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1 John 2 (18-27)

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Antichrist is Coming!

A sermon on 1 John 2:18:27 preached at Christ the King Church on 2/12/06

Prayer:  Father, be with us now as we open your Word.  Open also our hearts and minds so that we might know you and know ourselves better.  We ask this in Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Introduction

“So you are a king!” Pontus Pilate said to Jesus.  “You are right in saying I am a king.”  Jesus answered, “In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth.  Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”  Pilate replied, “What is truth” (John 18:37-38)?

That question (or statement) represents well the unbelieving mind, that modern or postmodern perspective that believes in everything because it believes in nothing, believes in everything that is foolish because it recognizes not the wisdom of God in Christ.  As through a veil the world today sees and embraces half the truth- faith without facts, love with rules, God without His Son, Jesus. 

Today truth is relative, especially concerning the person of Jesus.  When it comes to the question, “Who was Jesus?” the opinions abound!  Jesus was just a man.  Jesus was but a purely divine spirit.  Jesus was a magician.  Jesus was a husband and father, as he was secretly married to Mary Magdalene.  Jesus never existed.  Those are but a few of the ungrounded opinions that abound today.

What is truth?  What is the truth about Jesus?  That is a real question asked and answered today, in the streets, in the office, in the classroom, and in the church.  And it was the very question that the apostle John addressed nearly two thousand years ago when he wrote those verses that have just been read. 

The apostle wrote 1 John 2:18-27 as a test of truth [a test of truth].  If you recall, John, in his First Epistle, has been testing those who claim to know God, those who claim to follow Jesus.  And he has put and will continue to put to his readers three tests.  First is the moral test:  Do you obey Christ’s commandments?  Do you practice righteousness?  Do you live according to God’s rules?  Second is the social test:  Do you love?  Do you love your brother (those within the church)?  And do you love your neighbor (even those outside the church)? 

Third is the truth test (the doctrinal test), and that is what we have here:  What do you think about Jesus?  Do you believe what the apostles (these reliable eyewitness) have taught?  Do you believe that Jesus is the eternal Son of God?  Do you believe that He came in the flesh (1:1-4)?  Do you believe He is the Christ, the divinely appointed and anointed King of Israel and of the world?  Do you believe that through His blood (His sacrificial death) we are purified from our sins (1:7)? 

Now, that was the test put before John’s first readers.  And it is also the test put before us today.  Do you consider yourself a Christian?  Well then, test yourself; examine yourself “to see whether you are in the faith” (2 Corinthians 13:5).  For you can be certain of your standing before God if you love others, if you live rightly, and if you believe and continue to believe the truth taught about Jesus!

The Antichrist/s

Now, the apostle John, a man of who writes of great contrasts - light and darkness, love and hate, truth and falsehood will highlight in our text the truth about the light of Jesus by setting before us a black backdrop of those who hate it, of those false teachers, false ‘brethren’ who deceive, deny, and thus depart (deceive, deny, and depart).

Open you Bibles and look with me at these three ‘D’s.  Do you see what John says in v.26?  Here’s the first ‘D’.  “I write these things to you about those who are trying to deceive you.”[1]  John writes to warn and to remind believers of these deceivers and of their deceiving doctrines. 

And those doctrines, those specific false doctrines, he reveals to us in vv.21-23.  So now look with me there. 

Here we find the second ‘D’- the ‘D’ of denial.  “I write to you, not because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and because no lie is of the truth.  Who is the liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ?  This is the antichrist, he who denies the Father and the Son.  No one who denies the Son has the Father.”  So, do you see what these professing Christians deny?  They deny that Jesus is the “Christ.”  They deny that Jesus is the “Son,” the Son of the Father, the Son of God.  They deny what we now understand (and what the church has always understood) to be two of the cardinal or essential doctrines of the Christian faith.

Can you hear today what these deceivers must have said, “Hey, it may be that we have different ideas from you about Jesus; but you and we do believe the same things about God.”[2]   “Even though we don’t believe the same things about Jesus, we still worship the same God, we still have fellowship with the same divine Father.”

Well, John will have none of this!  He will not tolerate such tolerance!  And we know this because of what he says about them.  He doesn’t mix words when he describes these deceivers and deniers!  In v.22 he calls them, “liars,” and then in that same verse he labels them “antichrist,” a term he uses earlier in v.18. 

Now, as a bit of an aside, let’s go to that verse (v.18), and let’s see what God’s Word has to say:  “Children [that’s what John calls these Christians under his care], it is the last hour, and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come.  Therefore we know that it is the last hour.” 

There are perhaps no two ideas that get more attention today than the end times and the antichrist, both of which are addressed in v.18, and both of which are (in my opinion) generally misunderstood.

It has been popular for over a century or two now, especially in the academy, to claim that Jesus’ first disciples thought and taught that Jesus would return in their lifetime.  The evidence, they claim, is throughout the New Testament, one example being here in 1 John.  To them, when John mentions “the last hour” it is to be taken in some sense literally; that is, John actual believed he was living in the very last period of human history.  Well, what are we to make of such a claim? 

Let me first say this.  While it is true that the apostles did live and preach as though Christ could return at any moment, interestingly they made no claims or predictions that He would return in their lifetimes.  So, unlike some imaginative theologians, they made no bold and false predictions about the date of the Second Coming.

