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1 John 4:1 [study!]

American Standard Version (ASV 1901) [2]
— Beloved, believe not every spirit, but prove the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets are gone out into the world.
King James Version (KJV 1769)
— Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.
New American Standard Bible (NASB ©1995)
— 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.
Webster's Revision of the KJB (WEB 1833)
— Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets have gone out into the world.
Darby's Translation (DBY 1890)
— Beloved, believe not every spirit, but prove the spirits, if they are of God; because many false prophets are gone out into the world.
Rotherham's Emphasized Bible (EBR 1902)
— Beloved! not in every spirit, believe ye, but test the spirits, whether they are, of God; because, many false prophets, have gone out into the world.
Young's Literal Translation (YLT 1898)
— Beloved, every spirit believe not, but prove the spirits, if of God they are, because many false prophets have gone forth to the world;
Douay-Rheims Challoner Revision (DR 1750)
— 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.
Original King James Bible (AV 1611) [2]
— Beloued, beleeue not euery spirit, but trie the spirits, whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.
John Etheridge Peshitta-Aramaic NT (1849)
— MY beloved, believe not all spirits, but discern the spirits whether they be from Aloha; because many false prophets have gone forth into the world.
James Murdock Peshitta-Aramaic NT (1852)
— My beloved, believe not all spirits; but discriminate among spirits, whether they are of God: for many false prophets have gone out into the world.

Strong's Numbers & Red-LettersGreek New TestamentColor-Code/Key Word Studies
Beloved, 27
{0027} Prime
ἀγαπητός
agapetos
{ag-ap-ay-tos'}
From G0025; beloved.
believe 4100
{4100} Prime
πιστεύω
pisteuo
{pist-yoo'-o}
From G4102; to have faith (in, upon, or with respect to, a person or thing), that is, credit; by implication to entrust (especially one's spiritual well being to Christ).
z5720
<5720> Grammar
Tense - Present (See G5774)
Voice - Active (See G5784)
Mood - Imperative (See G5794)
Count - 592
not 3361
{3361} Prime
μή
me
{may}
A primary particle of qualified negation (whereas G3756 expresses an absolute denial); (adverbially) not, (conjugationally) lest; also (as interrogitive implying a negative answer [whereas G3756 expects an affirmative one]); whether.
every 3956
{3956} Prime
πᾶς
pas
{pas}
Including all the forms of declension; apparently a primary word; all, any, every, the whole.
spirit, 4151
{4151} Prime
πνεῦμα
pneuma
{pnyoo'-mah}
From G4154; a current of air, that is, breath (blast) or a breeze; by analogy or figuratively a spirit, that is, (human) the rational soul, (by implication) vital principle, mental disposition, etc., or (superhuman) an angel, daemon, or (divine) God, Christ's spirit, the Holy spirit.
but 235
{0235} Prime
ἀλλά
alla
{al-lah'}
Neuter plural of G0243; properly other things, that is, (adverbially) contrariwise (in many relations).
try 1381
{1381} Prime
δοκιμάζω
dokimazo
{dok-im-ad'-zo}
From G1384; to test (literally or figuratively); by implication to approve.
z5720
<5720> Grammar
Tense - Present (See G5774)
Voice - Active (See G5784)
Mood - Imperative (See G5794)
Count - 592
the x3588
(3588) Complement

ho
{ho}
The masculine, feminine (second) and neuter (third) forms, in all their inflections; the definite article; the (sometimes to be supplied, at others omitted, in English idiom).
spirits 4151
{4151} Prime
πνεῦμα
pneuma
{pnyoo'-mah}
From G4154; a current of air, that is, breath (blast) or a breeze; by analogy or figuratively a spirit, that is, (human) the rational soul, (by implication) vital principle, mental disposition, etc., or (superhuman) an angel, daemon, or (divine) God, Christ's spirit, the Holy spirit.
whether 1487
{1487} Prime
εἰ
ei
{i}
A primary particle of conditionality; if, whether, that, etc.
they are 2076
{2076} Prime
ἐστί
esti
{es-tee'}
Third person singular present indicative of G1510; he (she or it) is; also (with neuter plural) they are.
z5748
<5748> Grammar
Tense - Present (See G5774)
Voice - No Voice Stated (See G5799)
Mood - Indicative (See G5791)
Count - 1612
of 1537
{1537} Prime
ἐκ
ek
{ek}
A primary preposition denoting origin (the point whence motion or action proceeds), from, out (of place, time or cause; literally or figuratively; direct or remote).
God: 2316
{2316} Prime
θεός
theos
{theh'-os}
Of uncertain affinity; a deity, especially (with G3588) the supreme Divinity; figuratively a magistrate; by Hebraism very.
because 3754
{3754} Prime
ὅτι
hoti
{hot'-ee}
Neuter of G3748 as conjugation; demonstrative that (sometimes redundant); causatively because.
many 4183
{4183} Prime
πολύς
polus
{pol-oos'}
Including the forms from the alternate 'pollos'; (singular) much (in any respect) or (plural) many; neuter (singular) as adverb largely; neuter (plural) as adverb or noun often, mostly, largely.
false prophets 5578
{5578} Prime
ψευδοπροφήτης
pseudoprophetes
{psyoo-dop-rof-ay'-tace}
From G5571 and G4396; a spurious prophet, that is, pretended foreteller or religious impostor.
are gone out 1831
{1831} Prime
ἐξέρχομαι
exerchomai
{ex-er'-khom-ahee}
From G1537 and G2064; to issue (literally or figuratively).
z5758
<5758> Grammar
Tense - Perfect (See G5778)
Voice - Active (See G5784)
Mood - Indicative (See G5791)
Count - 516
into 1519
{1519} Prime
εἰς
eis
{ice}
A primary preposition; to or into (indicating the point reached or entered), of place, time, or (figuratively) purpose (result, etc.); also in adverbial phrases.
the x3588
(3588) Complement

