1 John 4

The Confession That Is of God


Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God (1 John 4:1).

Romans took steps to avoid being cheated or deceived in commerce. One way in which this was accomplished was by an official set of volume measures placed by the authorities at the market. Similar objects have been recovered from numerous places across the Roman empire. Anyone with a concern about deception related to volume at the marketplace could use a set of official measures like this to determine if they were being shorted.


Many false prophets have gone out into the world (1 John 4:1).

Jesus warned of false prophets in the Sermon on the Mount, comparing them to wolves: “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves” (Matt 7:15). Paul likewise compared false teachers to wolves: “I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock” (Acts 20:29). This picture shows a wolf at Haibar Nature Reserve in the Negev.

Coming in the Flesh

Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God (1 John 4:2).

After John the Baptist baptized Jesus, he also made a confession of Jesus’s identity (John 1:29-34). This photograph shows the general area where the baptism may have occurred. A small tributary of the Jordan River, the Wadi Gharrar is fed by five or six springs. Tradition holds that these springs provided the water that was used by John the Baptist for baptizing. Those who support this tradition note the reference to “Bethany beyond the Jordan” as the place John was baptizing (in the Gospel of John), which was not necessarily a location on the river itself.

"Little Children"

You are of God, little children (1 John 4:4).

The term “little child” (Gk. teknion) is a diminutive form of “child” (Gk. teknon). John is the only New Testament author to use this term (e.g., John 13:33; 1 John 2:12), and he always uses it as a term of endearment. This photo of a young woman surrounded by toddlers is an expression of the fondness with which John addresses his audience. This American Colony photo was taken in southern Israel in February of 1946.


Because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world (1 John 4:4).

This mosaic depicts the struggle between victory and defeat. Victory is shown leaning forward grasping the crown of victory, and a youth is rushing toward him with the victor’s palm branch. Defeat leans despondently against a pillar. A similar scene is played out by the two roosters in the foreground; the one on the left stands victoriously, while the one on the right is portrayed bent over and bleeding. This mosaic comes from the Maze House at Pompeii and was photographed at the Naples Archaeological Museum.

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