In His Assembly

The term “antichrist” occurs only in the second and third letters of John, and the Apostle applies the plural form of the Greek noun to deceivers who were spreading false teachings in his congregations. The presence of “antichrists” constituted irrefutable evidence that the “Last Days” were underway, and the false teachers were the product of the “Spirit of Antichrist,” forerunners of the final “Antichrist” who was yet to come.

The Greek term translated as “antichrist” means “instead of Christ,” NOT “against Christ.” The sense of the preposition anti is “instead of.” Certainly, the “Antichrist” is no ally of the Nazarene, but Satan’s strategy is to replace him with a “different Jesus,” a clever counterfeit - (2 John 7-8).

Church Interior - Photo by Karl Fredrickson on Unsplash
[Photo by Karl Fredrickson on Unsplash]

John’s reference to “
many deceivers” echoes the earlier warning of Jesus about coming false prophets and false teachers intent on misleading the “Elect.”

  • “Beware lest anyone deceive you; for MANY will come upon my name, saying, I am the Christ, and will DECEIVE MANY… And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray… For there will arise false Christs, and false prophets, and will show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.” - (Matthew 24:4-5, 11-13, 23-25).

In 1 John, the Apostle declares that it is “the Last Hour,” the period elsewhere called the “Last Days.” The final era of History had begun even before John wrote his epistles in the first century - (1 John 2:18-22).

The idea that we live in the “Last Days” occurs multiple times in Scripture, and John could point to the presence of deceivers in the Church to substantiate the claim (“Even now many antichrists have come whereby we perceive that it is the last hour”) - (Matthew 24:4-5, Mark 13:5-6, Luke 21:8, 1 Timothy 4:1, 2 Timothy 3:1).

They are labeled “antichrists,” not because they are pagan religious leaders working outside the Assembly, but because they are active in it (“They went out from among us”). They can be identified by their denial “that Jesus is the Anointed One.”

John does not coordinate these “many antichrists” or the coming of the final “Antichrist” with the return of Jesus or other final events, at least, not in his three letters. The concern is with the damage they are inflicting - (1 John 4:1-3).

His letters provide instructions on how believers can avoid deception; namely, BY ADHERING TO THE TEACHINGS OF THE APOSTLES along with their knowledge of the “Son.” There is no knowledge of God apart from Jesus, and his disciples must “test the spirits” - (1 John 4:1-4).

The disciple must exercise discernment because “many false prophets” have arrived, and in John’s letter, the stress is on the term “MANY.” The activities of deceivers and counterfeit “Christs” have been a constant problem in the church since its inception.

False teachers are recognizable by their denial that “Jesus Christ is come in the flesh.” This means they reject his genuine humanity (“By this, we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error”). The “spirit” that denies this IS the “Spirit of the Antichrist,” a trait that also will characterize the final “Antichrist.”

AN INTERNAL PROBLEM


Furthermore, THE Antichrist is “coming.” In John’s letter, the term translated as “coming” represents the Greek verb in the progressive present verb tense form. It refers to an ongoing process.

What about the world beyond the Assembly, and the threat posed to humanity in general by this coming “Antichrist”? In fact, the deceivers are “of the world,” and therefore, they “speak as of the world, and the world hears them.”

The world receives its lies GLADLY because it is deceived and under Satan’s influence. Even now, the “Spirit of Antichrist” holds sway over all humanity apart from those men and women who belong to Jesus, the Son of God who “cane in the flesh.”

John says nothing about specific “signs” that will portend the arrival of THE “Antichrist” or the “Last Hour.” What would be the point since the “Last Hour” is underway? His concern is with how the deceivers impact believers, as well as how the Body of Christ can identify and deal with them.

Storm Panorama - Photo by Matt Palmer on Unsplash
[Photo by Matt Palmer on Unsplash]

The conflict has raged since the founding of the Church, and it will continue until the day the Risen Jesus arrives and strikes down the final great deceiver, the “
Man of Lawlessness” - (2 Thessalonians 2:8-9).

The Apostle Paul warned the Thessalonians that this “Lawless One” would only be revealed when he “seated himself IN THE SANCTUARY OF GOD,” a term he elsewhere applies to the “Body of Christ.” Just as Satan’s agents are active in the Assembly, so the final great Deceiver will attempt to wreak havoc in the Body of Christ.

If John’s epistles provide a reliable method for identifying the “Antichrist,” then we must look first in our own midst for this creature and his forerunners before we look to global political leaders in the outside world for this dark figure.



RELATED POSTS:

  • Seated in the Sanctuary - (The Man of Lawlessness will be unveiled when he seats himself in the House of God  - 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4)
  • The Apostasy - (Paul warned the Thessalonians of the future apostasy which he linked to the unveiling of the Man of Lawlessness, the Son of Destruction)
  • Until Revealed - (The mystery of lawlessness is at work preparing the way for the unveiling of the Lawlessness One – 2 Thessalonians 2:5-7)


Comments

POPULAR POSTS

The Word Made Flesh

Language of the New Testament