18 Little children, it is the last time: and as you have heard that the Antichrist shall come and now many antichrists emerge; from this we know that it is the last time.19 From us they went forth, but they were not from us; for if they had been from us they would have remained with us: but in order that they might be manifested to not be all from us.1 John 2:18-19
The early Christians had previously been warned by both Christ and the Apostles to look out for false teachers, for wolves that would arise from among them (Cf. Acts 20:29-30 & Matthew 24:5,11,24) The “last time” is a common phrase used throughout in the Hebrew Scriptures. It connoted the times in which the Messiah would establish His reign. This character which John introduces us to as the Antichrist is a rival Christ, an opponent to the kingdom of Messiah. While the Apostles had anticipated the arising of a figure who would be the Antichrist, the emergence of many antichrists should not alarm John’s little ones. Rather, it should comfort them that the Lord Jesus was in fact asserting His rule, and the opposition of these antichrists was evidence of this fact. The presence of rival-christs was not a proof of failure, but proof that the devil was defeated.
It is striking that as Paul similarly warned the Ephesian church, so to here John notes that these antichrists arose and went out from the Church, but by certain proofs made it manifest that they weren’t genuinely “from us.” He will further teach on how to discern the marks of these false christs. However, it is most to be expected that these false teachers would arise in the midst of the Church. That is where they might do the most damage, after all. Inside the church is where they can assert their rivalry to Christ’s rule and reign.
There’s some trickiness in bringing out the emphasis in the original Greek of verse 19. In English we might add italics to lay emphasis on what John is saying. They went out from us, but they were not from us. This is akin to someone needing to live in New York City simply because that’s where they found a job. They might say, “I’m from NYC, but I’m not from NYC.” John will soon elaborate, but suffice it for now to point out that the Church has always needed the discernment which comes from the Spirit through our union with Christ. This discernment is a given, and is given so we may tell whether someone who has arisen in our midst, and gone out from us, is genuinely of us.
- 1 John 3:13-18 | The World Hates You
- 1 John 3:10-12 | Children of God, Children of the Devil
- 1 John 3:7-9 | To Destroy the Works of the Devil
- 1 John 3:4-6 | Sin is Lawlessness
- 1 John 3:1-3 | What Unearthly Love
- 1 John 2:28-29 | A Trumpet Blast for Feeble Saints
- 1 John 2:24-27 | The Pastoral Prerogative for Run-on Sentences
- 1 John 2:20-23 | Knowing All Things
- 1 John 2:18-19 | Rival Christs
- 1 John 2:15-17 | The Imperative to Not Love