The passage seems to contrast a man in the secular order with a man inside the Christian community:

KJV 1Jn 4:3 And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world. 1Jn 4:4 Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.

We know that Christ "dwells in our hearts by our faith" but how did the man [of sin] live in the people of the world?

Or, is it collective? Christ is where ever 2 or more are gathered in his name. Is John saying, "greater is he that is among you than he that is among the lost folks?"

4 Answers 4


Earlier in the fourth gospel, the Lord Jesus Christ remarked concerning his apostles (i.e., Christians), “They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.”1 As the Lord Jesus Christ is not of the world, then those who are in him—“in Christ”—are also not of the world. Therefore, ὁ κόσμος (“the world”) refers to all that which is not in the body of Christ (the Church).2 In the body of Christ dwells the Holy Spirit, and thus the Father and the Son,3 but outside the Church, in the world, dwells the spirit of antichrist:4

3 And every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God; and this is the [spirit] of the antichrist, which you heard that it comes, and it is now already in the world.

Γʹ καὶ πᾶν πνεῦμα ὃ μὴ ὁμολογεῖ τὸν Ἰησοῦν Χριστὸν ἐν σαρκὶ ἐληλυθότα, ἐκ τοῦ Θεοῦ οὐκ ἔστιν καὶ τοῦτό ἐστιν τὸ [πνεῦμα] τοῦ ἀντιχρίστου, ὃ ἀκηκόατε ὅτι ἔρχεται, καὶ νῦν ἐν τῷ κόσμῳ ἐστὶν ἤδη TR, 1550

[] denotes a word supplied according to an ellipsis


1 John 17:14, 17:16
2 The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of the Son (Gal. 4:6) and the Father (Matt. 10:20 cp. Mark 13:11); therefore, all three persons dwell in the Christian by means of the Holy Spirit. cp. John 14:23; 1 John 2:24; 2 John 1:9
3 1 John 2:16–17
4 1 John 4:3

  • (+1) You are correct that there is an ellipsis and the most likely candidate is the "spirit/breath of" the antichrist rather than the antichrist himself. Now, to what does the phrase "breath/spirit of antichrist" refer? Are we to understand this "breath/spirit of the world" aka "the breath/spirt of error" to be demons? Or simply "satanically inspired error"? Paul refers to such here: Eph_2:2 Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air [no comma, of] the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience
    – user10231
    Dec 4, 2016 at 22:18
  • I'm not sure you answered the question, though.
    – user10231
    Dec 4, 2016 at 22:19
  • The antichrist is a "spirit" while the "antichrists" were those who were formerly among those who were preparing for the kingdom who now spake by that spirit: [1Jo 2:18-19 KJV] 18 Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time. 19 They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would [no doubt] have continued with us: but [they went out], that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.
    – Ruminator
    Nov 14, 2018 at 14:15

It would seem according to John 3:16 the "Cosmos" is unredeemed but redeemable humankind:-

NWT John 3:16 "“For God loved the world (Gk. "Cosmon") so much that he gave his only-begotten Son, so that everyone exercising faith in him might not be destroyed but have everlasting life.

The Gospel in one sentence.

  • Is there any evidence that John saw the messiah reaching beyond Israel? He said he was not sent but to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
    – Ruminator
    Nov 13, 2018 at 23:43
  • @ Ruminator Luke 24:46, 47 “This is what is written: that the Christ would suffer and rise from among the dead on the third day, 47 and on the basis of his name, repentance for forgiveness of sins would be preached in all the nations—starting out from Jerusalem.
    – user26950
    Nov 14, 2018 at 0:04
  • @Ruminator & Rom 15:18 For I will not presume to speak about anything except what Christ has done through me in order for the nations to be obedient, by my word and deed, Acts 26:23 .that the Christ was to suffer and that as the first to be resurrected from the dead, he was going to proclaim light both to this people [Jews] and to the nations.”
    – user26950
    Nov 14, 2018 at 0:11
  • But Peter and the twelve were apostles to the circumcision. They would not so much as eat with gentiles. And this was after 3 years with Jesus. They were not sent but to the lost sheep of the house of Israel, beginning in Jerusalem and to the end of the empire. Paul, on the other hand, was given the revelation for the gentiles for the gospel of grace.
    – Ruminator
    Nov 14, 2018 at 0:14
  • @Ruminator What you say is true at first but as Jesus is in control of the congregations as the Congregations Leader and Head he directs what they do thus he sent Paul and others to the nations to make followers of HIM, so Jesus went to the nations via his organised congregations of preachers. But Jesus did preach to gentiles such a the Syrian woman and the roman soldier with sick servant.
    – user26950
    Nov 14, 2018 at 0:45

John 17:15 (DRB) I pray not that thou shouldst take them out of the world, but that thou shouldst keep them from evil.

Here, a kind of implicit synonymy is to be recognized between "evil" and "the world." That is to say, in praying that His disciples would be separate from the unsaved population from among men, and the evil one(s)—the world—he doesn't intend to literally take them out of the world, but to keep them away from its vices and evils—the spiritual 'world.' The 'worldly' meaning of 'world,' not the literal world itself.


I am kind of alone in this understanding but as I read it, for the author of 1 John the KOSMOS is temple-centric Judaism. I believe his reference to the passing away of the world (KOSMOS) is a reference to 70AD. John wrote:

[1Jo 2:15-18 CSB] 15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For everything in the world ​-- ​the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride in one's possessions ​-- ​is not from the Father, but is from the world. 17 And the world with its lust is passing away, but the one who does the will of God remains forever. 18 Children, it is the last hour. And as you have heard that antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come. By this we know that it is the last hour.

So he says repeatedly that it is the final hour and he says the world is passing away. The only KOSMOS that passed away in 70AD was the then contemporary theocracy. They were the "heavens and the earth" mentioned here:

[Isa 66:22 CSB] 22 "For just as the new heavens and the new earth, which I will make, will remain before me" -- this is the LORD's declaration -- "so your offspring and your name will remain.

Paul also speaks of a "new creation":

[2Co 5:17 KJV] 17 Therefore if any man [be] in Christ, [he is] a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

[Gal 6:15 KJV] 15 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature.


I've long understood the KOSMOS as referring to Israel but never felt like understood how John got to that usage. It recently dawned on me that it is from somewhat obscure reference:

Gen 35:11 NASB - God also said to him, "I am God Almighty; Be fruitful and multiply; A nation and a company of nations shall come from you, And kings shall come forth from you.

This "company of nations" of course refers to the various tribal-nations that constitute "Israel"; IE: Israel and Judah, the northern and southern kingdoms. That is "array" or "arrangement" is what John is referring to.

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