WALKING IN THE LIGHT

NEW TESTAMENT CONTEXTUAL COMMENTARY

by Dr. Robert R Seyda

FIRST EPISTLE OF JOHN

CHAPTER FOUR (Lesson XXV) 02/18/22

4:3 Another spirit refuses to say this about Jesus. That spirit is not from God. It is the spirit of the enemy of the Anointed One. You have heard that the enemy of the Anointed One is coming. Well, he’s already in the world.

Martyn-Lloyd Jones (1899-1981) says that being a Christian is not a feeling or experience. Yet, there is a good deal of interest in that kind of thinking at present. People tended to return to mysticism[1] at a time of crisis or difficulty in world history. When men and women see all powers fail, observing that all the optimistic prophets, teachers, politicians, and poets have been wrong and become troubled, bewildered, and perplexed, there is always some kind of innate tendency to retreat into mysticism. People nowadays talk about “getting in tune with the heart of the universe;”[2] they also talk about “getting in touch with the Unseen.”[3]

There is also a considerable revival of Buddhism at present, says Lloyd-Jones. Certain famous, well-known novelists, people like Mr. Aldous Huxley (1894-1963)[4] and others, who once claimed to be pure intellectuals, are now saying, one after another, that the only hope for this world is mysticism and the religion they are interested in is Buddhism.[5] You would think that anyone who wants to get in touch with the heart of the universe and the great Unseen Spirit would be happy if someone told them that they could not only get in touch with the Great I AM, but they can live in Him and He in them. His name is Yahweh! The God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Yeshua the Messiah’s Father.

J. Dwight Pentecost (1915-2014) was writing about the Holy Spirit’s relation to the tribulation is determined by the interpretation of the Apostle Paul’s words to the Thessalonians concerning the Man of Lawlessness.[6] He then quotes Dallas Theological Seminary professor Lewis Chafer (1871-1952), [7]  who said that Satan would long ago have completed his evil cosmic program and have brought forward its last human ruler. But there is a restraint to Satan implementing his program that will develop and be achieved only at God’s appointed time.[8] He noted that the Apostle John testified that this program of introducing the man of sin had already begun to operate in his day.[9] That Satanic program has continued through the ages, but this restraint has kept it in check. And the restriction, according to John, is the believers who fought back with love for God through loving others.[10]

Donald W. Burdick (1917-1996) says that such a denial of Jesus as God in the flesh is not motivated by God’s Spirit, but by an appropriately named spirit of “antichrist.” It does not imply that the antichrist was already in existence in the first century. However, the influence characteristic of the Antichrist was already active in the Apostle John’s Day and still is. The spirit of the antichrist is a personality, while the Spirit of God is personal. It, no doubt, is, in reality, the inspiration of Satan. John informs us that when the great end-time opponent of the Anointed One appears, Satan will pass on his power, his throne, and great authority to him.[11] [12]

David E. Hiebert (1928-1995) states that the Apostle John’s negative statement, “every spirit that does not confess Jesus,” is broader in scope than the positive, “every spirit that denies [“does not say anything about”] Jesus,” would have been. An open denial of “Jesus” stamps such a spirit as “not from God,” not coming from or proclaiming God’s truth. But John’s negative statement also comprehends any spirit speaking through a false prophet that sought to hide its true identity by avoiding discussion of the decisive issue. John knew that what such a spirit did not say about Jesus in speaking of Him was also significant. In this epistle, John never brought up Jesus without adding some term to show that He is more than a mere man.[13]

Simon J. Kistemaker (1930-2017) points out that in Greek, John uses the perfect tense for the words “has come” to indicate that Jesus came in human nature and even now in heaven. That in addition to His divine nature, He also has a human nature. This is hard for some Christians to digest that there is a human being in heaven next to God who is Spirit. But Scripture teaches that the Anointed One is Jesus, who shares our human nature as our divine redeemer.[14]

Any teaching that professes the divinity and humanity of Jesus has its origin in God. As C. H. Dodd (1874-1973) observes, no utterance, however inspired, which denies the reality of the Incarnation, can be accepted by Christians as true prophecy.[15] Likewise, sixteenth-century German theologian Zacharias Ursinus (1534-1583) asked rhetorically whether these two natures are separated from each other? He answers, “Certainly not. Since divinity is not limited and is present everywhere, [16] it is evident that the Anointed One’s divinity is surely beyond the bounds of the humanity that has been taken on, but at the same time, His divinity is in and remains personally united to His humanity.”[17] [18] [19]

Stephen S. Smalley (1931-2018) has the Apostle John set out the criterion for “testing” the genuineness of those who claim to be “inspired.” That person (alone) is a true child of God who is prepared to acknowledge Jesus the Anointed One as “come (from the Father) in the flesh.” Now he completes this thought by setting the false confession of Jesus over against the truth, and in this way, the content of the true estimate of Jesus, required of every true believer, is intensified and reinforced. The sharp antithesis involved here between truth and error shows that there is no “middle ground.” Moreover, John is not discussing the contrast between faith and unbelief; he condemns those heretical beliefs within and beyond his community, which amount to a determined and antichristian rebellion against God.[20] So, when preaching or teaching principles that are not verified as true by God’s Word, it is not only spreading false doctrine but also considered rebelling against God’s Word.

