What does 1 John 4:3 mean?
ESV: and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already.
NIV: but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world.
NASB: and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; this is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming, and now it is already in the world.
CSB: but every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming; even now it is already in the world.
NLT: But if someone claims to be a prophet and does not acknowledge the truth about Jesus, that person is not from God. Such a person has the spirit of the Antichrist, which you heard is coming into the world and indeed is already here.
KJV: And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.
NKJV: and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world.
Verse Commentary:
A second test John gives is related to confessing Christ as Lord. If a person confesses Jesus as Lord, he or she has publicly professed becoming a Christian (Romans 10:9). If a person refuses to confess Jesus is the Christ, that person cannot be a true believer. This also reflects back to verse 2 and the necessity to "confess" that Jesus has come in the flesh.

John has harsh words for false teachers who do not confess Christ in these ways. He refers to this spirit as that of "antichrist." This is different from the world ruler described in the end times. John specifically notes that this is a spirit—and attitude—which was already working in the world of his readers.

The spirit of antichrist is a false teaching. This teaching promotes a phony godliness which exists apart from the biblical Jesus (2 Timothy 3:5). John also mentioned the antichrist previously in 1 John 2:18 and 1 John 2:22. In 2 John 1:7, he also writes, "For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not confess the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh. Such a one is the deceiver and the antichrist." Those who reject the humanity of Jesus are considered against Christ or antichrist.
Verse Context:
First John 4:1–6 warns Christians not to blindly accept all spiritual claims. There are many false teachers in the world. It's important to carefully consider both the source and the content of a teaching before we accept it. John gives several tests, though his comments are not meant to cover all possible concerns. Those who deny Christ, His humanity, or who reject the basics of the gospel, cannot be trusted.
Chapter Summary:
Chapter 4 warns Christians not to accept every claim they hear. Instead, believers are to compare what they hear to the basic truths of the gospel. John then returns to the theme of love, explaining how believers ought to live out the presence of God's love in their lives. In addition, living according to God's love takes away our fear of judgment. In no uncertain terms, those who claim to love God, but hate others, are liars.
Chapter Context:
First John chapter 4 emphasizes the way God's love removes the natural human fear of rejection. Fear is a punishment of its own, and those who do not believe have reason to fear judgment. Believers, on the other hand, have confidence. Not only has Christ forgiven our sins, but He gives us God's love. Following in this love leads to acceptance, which leads to confidence, driving out fear. This passage is the key section of John's letter, explaining how confidence in the life of a believer ought to be accomplished.
Book Summary:
First John seems to assume that the reader is familiar with the gospel. Rather than re-state these facts, John is concerned with building confidence in Christian believers. At the same time, his words encourage believers to examine their own lives for signs of their relationship with Christ. This letter also challenges false teachers and their incorrect claims about Jesus. Many themes are shared with the Gospel of John.
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