1 Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and surrounded it with his army. This happened during the third year that Jehoiakim[a] was king of Judah. 2 The Lord allowed Nebuchadnezzar to defeat Jehoiakim king of Judah. Nebuchadnezzar took all the dishes and other things from God’s Temple and carried them to Babylon.[b] He put those things in the temple of his gods.
3 Then King Nebuchadnezzar ordered Ashpenaz, the man in charge of his officials, to bring some of the boys into the palace to train them. He was to include boys from among the Israelites,[c] from important Judean families, and from the royal family of Judah. 4 King Nebuchadnezzar wanted only healthy boys who did not have any bruises, scars, or anything wrong with their bodies. He wanted handsome, smart young men who were able to learn things quickly and easily to serve in his palace. He told Ashpenaz to teach these young men the language and writings of the Chaldeans.
5 King Nebuchadnezzar gave the young men a certain amount of food and wine every day. This was the same kind of food that he ate. He wanted them to be trained for three years. After that they would become servants of the king of Babylon. 6 Among those young men were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah from the tribe of Judah. 7 Ashpenaz gave them Babylonian names. Daniel’s new name was Belteshazzar, Hananiah’s was Shadrach, Mishael’s was Meshach, and Azariah’s was Abednego.
8 Daniel did not want to eat the king’s rich food and wine because it would make him unclean. So he asked Ashpenaz for permission not to make himself unclean in this way.
9 God caused Ashpenaz, the man in charge of the officials, to be kind and loyal to Daniel. 10 But Ashpenaz told Daniel, “I am afraid of my master, the king. He ordered me to give you this food and drink. If you don’t eat this food, you will begin to look weak and sick. You will look worse than other young men your age. The king will see this, and he will become angry with me. He might cut off my head. And it would be your fault.”
11 Then Daniel talked to the guard who had been put in charge of Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah by Ashpenaz. 12 He said, “Please give us this test for ten days: Don’t give us anything but vegetables to eat and water to drink. 13 Then after ten days, compare us with the other young men who eat the king’s food. See for yourself who looks healthier, and then decide how you want to treat us, your servants.”
14 So the guard agreed to test Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah for ten days. 15 After ten days, Daniel and his friends looked healthier than all the young men who ate the king’s food. 16 So the guard continued to take away the king’s special food and wine and to give only vegetables to Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah.
17 God gave these four young men the wisdom and ability to learn many different kinds of writing and science. Daniel could also understand all kinds of visions and dreams.
18 At the end of the three years of training, Ashpenaz brought all the young men to King Nebuchadnezzar. 19 The king talked to them and found that none of the young men were as good as Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. So these four young men became the king’s servants. 20 Every time the king asked them about something important, they showed great wisdom and understanding. The king found they were ten times better than all the magicians and wise men in his kingdom. 21 So Daniel served the king until the first year that Cyrus[d] was king.
2 During Nebuchadnezzar’s second year as king, he had dreams. They bothered him, and he could not sleep. 2 So the king called his wise men to come to him. They used magic and watched the stars. They did this to try to interpret dreams and to learn what would happen in the future. The king wanted them to tell him what he had dreamed, so they came in and stood in front of him.
3 Then the king said to them, “I had a dream that bothers me. I want to know what it means.”
4 Then the Chaldeans answered the king. They spoke Aramaic[e] and said, “King, live forever! Please tell your dream to us, your servants, and then we will tell you what it means.”
5 Then King Nebuchadnezzar said to them, “No, you must tell me the dream, and then you must tell me what it means. If you don’t, I will give an order for you to be cut into pieces. And I will order your houses to be destroyed until they are nothing but piles of dust and ashes. 6 But if you tell me my dream and explain its meaning, I will give you gifts, rewards, and great honor. So tell me about my dream and what it means.”
7 Again the wise men said to the king, “Please, Sir, tell us about the dream, and we will tell you what it means.”
8 Then King Nebuchadnezzar answered, “I know that you are trying to get more time. You know that I meant what I said. 9 You know that you will be punished if you don’t tell me about my dream. So you have all agreed to lie to me. You are hoping for more time so that I will forget what I want you to do. Now tell me the dream. If you can tell me the dream, I will know that you can tell me what it really means.”
