posted on Jul, 21 2017 @ 05:00 PM
When John writes his first epistle, he is not, like Paul, addressing himself to a specific church under particular circumstances.
He writes, on behalf of himself and his fellow teachers, to anyone in the Christian body who will take his advice. Though his first readers were
probably in Ephesus and that region of Asia Minor.
His purpose is to teach these Christians, or remind them, that they are dwelling in God, through Christ, and to show them how this knowledge should be
affecting their conduct.
In the second chapter, John has already discussed two factors which draw Christians away from full fellowship with God.
One is a failure in love towards the brethren, who are in fellowship with God themselves.
Another is the more general distraction of “the world”.
A further distraction is the great lie which positions itself over against [ANTI] the person of Christ.
It threatens to undermine their understanding of Christ, loosening their grip on that contact point between themselves and the Father,
And as a lie, of course, it also takes them away from God’s truth.
He addresses his readers, once more, as “children”, who need to listen (v18).
He tells them that the current time is “a last hour”. Even if it is not THE last hour, it is certainly a time of crisis and decision.
They already know that “antichrist is coming”. He says “You have heard”, because it was one of the elements in the general gospel message.
Jesus warned his disciples that there would be “false” Christs; “Many will come in my name, saying ’I am the Christ’” (Matthew ch24
The followers of Christ are expecting him to come back to them- “Behold, I am coming soon…” (Revelation ch22 v12).
So the statement that antichrist is “coming” is itself expressing one of the ways that antichrist imitates the true Christ.
He assumes the guise of Christ even while opposing him.
Then John says they can see for themselves that many antichrists have emerged.
He’s referring to a number of individuals, who used to be members of the Christian community (v19).
They are following the principle of antichrist, doing his work as Christians do the work of Christ.
These people “went out from us”. And even before they left the visible body of the community, they were never really “of us”, not part of the
fellowship. For if they had been brought into fellowship with God, they would not have left. They would have wanted to remain.
They departed from us physically. so that the existing spiritual separation would be made more manifest.
John’s readers know the truth already, because they have been anointed by the Holy Spirit (v20).
They also know that “no lie is of the truth”.
So John’s task in this explanation is simply to identify the liar and his lie, showing them what needs to be rejected.
The ultimate liar is the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ (v22).
This amounts to denying the Son.
It also amounts to denying the Father, presumably on the grounds that God cannot truly be Father if he does not have a Son (v23).
In any case, we can only know the Father because the Son reveals him.
So anyone who denies the Son is renouncing that access, while those who acknowledge the Son have the Father as well. They go together.
Therefore his readers only need to allow what they heard from the beginning to abide in them.
We have already been told that the Word of life was “from the beginning” (ch1 v1).
If the Word is abiding in them, then the Son is abiding in them, and they are abiding in the Son.
In that case they are also abiding in the Father. That is what is meant by the promised eternal life (vv24-25).
There are those who would like to lead them astray.
But the anointing of the Holy Spirit means that they cannot be led astray. It provides them with the truth and rejects the lie.
As long as that anointing abides in them, they need no human teacher to tell them what is right (vv26-27).
There is room for debate about the exact form of the lie which these people are offering.
The statement that “Jesus is the Christ” implies, at the very least, that he was a man on earth sent from heaven. So this may be disputed in two
It may be denied that he was truly sent from heaven, or it may be denied that he was truly on earth.
The first is the more obvious possibility. John’s gospel frequently alludes to the issue of where Jesus “came from”, which his opponents are
incapable of understanding. It seems reasonable to suppose the same issue has created the division which John is describing here. On that assumption,
those who “went out from us” do not accept Jesus as a Son of the Father in the sense that they do not believe that he came from heaven. They do
not, though, have any difficulty in believing that a merely human Jesus lived. This would be the position of people like Cerinthus and the later
The other, more subtle, possibility is the denial that the Christ was on earth. He remained in heaven, or his presence on earth was an illusion. There
would be versions of this idea in later Gnosticism, but it may be premature to find them in this letter. And if their teaching was keeping the Son in
heaven, I’m not convinced that John would have described that as “denying the Son”.
In this case, the simple answer may be offering the better explanation.
This issue is the second major theme of the letter.
John established at the beginning that dwelling in God involves dwelling in Christ.
Therefore our place in God is in danger if anything takes us away from Christ.
We lose contact with Christ indirectly, when we fail to love those who belong to him.
But we lose contact with Christ more directly, when we fail to acknowledge him AS Christ.
That is why it is important to “abide in him” (v28).
If we were deceived by the coming of antichrist, we would be filled with shame at the coming of the true Christ. We would be reluctant to “come into
the light”, as the gospel puts it (John ch3 20).
But as we continue to abide in him, we may face him with confidence and share in the life which he provides.