4:5 They are from the world; therefore they speak from the world’s perspective and the world listens to them. 4:6 We are from God; the person who knows God listens to us, but 1 whoever is not from God does not listen to us. By this 2 we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of deceit. 3
1 tn “But” supplied here to bring out the context. The conjunction is omitted in the Greek text (asyndeton).
2 tn The phrase ἐκ τούτου (ek toutou) in 4:6, which bears obvious similarity to the much more common phrase ἐν τούτῳ (en toutw), must refer to what precedes, since there is nothing in the following context for it to relate to, and 4:1-6 is recognized by almost everyone as a discrete unit. There is still a question, however, of what in the preceding context the phrase refers to. Interpreters have suggested a reference (1) only to 4:6; (2) to 4:4-6; or (3) to all of 4:1-6. The last is most likely, because the present phrase forms an inclusion with the phrase ἐν τούτῳ in 3:24 which introduces the present section. Thus “by this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of deceit” refers to all of 4:1-6 with its “test” of the spirits by the christological confession made by their adherents in 4:1-3 and with its emphasis on the authoritative (apostolic) eyewitness testimony to the significance of Jesus’ earthly life and ministry in 4:4-6.
3 sn Who or what is the Spirit of truth and the spirit of deceit in 1 John 4:6? (1) Some interpreters regard the “spirits” in 4:6 as human spirits. Although 4:1a is ambiguous and might refer either to human spirits or spiritual beings who influence people, it is clear in the context that (2) the author sees behind the secessionist opponents with their false Christology the spirit of the Antichrist, that is, Satan (4:3b), and behind the true believers of the community to which he is writing, the Spirit of God (4:2). This is made clear in 4:4 by the reference to the respective spirits as the One who is in you and the one who is in the world.