10 The Chaldeans answered the king. They said, “There is not a man on earth who can do what the king is asking! No king has ever asked the wise men, the men who do magic, or the Chaldeans to do something like this. Not even the greatest and most powerful king has ever asked his wise men to do such a thing. 11 The king is asking something that is too hard to do. Only the gods could tell the king his dream and what it means. But the gods don’t live with people.”
12 When the king heard that, he became very angry. So he gave an order for all the wise men of Babylon to be killed. 13 King Nebuchadnezzar’s order to kill all the wise men was announced. The king’s men were sent to look for Daniel and his friends to kill them.
14 Arioch was the commander of the king’s guards. He was going to kill the wise men of Babylon, but Daniel talked to him. Daniel spoke politely to Arioch 15 and said, “Why did the king order such a severe punishment?”
Then Arioch explained the whole story about the king’s dreams, and Daniel understood. 16 When Daniel heard the story, he went to King Nebuchadnezzar. Daniel asked the king to give him some more time. Then he would tell the king what the dream meant.
17 So Daniel went to his house. He explained the whole story to his friends Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. 18 Daniel asked his friends to pray to the God of heaven that God would be kind to them and help them understand this secret. Then Daniel and his friends would not be killed with the other wise men of Babylon.
19 During the night, God explained the secret to Daniel in a vision. Then Daniel praised the God of heaven. 20 He said,
“Praise God’s name forever and ever!
Power and wisdom belong to him.
21 He changes the times and seasons.
He gives power to kings,
and he takes their power away.
He gives wisdom to people, so they become wise.
He lets people learn things and become wise.
22 He knows hidden secrets that are hard to understand.
Light lives with him,
so he knows what is in the dark and secret places.
23 God of my ancestors, I thank you and praise you.
You gave me wisdom and power.
You told us what we asked for.
You told us about the king’s dream.”
24 Then Daniel went to Arioch, the man who King Nebuchadnezzar had chosen to kill the wise men of Babylon. Daniel said to Arioch, “Don’t kill the wise men of Babylon. Take me to the king. I will tell him what his dream means.”
25 So very quickly, Arioch took Daniel to the king. Arioch said to the king, “I have found a man among the captives[f] from Judah who can tell the king what his dream means.”
26 The king asked Daniel (Belteshazzar) a question. He said, “Are you able to tell me about my dream, and what it means?”
27 Daniel answered, “King Nebuchadnezzar, no wise man, no man who does magic, and no Chaldean could tell the king the secret things he has asked about. 28 But there is a God in heaven who tells secret things. God has given King Nebuchadnezzar dreams to show him what will happen later. This was your dream, and this is what you saw while lying on your bed: 29 King, as you were lying there on your bed, you began thinking about what might happen in the future. God can tell people about secret things—he has shown you what will happen in the future. 30 God also told this secret to me, not because I have greater wisdom than other men, but so that you, king, may know what it means. In that way you will understand what went through your mind.
31 “King, in your dream you saw a large statue in front of you that was very large and shiny. It was very impressive. 32 The head of the statue was made from pure gold. Its chest and the arms were made from silver. The belly and upper part of the legs were made from bronze. 33 The lower part of the legs was made from iron. Its feet were made partly of iron and partly of clay. 34 While you were looking at the statue, you saw a rock that was cut loose, but not by human hands. Then the rock hit the statue on its feet of iron and clay and smashed them. 35 Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver, and the gold broke to pieces all at the same time. And all the pieces became like chaff on a threshing floor in the summertime. The wind blew them away, and there was nothing left. No one could tell that a statue had ever been there. Then the rock that hit the statue became a very large mountain and filled up the whole earth.
36 “That was your dream. Now we will tell the king what it means. 37 King, you are the most important king. The God of heaven has given you a kingdom, power, strength, and glory. 38 He has given you control, and you rule over people and the wild animals and the birds. Wherever they live, God has made you ruler over them all. King Nebuchadnezzar, you are that head of gold on the statue.
