First John: 1 John 4:2b-Acknowledging By Faith Jesus is the Christ Lesson # 146
1 John 4:1 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. 2 By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God. (ESV)
“Every spirit” is composed of the following: (1) nominative neuter singular form of the adjective pas (πᾶς), “every” (2) nominative neuter singular form of the noun pneuma (πνεῦμα), “spirit.”
The nominative neuter singular form of the noun pneuma means “spirit” in the sense of an outlook or viewpoint expressed through instruction by a teacher which influences people.
This word refers to teaching propagated by a teacher, which expresses a particular viewpoint.
The noun pneuma is modified by the adjective pas, which means “every, each and every” since the word pertains to totality and is used in a distributive sense emphasizing no exceptions.
The verb homologeō means “to acknowledge” since the word pertains to the acknowledgement that a particular thing is true or is fact.
Here it speaks specifically of a person acknowledging that Jesus Christ is the incarnate Son of God or in other words, that He is the God-man in the sense of accepting by faith this Spirit inspired apostolic doctrine.
The present tense of the verb homologeō is a gnomic present which is used in a generic statement to describe something that is true “any time.”
Therefore, the gnomic present expresses the absolute spiritual principle that any spirit that does at any time acknowledge that Jesus Christ is God in human flesh does originate from God the Holy Spirit.
The proper name Iēsous is the Greek spelling of the Hebrew word Jehoshua, “Jehovah saves,” and refers to the human nature of the incarnate Son of God, Jesus of Nazareth.
The proper name Iēsous functions as the object in an object-complement double accusative construction and is therefore receiving the action of the verb homologeō which means that it is receiving the action of the third person singular present active indicative form of the verb homologeō.
This would indicate that Jesus of Nazareth who is the Christ receives the action of being acknowledged by any teacher through his doctrine that He is the Son of God incarnate.
The noun Christos is functioning as the complement in this double accusative construction which means that it complements the accusative direct object, which we noted is the proper name Iēsous in the sense that it predicates something about the direct object.
1 John 4:2 By means of this, any one of you can at any time confirm the Spirit’s teaching who is the one and only God: Any spirit which does acknowledge Jesus as the Christ appearing in a human body does possess the characteristic which originates from this the one and only God who is the Spirit. (Author’s translation)
In 1 John 4:2, the third person singular present active indicative form of the verb homologeō, “does acknowledge Jesus as the Christ” does not mean that these teachers must acknowledge the existence of Jesus Christ.
On the contrary, it speaks of having exercised faith in the Spirit inspired gospel and apostolic teaching that Jesus of Nazareth who is the Christ is the incarnate Son of God.
In other words, it is an expression of faith that Jesus Christ is the incarnate Son of God and thus one’s personal Savior.
This phrase speaks of a person exercising faith in the Spirit’s testimony through the gospel and the apostles’ teaching that Jesus Christ is in the incarnate Son of God.
Faith in the doctrine of the hypostatic union of Jesus Christ is a mark of a child of God since it demonstrates they have thus been declared justified by the Father.
Now, many expositors believe the confession mentioned in 1 John 2:23 and the one here in 1 John 4:2 is a public confession echoing the Lord’s teaching in Matthew 10:32 and Luke 12:8 and Paul’s teaching in Romans 10:9-10.
It would appear that 1 John 2:22 could be used as support for this interpretation since John quotes these antichrists as saying that “Jesus is unequivocally not the Christ.”
However, these antichrists were proto-Gnostic teachers.
Thus, this declaration is a part of the content of their teaching which the recipients of this epistle were being exposed to and John was attempting to protect them from by the contents of First John.
Thus, John is not teaching a public confession of faith in Jesus in 1 John 2:23 since nowhere in the context of 1 John 2:23 is this public confession of the Son implied, inferred or made explicit.
Rather, John is actually speaking of what takes place in the soul of the person who accepts by faith the Spirit inspired teaching of the apostles that Jesus is the Christ.
