What does 1 John 4:6 mean?
ESV: We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us; whoever is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error.
NIV: We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we recognize the Spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood.
NASB: We are from God. The one who knows God listens to us; the one who is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error.
CSB: We are from God. Anyone who knows God listens to us; anyone who is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of deception.
NLT: But we belong to God, and those who know God listen to us. If they do not belong to God, they do not listen to us. That is how we know if someone has the Spirit of truth or the spirit of deception.
KJV: We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error.
NKJV: We are of God. He who knows God hears us; he who is not of God does not hear us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error.
Verse Commentary:
John concludes this passage with another group of three comments. First, he notes, "We are from God." Believers are not of this world (1 John 4:5) and should be distinctly different.

Second, a sign of real fellowship with God is openness to sound teachings. Believers who are truly walking with Christ will listen to godly teachers. John considered himself one of these godly teachers. He offered words of instruction, and certainly expected his readers to accept and obey. Of course, if it was not possible for a saved person to be deceived, John would have no reason to give his warning. True believers are not immune to deception, but those who truly walk with Christ have a better sense of good versus bad teachings.

Third, John states that unbelievers will naturally reject the message of God's people.

The conclusion is that these basics let us judge between truth and error, spiritually speaking. Believers cannot believe every spiritual teaching (1 John 4:1). They are to accept teachings from God and His people, while rejecting worldly teachings presented by false teachers. Believers have overcome the false teachings in this world because the one in them is greater than the one in this world (1 John 4:4).
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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