Now, beyond that it should be obvious by the fact that John actually wrote and sent a letter that he did not understanding “the last hour” literally.  You see when one looks at all the evidence it makes best sense to say that this phrase  “the last hour,” similar to the “the last days,” refers “to the period between the first and second comings of Christ, or more accurately between Pentecost and Christ’s return.”[3]  So, with this more theological understanding, we see that every hour we live during this time period is “the last hour.”  I’ll put it this way.  John lived in the last hour as do we and as will all who live between Pentecost and the Parousia.

So, that’s what John means by “the last hour.”  Well, what then is this business of “the antichrist”“It is the last hour,” John says in v.18, “and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come….”

When I told Sandy, who puts together the bulletin, that the title for my sermon would be Antichrist is Coming, she replied, “Scary!  That will get their attention.”  Well, while I hope not to scare anyone, I do hope to get your attention, your attention focused on what the Bible has to say about “the antichrist.” 

Throughout church history there has been much talk and debate about “the antichrist.”  Yet there has been no time like the last few decades where this idea of the antichrist has reached such heights of popularity, and yet also reached such speculative silliness. 

With the best-selling book of the 1970’s The Great Late Planet Earth, and with the best-selling adult fiction series of all time, the Left Behind series, we are all up to date on what some creative thinkers think about this diabolical figure.  But, I fear we may know little or nothing as to what the Bible actually says concerning “the antichrist.”  I fear that just as there is much confusion today about the end times, so there is much confusion (likely more confusion) over this figure of “the antichrist.”  So, let’s try to bring some Scriptural clarity. 

Let’s start with some basic statistics.  First, let me point out that “the antichrist” is not addressed and emphasized much in the Bible.  Even if we gathered together all the possible references to him, such as the “little horn” described in Daniel, or “the beast” described in Revelation, or “the man of lawlessness” mentioned in 2 Thessalonians, it still would amount to but a few references. 

In fact, do you know how many times in the Bible this figure is talked about as “the antichrist”?  That is, how many times he takes on that name? 

Do you think a hundred times?  How about 50 times?  Maybe it is only 20 times?  No, “the antichrist” is mentioned only 4 times!  To put that into perspective, the name “Silas” is mentioned four times as much, 12 times in the New Testament.  And the title, “Christ” is used over a hundred times as much; it is used 524 times in the New Testament! 

 

“Antichrist” is used only four times and used only four times in two books, First John and Second John.  Now, that is not to say John is the only New Testament author to talk about this figure, but he is the only one to use this terminology, which is especially interesting if he was the author of the Book of Revelation.  There is no mention of “the antichrist” in Revelation. 

So, what then does John (in 1 John and 2 John and there alone) have to say about this popular persona?  Well, look and/or listen for yourselves.  I will read all the references.  In 2 John 1:7, we read:  “For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not confess the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh.  Such a one is the deceiver and the antichrist.”  Then, listen to what is said in 1 John 4:2-3:  “By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God.  This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already.”  Then we come to our passage.  Look again in v.22 (1 John 2:22).  What does it say?  “Who is the liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ?  This is the antichrist, he who denies the Father and the Son.”  Then finally, we have v.18:  “Children, it is the last hour, and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come….”

 

I hope you noticed how different John’s description of “the antichrist” is from popular presentations.  Unlike the notion that the antichrist is some diabolic world leader (be it Napoleon or Hitler or Mussolini or Saddam Hussein or some Pope or even as is popular now, some future leader of the United Nations), God’s Word reminds us to push all speculations aside.  John is writing to Christians then and now to inform us that the signs of “the antichrist” are obvious!  The antichrist and antichrists can be easily recognized - recognized by their teaching, recognized by their views on the person of Jesus.  So, who is the antichrist?  It is right there in all these texts we have read.  The antichrist is the person or persons who oppose the truth about Jesus.  Verse 22 makes it plain enough:  “He who denies that Jesus is the Christ… This is the antichrist….”

 

 

 

 

 

 

So, while there may indeed be an antichrist to come, there have been many antichrists who have come and others who are alive and well today.  All who have taught or do teach erroneous doctrines concerning the person of Jesus, from Cerinthus in the 2nd century to Joseph Smith in the 19th century, from the Arians in the 4th century to the Jehovah Witnesses in the 20th century.  These are all “antichrists.”

  

So, John in painting this black backdrop has shown us these false teachers and their dark deceptive doctrines, their dark denials of the truth.  Now, in v.19, he gives us one final mark of the beast, and that is their departure.  Look with me at 19.  “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us.  But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us.” 

 

Here we are told about their departure.  And look how John in v.19 contrasts them and us, that is, false ‘Christians’ from true Christians.  Notice the words “they” and “us.”  There are six they’s and six us’s.  They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us.  But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us.”  “Believers belong; deniers depart.”[4]  That’s how Simon Kistemaker summarizes this verse.  And that’s helpful. 

Believers (the “us” here) belong (abide in the Christian church); deniers (the “they” here) depart (leave the communion of the saints).  

One of the classic stories of such departure, such apostasy as it is called, is the story of Julian (Julian the Apostate), who reigned as Roman emperor from 361 to 363 A.D. 