Now, in 1 John 4:2, he is speaking of a teacher publicly acknowledging through his teaching that the hypostatic union of Jesus Christ is an historical fact and thus truth.
However, he is not speaking of a public affirmation to be saved.
The context does not support such an interpretation for the same reasons it doesn’t support such an interpretation for the affirmation mentioned in 1 John 2:23.
In fact, there are many people throughout history who trusted in Jesus Christ as the Savior and did so in private and not in a public fashion.
The acknowledgement therefore is directed toward the Holy Spirit who communicates through the communication of the gospel that Jesus is the Christ (cf. John 16:5-11).
In Romans 10:9, the apostle Paul teaches that if the Jew acknowledges with his mouth to the Father that Jesus is Lord, which is equivalent to believing in his heart that the Father raised him from the dead, then the Jew will receive eternal salvation.
This passage teaches that to acknowledge with one’s mouth to the Father that Jesus is Lord, i.e. God is the same as believing in one’s heart that the Father raised Jesus from the dead since the resurrection demonstrated the deity of Christ and faith alone in Christ alone is the only way to receive eternal life.
A person can only be saved if he or she acknowledges the deity of Christ and to do so one must believe in the resurrection since Romans 1:4 teaches that the resurrection demonstrates the deity of Christ.
Notice in 1 John 4:2, in order for the recipients of First John to confirm if any teacher’s doctrine originate with God, the latter must acknowledge “Jesus as the Christ,” and which translation reflects a double accusative construction as we noted.
This double accusative construction indicates that in order for the recipients of First John to confirm if any teacher’s doctrine does originate with the Holy Spirit, they must acknowledge Jesus as the Christ appearing in a human body.
This interpretation of the accusative form of the proper name Iēsous and the noun Christos is supported by John’s statement in 1 John 2:22-23 which echoes his statement here in 1 John 4:2.
1 John 2:22 Who is the worst type of liar? It is none other than the person who at any time does say, “Jesus is unequivocally not the Christ.” This person is the antichrist: the person who unequivocally rejects the Father as well as His Son. 23 Anyone who does at any time reject the Son, unequivocally does not possess a relationship with the Father. The person who does at any time acknowledge the Son, does possess a relationship with the Father also. (Author’s translation)
The noun Christos, “Christ” in 1 John 4:2 emphasizes that Jesus of Nazareth, the incarnate Son of God delivered the believer from the sin nature, personal sins, the devil and his cosmic system, spiritual and physical death and eternal condemnation through His substitutionary spiritual and physical deaths and resurrection.
Thus, this word is a technical word designating Jesus of Nazareth as the promised Savior for all of sinful humanity who is unique as the incarnate Son of God and totally and completely guided and empowered by the Spirit as the Servant of the Father.
Consequently, the word denotes the Messiahship of Jesus of Nazareth, thus He is the deliverer of the human race in three areas through His death, resurrection, ascension and session: (1) Satan (2) Cosmic System (3) Old Sin Nature.
The word Christos also signifies the uniqueness of Jesus of Nazareth who is the God-Man and signifies His three-fold office: (1) Prophet (2) Priest (3) King.
The Lord’s Messiahship has a four-fold significance: (1) Separation unto God. (2) Authorization from God. (3) Divine enablement. (4) The coming Deliverer.
Christos signifies that Jesus of Nazareth served God the Father exclusively and this was manifested by His execution of the Father’s salvation plan which was accomplished by His voluntary substitutionary spiritual and physical deaths the cross.
The word signifies that Jesus of Nazareth has been given authority by God the Father to forgive sins, give eternal life, and authority over all creation and every creature as a result of His execution of the Father’s salvation plan.
It signifies that Jesus of Nazareth was perpetually guided and empowered by God the Holy Spirit during His 1st Advent.
Lastly, Christos signifies that Jesus of Nazareth is the promised deliverer of the human race from the bondage of Satan, his cosmic system and the old Adamic sin nature.