1 John 4

Talks for Growing Christians

Detecting False Teachers and Characteristics of Christian Fellowship

1 John 4

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Lesson Number 8

Background Notes

Doctrinal Point(s)

  1. Love is the obvious trait of Christian fellowship. a. The evidence of spiritual life is love. b. The evidence of spiritual maturity is love.

Practical Application

  1. Remember the illustration of the spokes on a wheel.


  1. What was John’s purpose in writing this epistle?
  2. Where is the test for false teachers given in this passage?
  3. What is the bottom line test for detecting false teachers and false prophets?
  4. Are there religious groups today that fail this test?
  5. How are believers encouraged in 1 John 4:4?


  1. To give true believers assurance of their salvation and to warn them of the false teaching and to inform them how to detect false teachers.
  2. The test for false teachers is given in 1 John 4:2-3.
  3. Do they confess Jesus is Lord because He is God incarnate? Do they believe that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh? Do they believe that he is fully God and fully man?
  4. Yes, when they deny the truth of the incarnation and when they deny that Jesus is still 100% God whle being 100% man. They may call themselves Christians and they say that they accept the bible as God’s word, and they say that they follow the teachings of Christ, but they are false teachers because they fail this bottom line test of 1 John 4:2-3. As such, they are really antichrists.
  5. Believers are encouraged to know that they have the Holy Spirit in them. And He is greater than Satan who is in the world.


  1. The non-Christian world said of the first century Christians, “My, how they love one another.” Love for fellow believers is a test of Christian fellowship, and love is an important family characteristic. The obvious trait of Christian fellowship is love. Love is the mark of the Christian. How do you see this love worked out in your life and in the lives of your circle of believers?
  2. The word for love, as used in 1 John is “agape.” Agape love is not an “if” type of love (I love you if you do this for me), and it’s not a “because” type of love (I love you because you love me). No. It’s an “in spite of” type of love (I love you in spite of what you are, and in spite of what you have done to me). That’s the kind of love God has shown to us when He gave His only begotten Son for us and when He sent His Son to the cross to become the propitiation for our sin. If God so loved us, we ought also to love one another. The evidence of spiritual life is love. Do you evidence agape love?
  3. Read 1 John 4:12-18. The word “perfected” comes from the Greek word, “telios,” which means come to maturity. The point of this passage is that believers who have divine life and are indwelt of the Holy Spirit, as they walk with the Lord and abide in His love, that love will be manifested in their lives. The evidence of God can and will be seen in the mature believer’s life (1 John 4:12). Is this true of your life? How spiritually mature are you as a believer?


  1. Read 1 John 4:19-21. As spokes get nearer to the center of a wheel, they get closer to one another. Since God is love, that love should characterize us. As he is, so are we in this world (1 John 4:17). Are you exhibiting love for your fellow believers? If we truly love God, who is the hub of the wheel, then we as spokes will truly love one another, because as spokes get closer to the center of the wheel, they get closer to one another. How is it with you? Remember the illustration of the spokes on a wheel.

Key Verses

  • “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” 1 John 4:1
  • By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God.” 1 John 4:2-3
  • You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, , because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” 1 John 4:4
  • 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. 1 John 4:6
  • Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves if born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.” 1 John 4:7-8
  • In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” 1 John 4:9-11
  • No one has seen God at any time. If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love has been perfected in us. By this we know that we abide in Him, and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit.” 1 John 4:13
  • Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God.” 1 John 4:16
  • Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world.” 1 John 4:17
  • We love Him because He first loved us.” 1 John 4:18

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