39 “Another kingdom will come after you, but it will not be as great as your kingdom. Next, a third kingdom will rule over the earth—that is the bronze part. 40 Then there will be a fourth kingdom. That kingdom will be strong like iron. Just as iron breaks things and smashes them to pieces, that fourth kingdom will break all the other kingdoms and smash them to pieces.
41 “You saw that the feet and toes of the statue were partly clay and partly iron. That means the fourth kingdom will be a divided kingdom. It will have some of the strength of iron in it just as you saw the iron mixed with clay. 42 The toes of the statue were partly iron and partly clay. So the fourth kingdom will be partly strong like iron and partly weak like clay. 43 You saw the iron mixed with clay, but iron and clay don’t completely mix together. In the same way the people of the fourth kingdom will be a mixture. They will not be united as one people.
44 “During the time of the kings of the fourth kingdom, the God of heaven will set up another kingdom that will continue forever. It will never be destroyed. And it will be the kind of kingdom that cannot be passed on to another group of people. This kingdom will crush all the other kingdoms. It will bring them to an end, but that kingdom itself will continue forever.
45 “King Nebuchadnezzar, you saw a rock cut from a mountain, but no one cut that rock. The rock broke the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver, and the gold to pieces. In this way God showed you what will happen in the future. The dream is true, and you can trust that this is what it means.”
46 Then King Nebuchadnezzar bowed down in front of Daniel to honor him. The king praised him. He gave an order that an offering and incense be given to honor Daniel. 47 Then the king said to Daniel, “I know for sure your God is the God over all gods and the Lord over all kings. He tells people about things they cannot know. I know this is true because you were able to tell these secret things to me.”
48 Then the king gave Daniel a very important job in his kingdom and gave him many expensive gifts. Nebuchadnezzar made Daniel ruler over the whole province of Babylon and put him in charge of all the wise men of Babylon. 49 Daniel asked the king to make Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego important officials over the province of Babylon. The king did as Daniel asked. Daniel himself became one of the important officials who was always near the king.
4 My dear friends, many false prophets are in the world now. So don’t believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see if they are from God. 2 This is how you can recognize God’s Spirit. One spirit says, “I believe that Jesus is the Messiah who came to earth and became a man.” That Spirit is from God. 3 Another spirit refuses to say this about Jesus. That spirit is not from God. This is the spirit of the enemy of Christ. You have heard that the enemy of Christ is coming, and now he is already in the world.
4 My dear children, you belong to God, so you have already defeated these false prophets. That’s because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. 5 And they belong to the world, so what they say is from the world too. And the world listens to what they say. 6 But we are from God. So the people who know God listen to us. But the people who are not from God don’t listen to us. This is how we know the Spirit that is true and the spirit that is false.
7 Dear friends, we should love each other, because love comes from God. Everyone who loves has become God’s child. And so everyone who loves knows God. 8 Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 This is how God showed his love to us: He sent his only Son into the world to give us life through him. 10 True love is God’s love for us, not our love for God. He sent his Son as the way to take away our sins.
11 That is how much God loved us, dear friends! So we also must love each other. 12 No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us. If we love each other, God’s love has reached its goal—it is made perfect in us.
13 We know that we live in God and God lives in us. We know this because he gave us his Spirit. 14 We have seen that the Father sent his Son to be the Savior of the world, and this is what we tell people now. 15 Anyone who says, “I believe that Jesus is the Son of God,” is a person who lives in God, and God lives in that person. 16 So we know the love that God has for us, and we trust that love.
God is love. Everyone who lives in love lives in God, and God lives in them. 17 If God’s love is made perfect in us, we can be without fear on the day when God judges the world. We will be without fear, because in this world we are like Jesus.[a] 18 Where God’s love is, there is no fear, because God’s perfect love takes away fear. It is his punishment that makes a person fear. So his love is not made perfect in the one who has fear.
19 We love because God first loved us. 20 If we say we love God but hate any of our brothers or sisters in his family, we are liars. If we don’t love someone we have seen, how can we love God? We have never even seen him. 21 God gave us this command: If we love God, we must also love each other as brothers and sisters.