Buy the T shirt and bumper sticker.
Listen to any sermon on 1 John 4:4 you can find.
Everyone knows that in this Scripture:
"Greater is he that is in you than the one who is in the world."
the "one in the world" is the devil!
Would it surprise you that the devil is nowhere mentioned in the context.
And that if you even read the full verse it reads
You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. NIV
HUGE INSIGHT: The "you" is plural. It's not written to an individual. But I bet 11 out of 10 applya it to themselve as individuals, when it's written to a community/Body. I bet you (and I) have even (mis) quoted it as "Greater is he that is in ME.."
But that's another post.
Obvious question: "Who is the 'them'?"
How about a bit more context..without verse-itis:
You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them. NIVAn even broader concentric circle of context makes it clear that the "them" is primarily false prophets/teachers who deny the incarnation with an antichrist spirit:
4 Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2 This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus
additional problem with the T shirt: Western individualism. He's in US, not ME4 You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. 5 They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them. 6 We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us..
Christ has come in the flesh is from God, 3 but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world.
4-6 My dear children, you come from God and belong to God. You have already won a big victory over those false teachers, for the Spirit in you is far stronger than anything in the world. These people belong to the Christ-denying world
Ever heard John 10:10?:
"The thief comes to steal kill and destroy, but I have come that you may have life and life abundant"
Then you likely "know" that "obviously" the thief who comes to steal kill and destroy is the devil?
But not likely the primary meaning at all.
Once again, the devil is nowhere in the context.
A careful, prayerful look at the text reveals clearly who the thief is.
(Hmm, picking up a pattern?)
9: 40 Some Pharisees who were with him heard him say this and asked, “What? Are we blind too?”
41 Jesus said, “If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains.
10:1 “Very truly I tell you Pharisees, anyone who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber. 2 The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. 3 The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. 5 But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.” 6 Jesus used this figure of speech, but the Pharisees did not understand what he was telling them.7 Therefore Jesus said again, “Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. 8 All who have come before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep have not listened to them. 9 I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved.[a] They will come in and go out, and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 The hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. 13 The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.
14 “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. 17 The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.”
19 The Jews who heard these words were again divided. 20 Many of them said, “He is demon-possessed and raving mad. Why listen to him?”
21 But others said, “These are not the sayings of a man possessed by a demon. Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?”
22 Then came the Festival of Dedication[b] at Jerusalem. It was winter, 23 and Jesus was in the temple courts walking in Solomon’s Colonnade. 24 The Jews who were there gathered around him, saying, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.”
25 Jesus answered, “I did tell you, but you do not believe. The works I do in my Father’s name testify about me, 26 but you do not believe because you are not my sheep. 27 My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all[c]; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. 30 I and the Father are one.” NIV
An old riddle goes like this:
What is greater than God,
and more evil than the devil?
The poor have it: the rich don't need it; if you eat it, you'll die?
The answer, of course, is:
a religious person gone bad.
Later addition.. See the rock star Bible scholar, Craig Keener:
In other words, the thief represents the false religious leaders, like the Pharisees who kicked the healed man out of their synagogue. The background of the text clarifies this point further. In Jeremiah 23 and Ezekiel 34, God was the shepherd of His scattered people, His sheep; these Old Testament passages also speak of false religious leaders who abused their authority over the sheep like many of the religious leaders of Jesus’ day and not a few religious leaders in our own day. LINK
PS. Don't get me started on Paul's "thorn in the flesh" being bad eyesight; a disease etc.
Doesn't everyone know that in context...it is also a a religious person gone bad.
Read all about it, and weep .
Or at least, change your T shirt..