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
Children: Some are little children (1 John 2:12, 13), some are fathers (1 John 2:13, 14), and some are young men (1 John 2:13,14). Yet all are children! He addresses all of his readers as children. We are, in relation to our eventual maturity, young, fresh, ignorant, and in need of instruction and supervision. We are also very beloved.
The last hour: This has always bugged me. Is it the last hour? Was it the last ‘hour’ when he wrote this? Is there some benefit to whipping people into an end times frenzy? (I say this as a confession, because I have the greatest respect for the scriptures, of course; I am the one who is wrong.) The Greek is eschatos hora – the farthest or last day, hour, season, or time. It is the end season. The time of the church, of Christ ascended and the church the time of the new convenant (Hebrews 8:8-12). It is the season when grace reigns over believing humanity through Christ’s propitiation. So, that doesn’t bug me.
Notice that John expects this to be a question in our minds, and that it is hard to understand that it is the last hour, because he says “therefore we know that it is the last hour.” He is not so much warning us against antichrist, but telling us to take comfort because of all the posing opposers of the true church of Christ, because the manifest presence of many antichrists proves that we are in the end game, and soon we the promise of the end of this challenging season will be over, and we will begin the new epoch.
antichrist is coming: we have heard that antichrist is coming, which implies that antichrist had not come. There is a figure, an individual, antichrist, who is coming but had not come. Even so, he says, now, in the present (at that time), MANY antichrists have come. I have heard that the antichrist will stand in the place of Christ, and will pretend to be good and holy, while opposing Jesus (Matthew 24:5). The nature of the word suggests that the antichrist opposes Christ. It is a promise that antichrist will come.
now many antichrists have come: I will be so bold as to say that now, in our present times, antichrists have come. We see many instances of religions and sects who offer a dogma which mentions Jesus, but does not teach what the scriptures teach concerning Him. They do not teach that He is God incarnate. They do not teach truth concerning the godhead. There are those who teach that Jesus is a great moral teacher, one in a pantheon of others. They teach that the propitiation is nonsense, and that Jesus died as an example of how we are to behave, more than as a saving atonement for our sins.
I am going to reflect on this a bit. What is the great work, the central deed, of Jesus Christ? What is the one thing, the great message, that the church is centered around? It is the propitiatory death of Jesus Christ. So what might we find the antichrist opposing? The propitiatory death of Christ. So the hallmark of antichrist is guilt and obligation and the fear of the law’s measure and punishment, whereas the hallmark of the true Christian is redemption and justification and freedom, holiness freely chosen from the heart, and a lack of shock at our imperfections. Antichrists love gossip because it presses condemnation home, it fosters disbelief in the truth and power of our forgiveness.