Lessons from the Letters of 1,2 and 3 John: lesson 3 in 8/ 1 John 2:18-2:24
True Colors 1 John 2:18-21, Matthew 24:1-14
Most Christians have heard something about such a person; most unbelievers have too for that matter. John speaks about two kinds of antichrists in his letter. He says “the antichrist is coming” and he also says “even now many antichrists have come.” We’ll take a look at both, but first let us understand who he is writing his warning to.
John, in his letter writes a warning to his readers whom he refers to as “children”. He is not addressing the “fathers” (mature ones in the faith) or even the “young men” who are “strong in the Word.” He addresses his “dear children.” These are new believers, those who look up to others for leadership and guidance. John is warning them not to be led astray by teachers who preach a false message about Christ. Many teachers at the time, (Gnostics) and even individuals peppered throughout the church did not live or believe according to God’s Word (even though they might even attend a church regularly). They invented and taught their own brand of spirituality that replaced Christ with a man-centered religion. Does this sound like the American Church today?
A new Christian is often caught up in his/her “feelings” of being newly accepted into God’s family and filled with His Spirit, but they have not yet become strengthened by the truth of God’s Word (“young man”) or developed deep roots of faith through the trial and errors of walking with God (“Fathers”). This is why John warns the “Children” in the faith. They are most likely to lose their way by following untruths taught by the spiritually lost.
The Last Hour
John urges his “children” as a good shepherd to be cautious of false teachers and the spiritually undisciplined who might lead them astray. He refers to the times in which he lived as the “last hour” or as Jesus called it “the end of the age” (Matthew 24:3c) .
This is not unusual for any believer. For no one knows the day or the hour that the end of all things as we know it will come or when Jesus will return (Matthew 24::36, 42). We should live expectantly and look forward to that day, just as a bride looks forward to seeing her groom on their wedding day. John had seen the crucifixion of Jesus, the martyrdom of many of his fellow Apostles, and the killing of many Christians—not to mention his own persecution. Little did John know at the writing of his letter that he would later be exiled to the island of Patmos and receive a revelation of the true “last days” which would be far into the future.
Those Who Left and Those Who Remain
True colors eventually show! John was sure that he was in the “last days” because many were falling away from the faith as Jesus exclaimed (Matthew 24:10-12). And so we continue to see this today. How many have worshipped with us and now are not walking with God. How many T.V. evangelists have strayed? John said “they never really belonged to us” or in other words, they never really belonged to Jesus. Where did they go? They rejected God’s truth for the applause of the world. Some of these may have never really believed and only used Christ for personal gain. Others will fall away for a time and then return after “the school of hard knocks”. We may be fooled sometimes but God knows all and eventually…true colors will show.
Two Antichrists 1 John 2:22-23, Matthew 24:15,23-27,32,42-44, Daniel 9:27,12:8-13
- The first antichrist that John refers to is “The Antichrist” (The Beast) who is prophesied about all throughout scripture; a man who will literally be possessed by the devil and rule the world for a short time. Don’t think for one minute that he will come with devil horns and fangs. He will likely be politically correct, good looking, a great orator and a likeable leader…at least at first. He will set up an abomination” (by proclaiming himself to be God) in the newly built temple in Jerusalem after the first three and a half years of the tribulation period (1,290 days) and people will worship him. Jews at this time will flee into the mountains (Matthew 24:16) and at the end of 45 days, according to the prophet Daniel (“the end of 1,335 days”) those that flee will be delivered; however, God will bring about the desolation of the world for all else who remain. (The Beast of Revelation 13:14-18)
- The second antichrist that John refers to is the “antichrists who have come.” These antichrists are anyone who denies that Jesus is the Christ. When a person, a movie, a joke, a book, a song, a church, a pastor, a teacher, a parent or anyone who leads the masses denies the deity (the Godhood) of Christ he/ she is an antichrist.
Remain 1 John 2:24-29, 2 Peter 3:3-13, 17-18
John is clear with his “children” in his letter of love; he encourages them to “remain”. Remain in the truth, be led by God’s Word and His Spirit (“Anointing”) The Apostle Peter also echoed John’s admonitions. “Scoffers will come with their scoffing” he said, but the Lord will come just as He promised. Those who “remain” will not be put to shame.
The church (believers in Christ) has been forewarned. John and Peter did this so that we will not be carried away by the errors of others who claim to know God. In this day and age of believing that “all roads lead to God” and that everything mysterious is acceptable to follow (i.e. angels, communication with the dead, astrology, etc.), or that God is god in any way one perceives him (or her) to be; the disciples make it clear. Christ alone is true (John 14:6) and “no lie” comes from Him. We are to remain in Him and grow in the grace (the expression of Christ’s love to others) and the knowledge (the study of the Bible) of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Everything else is a diversion.