1 John 4:5
They are of the world: therefore speak they of the world, and the world heareth them.
Jump to: AlfordBarnesBengelBensonBICalvinCambridgeClarkeDarbyEllicottExpositor'sExp DctExp GrkGaebeleinGSBGillGrayGuzikHaydockHastingsHomileticsICCJFBKellyKingLangeMacLarenMHCMHCWMeyerParkerPNTPoolePulpitSermonSCOTTBVWSWESTSK
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?They are of the world - This was one of the marks by which those who had the spirit of antichrist might be known. They belonged not to the church of God, but to the world. They had its spirit; they acted on its principles; they lived for it. Compare the notes at 1 John 2:15.

Therefore speak they of the world - Compare the notes at John 3:31. This may mean either that their conversation pertained to the things of this world, or that they were wholly influenced by the love of the world, and not by the Spirit of God, in the doctrines which they taught. The general sense is, that they had no higher ends and aims than they have who are influenced only by worldly plans and expectations. It is not difficult to distinguish, even among professed Christians and Christian teachers, those who are heavenly in their conversation from those who are influenced solely by the spirit of the world. "Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh," and the general turn of a man's conversation will show what "spirit is within him."

And the world heareth them - The people of the world - the frivoulous ones, the rich, the proud, the ambitious, the sensual - receive their instructions, and recognize them as teachers and guides, for their views accord with their own. See the notes at John 15:19. A professedly religious teacher may always determine much about himself by knowing what class of people are pleased with him. A professed Christian of any station in life may determine much about his evidences of piety, by asking himself what kind of persons desire his friendship, and wish him for a companion.

5. of the world—They derive their spirit and teaching from the world, "unregenerate human nature, ruled over and possessed by Satan, the prince of this world" [Alford].

speak they of the word—They draw the matter of their conversation from the life, opinions, and feelings of the world.

the world heareth them—(Joh 15:18, 19). The world loves its own.

Ver. 5,6. He giveth here a further rule whereby to judge of doctrines and teachers, viz. what they severally savour of, and tend to. The doctrines and teachers whereby these Christians were assaulted and tempted, were of an earthly savour and gust, tending only to gratify worldly lusts and inclinations, and to serve secular interests and designs; and therefore men only of a worldly spirit and temper were apt to listen and give entertainment to them. On the other hand, says he, (in the name of the asserters and followers of true and pure Christianity, comprehended with himself):

We are of God; i.e. our doctrine and way proceed from God, and tend only to serve, please, and glorify him, and draw all to him; therefore such as

know God, i.e. are his friends, and converse much with him,

hear us; the things we propose and offer are grateful and savoury to them, {as John 8:37,47} having manifestly no other aim than to promote serious godliness. And hereby may the spirit of truth and the spirit of error in matters of this nature be distinguished; the one being next of kin to purity, and holiness, and a godly life; the other, to sensuality, and a design only of gratifying the animal life.

They are of the world,.... That is, the false prophets and teachers that were gone into the world, and had the spirit of antichrist in them; these were as they were when they came into the world, under the pollution, guilt, and dominion of sin, in a state of unregeneracy, carnality, and darkness; they properly belonged unto it, and walked after the course of it, and were under the influence of the god of it, who led them into error; and were sensual, and indulged themselves in worldly lusts, and were seeking after worldly things; supposed that gain was godliness, and had men's persons in admiration because of advantage; their nature and disposition, their principles and practices, and their ends and views, were worldly; and were quite different from Christ and his apostles, John 17:14,

therefore speak they of the world; they speak the wisdom of the world, or that in which the world thinks wisdom lies, and cry up for true knowledge, and right principles; and this they do with the enticing words of man's wisdom, or in words which man's wisdom teacheth; speaking great swelling words of vanity, which take with vain and carnal minds; and preach doctrines suited to their own taste, and the taste of others, as carnal and worldly men; such as the purity of human nature, in its first conception and birth, its freedom from any original corruption, and from any concern with the sin of Adam, only with actual sin of its own; and the power of it to do that which is good, keep the law of God, and obtain his favour; the non-necessity of any internal work of efficacious grace, a reformation of life and manners being thought sufficient to render a man acceptable to God, and prepare him for eternal happiness; the doctrine of justification and salvation by works; all which are pleasing to carnal men: hence it follows,

and the world heareth them; the wicked of the world; worldly and unregenerate men attend on their ministry, approve of what they deliver, and receive it with pleasure, and believe it: this expresses both the quality of the hearers of false teachers, that they are that part of the world, the worse part of it, which lies in wickedness; and the quantity of them, the greater part of the world, as it was foretold by Christ, and his apostles, that they should deceive many, that many should follow their pernicious ways, and that they should draw many disciples after them; wherefore the numbers that attend such persons, as it need not be wondered at, since both preachers and hearers, and the doctrines preached and heard, are all alike, they are of the world, so it should not be stumbling to the people of God.

