1 John 4:1 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

1 John 4:1, NIV: Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.

1 John 4:1, ESV: Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.

1 John 4:1, KJV: Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.

1 John 4:1, NASB: Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.

1 John 4:1, NLT: Dear friends, do not believe everyone who claims to speak by the Spirit. You must test them to see if the spirit they have comes from God. For there are many false prophets in the world.

1 John 4:1, CSB: Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see if they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.

What does 1 John 4:1 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

Chapter 4 includes two major sections. The first briefly instructs believers to examine spiritual claims, since not every teacher is loyal to the truth. Verse 1 explains what we are to do: test. It also explains why: the presence of false teachers. Verses 2 through 6 address how we are to test, in order to determine whether the spirits are from God. The use of the term "spirit," in this case, is not a reference to ghosts, demons, or other creatures. Rather, this is a reference to the attitude and approach of a particular teacher. In reality, truth only comes from the Holy Spirit, everything else comes from evil. There is no such thing as a "friendly ghost," as pop culture often suggests.

The reason for John's warning is given next. Believers will face false prophets, because there are quite a few in the world. If this was a problem when John wrote his letter many centuries ago, it's even more of an issue today. Therefore, it is important to have a way to test which teachers and leaders are from God. Verses 2 through 6 give details related to the difference between true and false teachers.