Since 313, when the emperor Constantine was converted to Christianity, all the Roman emperors had been Christians.  Now this, of course, was a great relief to the church, the church who had long been persecuted, and at times persecuted quite brutally by various Roman emperors.  Julian was raised in this new era.  And being the son of Julius Constantius, half brother of Constantine, he was raised to be a ruler and raised to be a Christian ruler. 

So, while he studied the classics (which would have included the Greek myths as well as aspects of Romans history, poetry, and religion), he also learned to read the Bible, and how to pray and to worship the true and living God.  Yet, when Julian was twenty years old he converted to paganism.  He returned to worship the ancient gods of old Rome and Greece. 

Now, being of royal blood and an heir to the throne of Rome, he prudently and sensibly “continued to hide his new faith” as he walked through the motions of Christian devotion.[5]  So, in secret he celebrated pagan rituals and prayed to pagan gods.  Publicly, however, he continued to serve in the church, even as a lector (a Scripture reader). 

At this time the Roman Emperor, Constantius, ordered Julian to lead and defend the Western and Northern regions of the Empire.  There Julian was so successful in his military campaigns that he began to be a great threat to the Emperor himself.  So, the Emperor, aware of this, ordered Julian to send some of his troops East.  Julian refused, and his army proclaimed him to be the sole ruler of the entire Empire.  Julian quickly moved East to make this proclamation official, that is, to kill his rival.  However, providence beat him to it.  Constantius died before Julian arrived.  The date was November 3, 361.

Julian was now sole emperor.  And as sole emperor the first thing he did was to remove his mask.[6]  Julian not only stopped worshipping the God of the Christians, but he began to embrace paganism with open enthusiasm, which included attacking Christianity with all his might.  Thankfully, he died nineteen months into his reign.    

Now, on a lesser scale, a similar scenario is what John describes of the false ‘brethren’ in his time and in his church.  “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us.”  You see, by their own volition, those who didn’t really believe the Christian faith, believe what was being taught about Jesus, once they had the chance, they departed from the church, which in this context (as it is in most contexts) meant also departing from the faith.  Like Julian, their very departure was “their unmasking.”[7]         

So, that’s the dark, black backdrop of our passage.  As John seeks to show true believers the truth, the light in which they are to walk, he first shows the darkness, the darkness of these antichrists, those who deceive, those who deny, and those who have departed. 

 

Abide in the Anointed (Christ) and the Anointing

Now, set against or affront this darkness and these three D’s, we have the two A’s, those two luminous words “abide” and “anoint.”  These two ‘A’ words dominate John’s call to Christians.  The word “anoint” or “anointed” or “anointing” is used three times, and the word “abide” is used five times (six times if we were to include v.28).  And the message to them and to us is this:  If we are truly Christians we ought to abide in the Anointed One by means of the anointing!

Now, what does all that mean?  Well, let me start by asking all the students of the Greek language out there to help us out.  Let’s have a little audience participation.  What does the Greek word Cristo,j mean?  Christ, Messiah, or Anointed One.  Now, I point out that word because there is an interesting play-on-words here in the original language.  John calls those who deny Jesus as the Christ (as the Anointed One), he calls them anti-Christ or anti-anointed.  But when he talks about the true Christians, he speaks of the anointing (in Greek the word is cri/sma).  So, look at v.20, “But you have been (cri/sma) anointed by the Holy One…” and then in v.27 he speaks of “the anointing (cri/sma) that they have received….”[8] 

To be a Christian is to be an anointed one, an anointed one who believes in the Anointed One, Jesus Christ.[9]  The Heidelberg Catechism, one of the great documents of the Protestant Reformation, answers the question, “Why are you called a Christian?” saying, “Because by faith I am a member of Christ and so share in his anointing.  I am anointed to confess his name, to present myself to him as a living sacrifice of thanks, to strive with a free conscience against sin and the devil in this life, and afterwards to reign with Christ over all creation and all eternity.” 

It has become commonplace today to use this word “anointed” in ways that are foreign to its usage in Scripture.[10]  We often call preachers or songs or worship services or sermons “anointed.”  Popular usage thus speaks of a person or event in which there is an awareness of God’s power or presence.  In the Bible, however, to “anoint” has to do with setting apart or consecrating one for special purpose.  In the Old Testament, anointing was the privilege of the chosen few- priests, prophets, and kings.  In the New Testament and under the New Covenant this anointing has become the privilege of all, of all who call upon the Lord, of all who confess, “Jesus is the Christ.”

Tertullian, an early Christian writer, tells us that Christians were anointed with holy oil during or after their baptism[11] as a sign that the same Holy Spirit that descended upon Jesus at His baptism has now come upon Christ’s disciples.  And that is likely the same sense here (although baptism may or may not be implied).  In v.20 John writes that Christians “have been anointed by the Holy One,” that is, by the Holy Spirit.[12]  So it is similar to what Paul says in 2 Corinthians 1:21-22, “And it is God who establishes us with you in Christ, and has anointed us, and who has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.”

