Verses to review today: 1 John 3:1-3:24
New Verse: 1 John 4:1
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. (ESV)
Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. (KJV)
Greek: Ἀγαπητοί, μὴ παντὶ πνεύματι πιστεύετε ἀλλὰ δοκιμάζετε τὰ πνεύματα εἰ ἐκ τοῦ θεοῦ ἐστιν, ὅτι πολλοὶ ψευδοπροφῆται ἐξεληλύθασιν εἰς τὸν κόσμον.
Transliterated Greek: Agapētoi, mē panti pneumati pisteuete alla dokimazete ta pneumata ei ek tou theou estin, hoti polloi pseudoprophētai exelēlythasin eis ton kosmon.
Literal Word for Word Translation: Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.
Vocab: πιστεύετε, pisteuete, you must believe; δοκιμάζετε, dokimazete, you must test; ψευδοπροφῆται, pseudoprophētai, false prophets.
Commentary: The topic of Jehovah Witnesses came up in a discussion tonight. They are similar to the false prophets of 1 John in that they promote a false gospel and try to lure true believers away from the truth. They have no success with those who are mature in the faith and are taught by the Holy Spirit, but they are convincing to those who know little about the faith and might be only seekers or that might be seedlings of the faith where the roots are not yet deep. John says to test the spirits. The test isn’t by how reasonable they sound, but whether what they teach conforms to the Bible as it was written and taught in the first century (which itself ought to be reasonable). (While the Bible as a collated collection of books did not exist by the end of the first century, all the books in the Bible did.) The Jehovah Witnesses teach the great heresy of the third century that denied Jesus of being an eternal being of the very same nature as God. They have to create their own translation in order to teach their errors. And of course, they are not the only false prophets. Many have come. One thing to note about the divinity of Jesus, which is an area of conflict with false teachings, is that some deny Jesus’ humanity (Gnostics), and some deny His divinity (Arians and Jehovah Witnesses). It is interesting that heresies go to both sides of the truth indicating that the middle is what was always taught. Many have difficulty with Jesus’ humanity and divnity and thus end up erring on either side.