1Jn 2:18-20 “Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time. They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us. But ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things.”
There are many ideas in the religious community about the end of time. Numerous times men have tried to pinpoint a date for the end, but they have all been wrong. There has also been a great deal of debate about who or what antichrist is. It seems to me that John sets this in a very clear and simple light. It is the last time, and antichrist is here.
Before we decide that John got it wrong, keep in mind that the appearing of antichrist was the sign that the last time had come. Before there could be an antichrist, there had to be the Christ. The Christ came to fulfill the law and prophesies of old and to usher in a new (and last) covenant. The fist covenant (of the law) was based on signs and the keeping of rituals. The last covenant (of grace) is based on the finished work of Jesus Christ and the coming of the Holy Comforter.
The beginning of the last time came when a host of angels appeared and told some shepherds “…unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord (Luk 2:11).” Shortly thereafter, antichrist appeared in the person of Herod who sent his soldiers to take the life of every male child in and around Bethlehem who was two years old and younger. However, God had already made provision to protect the mortal life of Jesus until the time appointed that He should die on the cross.
It may be helpful to first look at the definition of antichrist as it appears here in this text. Antichrist is taken from the Greek word antichristos. According to Strong’s, antichristos means “an opponent of the Messiah.” An opponent is one who opposes. So antichrist is one who opposes Christ. John observed that there were many antichrists at the time of his writing. The world has had antichrists ever since Christ was born. This is the sign that we are in the last time. We have been blessed by God to enter into the last covenant; His covenant of sovereign grace. The first covenant could not be the last because God had provided a “better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect (Heb 11:40).” There was no place for the Gentiles to have full access into the first covenant. After Christ came, this last covenant became a place of hope and refuge for both Jew and Greek (gentile).
The establishing of this covenant of grace brought us into the last time. It is the last time because Christ’s work is finished. There is no need of another covenant. There are many antichrists who will tell you that Jesus did not fully complete His work. They will tell you that there is something that we must do to help Him. Some will tell you that He has not come yet. Others will tell you that He is never coming. Regardless of the means or method, any doctrine that denies the deity and truth of Jesus Christ is antichrist.
Where did antichrist come from? Is it some monster spawned from some deep, dark pit? Is it a celestial being who has fallen from favor with God and been cast out of His eternal heaven? Again, John gives us a very simple answer: antichrist went out from us. In order for antichrist to go out from us, antichrist had to have been among us. John’s teaching here is not a departure from the preceding verses of this letter. John is dealing with the difference between those that have the love of the Father and those that love the world. It is antichrist for us to love the world.
While men may walk together for a season, those that love the world will soon separate themselves from those the love God. Those that make a show of service to advance their supposed position in the world are not really of us in the sense of walking in God’s kingdom here. Not truly being of us, they will eventually depart (go out) from us. Often, they will say evil things against us and the truth of Jesus Christ in an effort to convince men of their piety. Those that go out from us were never really of us. While they may think they departed for their own reasons, John assures us that it was to make it plain (visible) that they were not of us (those who trust in Jesus).
Those that have been called into His service will never faint because of antichrist. Why? Because we have an endowment (unction) from the Holy One. The Holy Spirit (God) assures us that His word is true. He assures us of the power and love of Christ. He gives us the knowledge of Jesus Christ (Eph 1:17), and we know that His kingdom is sure. We have been given grace to know that God’s word is true; we know everything He has revealed to us in and through the Holy Spirit.
May we recognize, without fear, that we (like John) live in the last time as evidenced by the many antichrists around us, and may we know that all things are sure in Christ!