So, this “anointing” has nothing to do with whether or not the presence of God abounds within us and exudes from us.  Rather, it has to do with the Spirit, the Spirit who leads us into all truth.  Just look in our text and see how the “anointing” is always mentioned in the context of truth, of thinking and teaching.

Look at v.20:  “But you have been anointed by the Holy One, and you all have knowledge….” And then examine v.27, “But the anointing that you received from him abides in you, and you have no need that anyone should teach you.  But as his anointing teaches you about everything- and is true and is no lie, just as it has taught you- abide in him.” 

 

So, the “anointing” is an internal defense mechanism against external heresies.  The “anointing” is innate knowledge that helps us “to discern truth from error.”[13]  The “anointing” keeps us connected with the gospel, with the apostolic teaching, with what John calls in v.24 and elsewhere, “what you heard from the beginning.” 

 

William Tyndale, the heroic Bible translator, summarizes it all this way, “Ye are not anointed with oil in your bodies, but with the Spirit of Christ in your souls; which Spirit teacheth you all truth in Christ, and maketh you to judge what is a lie, and what truth, and to know Christ from antichrist.”

So, all whom are genuine Christians here this morning “have been anointed by the Holy One.”  And it is by means of this divine anointing that we are called to abide, to “abide in Him” (as last words of our text declare). 

A few years ago, I sat down one week and I quickly read through the New Testament.  I did this so as to get a better feel for God’s Word, a better understanding of its basic rhythm and themes.  Now, in doing this one of the facts I found was that every book of the New Testament was filled with this idea of abiding (commonly called perseverance). 

Jesus, in His earthly ministry (as recorded in Mark 13:13), spoke of perseverance.  He said, “He who endures to the end will be saved.”  And still in His heavenly ministry (as recorded in Revelation 3:11), the exalted Christ issues the same call.  He says to the church then and now, Behold, I am coming soon.  Hold fast [to] what you have.” 

 

John teaches much the same here.  Five times he calls us to “abide” or to “remain,” or to “endure.”  “Endurance is the hall-mark of the saved.”[14]  That’s how John Stott summarizes this teaching.  And that is right.  For it is not enough to say we once believed.  It is necessary we continue to believe.  “It is not enough merely to have heard and assented to the message in time past.  The message must continue to be present and active” in our lives.[15]  So, “future and final perseverance is the ultimate test of genuine participation in the life of Christ.”[16]  If one does not abide in Him, it is a sure sign one has not been anointed.  For those anointed by the Spirit “abide in Christ,” and abide in the truth.  

 

Conclusion

 

“What is truth?”  That is the question Pilate put to Jesus.  And it is the same question put to us this morning.  “What is truth?  What is the truth about Jesus?”  Well, it is this:  Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, who came in the flesh.  And if you believe that you have passed today’s test, this test of truth.  So, if you love others, and if you live in obedience to the will of God, and if you believe that Jesus is the Christ then you can be assured this day that you are indeed on the side of truth, and you indeed (as John says in v.25) have the promise of “eternal life.” 

Prayer:  “For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world- to bear witness to the truth.  Everyone on the side the truth listens to my voice.”  Lord, we ask today, but the power of your Holy One (your Holy Spirit) that you would give us the anointing, give us the anointing or remind us that we have it, so that we might continue to abide in you, to stand on the side of truth.  I ask this in Jesus’ name.  Amen 

 

Benediction:  (From 2 John 1:3) “Grace, mercy, and peace will be with us, from God the Father and from Jesus Christ the Father’s Son, in truth and love.” 

 

 

 

 

 

1 John 4:13   13 By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit.

 

2 John 1:9   9 Everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God. Whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“You are right in saying I am a king.  In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth.  Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.” 

 

John 14:6-7  6 Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.  7 If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him."

18 Children, it is the last hour, and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. Therefore we know that it is the last hour.  19 They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us.  But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us.  20 But you have been anointed by the Holy One, and you all have knowledge.  21 I write to you, not because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and because no lie is of the truth.  22 Who is the liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, he who denies the Father and the Son.  23 No one who denies the Son has the Father. Whoever confesses the Son has the Father also. 

24 Let what you heard from the beginning abide in you. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, then you too will abide in the Son and in the Father.  25 And this is the promise that he made to us- eternal life.  26 I write these things to you about those who are trying to deceive you.  27 But the anointing that you received from him abides in you, and you have no need that anyone should teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about everything- and is true and is no lie, just as it has taught you- abide in him. 

What is the believer’s confession of faith?  Simply this:  ‘Jesus is the Son of God.’  In his epistle John emphasizes that through the blood of Jesus, the Son, we are purified from sin (1:7); the Son promises us eternal life (2:25); the Son of God has appeared to destroy the works of the devil (3:8); and the Son is “an atoning sacrifice for our sins” (4:10).

“John’s readers needed to hold on to what they had been taught from the beginning:  that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God (2:22) who came in the flesh (1:1-4)

 

Illustration:  Athanasian Creed (articles 30-32):  For the right faith is that we believe and confess that our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is God and man.  God of the substance of the Father, begotten before the worlds; and man of the substance of his mother, born in the world.  Perfect God and perfect man….”

