He Who Confesses and He Who Does Not Confess: John’s Confession of Faith
by Tom Nettles
The substantial theological differences that began to emerge in the days of the apostles caused them to develop short, pithy confessional statements that summarized vital elements of the apostolic teaching. These served as a dividing point between teachers of truth and teachers of error. The apostle John found some teachers infiltrating the church who taught that Jesus was only a spirit who appeared to be in a true body. Others taught that Jesus was only a man who served for a short while as a vehicle for the presence and teaching of a divine spirit who left him just before he died.
In order to expose the teachers of both these errors, John set forth a simple but highly evocative confessional statement: “Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God: And every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God.” (1 John 4:2, 3). The negative part of the confession borrows the context from the first part—that is, one is not from God who will not confess that the man named Jesus is the Christ who has come in the flesh.
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