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Test What People Say

Dear friends, stop believing[a] every spirit. Instead, test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.

This is how you can recognize God’s Spirit: Every spirit who acknowledges that Jesus the Messiah[b] has become human—and remains so—is from God. But every spirit who does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist. You have heard that he is coming, and now he is already in the world. Little children, you belong to God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. These people belong to the world. That is why they speak from the world’s perspective,[c] and the world listens to them. We belong to God. The person who knows God listens to us. Whoever does not belong to God does not listen to us. This is how we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of deceit.

God’s Love Lives in Us

Dear friends, let us continuously love one another, because love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born from God and knows God. The person who does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God’s love was revealed among us: God sent his uniquely existing Son into the world so that we might live through him. 10 This is love: not that we have loved[d] God, but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11 Dear friends, if this is the way God loved us, we must also love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God. If we love one another, God lives in us, and his love is perfected in us. 13 This is how we know that we abide in him and he in us: he has given us his Spirit.

14 We have seen for ourselves and can testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 God abides in the one who acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, and he abides in God. 16 We have come to know and rely on[e] the love that God has for us. God is love, and the person who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. 17 This is how love has been perfected among us: we will have confidence on the day of judgment because, during our time in this world, we are just like him. 18 There is no fear where love exists.[f] Rather, perfect love banishes fear, for fear involves punishment, and the person who lives in fear has not been perfected in love.

19 We love[g] because God[h] first loved us. 20 Whoever says, “I love God,” but hates his brother is a liar. The one who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love the God whom he has not seen. 21 And this is the commandment that we have from him: the person who loves God must also love his brother.


  1. 1 John 4:1 Or do not believe
  2. 1 John 4:2 Or Christ
  3. 1 John 4:5 Lit. from the world
  4. 1 John 4:10 Other mss. read we loved
  5. 1 John 4:16 Lit. believe in
  6. 1 John 4:18 Lit. in love
  7. 1 John 4:19 Other mss. read love him; still other mss. read love God
  8. 1 John 4:19 Lit. he