ho
{ho}
The masculine, feminine (second) and neuter (third) forms, in all their inflections; the definite article; the (sometimes to be supplied, at others omitted, in English idiom).
world. 2889
{2889} Prime
κόσμος
kosmos
{kos'-mos}
Probably from the base of G2865; orderly arrangement, that is, decoration; by implication the world (in a wide or narrow sense, including its inhabitants, literally or figuratively [morally]).
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Commentary

1 John 4:1

_ _ 1 John 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.

_ _ 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 (1 John 4:2, 1 John 4:3). 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, etc. — 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 (2 John 1:7). The world is easily seduced (1 John 4:4, 1 John 4:5).

Matthew Henry's Commentary

1 John 4:1-3

_ _ The apostle, having said that God's dwelling in and with us may be known by the Spirit that he hath given us, intimates that that Spirit may be discerned and distinguished from other spirits that appear in the world; and so here,

_ _ I. He calls the disciples, to whom he writes, to caution and scrutiny about the spirits and spiritual professors that had now risen. 1. To caution: “Beloved, believe not every spirit; regard not, trust not, follow not, every pretender to the Spirit of God, or every professor of vision, or inspiration, or revelation from God.” Truth is the foundation of simulation and counterfeits; there had been real communications from the divine Spirit, and therefore others pretended thereto. God will take the way of his own wisdom and goodness, though it may be liable to abuse; he has sent inspired teachers to the world, and given us a supernatural revelation, though others may be so evil and so impudent as to pretend the same; every pretender to the divine Spirit, or to inspiration, and extraordinary illumination thereby, is not to be believed. Time was when the spiritual man (the man of the Spirit, who made a great noise about, and boast of, the Spirit) was mad, Hosea 9:7. 2. To scrutiny, to examination of the claims that are laid to the Spirit: But try the spirits, whether they be of God, 1 John 4:1. God has given of his Spirit in these latter ages of the world, but not to all who profess to come furnished therewith; to the disciples is allowed a judgment of discretion, in reference to the spirits that would be believed and trusted in the affairs of religion. A reason is given for this trial: Because many false prophets have gone out into the world, 1 John 4:1. There being much about the time of our Saviour's appearance in the world a general expectation among the Jews of a Redeemer to Israel, and the humiliation, spiritual reformation, and sufferings of the Saviour being taken as a prejudice against him, others were induced to set up as prophets and messiahs to Israel, according to the Saviour's prediction, Matthew 24:23, Matthew 24:24. It should not seem strange to us that false teachers set themselves up in the church: it was so in the apostles' times; fatal is the spirit of delusion, sad that men should vaunt themselves for prophets and inspired preachers that are by no means so!