Edward J. Malatesta (1932-1998) observes that the Apostle John introduces two new thoughts into the test results: if the spirit being tried does not confess that the man Jesus as the Messiah, it is the spirit of antichrist. John did not feel that this was shocking since this unholy spirit was in the world and deceiving many.[21] Apparently, many in the community knew it was around because they heard the message being spread through false prophets. But so deceptive was their doctrine that it must have come as a surprise when John told them how these prophets inspired by this unholy spirit did not believe that Jesus was simultaneously both human and divine. To accept this made Jesus’ death on the cross and His resurrection a farce and fantasy.

John Painter (1935) says that “every spirit” is a description reflecting the diversity of the opponents in their refusal to make the authentic confession of faith in Jesus, becomes “the Spirit of the Antichrist.” The text uses the neuter definite article with “the Antichrist.” This means that the Apostle John is not speaking of the Antichrist as a man or woman.  As the subject under discussion is the spirit, it is natural to supply the “spirit” of the Antichrist. In this analogy, the Spirit of God is manifest in every speaker that confesses, “Jesus the Anointed One has come in the flesh.” The spirit of the Antichrist is manifest in every speaker that will not make this confession, mainly if they aim to negate, divide, or destroy Jesus as both the Son of God and son of man.[22]

Muncia Walls (1937) states that the great truth concerning the incarnation and death of Jesus the Anointed One was vitally important to the Apostle John and necessary to fulfill Apostolic doctrinal teaching. It is a subject that one cannot just ignore and teach around it. To John – and it should be to us as well – the subject of the Godhead, and the vicarious death of Jesus the Anointed One on Calvary, is an important part of the Apostolic doctrine which must be taught in every congregation which professes to be the Ekklesia[23] of Jesus the Anointed One.[24] Jesus verifies then by saying, “Yes, if two or three people are together believing in Me, I am there with them.[25]

James Montgomery Boice (1938-2000) believes there are three possible ways in which the confession of verse two may be taken: (1) “Jesus the Anointed One” was the object. With this interpretation, confession would be to the effect that “Jesus the Anointed One was incarnate. Thus, He was a real human being.”  This statement would be directed against some form of Docetism, the view that the Anointed One was a spirit that appeared as a man. (2) “Jesus” may be the subject. This would give the meaning, “By this, you know every spirit which confesses that the Anointed One became human, is of God.’’ It would involve the identity of the historical Jesus as the incarnate Messiah. (3) The entire phrase may be taken as connected and show that “Jesus” is the direct object of “has come in the flesh.” This would be the simple confession of “Jesus the Anointed One incarnate.”[26]


[1] Mysticism is a religious belief based on union or communion with a deity, or divine being. Mysticism is what lets you transcend the physical to experience spiritual enlightenment.

[2] Teachings of the Bahai Faith

[3] See the New Message from God about “getting in touch with the Unseen” by Marshall Vian Summers

[4] Aldous Huxley was an English novelist and critic gifted with an acute and far-ranging intelligence whose works are notable for their wit and pessimistic satire. He remains best known for his novel, Brave New World (1932) 

[5] Lloyd-Jones, Martyn, Life in the Anointed One, op. cit., p. 410

[6] 2 Thessalonians 2:7-8

[7] Louis Sperry Chafer toured as a renowned Bible lecturer from 1914 until 1924, when he founded Dallas Theological Seminary and became its first president. He wrote prolifically, producing his widely read Grace, Salvation, and True Evangelism; and his monumental Systematic Theology. Through all the acclaim and accomplishments, his students remember best his deep reverence for the Word, and a daily, humble dependence on the Holy Spirit.

[8] Chafer, Lewis Sperry, Systematic Theology, Vol. IV, p. 372

[9] 1 John 4:3

[10] Pentecost, J. Dwight; Pentecost, J. Dwight. Things to Come: A Study in Biblical Eschatology. Zondervan. (Kindle location 4729-4740)

[11] Revelation 13:2

[12] Burdick, Donald W., The Epistles of John, op. cit., p. 68

[13] Hiebert, David E., Bibliotheca Sacra, op. cit., October-December 1999, p. 429

[14] Hebrews 2:14-15

[15] Dodd, C. H., The Johannine Epistles, Moffatt New Testament Commentary, op. cit., p. 103

[16] Romans 8:34; 1 John 2:1

[17] John 14:2; 17:24; Ephesians 2:4-6

[18] Heidelberg Catechism; Q. & A. 48

[19] Kistemaker, Simon J., New Testament Commentary, James & I-III John, op. cit., pp. 324-325

[20] Smalley Stephen S., Word Biblical Commentary, Vol. 51, op. cit., p. 223

[21] Malatesta, Edward J., Interiority and Covenant, op. cit. pp. 283-284

[22] Painter, John. Sacra Pagina: 1, 2, and 3 John: Vol. 18, loc. cit.

[23] Ekklesia is a Greek word defined as “a called-out assembly or congregation.” Ekklesia is commonly translated as “church” in the Final Covenant.

[24] Walls, Muncia: The Epistles of John & Jude, op. cit., p. 69

[25] Matthew 18:20

[26] Boice, James Montgomery: The Epistles of John, op. cit., p. 109

About drbob76

Retired missionary, pastor, seminary professor, Board Certified Chaplain and American Cancer Society Hope Lodge Director.
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