by Mike Ratliff
1 But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons, 1 Timothy 4:1 (NASB)
According to the words of our Lord Jesus Christ in John 15 the mark of Christian authenticity is abiding or remaining in Him. This is not simply a continual profession of faith, but remaining faithful to Christ in our orthodox Christian faith. According to Paul, it is a two-fold action of departing from the faith and giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils. The Apostle John called the Christian leaders who do this antichrists.
18 Children, it is the last hour; and just as you heard that antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have appeared; from this we know that it is the last hour. 19 They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, so that it would be shown that they all are not of us. 1 John 2:18-19 (NASB)
John was describing his own time. In the 1st Century Church there were already “many antichrists” and this was a sign that “it is the last hour.” The Greek word translated “last” in this passage is “ἔσχατος,” which is pronounced “es’-khat-os.” When this word is used in reference to time it refers to “the last” generally that which concludes anything. Biblically, it refers to the time when the development of God’s plan of salvation shall come to a close as well as to the time of the final and decisive judgment. The word “hour” in v18 is the Greek word “ὥρα,” which is pronounced “ho’-rah.” Its literal translation is “hour.” However, in the New Testament it is used to mean many different time oriented things. In this passage, though, John is making the case that since “antichrists” have already come in the 1st Century then the Church age is the “last hour,” which refers to the time between Christ’s first and seconding coming.
In v18 John says, “as you heard that antichrist is coming…” The word “antichrist” here is the Greek word “ἀντίχριστος,” pronounced as “an-tee’-khris-tos.” John’s first usage of this word in this verse is as a definite article. In Koine Greek, a definite article serves to identify. In other words, John is saying there will be a final antichrist who is one particular person. This Greek word is simply the word for Christ with the word for “against” as a prefix. An antichrist is one who opposes Christ or is substituted for Him. However, John’s point here is to warn the Body of Christ that the “last hour” will be plagued by many antichrists. The second usage in this verse of “ἀντίχριστος” is in anathrous form. That means there is no definite article so it refers to all who have come and will come who will oppose Christ instead of one particular person. The fact that there have already been many antichrists in John’s day was his proof that we are in the last hour. When Christ does return this will end.
From where do all antichrists come? John says, “they went out from us…” The word translated as “went out” means “depart (out of)”. In other words, these antichrists were once professing Christians and leaders in the Church, but have departed from either the church itself or have been seduced into the doctrines of devils. They may still profess to be Christian, but their doctrines prove that they are not. Their defection proved “they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, so that it would be shown that they all are not of us.” Gnoticism was prevalent in John’s day. My brethren, it has never really gone away. Christian liberalism is a form of Gnoticism as is the infatuation with mysticism in much of the 21st Century Church.
Any form of diluting the Gospel message is a direct attack on the very message our Lord gave us to make disciples. Those who do this are false teachers, wolves in sheep’s clothing who purvey damning lies. Paul tells us very clearly what we are to do in “the last hour” about this.
11 Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them; Ephesians 5:11 (NASB)
My brethren, there have been antichrists since the Church began and we will continue to have them plaguing the Church until Christ returns. In the meantime, we must take no part in what they teach because they are works of darkness. We are to expose them to the Body of Christ by contending earnestly for the faith (Jude). Therefore, let us learn the truth so we can recognize what is false. That is why we must study the nature of God as well as what the real Gospel is and what it isn’t. My brethren, please seek the Lord while you still can. Draw close and learn. Pray, worship, and study the Word of God. Learn what the true milk of the Word of God is so you can tell when someone is perverting it.
Never forget, the number one marker of Christian Authenticity is perseverance and endurance to the end both of which are works of God. Those who fall away prove they are false because no one can persevere without compromise in one’s own strength. Therefore, examine yourself to confirm you are in the faith and also, never stop seeking the face of our God.
Soli Deo Gloria!