_ _ II. He gives a test whereby the disciples may try these pretending spirits. These spirits set up for prophets, doctors, or dictators in religion, and so they were to be tried by their doctrine; and the test whereby in that day, or in that part of the world where the apostle now resided (for in various seasons, and in various churches, tests were different), must be this: Hereby know you the Spirit of God, Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh (or that confesseth Jesus Christ that came in the flesh), is of God, 1 John 4:2. Jesus Christ is to be confessed as the Son of God, the eternal life and Word, that was with the Father from the beginning; as the Son of God that came into, and came in, our human mortal nature, and therein suffered and died at Jerusalem. He who confesses and preaches this, by a mind supernaturally instructed and enlightened therein, does it by the Spirit of God, or God is the author of that illumination. On the contrary, “Every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh (or Jesus Christ that came in the flesh) is not of God, 1 John 4:3. God has given so much testimony to Jesus Christ, who was lately here in the world, and in the flesh (or in a fleshly body like ours), though now in heaven, that you may be assured that any impulse or pretended inspiration that contradicts this is far from being from heaven and of God.” The sum of revealed religion is comprehended in the doctrine concerning Christ, his person and office. We see then the aggravation of a systematic opposition to him and it. And this is that spirit of antichrist whereof you have heard that it should come, and even now already is it in the world, 1 John 4:3. It was foreknown by God that antichrists would arise, and antichristian spirits oppose his Spirit and his truth; it was foreknown also that one eminent antichrist would arise, and make a long and fatal war against the Christ of God, and his institution, and honour, and kingdom in the world. This great antichrist would have his way prepared, and his rise facilitated, by other less antichrists, and the spirit of error working and disposing men's minds for him: the antichristian spirit began betimes, even in the apostles' days. Dreadful and unsearchable is the judgment of God, that persons should be given over to an antichristian spirit, and to such darkness and delusion as to set themselves against the Son of God and all the testimony that the Father hath given to the Son! But we have been forewarned that such opposition would arise; we should therefore cease to be offended, and the more we see the word of Christ fulfilled the more confirmed we should be in the truth of it.

John Wesley's Explanatory Notes

1 John 4:1

Believe not every spirit — Whereby any teacher is actuated. But try the spirits — By the rule which follows. We are to try all spirits by the written word: "To the law and to the testimony!" If any man speak not according to these, the spirit which actuates him is not of God.

Geneva Bible Translation Notes

1 John 4:1

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

(1) Taking occasion by the name of the Spirit, lest love and charity should be separated from the worship of God, which chiefly depends on his true knowledge, he returns to that which he spoke of in the second chapter concerning the taking heed of antichrists: He will have us here take heed of two things, the one is, that seeing there are many false prophets, we should not trust every man: the other is, that because many men teach false things, we should not therefore believe any. We must then observe, that we may be able to discern the spirits of God which are to be followed, from impure spirits which are to be avoided.

(a) This is spoken by metonymy and it is as if he had said, Believe not every one who says that he has a gift of the Holy Spirit to do the office of a prophet.

Cross-Reference Topical ResearchStrong's Concordance
believe not:

Deuteronomy 13:1-5 If there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and giveth thee a sign or a wonder, ... And that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams, shall be put to death; because he hath spoken to turn [you] away from the LORD your God, which brought you out of the land of Egypt, and redeemed you out of the house of bondage, to thrust thee out of the way which the LORD thy God commanded thee to walk in. So shalt thou put the evil away from the midst of thee.
Proverbs 14:15 The simple believeth every word: but the prudent [man] looketh well to his going.
Jeremiah 5:31 The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means; and my people love [to have it] so: and what will ye do in the end thereof?
Jeremiah 29:8-9 For thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Let not your prophets and your diviners, that [be] in the midst of you, deceive you, neither hearken to your dreams which ye cause to be dreamed. ... For they prophesy falsely unto you in my name: I have not sent them, saith the LORD.
Matthew 7:15-16 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. ... Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?
Matthew 24:4-5 And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. ... For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.
Romans 16:18 For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.
2 Peter 2:1 But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.

try:

Luke 12:57 Yea, and why even of yourselves judge ye not what is right?
Acts 17:11 These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.
Romans 16:19 For your obedience is come abroad unto all [men]. I am glad therefore on your behalf: but yet I would have you wise unto that which is good, and simple concerning evil.
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 thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars:

many:

1 John 2:18 Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time.
Matthew 24:5 For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.
Matthew 24:23-26 Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here [is] Christ, or there; believe [it] not. ... Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, [he is] in the secret chambers; believe [it] not.
Mark 13:21 And then if any man shall say to you, Lo, here [is] Christ; or, lo, [he is] there; believe [him] not:
Luke 21:8 And he said, Take heed that ye be not deceived: for many shall come in my name, saying, I am [Christ]; and the time draweth near: go ye not therefore after them.
Acts 20:29 For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock.
1 Timothy 4:1 Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;
2 Timothy 3:13 But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived.
2 Peter 2:1 But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.
2 John 1:7 For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist.
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Chain-Reference Bible Search

Dt 13:1. Pv 14:15. Jr 5:31; 29:8. Mt 7:15; 24:4, 5, 23. Mk 13:21. Lk 12:57; 21:8. Ac 17:11; 20:29. Ro 16:18, 19. 1Co 14:29. 1Th 5:21. 1Ti 4:1. 2Ti 3:13. 2P 2:1. 1Jn 2:18. 2Jn 1:7. Rv 2:2.

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