2:2
not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by the teaching allegedly from us--whether by a prophecy or by word of mouth or by letter--asserting that the day of the Lord has already come.

2 Peter 2:1
But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them--bringing swift destruction on themselves.

1 John 2:7
Dear friends, I am not writing you a new command but an old one, which you have had since the beginning. This old command is the message you have heard.

1 John 2:18
Dear children, this is the last hour; and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come. This is how we know it is the last hour.

2 John 1:7
I say this because many deceivers, who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh, have gone out into the world. Any such person is the deceiver and the antichrist.

3 John 1:11
Dear friend, do not imitate what is evil but what is good. Anyone who does what is good is from God. Anyone who does what is evil has not seen God.

Revelation 2:2
I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked people, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false.
Treasury of Scripture

Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.

believe not.

Deuteronomy 13:1-5 If there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and gives …

Proverbs 14:15 The simple believes every word: but the prudent man looks well to his going.

Jeremiah 5:31 The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their …

Jeremiah 29:8,9 For thus said the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Let not your …

Matthew 7:15,16 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, …

Matthew 24:4,5 And Jesus answered and said to them, Take heed that no man deceive you…

Romans 16:18 For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly…

2 Peter 2:1 But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there …

try.

Luke 12:57 Yes, and why even of yourselves judge you not what is right?

Acts 17:11 These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received …

Romans 16:19 For your obedience is come abroad to all men. I am glad therefore …

1 Corinthians 14:29 Let the prophets speak two or three, and let the other judge.

1 Thessalonians 5:21 Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.

Revelation 2:2 I know your works, and your labor, and your patience, and how you …

many.

1 John 2:18 Little children, it is the last time: and as you have heard that …

Matthew 24:5,23-26 For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many…

Mark 13:21 And then if any man shall say to you, See, here is Christ; or, see, …

Luke 21:8 And he said, Take heed that you be not deceived: for many shall come …

Acts 20:29 For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter …

1 Timothy 4:1 Now the Spirit speaks expressly, that in the latter times some shall …

2 Timothy 3:13 But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and …

2 Peter 2:1 But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there …

2 John 1:7 For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that …

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