Friday

“Children, it is the last hour!” (v. 18)

1 John 2:18-21 Friday 13 January 2017

Psalm: Psalm 11:1-5


Background

The remainder of chapter 2 begins a new section in which thewriter deals with the subject of the false teachers who have beenmentioned earlier in the letter. They see them as being part of thegeneral terror and disaster which would herald the last days.Whilst those days would bring judgement, they would not be a finalend to all things, but the birth pangs of a new age, whichChristians believed would involve the return of Christ as king. Inthe event the writer was wrong, but there is a sense in which wealways live in the last days, in a time of conflict between humansand between good and evil.

Verse 18 introduces the idea of antichrist. The antichrist wasthe leader of the evil side at the last days. The way the writersays "As you have heard that antichrist is coming" (v. 18) impliesthat their readers are familiar with the concept, which must havebeen part of contemporary thinking. In fact, "antichrist" is a wordwhich is only found in the Letters of John (1 John2:18, 22; 4:3; 2 John 7). The writer takes this abstract ideaand applies it to the readers' situation, by referring to the falseteachers who had been among them, but had subsequently left thechurch.

Verses 20-21 are words of encouragement to those who remained inthe Christian fellowship. Their anointing (probably associated withtheir Baptism with water) has given them understanding anddiscernment, so that they can recognise the lies of the falseteachers. The use of the word "knowledge" in verse 20 issignificant, in that the heretics claimed for themselves specialknowledge of God.

Those two verses do not mention the work of the Holy Spirit inthe believers, but it is implied. Significantly in the MethodistWorship Book's Service of Confirmation, the prayer immediatelybefore Confirmation uses words drawn from Isaiah11:2: "fill them with your Holy Spirit: the Spirit of wisdomand understanding; the Spirit of discernment and inner strength;the Spirit of knowledge, holiness, and awe".


To Ponder

  • How do you react to thoughts of the return of Christ? Is itsomething to which you look forward? Why?
  • Who do you think are the 'antichrists' in the life of the worldtoday? Can they be found in the Church?
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