Separated from God’s people
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. 1 John 2:18-19
Who is the antichrist? Have you ever heard this word before? Well, John’s original readers had. In Jewish writings, there was predicted to be a powerful figure called the antichrist who was against God, as well as several antichrists before this last one. Both the last powerful antichrist and all of the smaller antichrists before him had one goal: to deceive people about God’s truth. In their lies and deception, they wage war against God and His people.
Here in verses 18 and 19, John is claiming that the antichrist isn’t just coming in the future, but that the end times are now. They started with Jesus’ death on the cross and will end when He comes back to earth, judges the unrighteous, and redeems His people and all of creation. Because these end times are already happening, there are already antichrists attempting to deceive God’s people. In fact, they were even active in the churches that John was writing to! They were the secessionists who ultimately separated from the church.
Have you ever tried to mix oil with water? For a minute they seem to mix into one substance. However, they only look this way temporarily because soon the oil separates from the water and rises to the top of the cup. In the same way, John explains that even though the secessionists might have claimed to be just like the Christians in one church family, they ultimately were very different from the Christians because they had no faith in Jesus. Therefore they eventually separated from the Christians who did have faith. And this is how John explains you can identify an antichrist or a deceiver who claims to be a Christian: their unbelief will ultimately cause them to separate from believers of their own free will. Their unbelief is ultimately incompatible with the Christian lifestyle of belief.
Questions for reflection and discussion
1. How are antichrists different from Christians?
2. Are you part of the church family?
Dear God, we ask that You would protect Your church from antichrists. Give us the discernment to follow You alone, and help us live with such great faith that our love for you would be obvious to everyone. Amen.