{4} They are of the world: therefore speak they of the world, and the world heareth them.

(4) He brings a reason why the world receives these teachers more willingly than the true: that is, because they speak nothing but that which is worldly: which is another note also to know the doctrine of antichrist by.

1 John 4:5. In chap. 1 John 2:19, John had said of the false teachers: οὐκ εἰσὶν ἐξ ἡμῶν; now he states from what source they spring; this is the κόσμος; the antichristian nature in them belonged to the world, quatenus Satanas est ejus princeps (Calvin). The manifestation of life corresponds with the source of it; because they are of the world, διὰ τοῦτο ἐκ τοῦ κόσμου λαλοῦσι; ἐκ τ. κόσμου λαλεῖν means: to speak that which the κόσμος supplies, to take the burden of their speech from the κόσμος, ex mundi vita ac sensu sermones suos promere (Bengel). This is not identical with ἐκ τῆς γῆς λαλεῖν (John 3:31), for ἡ γῆ is not an ethical idea like ὁ κόσμος.

καὶ ὁ κόσμος αὐτῶν ἀκούει] The false prophets had gone out from the Church into the world, to which they inwardly belonged, and proclaimed to it a wisdom which originated in it; therefore the world heard them, i.e. gave to their words applause and assent: τῷ γὰρ ὁμοίῳ τὸ ὅμοιον προστρέχει (Oecumenius); in contrast to which believers were hated and persecuted by the world.

1 John 4:5. αὐτοὶ (as opposed to ὑμεῖς) ἐκ τοῦ κόσμου εἰσίν, as its delegates, messengers, representatives, and as such ἐκ τοῦ κόσμου λαλοῦσιν. λαλεῖν, not “speak” (λέγειν), but “talk,” with a suggestion of prating (cf. John 4:42). ἀκούειν takes accus. of the thing heard, genit. of the person from whom it is heard. Cf. Luke 5:1; Acts 1:4 (where both are combined). The world listens to those who speak its own language.

5. They are of the world] This follows, though it has not yet been stated, from their not being ‘of us’ (1 John 2:19): for there is no middle position. The verse is another reminiscence of the Lord’s farewell discourses: ‘If ye were of the world, the world would love its own’ (John 15:19; comp. John 17:14).

therefore speak they of the world] Or, therefore of the world they speak: as in John 3:31, the Greek order is impressive and worth preserving. (See on 1 John 3:1; but here διὰ τοῦτο is not followed by ὅτι.) The impressive repetition of ‘the world’ is very characteristic of S. John’s style; e.g. John 1:10; John 3:17; John 15:19; John 17:14. Comp. ‘He that is of the earth, of the earth he is, and of the earth he speaketh’ (John 3:31): where, however, ‘to speak of the earth’ or ‘earthly things’ is to speak of God’s work on earth; whereas ‘to speak of the world’ is to speak what is alien from God’s work and opposed to it. ‘To speak of’ (λαλεῖν ἐκ) is not the same as ‘to speak concerning’ (λέγειν περί) 1 John 5:16; John 1:22; John 1:47; John 2:21, &c. ‘To speak of the world’ is to have the world as the source of one’s words, so that one’s inspiration flows from it: and of course the world ‘heareth’, i.e. loves to hear, the wisdom derived from itself.

1 John 4:5. Αὐτοὶ) they themselves.—ἐκ τοῦ κόσμου λαλοῦσι, speak of the world) They derive their language from the life and perception of the world.—ἀκούει, heareth) on account of its agreement with them.

Verse 5. - The source of their character and their teaching is the world; from it they derive their inspiration; and of course the world listens to them. Once again (see on 1 John 3:23) we have an echo of Christ's last discourses: "If ye were of the world, the world would love its own" (John 15:19). 1 John 4:5Of the world (ἐκ τοῦ κόσμου)

Proceeding from, as their source (ἐκ). Different from ἐκ τῆς γῆς from the earth (John 3:31), as marking the whole worldly economy morally considered.

Speak they of the world (ἐκ τοῦ κόσμου λαλοῦσιν)

An ambiguous rendering, which might readily be interpreted "they speak concerning the world." Literally it is: "they speak out of the world; i.e., the character of their utterances corresponds to their origin. Rev., "speak they as of the world." The position of the world in the sentence is emphatic: "it is out of the world that they speak."

1 John 4:5 Interlinear
1 John 4:5 Parallel Texts

1 John 4:5 NIV
1 John 4:5 NLT
1 John 4:5 ESV
1 John 4:5 NASB
1 John 4:5 KJV

1 John 4:5 Bible Apps
1 John 4:5 Parallel
1 John 4:5 Biblia Paralela
1 John 4:5 Chinese Bible
1 John 4:5 French Bible
1 John 4:5 German Bible

Bible Hub

1 John 4:4
Top of Page
Top of Page