1 Jn 2:7-5:21
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- 1 Jn 3:24. In verse 3:24, the Greek verb meno is used twice, translated the first time as "dwelleth" and the second time as "abideth." Meanings of the verb include to dwell, to abide, to remain, to wait, to reside and to continue to be. By translating the same verb two different ways, this translation to a slight extent obscures the mutuality of the relationship between God and those who keep his commandments. For the one who keeps the commandments, God dwells in him and he dwells in God.
- 1 Jn 4:1-3: Spirit. The references to spirit in these verses is a translation of the Greek word πνεῦμα (pneuma). Pneuma is the standard word used for spirit throughout the New Testament. As such its meaning is similar to how we use the word spirit in English and therefore doesn't shed much additional light on the odd use of spirit in these verses. See commentary for suggestions on how to interpret spirit in these verses.
- We could substitute "teacher," "prophet" or "doctrine" for spirit in verse 1 as any of these would give us a good understanding of the point John is making--don't trust what someone says just because they claim divine inspiration. But this leads to the question why spirit is used in verse one instead of one of these other words. Maybe the answer is that John calls these teachers spirits as a way of emphasizing their most important feature for his discussion--that they claim to teach by the spirit. Following the same reasoning, one could interpret "Spirit of God" in verse 2 as meaning actually "a teacher inspired by the true Spirit of God." Some have interpreted it this way, but more commonly spirit of God here is interpreted as actually referring to the Spirit of God. (See related links below for examples of each interpretation.) Given that the point of the verse ends up being the same under either interpretation, it doesn't seem to much matter. Maybe, in fact, John purposely is ambiguous at times as to whether spirit means the individual inspired by the spirit (either of God or of antichrist) or the actual spirit of God or of antichrist in order to make his point without having to fuss over the distinction between the two since it doesn't much matter to his point.
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Prompts for further study
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- 1 Jn 5:2. Are we caught off guard by what was the antecedent and what was the subsequent action in this verse? Isn't the inverse more of the thinking that we are used to? As in: "By this we know that we love God, when we love the children of God, and keep his commandments."
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- 1 Jn 4:1-5. The Commentaries on the Catholic Epistles by John Calvin (1509-1564) explain these verses in detail.
- 1 Jn 4:1-5. John Gill's Exposition of the Bible also gives a very detailed explanation of these verses. John Gill (1690-1771).
- 1 Jn 4:1-5. See Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible Robert Jamieson (1802-1880) and Wesley's Notes on the Bible John Wesley (1703-1791) for shorter explanations of these verses.
Footnotes are not required but are encouraged for factual assertions that average readers cannot easily evaluate for themselves (such as the date of King Solomon’s death or the nuanced definition of a Greek word). In contrast, insights rarely benefit from footnoting, and the focus of this page should always remain on the scriptures themselves rather than what someone has said about them. Links are actively encouraged on all sections of this page, and links to authoritative sources (such as Strong's Bible Concordance or the Joseph Smith Papers) are preferable to footnotes.