1 John 4:4
You are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.
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Ye are of God - You are of his family; you have embraced his truth, and imbibed his Spirit.

Little children - Notes, 1 John 2:1.

And have overcome them - Have triumphed over their arts and temptations; their endeavors to draw you into error and sin. The word them in this place seems to refer to the false prophets or teachers who collectively constituted antichrist. The meaning is, that they had frustrated or thwarted all their attempts to turn them away from the truth.

Because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world - God, who dwells in your hearts, and by whose strength and grace alone you have been enabled to achieve this victory, is more mighty than Satan, who rules in the hearts of the people of this world, and whose seductive arts are seen in the efforts of these false teachers. The apostle meant to say that it was by no power of their own that they achieved this victory, but it was to be traced solely to the fact that God dwelt among them, and had preserved them by his grace. What was true then is true now. He who dwells in the hearts of Christians by his Spirit, is infinitely more mighty than Satan, "the ruler of the darkness of this world;" and victory, therefore, over all his arts and temptations may be sure. In his conflicts with sin, temptation, and error, the Christian should never despair, for his God will insure him the victory.

Ye are of God - Ye are under the influence of the Divine Spirit, and have overcome them - your testimony, proceeding from the Spirit of Christ, has invalidated theirs which has proceeded from the influence of Satan; for greater is the Holy Spirit which is in you, than the spirit which is in the world. Ye are of God, little children,.... This, with what follows, is said for the comfort of the saints, and to deliver them from the fears of being drawn aside by the delusions of the false prophets, and antichrists; since they belonged to God, were his elect, and therefore could not be finally and totally seduced; they were the children of God by adopting grace, and could not become the servants of men; they were born of God, and so were kept by the power of God unto salvation, as all that are begotten unto a lively hope are; they were enlightened by the Spirit of God, and had a discerning of truth from error, and therefore could not be imposed upon:

and have overcome them; the false prophets, being in a good cause, fighting the good fight of faith, and having good weapons, particularly the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, and invincible arguments from thence; and also gracious assistance from the Spirit of God, who gives a mouth that none can shut, and wisdom that none can resist; as well as an inward experience of the truth, and power of Gospel doctrines: a testimony within themselves, which will stand the whole shock and opposition of the enemy: the Vulgate Latin version reads, "and have overcome him"; antichrist, whose spirit was then in the world; or the world itself, or Satan, the god of the world; and so the Ethiopic version reads, "and have overcome the evil one", as in 1 John 2:13; the reason of which victory, and which adds to the comfort and support of saints in their present warfare, is,

because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world; by "he that is in the world" is meant either the devil, the prince and god of the world, and who goes up and down in it, dwells in the hearts of the men of it, under whose influence they are, and in whom he works effectually; or antichrist, whose spirit was now in the world, and whose doctrine was propagated by the false teachers, in whom he began to appear; but he that is in the saints, either God who dwells in them, and their in him, 1 John 4:15; is mightier than the man of sin, and his emissaries, to keep and preserve from all corruptions, and every false way; or Christ, who dwells in their hearts by faith, and is stronger than the strong man armed, and able to save and deliver out of his hands; or the Spirit of God; and so the Arabic version reads, "the Spirit that is in you"; who is in the saints, as a spirit of regeneration and sanctification, as a spirit of adoption, and the earnest of their inheritance; he is able to carry on the work of grace in them, and finish it, and will do it; and he, as a spirit of truth, is more powerful than the spirit of error; and when the enemy comes in like a flood, or pours in a flood of errors and heresies, he lifts up a standard against him, causes him to fly, and secures the saints from being carried away with it: compare with this the Septuagint version of Psalm 124:1, "if it had not been the Lord who was on our side"; which render it thus, "if the Lord had not been in us".

{3} Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.

(3) He comforts the elect with a most sure hope of victory: but yet so, that he teaches them that they fight not with their own power, but with the virtue and power of God.

4. Ye—emphatical: Ye who confess Jesus: in contrast to "them," the false teachers.

overcome them—(1Jo 5:4, 5); instead of being "overcome and brought into (spiritual) bondage" by them (2Pe 2:19). Joh 10:8, 5, "the sheep did not hear them": "a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers."

he that is in you—God, of whom ye are.

he that is in the word—the spirit of Antichrist, the devil, "the prince of this world."

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? 4:4 Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them. The saints had overcome these false prophets, but they were of God,

because greater is he that is in you, and the Spirit in them was mightier

than he that is in the world, than the evil spirit, that of the prince of the world, which was in the false prophets.

Verse 4. - Ye are of God. The ὑμεῖς is in emphatic opposition to the false teachers (comp. 1 John 2:20). They are on one side, and the apostle's readers on the other, and it is from this standpoint that they are to "prove the spirits." St. John knows nothing of any neutral position from which the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error can be criticized "with absolute impartiality." "He that is not with me is against me." This assumed neutral position is already within the domain of error. Ye have overcome them. "Them" means the false teachers; but in what sense have St. John's "little children" overcome them? He may be speaking by anticipation; confident of the victory, he writes of it as an accomplished fact (comp. John 16:33). But it is better to take the statement literally. By refusing to listen to the false teachers (John 10:8) the sheep have conquered them: the seducers have "gone out" (1 John 2:19), unable to hold their own within the fold. Nor is this wonderful: the one side have God with them, the other Satan. Ο ἐν τῷ κόσμῳ here is equivalent to ὁ ἄρχων τοῦ κόσμου τούτου (Luke 12:31). Just as God is in believers and they in God, so the world is in the evil one (1 John 5:19) and the evil one in it.


1 John 4:6,16 We are of God: he that knows God hears us; he that is not of God …

1 John 3:9,10 Whoever is born of God does not commit sin; for his seed remains …

1 John 5:19 And we know that we are of God, and the whole world lies in wickedness.

and have.

1 John 2:13 I write to you, fathers, because you have known him that is from …

1 John 5:4 For whatever is born of God overcomes the world: and this is the …

Romans 8:37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.

Ephesians 6:10,13 Finally, my brothers, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might…

Revelation 12:11 And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of …


1 John 4:13,16 Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he has …

1 John 3:24 And he that keeps his commandments dwells in him, and he in him. …

John 10:28-30 And I give to them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither …

John 14:17-23 Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because …

John 17:23 I in them, and you in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and …

Romans 8:10,11 And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the …

1 Corinthians 6:13 Meats for the belly, and the belly for meats: but God shall destroy …

2 Corinthians 6:16 And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? for you are …

Ephesians 3:17 That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that you, being rooted …


1 John 5:19 And we know that we are of God, and the whole world lies in wickedness.

John 12:31 Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world …

John 14:30 Hereafter I will not talk much with you: for the prince of this world …

John 16:11 Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged.

1 Corinthians 2:12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit …

2 Corinthians 4:4 In whom the god of this world has blinded the minds of them which …

Ephesians 2:2 Wherein in time past you walked according to the course of this world, …

Ephesians 6:12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, …

Have overcome

See on 1 John 2:13.


Compare 1 John 3:20.

In you

The Christian society. Compare John 6:56; John 14:20; John 15:4-10; John 17:23, John 17:26; Galatians 2:20 (of the individual).

He that is in the world

In 1 John 5:19, the world is said to be in the evil one. Compare Ephesians 2:2.

4:4 Ye have overcome these seducers, because greater is the Spirit of Christ that is in you than the spirit of antichrist that is in the world.
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