And so John paraphrases the longer statement that one must acknowledge that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh (4:2) with the simpler formula that one must acknowledge Jesus (v. 3). Such a restatement makes it clear that what John ultimately seeks is faith in a person, the Incarnate Christ, and not faith in a doctrine, even the doctrine of the Incarnation (Smalley 1984:223). "Acknowledg ment" (NIV) or "confession" (RSV) of Jesus means allegiance to him. It is personal, for it is a person's commitment to Jesus Christ. In this light, the prophets who apparently deny that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh manifest the spirit of the antichrist, because they deny Jesus. They have left the fellowship he calls together; they have ignored his atoning death; they failed to preserve the Johannine teaching about him; and they have violated his commandments. In short, they have failed to align them selves with him. In John's dualistically oriented world view, such a failure can be stated in its harshest terms as the opposition of the end time, expected in the antichrist (v. 3; 2:18-19). The defectors have the spirit of antichrist, a spirit opposed to the Spirit of God because it ranges itself against the Son of God, Jesus Christ, and what he calls people to be and do (3:23).
IVP New Testament Commentaries are made available by the generosity of InterVarsity Press.
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