 

“Is John intimating that the anointing with the Holy Spirit makes instruction in biblical knowledge superfluous?” (K, 285)

“This does not mean that all believers will know and understand everything, nor does it mean that the Spirit will add new revelation to what has already been taught” (Barton, 57)

“The greatest Christian defense is simply to remember what we know” (Barclay, 66)- “Put into practice the truth they already know” (Cf. 1 Thess 4:9); “What they need is not so much to be taught as to be reminded”- creative reminders:  feasts, stones, meals, stories, poems, etc.

 

 

 

18 Paidi,a( evsca,th w[ra evsti,n( kai. kaqw.j hvkou,sate o[ti avnti,cristoj e;rcetai( kai. nu/n avnti,cristoi polloi. gego,nasin( o[qen ginw,skomen o[ti evsca,th w[ra evsti,nÅ 19 evx h`mw/n evxh/lqan avllV ouvk h=san evx h`mw/n\ eiv ga.r evx h`mw/n h=san( memenh,keisan a'n meqV h`mw/n\ avllV i[na fanerwqw/sin o[ti ouvk eivsi.n pa,ntej evx h`mw/nÅ 20 kai. u`mei/j cri/sma e;cete avpo. tou/ a`gi,ou kai. oi;date pa,ntejÅ 21 ouvk e;graya u`mi/n o[ti ouvk oi;date th.n avlh,qeian avllV o[ti oi;date auvth.n kai. o[ti pa/n yeu/doj evk th/j avlhqei,aj ouvk e;stinÅ 22 Ti,j evstin o` yeu,sthj eiv mh. o` avrnou,menoj o[ti VIhsou/j ouvk e;stin o` Cristo,jÈ ou-to,j evstin o` avnti,cristoj( o` avrnou,menoj to.n pate,ra kai. to.n ui`o,nÅ 23 pa/j o` avrnou,menoj to.n ui`o.n ouvde. to.n pate,ra e;cei( o` o`mologw/n to.n ui`o.n kai. to.n pate,ra e;ceiÅ 24 u`mei/j o] hvkou,sate avpV avrch/j( evn u`mi/n mene,twÅ eva.n evn u`mi/n mei,nh| o] avpV avrch/j hvkou,sate( kai. u`mei/j evn tw/| ui`w/| kai. evn tw/| patri. menei/teÅ 25 kai. au[th evsti.n h` evpaggeli,a h]n auvto.j evphggei,lato h`mi/n( th.n zwh.n th.n aivw,nionÅ 26 Tau/ta e;graya u`mi/n peri. tw/n planw,ntwn u`ma/jÅ 27 kai. u`mei/j to. cri/sma o] evla,bete avpV auvtou/( me,nei evn u`mi/n kai. ouv crei,an e;cete i[na tij dida,skh| u`ma/j( avllV w`j to. auvtou/ cri/sma dida,skei u`ma/j peri. pa,ntwn kai. avlhqe,j evstin kai. ouvk e;stin yeu/doj( kai. kaqw.j evdi,daxen u`ma/j( me,nete evn auvtw/|Å

18 Children, it is the last hour, and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. Therefore we know that it is the last hour.  19 They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us.  But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us.  20 But you have been anointed by the Holy One, and you all have knowledge.  21 I write to you, not because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and because no lie is of the truth.  22 Who is the liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, he who denies the Father and the Son.  23 No one who denies the Son has the Father. Whoever confesses the Son has the Father also. 

24 Let what you heard from the beginning abide in you. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, then you too will abide in the Son and in the Father.  25 And this is the promise that he made to us- eternal life.  26 I write these things to you about those who are trying to deceive you.  27 But the anointing that you received from him abides in you, and you have no need that anyone should teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about everything- and is true and is no lie, just as it has taught you- abide in him. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

He first draws a clear distinction between the heretics and the genuine Christians (18-21); then defines the nature and effect of the heresy (22,23); and finally describes the two safeguards against heresy which his readers already have (24-27)”  (Stott, 103)

 

 

 

 

 

18 Paidi,a( evsca,th w[ra evsti,n( kai. kaqw.j hvkou,sate o[ti avnti,cristoj e;rcetai( kai. nu/n avnti,cristoi polloi. gego,nasin( o[qen ginw,skomen o[ti evsca,th w[ra evsti,nÅ 19 evx h`mw/n evxh/lqan avllV ouvk h=san evx h`mw/n\ eiv ga.r evx h`mw/n h=san( memenh,keisan a'n meqV h`mw/n\ avllV i[na fanerwqw/sin o[ti ouvk eivsi.n pa,ntej evx h`mw/nÅ 20 kai. u`mei/j cri/sma e;cete avpo. tou/ a`gi,ou kai. oi;date pa,ntejÅ 21 ouvk e;graya u`mi/n o[ti ouvk oi;date th.n avlh,qeian avllV o[ti oi;date auvth.n kai. o[ti pa/n yeu/doj evk th/j avlhqei,aj ouvk e;stinÅ 22 Ti,j evstin o` yeu,sthj eiv mh. o` avrnou,menoj o[ti VIhsou/j ouvk e;stin o` Cristo,jÈ ou-to,j evstin o` avnti,cristoj( o` avrnou,menoj to.n pate,ra kai. to.n ui`o,nÅ 23 pa/j o` avrnou,menoj to.n ui`o.n ouvde. to.n pate,ra e;cei( o` o`mologw/n to.n ui`o.n kai. to.n pate,ra e;ceiÅ 24 u`mei/j o] hvkou,sate avpV avrch/j( evn u`mi/n mene,twÅ eva.n evn u`mi/n mei,nh| o] avpV avrch/j hvkou,sate( kai. u`mei/j evn tw/| ui`w/| kai. evn tw/| patri. menei/teÅ 25 kai. au[th evsti.n h` evpaggeli,a h]n auvto.j evphggei,lato h`mi/n( th.n zwh.n th.n aivw,nionÅ 26 Tau/ta e;graya u`mi/n peri. tw/n planw,ntwn u`ma/jÅ 27 kai. u`mei/j to. cri/sma o] evla,bete avpV auvtou/( me,nei evn u`mi/n kai. ouv crei,an e;cete i[na tij dida,skh| u`ma/j( avllV w`j to. auvtou/ cri/sma dida,skei u`ma/j peri. pa,ntwn kai. avlhqe,j evstin kai. ouvk e;stin yeu/doj( kai. kaqw.j evdi,daxen u`ma/j( me,nete evn auvtw/|Å

