4:11 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.
4:22 Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: b Every spirit that
confesseth that c Jesus Christ is come in the d flesh is
(2) He gives a certain and perpetual rule to know the doctrine
of antichrist, that is, if either the divine or human
nature of Christ, or the true uniting of them together is
denied: or if the least jot that may be, be detracted from
his office who is our only king, prophet and everlasting
(b) He speaks simply of the doctrine, and not of the person.
(c) The true Messiah.
(d) Is true man.
4:43 Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them:
because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the
(3) He comforts the elect with a most sure hope of victory: but
yet so, that he teaches them that they fight not with their
own power, but with the virtue and power of God.
4:54 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.
4:65 We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that
is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the e spirit
of truth, and the spirit of error.
(5) He testifies to them that his doctrine and the doctrine of
his companions, is the assured word of God which of necessity
we have boldly to set against all the mouths of the whole
world, and thereby discern the truth from falsehood.
(e) True prophets, against whom are false prophets, that is,
those who err and lead others into error.
4:76 Beloved, let us love one another: 7 for love is of
God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth
(6) He returns to the commending of brotherly love and charity.
(7) The first reason: because it is a very divine thing, and
therefore very fitting for the sons of God: so that whoever
is missing it cannot be said to know God correctly.
4:8 He that loveth not knoweth not God; 8 for God is love.
(8) A confirmation: for it is the nature of God to love men, of
which we have a most manifest proof above all other, in
that of his only free and infinite good will towards us his
enemies, he delivered to death, not a common man, but his
own Son, indeed his only begotten Son, to the end that we
being reconciled through his blood might be partakers in his
4:119 Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one
(9) An other reason by comparison: if God so loved us, shall
not we his children love one another?
4:1210 No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one
another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is g perfected
(10) A third reason: Because God is invisible, therefore by
this effect of his Spirit, that is, by charity, he is
understood to be not out of us, but united with us and in
us, in whom he is so effectually working.
(g) Is surely in us indeed, and in truth.
4:1411 And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent
the Son [to be] the Saviour of the world.
(11) He underlays this charity with another foundation, that
is, faith in Jesus, which joins us indeed with him, even
as charity witnesses that we are joined with him.
Furthermore he testifies of Christ, as who had seen him
with his eyes.
4:15 Whosoever shall h confess that Jesus is the Son of God,
God dwelleth in him, and he in God.
(h) With such a confession as comes from true faith, and is
accompanied with love, so that there is an agreement of
4:16 And we have known and believed the love that God hath to
us. 12 God is love; and he that dwelleth in love
dwelleth in God, and God in him.
(12) A fourth reason: God is the fountain and wellspring of
charity indeed charity itself: therefore whoever abides in
it, has God with him.
4:1713 Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have
boldness in the day of judgment: because i as he is, so
are we in this world.
(13) Again (as before) he commends love, seeing that by our
agreement with God in this thing, we have a sure testimony
of our adoption, it comes to pass by this that without
fear we look for that latter day of judgment, so that
trembling and torment of conscience is cast out by this
(i) This signifies a likeness, not an equality.
4:18 There is no k fear in love; but perfect love casteth out
fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not
made perfect in love.
(k) If we understand by love, that we are in God, and God in
us, that we are sons, and that we know God, and that
everlasting life is in us: he concludes correctly, that we
may well gather peace and quietness by this.
4:1914 We love him, because he first loved us.
(14) Lest any man should think that that peace of conscience
proceeds from our love as the cause, he goes back to the
fountain, that is, to the free love with which God loves
us although we deserved and do deserve his wrath. From
this springs another double charity, which both are tokens
and witnesses of that first, that is, that we love God who
loved us first, and then for his sake our neighbours also.
4:2015 If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he
is a liar: 16 for he that loveth not his brother whom he
hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?
(15) As he showed that the love of our neighbour cannot be
separate from the love with which God loves us because
this last gives rise to the other: so he denies that the
other kind of love with which we love God, can be separate
from the love of our neighbour: of which it follows, that
they who say they worship God, and yet do not regard their
neighbours lie shamelessly.
(16) The first reason taken from comparison: why we cannot hate
our neighbour and love God, that is, because he that
cannot love his brother whom he sees, how can he love God
whom he cannot see?
4:2117 And this commandment have we from him, That he who
loveth God love his brother also.
(17) A second reason, why God cannot be hated and our neighbour
loved, because this same lawmaker commanded us both to
love him and our neighbour.