Summary: Message 11 from 1 John warning about the danger of antichrist philosophy.
Anti-antichrist Armor 1 John 2:18-24
John wrote to the believers of His day in order to encourage them in their relationship with God.
He spoke of a relationship that develops beyond initial faith. He referred to those who don’t really know God at all; unbelievers. He referred to those who are believers but have a shallow relationship with God. He wrote to encourage a deeper relationship with God. Know, abide, be in, fellowship. He encouraged ways establish and maintain an intimate relationship. Perhaps they could even be considered tests of genuine relationship with God.
• Continually walk (live) in the Light 1:6-7
• Continually confess sin 1:8-10
• Rely on your advocate 2:1-2
• Give attention to His instructions 2:3-6
• Love one another (don’t hate) 2:7-11
• Keep growing in your relationship 2:12-14
• Stop preferring the world and its stuff 2:15-17
Before John issued the next instruction, he provided a context for his encouragement and instruction. John exposed a group of people who had at one time aligned with the community of apostles and true followers of Christ. This group believed that they were divinely anointed with a superior knowledge beyond the common believer or even the apostles. They even initiated the “enlightened” of their group by a symbolic anointing with oil signifying the attainment of this elevated state of super knowledge. It soon became clear that their knowledge and teaching was most definitely not of God or from God. The Gnostics, from the Greek word for “knowledge”, believed that they possessed some superior knowledge and that nothing else mattered.
Knowledge was the ultimate pursuit. John called them Antichrists and liars due to their blatant denial of the true nature of Jesus. This group of false teachers eventually disassociated themselves from the apostles and true followers of Christ. It appears that they still tried to perpetuate their deceptive teaching and to draw more followers to themselves. John included this section of the letter to encourage the true believers confused by the departure of people they thought were fellow believers. He exposed the true nature of the antichrist’s bogus relationship with God. He also took the time to expose the false teaching and character of those who had left. Finally, he told them how they could avoid being influenced by such people and their teaching.
8. Beware of the Antichrist 2:18-28
a) The prophesied antichrist has already appeared 2:18-19
Children, it is the last hour; and just as you heard that antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have appeared; from this we know that it is the last hour. 2:18
Even though John can be pretty black-and-white, he demonstrated the tenderness of a loving father all through his letter. He addressed them as children; a word indicating a young learner.
Perhaps this was also a reminder of the fact that they were God's special children as well.
We will encounter this emphasis at the beginning of chapter 3. He informed them that it was the "last hour". That's a pretty long hour given we are now some 2000 years beyond John's initial observation. Most likely John used this term to indicate the time between the first coming of Jesus and the second coming of Jesus. Jesus’ work on the cross ushered in the last days. Jesus’ first coming also marked the beginning of the "passing away" of Satan's world system.
From the moment Christ entered human history we find those who opposed him. John alone uses the term Antichrist. In this passage he acknowledged that prophecy points to an ultimate Antichrist in the final days. But John also recognizes that opposition to Christ and his kingdom was a present reality. John acknowledged that many such antichrists had already appeared on the scene. In fact, there had even been some among their fellowship. John taught that there are Antichrists in principle here and now and a future Antichrist in person. The term antichrist coined by John is fairly simple. It is the preposition “anti” which can mean “against” or “instead of” and the word Christ. The term obviously indicates opposition to Christ. Anti-Christ opposes Christ and all He represents. The term can also indicate "instead of". John reminded his readers that they had already heard about the fact that the Antichrist was coming. Scripture informs us that opposition to Christ will increase in the last days culminating in the appearance of an actual person. Although not called by that name, Scripture identifies a future world leader most likely indwelt by Satan himself that will lead the final rebellion before the second coming of Christ in glory.
• Daniel described the “little horn” of the “king of fierce countenance” – Dan 7:24, 25; 8:23-25.
• Jesus spoke of those who would claim to be Christ (the instead of) – Matt 24:5,23-24