24 Let what you heard from the beginning abide in you. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, then you too will abide in the Son and in the Father.  25 And this is the promise that he made to us- eternal life.  26 I write these things to you about those who are trying to deceive you.  27 But the anointing that you received from him abides in you, and you have no need that anyone should teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about everything- and is true and is no lie, just as it has taught you- abide in him. 

·       What is truth- that is the question of today’s postmodern/post-truth world (see Boice, 66-67).

·       In a circular fashion, John brings us his three tests of authentic Christianity:  the social, moral, doctrinal tests.  In chapter 2:3-11 and 15-17 he has given both the social (love) and moral (righteousness) tests.  In chapter 3 he will return again to the moral test.  But here in 2:18-27 we have again the doctrinal test, a test he first hinted at in his introduction (1:1-4).  Here we have the test of truth.

·       “How may those who consider themselves Christians be sure they really are Christians?  In these verses John answers that they may reassure themselves on the basis of their attitude toward the truth of God as revealed in Jesus.  They can be certain of their salvation if they believe that Jesus is God incarnate and if they continue in that conviction” (Boice, 67)

·       The two signs of walking in the truth:  (1) Believing in the truth that Jesus is the Christ, (2) Persevering in the truth.  These are contrasted with false ‘Christians’ who (1) don’t believe Jesus is the Christ and (2) have departed from the church.

The Antichrist/s or the un-anointed

Their Doctrine

·       Look at v.26.  There are those who are “trying to deceive” the church.  How they are trying to deceive is found in v.22, their denial that “Jesus is the Christ” (that He is the Messiah, the eternal Son of God who came in the flesh; they deny the essence of the incarnation, cf. 4:2f and 2 John 7)

o    “These antichrists are the false teachers who deny (1) that Jesus is the Christ (2:22), (2) that Jesus is God’s Sons (2:23), and (3) that Jesus was God incarnate in human form (4:2; 2 John 7)

o    “To deny that Jesus is the Christ is the master lie, the lie par excellence; the lie of all lies” (Barclay, 67)

o    Jesus and the Father/NT confessions about Jesus (see Barclay, 67-68)

·       Those who deny Jesus is the Christ, John, naturally labels, “Antichrist.”

o    “John is unafraid to ascribe names to his opponent in this direct confrontation” (K, 281)

·       Look at v.18.  In v.17 he told us not to love the world because it is “passing away.”  Here, starting, in v.18, he takes the logical next step, saying, “It is the last hour” (that is, we are living in the end times, etc.) and doing battle with end time forces, the antichrist and antichrists.

·       Illustration:  Antichrist fever today (documentary):  how he is popularly depicted

·       Illustration:  Giving Sandy the title!  “Scary, that will get their attention!”  “John mentioned that ‘the antichrist is coming,’ not so that believers would try to identify the person, btu so that they might be ready for anything that would threaten the faith” (Barton, 48)

·       While John mentions a future antichrist and his coming (and he is the only NT writer to do so; Cf. Matthew 24:5; Matthew 24:23-24; Matthew 24:26; Mark 13:6; Mark 13:21-22; Luke 21:8; 2 Thes. 2:3-12; 1 John 2:18; 1 John 2:22; 1 John 4:3; 2 John 1:7), John’s focus here is on these antichrists and their coming and going.

o    Antichrist – “the word … has a broader meaning that does the term false Christ.”  Can mean “in the place of” or “against.” 

·       So, unlike popular notions, John depicts him/them as people who oppose the truth, doctrinal truth.  And they are not mysterious figures who will arise on the world scene, but they easy to recognize.  You can know them being their teaching, their false teaching concerning the person of Jesus.

