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. 1 John 2:18-25
Who is the liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is strong language. We are not talking about a sincere person who is deceived. We are talking about someone who knows better, but lies. Who is the liar? What is their lie about? It is about Jesus, as being the “Christ”. It is about denying the Father and the Son. It is about denying the Son.
Usually we jump right in and start talking about those who deny Jesus’ deity or office as savior as opposed to being a teacher or example. We are studying this text, so I want to focus on what it means that He is Christ, and what it means to deny this. It is the Greek word “Christos” which means anointed. He is the anointed One. I’m going to copy in the study of anointing I did a few posts back:
- Literal Use: Anointing oil is used to give relief from the sun (Ps 104:15), as part of personal hygiene (Ruth 3:3, 2 Samuel 12:20, 2 Chronicles 28:15, Daniel 10:3, Amos 6:6, Micah 6:15), and medicinal use (James 5:14, Revelation 3:18).
- Special Location: In Genesis 28:18 Jacob anointed the pillar at Bethel, because God visited him there.
- Royalty: The practice of anointing a king is mentioned in the 14th century B.C., Amarna Letter #37. Saul (1 Samuel 9:16, 10:1), David (1 Samuel 16:13), and Solomon (1 Kings 1:34,39,45), as well as other kings (2 Kings 9:1-13,11:12,23:30) are mentioned in the OT as being anointed as kings. Perhaps there was a royal aroma that was designed to suggest the presence of the king’s authority.
- Priesthood: Priests were inducted into office by anointing(Exodus 28:41,29:7,30:30, Exodus 40:13-15, Leviticus 4:3,8:12,8:30,16:32,21:10).
- Divine Transfer: Kings anointed were perceived as receiving the Spirit of the Lord as well (1 Samuel 10:10, 1 Samuel 16:16). Anointing became a metaphor for the bestowal of God’s favor (Psalm 23:5,92:10), or for the designation of someone to a special place or office in God’s plan (Psalm 105:15, Isaiah 45:1).
- Messiah: Messiah and Christ literally mean “the anointed one.” (Psalm 2:2,18:50,84:9,89:38,89:51,132:10,17)
I think that Jesus’ title as “Christ”, the anointed One, clearly has ties to the meaning of anointing as signifying royalty and priesthood, but it most directly indicates that He is the chosen One of God, the coming promised offspring of David, as predicted in the Psalms. Basically they deny that Jesus is the chosen One of God.
The liars want to deny that He fulfills these promises, that He is the coming anointed One. This title seems to me to be very wrapped up in Jesus’ fulfillment of the OT prophecies, such as Isaiah 53. It is interesting that he lists them as liars, because this implies that they know otherwise, but conceal or twist the fact. They know that Jesus perfectly fulfills these prophecies, but They deny that Jesus is the Christ.
So any individual who denies that Jesus is the Christ is the antichrist. This is the Greek “antichristos”, which seems obvious considering that they deny that Jesus is the Christ. I think we need to be careful with how we connect the idea of the antichrist with some kind of horror-movie end-times figure in this context. This passage harmonizes with Ephesians 2:2, which tells us that there is a single spirit at work in the disobedient. Every person in the world is either pro-Christ or anti-Christ. He also says that a single major figure, the antichrist, is expected to come, and that these deniers of Jesus are forerunners of the same spirit that animates the particular figure of the antichrist.
What does it mean that the antichrist liars “deny” the Father and the Son? The notion of Fatherhood and Sonship implies the phrase from the creed, “begotten, not created” (Hebrews 1:5). The deity of Christ is strongly implied by this phrase. Any theist religion besides Christianity is going to be at odds with the doctrine of the trinity. You can tell exactly if a group is truly Christian or is not by pressing on this point: is Jesus begotten, not created? Is He the only Son of God, God incarnate? If this is wholeheartedly embraced, you have a Christian group, however weird their other ideas might be. If this is rejected, you have an anti-Christian group, however moral and wonderful they might appear to be.
So, this is exactly what he means by “denying” or “confessing” the Son (1 John 2:23).