·       Illustration:  Many like to guess who will be the Antichrist (The Pope, Napoleon, Hitler, Mussolini, Saddam, etc.); yet we can recognize throughout the ages and even now who deserves this designation:  Ignatius of Antioch:  attacked heretics who denied that the Son of God truly became incarnate in Jesus; Irenaeus:  attacked a heretic called Cerinthus who held that the Christ descended upon Jesus at this baptism and departed again before he suffered and died; “In view of these heretics the heavenly Christ did not suffer and die, nor did he shed his blood to be our Savior” (Marshall, 158)  Cf. K, 282

Their Departure

·       We have addressed their doctrine (belief) and now we will examine their departure (behavior)

·       They have left the fellowship of the apostles and the church (v.19)- five times he uses the word “us” in this verse

·       Illustration of apostasy (showing the true self, “he went out from us…”)- Julian the apostate, in Wilken, The Christians as the Romans Saw Them, 166-171

·       “The heretics went out of their own volition, but behind the secession was the divine purpose that the spurious should be made manifest lest the elect should be led astray.  Their departure was ‘their unmasking’ [Law]” (Stott, 105).

·       “Believers belong; deniers depart” (K, 277)

 

 

Abide in the Anointed (Christ) and the Anointing

·       “They can be certain of their salvation if they believe that Jesus is God incarnate and if they continue in that conviction” (Boice, 67)

·       Two key “A” words:  abide and anointing

The call is to abide in Him

·       Abide or remain (6x, including v.28)

·       “He that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved” (Mk 13:13), not because salvation is the reward of endurance, but because endurance is the hall-mark of the saved (Stott, 105).

·       “Hold on to what you have” (Rev 3:11)

·       “Endurance characterizes true Christians” (Barton, 49)

·       “Future and final perseverance is the ultimate test of a past participation in Christ (Heb 3:14)” (Stott, 105).

·       “It is significant that ‘remain’ expresses a continuing relationship.  It is not enough merely to have heard and assented to the message in time past.  The message must continue to be present and active in the lives of those who have heard it.  They must continually call it to mind and let it affect their lives.  This is why continual study of the Word and participation in Christian instruction is so important for perseverance in the faith” (Marshall, 161).

The means is through the anointing

·       The Anti-anointed vs. the anointed:  “What a contrast!  The antichrists deny that Jesus is the Christ, whose name translated means, ‘the Anointed One.’  But Christians look to the Christ, because from him they have received their anointing.”

·       Illustration:  Heidelberg Catechism (Q and A 32):  “But why are you called a Christian?  Because by faith I am a member of Christ and so share in his anointing.  I am anointed to confess his name, to present myself to him as a living sacrifice of thanks, to strive with a free conscience against sin and the devil in this life, and afterwards to reign with Christ over all creation and all eternity.”

·       “Ye are not anointed with oil in your bodies, but with the Spirit of Christ in your souls; which Spirit teacheth you all truth in Christ, and maketh you to judge what is a lie, and what truth, and to know Christ from antichrist” (William Tyndale)

·       Illustration:  “It has become commonplace to label certain preachers, songs, worship services, or sermons as ‘anointed.’  That usually means the person somehow evokes or facilitates an awareness of God’s power or presence.  But this wonderful quality is not what the word… means.  To ‘anoint’ in biblical terminology simply means to consecrate or set apart for a special purpose.  Kings and priests were anointed with oil in solemn ceremonies intended to designate them as civil and spiritual leaders.  But now the Spirit of God anoints every believer upon conversation (1 Cor 12:13).  Because we Christians have received this anointing, we can be assured of the basis for our salvation and for the Spirit-filled life” (Barton, 51)

·       All the times “anoint” is used is in the context of the content of the truth:  20 But you have been anointed by the Holy One, and you all have knowledge…. 27 But the anointing that you received from him abides in you, and you have no need that anyone should teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about everything- and is true and is no lie, just as it has taught you- abide in him. 

·       What is this anointing? 

o   See K, 279; Barclay, 69-70 (kings, priest, etc.)

o   Baptism? (Barclay, 70)

o   “The universal gift of the ascended Christ is the HS, whose great ministry is to guide all of God's children into God's truth (Jn 16:13) through the apostolic testimony” (Jackman, 72). 

o   Believers have the Father and the Son and the Spirit (the “anointing”) [See John 14:15-24]

o   “Third, he encourages those who are Christians to make use of their two most valuable defenses against heresy, namely, the truth of the gospel and the Holy Spirit” (Boice, 67).

o   Paralleled by what is said in John 14:17; 15:26; 16:13 about the activity of the Paraclete (Marshall, 153).

o   “The gift of the HS [given] at the time of their conversion” (K, 285)- like that prophesied by Jeremiah (31:34; cf. Heb 8:11; 2 Cor 1:21-22)

o   The connection between the Word and Spirit:  The word “which you have heard from the beginning” (Word:  the gospel, the apostolic teaching); The “anointing which you have received of him” (Holy Spirit)- internal and external tests (Barclay, 71)

o   “The believer anointed with the HS is able to discern truth from error, oppose heresy, and withstand the attacks of Satan” (K, 280).

o   “Is John intimating that the anointing with the Holy Spirit makes instruction in biblical knowledge superfluous?” (K, 285)

§  “This does not mean that all believers will know and understand everything, nor does it mean that the Spirit will add new revelation to what has already been taught” (Barton, 57)

o   “The greatest Christian defense is simply to remember what we know” (Barclay, 66)- “Put into practice the truth they already know” (Cf. 1 Thess 4:9); “What they need is not so much to be taught as to be reminded”- creative reminders:  feasts, stones, meals, stories, poems, etc.

·       What teaching do the anointed not depart from?

o   “What is the believer’s confession of faith?  Simply this:  ‘Jesus is the Son of God.’  In his epistle John emphasizes that through the blood of Jesus, the Son, we are purified from sin (1:7); the Son promises us eternal life (2:25); the Son of God has appeared to destroy the works of the devil (3:8); and the Son is “an atoning sacrifice for our sins” (4:10).

o   “John’s readers needed to hold on to what they had been taught from the beginning:  that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God (2:22) who came in the flesh (1:1-4)

o   Illustration:  Athanasian Creed (articles 30-32):  For the right faith is that we believe and confess that our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is God and man.  God of the substance of the Father, begotten before the worlds; and man of the substance of his mother, born in the world.  Perfect God and perfect man….”

·       “Eternal life” – see Barton, bottom of 55-56.

 

Conclusion:

·       All churches struggle (see Burge, 17)- show struggles (often caused by false teaching) are in all the NT churches (e.g., Galatians, Rev. 2)

·       Here we have seen the struggle over…

·       Review applications for our day and age

 

 

In v.18, what does John mean by the phrase "the last hour"?  Some scholars believe that John and the other apostles’ thought that Jesus would return in their lifetime, and that this “last hour” that John mentions is in some sense to be taken literally.  How would you, as a thinking Christian, respond to this view?

·       It is certainly right that the apostles lived as though Christ would return any moment, but that does not mean that they knew Christ would return during their lifetimes.

·       “It must be noted, first that John does not commit himself to any time-scale.  Like the NT authors generally he does not delimit precisely the expected date of the parousia.  He was content to stress the urgency of the time in which he lived. Second, we have good authority for not measuring God's time by our clocks:  'with the Lord a day is like a thousand years' (2 Pet 3:8). Third, the NT teaching is that we should be ready for the coming of the Lord at any time; every hour is the hour of crisis, and the Lord will come when he is least expected” (Marshall, 149).

·       John was “expressing a theological truth rather than making a chronological reference”  (Stott, 108).

·       If John literally thought that the “last hour” was upon him, he wouldn't have written or sent this letter.

·       “In view of our Lord's clear words about the uncertainty of the day and the hour (Mk 13:32) and of 'times and seasons' (Acts 1:7), it is a priori most unlikely that the apostles would have presumed to speculate precisely when the end would come” (Stott, 109).

·       Matches the NT phrase "the last days" (Acts 2:17; Heb 1:2; 1 Pet 1:20; 1 Tim 4:1; 2 Tim 3:1; Jas 5:3; 1 Pet 1:5; Jude 18)

·       Refers to the period between the first and second comings of Christ, or more accurately between Pentecost and Christ's return (Jackman, 68).

·       “John seems to indicate that the period between the first and second coming of Jesus is ‘the last hour’” (Kistemaker, 275)

·       “Every hour is the last hour” (Barclay, 60)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

18 Children, it is the last hour, and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. Therefore we know that it is the last hour.  19 They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us.  But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us.  20 But you have been anointed by the Holy One, and you all have knowledge.  21 I write to you, not because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and because no lie is of the truth.  22 Who is the liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, he who denies the Father and the Son.  23 No one who denies the Son has the Father. Whoever confesses the Son has the Father also. 

24 Let what you heard from the beginning abide in you. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, then you too will abide in the Son and in the Father.  25 And this is the promise that he made to us- eternal life.  26 I write these things to you about those who are trying to deceive you.  27 But the anointing that you received from him abides in you, and you have no need that anyone should teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about everything- and is true and is no lie, just as it has taught you- abide in him. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

He first draws a clear distinction between the heretics and the genuine Christians (18-21); then defines the nature and effect of the heresy (22,23); and finally describes the two safeguards against heresy which his readers already have (24-27)”  (Stott, 103)


----

[1] Cf. 2 John 1:7   7 For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not confess the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh. Such a one is the deceiver and the antichrist.

[2] Barclay, 67.

[3] Jackman, 68.

[4] K, 277.

[5] Wilken, The Christians as the Romans Saw Them, 170.

[6] See Ibid. 171.

[7] Law, in Stott, 105.

[8] 20 kai. u`mei/j cri/sma e;cete avpo. tou/ a`gi,ou kai. oi;date pa,ntejÅ    27 kai. u`mei/j to. cri/sma o] evla,bete avpV auvtou/( me,nei evn u`mi/n kai. ouv crei,an e;cete i[na tij dida,skh| u`ma/j( avllV w`j to. auvtou/ cri/sma dida,skei u`ma/j peri. pa,ntwn kai. avlhqe,j evstin kai. ouvk e;stin yeu/doj( kai. kaqw.j evdi,daxen u`ma/j( me,nete evn auvtw/|Å

[9] Acts 10:38   38 how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power.

[10] See Barton, 51.

[11] See Barclay, 70.

[12] Paralleled by what is said in John 14:17; 15:26; 16:13 about the activity of the Paraclete (Marshall, 153).

[13] K, 280.

[14] Stott, 105.

[15] Marshall, 161.

[16] Boice, 69.

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